"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


One of Salem Oregon's Unofficial Top 1000 Conservative Political Bloggers!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another Personal Update

I must apologize for being away for so long. And thank you for your patience and for the many kind messages that I've received.

After a drawn out and painful struggle, my father recently passed away. I'd been very distracted and sort-of dead to the world during much of his illness and was unable/unwilling to post. Now, I really just don't have the heart to wade back into the blogging world, nor do I currently have the patience required for the job. I'm also dreadfully behind in my writing projects, and need to focus much more time and effort there to be able to get myself back to form.

I don't think I'm calling it quits on this blog yet-- though I have considered it-- but I am going to wait for a time (a month or maybe a little longer [yes, I know I've said this before]) before I get back here. It is possible that some dramatic world or national event could compel me to come back sooner.

Recent land grabs by Chavez in Venezuela have grabbed my attention, but Tom Blumer at his BizzyBlog did a great job of covering the AP's (mis)handling of the story, so there's little point in me retreading it.

And a portion of me does want to write about the Occupy Salem movement-- a collection of twenty or so tents (there seriously may be more city provided port-a-potties than tents on the grounds) occupied by handful of people whose grievances seem mysterious at best-- but I can't muster up more than this passing mention right now.

Despite this, the odds are very good that I won't start posting here until December.

Again, thank you for your kind messages and words. And I hope to be posting back here again relatively soon.

Yukio Ngaby

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Personal Update

I must apologize for not updating this blog for some time now.

I try not to get too personal on this blog, but my father was taken to the hospital early in June and was listed as being in grave condition. He was in ICU for over three weeks and not expected to live. Thankfully, he is improving although he is still in the hospital (no longer the ICU) and a full recovery is impossible. On the up side he is mentally fully there, and the permanent physical problems that he will face are both manageable and controllable-- if his health continues to improve.

During this time, I really just don't have the heart nor patience to write about politics. I probably will come back to this blog, but I can't really give a time. Maybe in another two or three weeks or so I'll be back. But I don't know...

On the bright side, I've been able to get a good deal of writing done on my newest novel. And it should be shopped around to the publishing houses in a few more months or so.

Anyway, thanks for still visiting. And I'll be posting again relatively soon.

Yukio Ngaby

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hezbollah Takes Control of Lebanese Government



From the AP article "'Terrorist' group takes over Lebanon's government" (yes, the word "terrorist" was in quotes in the headline) via CBS News.com:

"Hezbollah and its allies rose to a position of unprecedented dominance in Lebanon's government Monday, giving its patrons Syria and Iran greater sway in the Middle East.

"Lebanon Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced a new Cabinet dominated by the militant group and its allies after the country has operated for five months without a functioning government. The move caps Hezbollah's steady rise over decades from resistance group against Israel to Lebanon's most powerful military and political force.

"Opponents of Hezbollah - which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization - say having it in control of Lebanon's government could lead to international isolation. The group's most ardent supporters are Iran and Syria, which dominated Lebanon for 29 years.

"The new government opens the door for renewed Syrian influence in Lebanon at a time the Syrian leadership is struggling at home. It's a remarkable turnaround from 2005, when fallout from the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri led to massive anti-Syrian protests in Lebanon. The protests, dubbed the 'Cedar Revolution,' drove tens of thousands of Syrian troops out of Lebanon and ended decades of Syrian domination over its smaller neighbor.

"The ascendancy of Hezbollah is a setback for the United States, which has provided Lebanon with $720 million in military aid since 2006 and has tried in vain to move the country firmly into a Western sphere and end Iranian and Syrian influence. It also underscores Iran's growing influence in the region at a time when Washington's is falling.

"U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for an immediate cutoff of U.S. funds to the new government 'as long as any violent extremist group designated by the U.S. as foreign terrorist organizations participates in it.'

"'For years, members of Congress warned that it was unwise to fund a Lebanese government in which Hezbollah participated. It was clear that Hezbollah's influence was growing, and that the executive branch had no long-term strategy to deal with that reality, and no contingency plan to stop U.S. aid from falling into the wrong hands,' the Florida Republican said in a statement."

But how much do you want to bet that the US doesn't cutoff foreign aid to Lebanon? After all, we wouldn't want to provoke Hezbollah to further violence in the Middle East-- having such a sterling record in the past and all...

"The Islamic militant group's power has been steadily growing over the years and its newfound clout could add volatility to a region already rocked by anti-government uprisings in a half-dozen countries.

"A Hezbollah-led government would obviously raise tensions with Israel, which fought a devastating 34-day war against the Shiite militants in 2006 that left 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis dead. Lebanon, torn apart by decades of civil war and deep sectarian divides, has had several major military conflicts with neighboring Israel.

"Hezbollah forced the collapse of Lebanon's previous, pro-Western government in January over fears it would be indicted by a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the killing of Hariri, a billionaire businessman and political leader who had been trying to limit Syria's domination of Lebanon in the months before his death.

"Syria denied any involvement in his killing and called the tribunal a conspiracy by the U.S. and Israel.

"Hariri's son, Saad, who was prime minister in January, refused to denounce the tribunal or cut off Lebanon's 49 percent share of the funding for it.

"Hezbollah and its allies then walked out of the government, forcing its collapse, and secured enough support in parliament to name Mikati as the new prime minister. But Mikati has struggled to form a Cabinet, insisting he won't do the bidding of any one side.

[...]

"The makeup of the new government is seen as almost entirely pro-Syrian. President Bashar Assad of Syria, facing a growing uprising against his rule at home, called twice to congratulate Lebanese leaders on the new government's formation.

"Lebanon's politics are always fractious, in part because of the sectarian makeup of the country's government. According to Lebanon's power-sharing system, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shiite Muslim.

"Each faith makes up about a third of Lebanon's population of 4 million."

This is not a surprise at all. Frankly, I am surprised that Hezbollah's "remarkable" takeover took this long following Hezbollah's assassination of Rafik Hariri (he was the former Prime Minister killed by about 2000 lbs. of dynamite in February of 2005). Yet, the development is still troubling and will likely lead to another military action by Israel once Hezbollah starts instigating "border incidents" and lobbing more rockets into Israeli neighborhoods.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oops: British Study Reveals Electric Cars Produce Higher Emissions Over their Lifetimes than Gas Equivalents

From the The Australian article (h/t Dave Powers at MichelleMalkin.com):

"Electric cars could produce higher emissions over their lifetimes than petrol equivalents because of the energy consumed in making their batteries, a study has found.

"An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 145km on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 160,000km would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.

"The British study, which is the first analysis of the full lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal, undermines the case for tackling climate change by the rapid introduction of electric cars.

[...]

"The study was commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, which is jointly funded by the British government and the car industry. It found that a mid-size electric car would produce 23.1 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, compared with 24 tonnes for a similar petrol car. Emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 per cent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much energy to be processed.

"Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years. Once the emissions from producing the second battery are added in, the total CO2 from producing an electric car rises to 12.6 tonnes, compared with 5.6 tonnes for a petrol car. Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery. The study also took into account carbon emitted to generate the grid electricity consumed."

Hmm. So let's see... electric cars are really expensive to produce-- even hybrids have a tough time turning profits-- have a really short range, and ultimately produce more CO2 than gas-powered cars. Ah, the short-sided need to do something. Perfect.

Speaking of battery disposal, what doesn't seem to be taken into account is the battery acid. Isn't battery acid like one of the most destructive things to put into the ground? But hey put hundreds of millions of car batteries out there. We'll just shoot the used up batteries into the sun or something.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Irish Government Plans to Raid Private Pensions for Govt. Spending




Not an uncommon tactic in South and Central America... And it's something to watch for here in the US.

From the Business Insider article by Joe Weisenthal and Gregory White:

"The Irish government plans to institute a tax on private pensions to drive jobs growth, according to its jobs program strategy, delivered today.

"Without the ability sell debt due to soaring interest rates, and with severe spending rules in place due to its EU-IMF bailout, Ireland has few ways of spending to stimulate the economy. Today's jobs program includes specific tax increases, including the tax on pensions, aimed at keeping government jobs spending from adding to the national debt.

"The tax on private pensions will be 0.6%, and last for four years, according to the report."

These temporary taxes have a way of not being so temporary as government spending increases-- which is what usually happens when money is raided-- er, taxed-- from private accounts.

"Ireland's ability to levy further taxes on other parts of the economy is restricted because its economic growth has been inhibited in the wake of a financial crisis that crippled its banking sector and decimated its public finances.

"Unwilling to budge on the country's low corporate tax rate, Enda Kenny's Irish government has chosen to target pensioners for funds to grow the economy. Whether it turns out to be an example to other countries seeking alternative ways to raise revenues with aging populations is yet unknown."

Ah, the wonders of overspending government...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Still Kicking and Still Writing

Just dropping in to say that I'm still alive and still writing. The book is going slower than I expected for a variety of reasons, but I'm still plugging away at it.

I'll try to post more in May than I did in April, but life is being a little frantic and disorienting for me right now, so it may not happen. Anyway, I'll be back posting regularly eventually (maybe June). And of course, check out the blogs on the Blog List.

Thanks,
Yukio Ngaby

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Obama's Toxic Speech

Obama's speech was a farce of course. In the true manner of a "community organizer," Obama rallied a disbelieving America toward class warfare. None of this should be a surprise coming from a man who was a good friend to Bill Ayers, attended Reverend Wright's church for so many years, and is credited with writing the book Dreams of my Father. When the going gets tough, the community organizers point the fingers and lay out the blame.

Does anybody even remember the "Great Uniter" rhetoric, the "light-bringer" promises?

From The Wall Street Journal:

"The immediate political goal was to inoculate the White House from criticism that it is not serious about the fiscal crisis, after ignoring its own deficit commission last year and tossing off a $3.73 trillion budget in February that increased spending amid a record deficit of $1.65 trillion. Mr. Obama was chased to George Washington University yesterday because Mr. Ryan and the Republicans outflanked him on fiscal discipline and are now setting the national political agenda.

"Mr. Obama did not deign to propose an alternative to rival Mr. Ryan's plan, even as he categorically rejected all its reform ideas, repeatedly vilifying them as essentially un-American. 'Their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America,' he said, supposedly pitting 'children with autism or Down's syndrome' against 'every millionaire and billionaire in our society.' The President was not attempting to join the debate Mr. Ryan has started, but to close it off just as it begins and banish House GOP ideas to political Siberia.

"Mr. Obama then packaged his poison in the rhetoric of bipartisanship—which 'starts,' he said, 'by being honest about what's causing our deficit.' The speech he chose to deliver was dishonest even by modern political standards."

Yup. When the chips are down for a Leftist, then it's time to try to play class against class, driving people apart for political gain. Classic. Absolutely classic.

Jacobson at Legal Insurrection had this to say:

"Barack Obama promised us hand-to-hand combat, and his speech yesterday was the start.

"The nation is facing a debt crisis of historic proportions, but nothing will be done because Obama already has launched his presidential campaign. A compromise must included serious changes to unsustainable entitlements which are swamping the Treasury. Yet Obama took any significant changes off the table yesterday, by channeling Alan Grayson's charge that Republicans want people to die quickly.

[...]

"The truth is that Obama doesn't care about the deficit. Obama proposed a budget not long ago which would have increased spending and the deficit. It was only after the recent showdown over last year's budget that Obama decided that politically he needed to appear to be attentive.

"Yesterday's speech was a calculated move by someone who doesn't care about the deficit to pretend to care so that he could use the issue in political hand-to-hand combat.

"If you don't think 2012 is the make-or-break political year for this country, then you haven't been paying attention."

Indeed. Can we imagine the results of four more years of this kind of divisiveness?

I think that Pat Austin at And So it Goes in Shreveport had the best summation of Obama's speech:

"The bottom line of Obama's plan is that we're going to forge ahead with green energy even though it doesn't exist. We're going to buy oil from foreign sources even though we have plenty of resources here and gas is climbing to $5 a gallon. We're going to cut defense while we're engaged in three wars, raise taxes on those who provide jobs and growth, and implement a health care albatross that will saddle the country with inferior care, raise the deficit and expand entitlements, further deepening our economic woes."

It seems that Obama is absolutely determined to impose upon us a centrally controlled economic system. Is this a surprise to anyone based on Obama's background, his rhetoric and speeches, his past associates, his books?

And of course this centralized system that has never worked-- no matter how draconian the implementation. Centralizing a large economy has always resulted in massive inefficiencies, terrible shortages of goods and services, an expansion of poverty, an increased gap between rich and poor, and massive corruption. How many times do these systems have to fail before people stop trying?

From Paul Ryan's response as published in The Washington Post:

"Two months ago, President Obama submitted a budget for fiscal 2012 that did not deal with the major sources of government spending while calling for much higher taxes on American businesses and families. This budget was widely panned as lacking seriousness.

"Now comes a deficit speech that doesn’t even rise to the level of a plan. Missing was a credible way to curb out-of-control spending. Instead, the president called for greater reliance on government price controls, which would strictly limit the health-care options of current seniors while failing to control costs. The president would couple this approach with $1 trillion in tax increases, which would destroy jobs and hurt the economy.

"We cannot accept an approach that starts from the premise that ever-higher levels of spending and taxes represent America’s new normal. We have an obligation to fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for current retirees and future generations. We have a historic commitment to limited government and free enterprise. And we have a duty to leave the next generation with a more prosperous nation than the one we inherited.

"The House Republican budget keeps America’s promises to seniors and those near retirement by making no changes to their current arrangements. It keeps America’s promises of health and retirement security for future generations by saving and strengthening our most important programs. And it keeps a promise that is implicit in our form of government: that a government instituted to secure our rights must be a limited government.

[...]

"The president’s proposals are aimed more at empowering government than strengthening the free market. He continues to prove he’s not up to the challenging work of reforming government to meet 21st-century needs. If he gets his way, the nation will endure huge tax hikes, seniors’ access to health care will be reduced — and we will experience an epic collapse of our health and retirement programs that would devastate our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

"House Republicans are fighting to prevent this. Our budget offers a compassionate and optimistic contrast to a future of health-care rationing and unbearably high taxes. We lift the crushing burden of debt, repair the safety net, make America’s tax system fair and competitive, and ensure that our health and retirement programs have a strong and lasting future. These issues are too important to leave to the politics of the past. If President Obama won’t lead, we will."

The stakes are very high now. Fiscal sanity must be implemented. Failure to do so will be disastrous.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CNN Considering Hiring Chris Rock



As CNN continues to circle the drain, it's come to this. From The N.Y. Post:

"CNN brass are scrambling to find a new host for their troubled 7 p.m. timeslot, and trying to win back the African-American and Hispanic viewers sources say they've lost since the 2008 presidential campaign.

"Hoping to accomplish both things at once, insiders said the network is interested in wooing African-American entertainers for the slot, currently held by 'John King USA,' and has mentioned comedian Chris Rock and former 'Talk Soup' host Aisha Tyler as possibilities."

Well that D.L. Hughley show worked out so well for CNN...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pelosi: "To My Republican Friends: Take Back Your Party. So That it Doesn’t Matter So Much Who Wins the Election"




Ah yes, if only we all thought the way Nancy Pelosi and the Left does, then there would be no problems in our world. I suppose those pesky other points of view and beliefs just get in the way of running our ungovernable country.

From Mediaite is this little but of the former Speaker's wisdom (video at the link):

"Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave a speech at Tufts University in Massachusetts where she shared some 'friendly' advice with the opposing side in Washington. Clearly frustrated with the lengthy and acrimonious budget fight, Pelosi said 'elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do' and warned that it would be problematic for the country if both parties do not have shared values.

"Pelosi challenged Republicans:

"'To my Republican friends: take back your party. So that it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election, because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, our security and civil liberties, how we respect our seniors.'

"Might the old saying 'elections have consequences' be replaced by Pelosi’s new version of 'it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election?'"

She then goes on to say that "Elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do." Does anyone have a problem with that last line? Anyone?

Of course this is coming from a prominent member of the same political party that declared the Democrats had been given a mandate from the people following the '08 elections. And this is coming from the same party whose presidential candidate declared that his own election marked the moment when healing would start and the ocean levels would begin to recede. Hmm.

I am also curious as to what exactly were the the shared values that caused Pelosi to push ObamaCare through with a parliamentary trick past massive protests. Some mysterious value not shared by the majority of the American people it would seem. It's little wonder that Pelosi should believe that elections shouldn't matter so much in America.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bahrain's Shiite Leader Demands Withdrawl of Saudi Forces


From the AP article:

"Bahrain's Shiite Muslim opposition on Wednesday demanded that the Saudi-led military force helping to put down protests leave the country immediately.

"The demand underscored the sectarian element of the anti-government movement in the tiny, strategic island kingdom, where majority Shiites are demonstrating for more rights and freedom against a Sunni dynasty that has ruled Bahrain for two centuries.

"About 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Sunni-led Gulf states entered Bahrain two weeks ago at the invitation of Bahrain's monarch. The king also declared emergency rule and cracked down on protesters, killing at least 20.

"A senior Shiite opposition leader, Ali Salman, said the foreign troops must leave because the opposition rejects 'any military intervening for any party' in Bahrain. Salman also said Iran shouldn't interfere.

"'We don't want Bahrain to turn into a conflict zone between Saudi Arabia and Iran,' which has condemned the deployment, Salman said at a news conference in the capital, Manama. 'That's why we object to the Saudi intervention. We call for immediate withdrawal of the troops, and we reject Iranian interference.'

"The Gulf Cooperation Council force entered Bahrain earlier this month over the causeway that connects it to Saudi Arabia, with the stated mission of helping keep order.

"Shiites around the Middle East protested GCC intervention. Iranian authorities charged the troops were in Bahrain to enforce Sunni monarchy's oppression of Bahrain's Shiite majority."

Hmm. I wouldn't count on a withdrawal from the GCC anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sen. Schumer Rehearses the Blame the Extreme Tea Party Rhetoric

From the The Washington Examiner article by Susan Ferrechio (via Drudge):

"Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Democratic Senate leadership, got on a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning without realizing the reporters were already listening in. Schumer thought he was on a private line with four Democratic senators who were to talk with reporters about the current budget stalemate.

"Schumer instructed the group, made up of Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Tom Carper of Delaware, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, to tell reporters that the GOP is refusing to negotiate.

"He told the group to make sure they label the GOP spending cuts as 'extreme.'
"'I always use extreme,' Schumer said. 'That is what the caucus instructed me to use.'

"Someone must have finally told Schumer that the media were listening and he stopped talking midsentence.

"Here's a bit more of what he said about House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, according to my notes.

"'The main thrust is basically that we want to negotiate and we want to come up with a compromise but the Tea Party is pulling Boehner too far over to the right and so far over that there is no more fruitful negotiations,' Schumer said on the call. 'The only way we can avoid a shutdown is for Boehner to come up with a reasonable compromise and not just listen to what the Tea Party wants.'"

"Schumer described Boehner as 'in a box,' over the budget negotiations.

"The four senators came on the call after Schumer abruptly went silent and followed Schumer's script closely."

The Democrats have pretty much become the party of identity politics and the party of smearing the opposition. How proud they must be...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bahrain's King Declares "External Plot" has been Ended



"Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said a foreign plot against his kingdom had been foiled and thanked troops brought in from neighbouring countries to help end increasing unrest after weeks of protests.

"'An external plot has been fomented for 20 to 30 years until the ground was ripe for subversive designs ...I here announce the failure of the fomented plot,' the state news agency BNA quoted him overnight as telling troops.

"King Hamad told the forces that such if such a plot succeeded in one Gulf Arab country, it could spill into neighbouring states, BNA said.

"The ferocity of a crackdown last week by Bahrain forces, aided by the entrance of troops from Sunni-ruled Gulf countries, stunned Bahrain's majority Shi'ites, the main force of the protests, and angered the region's non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran.

"Iran, which supports Shi'ite groups in Iraq and Lebanon, has complained to the United Nations and asked neighbours to join it in urging Saudi Arabia to withdraw forces from Bahrain.

[...]

"Bahrain has also said previously that it arrested opposition leaders for dealing with foreign countries."

It's pretty hard to say exactly how foreign influenced the Bahraini protests actually were. Certainly there was support from Iran as well as from other Shi'ite dominated countries and organizations. The actual extent of that support is difficult to ascertain.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Brazillian Protesters Attack US Consulate with Firebomb

Obviously a Brazilian man who hates George W. Bush

Huh. But I thought that merely electing Obama was going to improve America's image around the world-- as well as lower the sea levels.

From the AFP (via Gateway Pundit):

"Police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas to break up a demonstration outside the US consulate in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, as US President Barack Obama prepares to visit the country, AFP reports.

Some 300 people had gathered at the site when Brazilian Military Police showed up and tried to break up the demonstration.

"Police cracked down on the crowd after protesters hurled a molotov cocktail at the consulate door, the O Globo newspaper reported on its website. [emphasis mine]

"'I was in the center of the protest when people began to run and I heard shots,' said AFP photographer Vanderlei Almeida. 'I had to get out of there because it was hard to breathe.'

"Almeida was struck by two rubber bullets -- one hit him in the leg, and the other in his stomach.

"Several protesters were detained, Almeida said.

"Obama arrives in Brazil on an official Saturday and will meet President Dilma Rousseff in the capital Brasilia.

"On Sunday, he is scheduled to deliver a speech in Rio's Municipal Theater after cancelling a public speech in the city's town square.

"Brazilian authorities have laid out a heavy security presence for Obama's two-day visit to South America's largest nation, and police in Rio had closed numerous streets from midnight Thursday in preparation."

It's Bush's fault... or something.

Threats Against Wisconsin Republicans Continue-- 20 Days and Counting


More civility. The New Tone, I suppose.

John Nolte at BigGovernment.com is keeping track of the threats and vandalism that continues in Wisconsin. Still no word from DC Dems calling for restraint, civility, or anything like that. I guess Obama can't figure a way to turn it into a pep rally yet.


"Below, you’ll find a compilation of 20 days worth of the death threats, vandalism, and intimidation practiced by pro-union thugs opposed to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill. Wisconsin is my home state. I lived there until I was 27 years-old in 1993 and most of my family, including my parents still live there. For that reason and because the issue of education and teachers unions has been a passion of mine for going on two decades, I’ve been following this story very, very closely. My original intent was to compile all of this earlier in the week, but after reading Lee Stranahan’s superb editorial I decided to wait and see if that might have some effect on the national and local Wisconsin media in moving them towards giving the ongoing violence, intimidation, vandalism, and overall thuggery occurring at the hands of union activists and their supporters, the coverage it needs and deserves.

"Not only should the local and national media be amplifying their coverage of this ongoing scandal because of the bar they themselves set with the Tea Party for what rises to the level of of racism, “predominantly white” protesters and troubling behavior — but in the wake of the tragic shootings in Tuscon you would think direct threats on elected officials would rate a little outrage. Well, obviously not when those threats come from the Left.

"Politics aside, what’s happening in Wisconsin is downright frightening because, as you’ll see below, these incidents are growing in number and intensity. Furthermore, other than the Right, no one is calling for calm or civility. The local media is, at best, wrist-flicking these incidents, Democratic legislators have not called for calm, President Obama is AWOL, and worst of all, Public Union employees not involved in the thuggish behavior taking place in their name, have been complicit with their silence.

"This is more than a disgrace, it’s dangerous. Conservative radio talk show hosts and Governor Walker can talk all they want, but I fear that until the media starts a campaign of shame by focusing on these incidents, and responsible pro-union types begin to police their own side, someone is eventually going to get hurt.

"What you’re going to read below is a startling compilation of what can only be described as thuggery. These examples are occurrences that have taken place only since the beginning of the month and do not include the equally disturbing incidents we’re hearing about outside of Wisconsin. Keep in mind, it’s more likely than not that I missed a few things."

Read the rest. It's tough to take, but it's important.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bahrain Arrests Opposition Leaders




"The Gulf Arab state of Bahrain has arrested opposition figures for communicating with foreign countries and inciting murder and destruction of property, state television said on Thursday.

"A statement said the unnamed men were 'leaders of the civil strife' who had 'communicated with foreign countries, and they incited killing of citizens and destruction of public and private property'. It did not say how many had been arrested.

"Members of the opposition bloc Wefaq said earlier that six opposition leaders had been arrested on Thursday morning."

Not a surprising turn of events.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!



Here's hoping everyone has a great St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japanese Earthquake News Links

For those interested in news about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, below are some links to some major online Japanese newspapers published in English:






Friday, March 11, 2011

Gas Prices have Risen 67% Under Obama


Well, I know I've been more than a little annoyed at the gasoline prices at the pump since Obama took over. Heck I remember when I was annoyed that gas was consistently at $2.00 a gallon.

Since Obama's been president gasoline prices are 67%. Under Bush (the friend to big oil according to the Left) they rose 7% in the same time frame.


"Ah, January of 2009. Hope was in the air, but more importantly, gas was under two dollars a gallon. Since then gas prices, have gone up 67 percent and it's an ominously upward trend. Interestingly enough, the Heritage Foundation also took a look at the first 26 months of Bush's presidency -- gas only rose 7 percent during that time frame.

"Now obviously turmoil in the Middle East has something to do with our current astronomical gas prices, but keep in mind that by this point in the Bush presidency 9/11 had happened and we were on the verge of invading Iraq. So while the president can't be entirely responsible for global commodity prices, it's still worth asking what Obama's doing to make things worse.

"After all, this is the President who told us 'We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.'

"This is the President that appointed a Secretary of the Interior that famously said he didn't mind if gas hit $10 a gallon.

"This is the President whose administration secretly urged him to bypass needed Congressional approval to create as many at 17 national monuments throughout the west, effectively closing off all that land to energy exploration forever.

"This is the President who has illegally tried to illegally enforce an offshore drilling ban.

"How much higher is gas going to go before the Administration takes a long hard look at what its doing to send gas prices through the roof?"

I think the Obama Administration has very little about low gas prices. I mean most of it's used by bigoted, gun-clinging, religious zealots anyway... Obama's contempt is pretty clear.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bahrain Protests Continue; Protesters Encircle Capitol



"Thousands of Shiite protesters in Bahrain have formed a huge human chain around the capital, Manama, as their campaign to loosen the Sunni monarchy's grip on power in the strategic Gulf nation enters its third week.

"No police were in sight Saturday as protesters — men and women — held hands to encircle Manama, where Bahrain's Shiite majority has been leading daily demonstrations to end what they say are discriminatory policies and political persecution.

"Tensions have been high in the Gulf kingdom, the host of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, since a street battle between Sunnis and Shiites on Thursday left at least a dozen people injured."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Announcement: Break from Blogging

I've started the first draft of a book recently, so I'll probably be out of it for 3 months or so-- maybe longer. When I write first drafts, I tend to get caught up in the process and pretty much dead to the world around me.

I'm still going to try to post 10 to 15 posts per month while I'm writing, but that's likely wishful thinking and I'll probably post less. It's sort of an inopportune time right now with the budget battles, fleeing Democrats, Middle Eastern revolutions etc. going on right now, but I can't just wait for things to slow down.

Anyway, check out the blogs on my Blog List. And I will continue to be post here, just more infrequently for a while.

Thanks,
Yukio Ngaby

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Freddie Mac Continues to Hemorrhage Money: $1.7 Billion in 3 Months

From the AP article by Marcy Gordon:

"Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac managed a narrower loss of $1.7 billion for the October-December quarter of last year. But it has asked for an additional $500 million in federal aid - up from the $100 million it sought in the previous quarter.

"Freddie Mac also posted a $19.8 billion loss for all of 2010.

"The government rescued Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. It estimates the bailouts will cost taxpayers as much as $259 billion.

[...]

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee about half of all mortgages in the U.S., or nearly 31 million home loans worth more than $5 trillion. Along with other federal agencies, they played some part in almost 90 percent of new mortgages over the past year.

"Fannie and Freddie buy home loans from banks and other lenders, package them into bonds with a guarantee against default and sell them to investors around the world.

"The government's estimated cost of bailing out the mortgage giants far exceeds the $132.3 billion they have received from taxpayers so far. That would make theirs the costliest bailout of the financial crisis."

I see no problem here. Move on...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ore. Dem Wu Says Painkillers were to Blame for Erratic Behavior and Sending Pics of Himself in Tiger Costume


Well, at least Democratic Congressional Rep. David Wu didn't say it was because he was dehydrated...


"An Oregon congressman said Tuesday that he accepted prescription drugs from a campaign contributor last October, around the same time members of his staff complained of his erratic behavior.

"Rep. David Wu told The Oregonian in a written response to a query that he had left another kind of painkiller — one prescribed by his doctor for neck pain — in Washington. He said the donor offered him an alternative, and he took two tablets.

"'This was the only time that this has ever happened,' Wu wrote. 'I recognize that my action showed poor judgment at the time, and I sincerely regret having put my staff in a difficult position.'

"Earlier Tuesday, Wu said on ABC's 'Good Morning America' that it was 'unprofessional and inappropriate' for him to send pictures of himself wearing a tiger costume to staff members.
Wu said the photos were taken while he was 'joshing around' with his children in October just before Halloween.

"One photo shows Wu wearing an orange and black striped tiger outfit with pointy ears and striped mittens. Portland newspapers reported that campaign staffers pleaded with Wu to seek psychiatric help in the final week before the November election, but he refused.

"The Oregonian and Willamette Week on Friday, citing interviews with a number of anonymous staff members, reported that the 55-year-old Wu was increasingly unpredictable on the campaign trial and in private last fall, and had several angry and loud outbursts.

"The newspapers reported that campaign staffers were appalled by a series of e-mails sent from Wu's federally issued BlackBerry that included the photo of him in the tiger costume. But more disturbing, staffers said, were e-mails written in the voice of his adolescent children.

"In an October speech to a friendly audience at a meeting of Washington County Democrats, Wu lashed out at his opponent and the media. He also talked his way past a security checkpoint to campaign for votes at the airport around that time, according to reports.

"Wu on Tuesday acknowledged sending the tiger costume photos and said he has sought mental health treatment, including counseling and medication. He said in the ABC interview that he's 'in a good place now,' but he said he ruled out inpatient treatment because he couldn't spend time away from his family.

"'Last October was not a good month. It was very stressful. I did some things, I said some things, which I sincerely regret now,' Wu said.

"The seven-term congressman assured voters he is fit to remain in office."

Of course Wu's fine... I mean, just because your staff wants you to get mental help isn't really much of an indication of a problem or anything... And clearly his odd behavior for October was due to the fact that he took the wrong prescription medications. It could happen to anyone.

I'm a little curious as to what the name and occupation of the campaign contributor who furnished Wu with the prescription pain meds might be. Apparently, he or she contributed drugs in addition to money. But nothing to see here. Move on...

I find it particularly interesting that the AP article completely neglects to mention that Wu is a Democrat. Not once is it said. Instead, the best we get is when the AP states about two-thirds of the way way through the article that "[i]n an October speech to a friendly audience at a meeting of Washington County Democrats, Wu lashed out at his opponent and the media."

Shh. Don't tell anyone, but Wu, the guy in the tiger suit, is a Democrat.

Keep on shilling AP.

Obama's DOJ Refuses to Defend DOMA, Perhaps Ushering In Era of Selective Enforcement


The Department of Justice has announced it will refuse to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. Eric Holder, after consultation with Obama, has decided to stop defending key portions of the law.

William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has an excellent overview, and rightly points out that this political game is a massive power grab by the Obama administration.

From Jacobson:

"The decision by the the Department of Justice to refuse to defend the Defense of Marriage Act is a massive power grab by the Executive Branch.

"The Justice Department is tasked with representing the 'government' is the broad sense in legal matters coming before the courts. There is no congressional Justice Department. Whether it likes a law or not, the Justice Department traditionally has fulfilled the role of arguing for the constitutionality of a law if there were any good faith basis for doing so, because someone has to represent the will of the legislative branch in the courts.

[...]

"While opponents of DOMA will be cheering, this is misguided. As Orin Kerr points out, what goes around comes around, and there may be a host of legislation passed under Obama which a Republican administration could subvert by refusing to defend.

"Similar thoughts at Point of Law Blog:

"'I'm not a fan of the Defense of Marriage Act, but I do have a large problem with the politicization of the role of the Department of Justice. Strip away the gay-rights issue and consider the question: what would Democrats say if, in 2013, President Sarah Palin announced that her Department of Justice would refuse to defend the constitutionality of Obamacare in court? There is no provision in the Constitution for a retroactive veto. Compare and contrast the Bush administration Department of Justice, which steadfastly (and successfully) defended McCain-Feingold and enforced FACEA.'

"Is this really how we want our system of justice to work?

"The President for whom the words 'rule of law' flow so easily from the teleprompter doesn't seem to know what the words actually mean."

I guess anything to get people's minds off of unemployment and fleeing Democrat lawmakers... The short-sightedness of the Obama administration is astonishing to me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bahraini Protesters Once Again Fill Pearl Square in Capital



"Thousands of singing and dancing protesters streamed back into Manama's central Pearl Square Saturday after Bahrain's leaders withdrew tanks and riot police following two straight days of a bloody crackdown by security forces in the tiny monarchy.

"The royal family, which was quick to use force earlier this week against demonstrators in the landmark square that has been the heart of the anti-government demonstrations, appeared to back away from further confrontation following international pressure from the West.

"The demonstrators had emulated successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in attempting to bring political change to Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet — the centerpiece of Washington's efforts to confront Iranian military influence in the region.

"Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, appealed for calm and political dialogue in a brief address on state TV.

"People circling through the square clapped, whistled and wept. Some wore white sheets symbolizing their readiness for martyrdom, while others carried Bahraini flags, flowers and signs that said 'Peaceful.'

"'We are victorious!' they chanted as they marched back into the square that has been the headquarters for their revolt against the Sunni monarchy in the predominantly Shiite island nation.

"They also chanted: 'The people want the removal of the regime.'

"As night fell, defiant protesters erected barriers, wired a sound system, set up a makeshift medical tent and deployed lookouts to warn of approaching security forces.

"President Barack Obama discussed the situation with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, asking him to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. He said in a statement that Bahrain must respect the 'universal rights' of its people and embrace 'meaningful reform.'"

Once again, nebulously important-sounding but completely useless words from Obama. They signify nothing. He and his administration are so carefully vague in their language-- which demonstrates that they really have little understanding of what is happening there and why.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Surprise! Obama Favors Wisconsin Unions Over Taxpayers


So much for Obama the Great Uniter... and Obama the Centrist, for that matter. But it's all Bush and Cheney's fault-- somehow.

The only surprise is that the Community-Organizer-in-Chief has so openly backed union interests over tax payers and fiscal responsibility. After all, the OFA have been openly supporting the protesters from the beginning and had a hand in the organizing the protests to begin with.


"President Obama thrust himself and his political operation this week into Wisconsin's broiling budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits and planning similar protests in other state capitals.

"Obama accused Scott Walker, the state's new Republican governor, of unleashing an 'assault' on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would change future collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers.

"The president's political machine worked in close coordination Thursday with state and national union officials to get thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals.

[...]

"The White House political operation, Organizing for America, got involved Monday, after Democratic National Committee Chairman Timothy M. Kaine, a former Virginia governor, spoke to union leaders in Madison, a party official said.

"The group made phone calls, distributed messages via Twitter and Facebook, and sent e-mails to state and national lists to try to build crowds for rallies Wednesday and Thursday, a party official said.

"National Republican leaders, who have praised efforts similar to Walker's, leapt to his defense.

"House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) issued a stern rebuke of the White House, calling on Obama to wave off his political operation and stop criticizing the governor.

"'This is not the way you begin an "adult conversation" in America about solutions to the fiscal challenges that are destroying jobs in our country,' Boehner said in a statement, alluding to the president's call for civility in budget talks. 'Rather than shouting down those in office who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisers should lead.'

[...]

"By aligning himself closely with unions, Obama is siding with a core segment of the Democratic Party base - but one that has chafed in recent weeks as the president has sought to rebuild his image among centrist voters by reaching out to business leaders."

Surely, it is not the role of the president to meddle in local politics, especially after his party's spending policies were soundly rebuked in Wisconsin and all across America in the last election.

Bahraini Troops Fire on Protesters




"Soldiers opened fire Friday on thousands of protesters defying a government ban and streaming toward the landmark square that had been the symbolic center of the uprising to break the political grip of the Gulf nation's leaders.

"Officials at the main Salmaniya hospital said at least 50 people were injured, some with gunshot wounds. Some doctors and medics on emergency medical teams were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.

"'This is a war,' said Dr. Bassem Deif, an orthopedic surgeon examining people with bullet-shattered bones.

"Health ministry officials said in a statement that seven people were critically injured.

"Protesters described a chaotic scene of tear gas clouds, bullets coming from many directions and people slipping in pools of blood as they sought cover. Some claimed the gunfire came from either helicopters or sniper nests, a day after riot police swept through the protest encampment in Pearl Square, killing at least five people and razing the tents and makeshift shelters that were inspired by the demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"The clash came hours after funeral mourners and worshippers at Friday prayers called for the toppling of the Western-allied monarchy in the tiny island nation that is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, the centerpiece of the Pentagon's efforts to confront Iranian military influence. Some members of Bahrain's Sunni ruling system worry that Shiite powerhouse Iran could use Bahrain's majority Shiites as a further foothold in the region."

Obama is running the same by-the-numbers response from Egypt, urging restraint and pretty much vaguely backing the protesters without knowing who they are, what they want, nor who backs them. And of course without taking into account what is in the best interests of the US allies in the region. Amateur ideologue...

From the AP:

"U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the reports of violence against the protesters in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, urging government restraint.

"'I am deeply concerned about reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur,' Obama said. 'The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people.'"

Of course Obama didn't mention of the unrest in Iran. It is interesting how quickly he has jumped onto the protesters band wagon elsewhere, but steadfastly refused to condemn the violent crackdown of the Green Revolution by the Iranian government. What does that say?

Back to the article:

"Bahrain's king appointed Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa to lead a dialogue 'with all parties,' though it was unclear whether furious protesters would respond to the overture. Speaking on Bahrain's State TV, Salman expressed condolences for 'these painful days' and called for unity.

"'We are at a crossroads,' Salman said. 'Youths are going out on the street believing that they have no future in the country, while others are going out to express their love and loyalty. But this country is for you all, for the Shiites and Sunnis.'"

[...]

"At a Shiite mosque in the village of Diraz, an anti-government hotbed, imam Isa Qassim called the Pearl Square assault a 'massacre' and thousands of worshippers chanted: 'The regime must go.'

"In a sign of Bahrain's deep divisions, government loyalists filled Manama's Grand Mosque to hear words of support for the monarchy and take part in a post-sermon march protected by security forces. Many arrived with Bahraini flags draped over the traditional white robes worn by Gulf men. Portraits of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa were distributed.

"'We must protect our country,' said Adnan al-Qattan, the cleric leading prayers. 'We are living in dangerous times.'

"He denounced attempts to 'open the doors to evil and foreign influences' — an apparent reference to suspicions that Shiite powerhouse Iran could take advantages of any gains by Bahrain's Shiites, who account for about 70 percent of the population.

"The pro-government gathering had many nonnative Bahrainis, including South Asians and Sunni Arabs from around the region. Shiite have long complained of policies giving Sunnis citizenship and jobs, including posts in security forces, to offset the Shiite majority."

Lots of activity in Bahrain, and it's hard to say what will happen. However, my money is on the Sunni government staying in place-- especially since Saudi Arabia takes such an interest in keeping Iranian expansionism in check. There might be some token reforms within the Bahraini government, but the main players will stay largely the same. There's no guarantees, of course.

Wisconsin a Test Case for Unions and States Governments?




Are the Wisconsin protests a test for the unions nationwide?


"Nearly 4,000 government union workers crowded the Ohio Statehouse today, protesting a bill by Republican state senator Shannon Jones that would eliminate some collective bargaining rights for public union employees in the state.

[...]

"In Indiana, over 600 United Steelworkers members protested Tuesday, opposing legislation that would make Indiana a right-to-work state and a different bill that would reduce unemployment benefits.

"Bottom line: What happens in Wisconsin could easily have a ripple effect across the nation. If the unions win, watch for them to challenge other governors just as aggressively. If they don’t win, that could embolden state legislators to vote for legislation unions oppose."

Maybe that's true, but either way Wisconsin legislators and the governor have to dig in here. The mid-west cannot give in to union threats, vitriol and protests.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Republican Lawmakers Face Threats of Attack

Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker Portrayed as Hitler photo by Ann Althouse


More Leftist civility: Hitler posters and physical threats-- in addition to the name-calling vitriol and walkouts.

Wasn't this the kind of response everyone expected from the Right after Obama was elected, or when ObamaCare was passed? It didn't happen. But it does happen in Wisconsin when you take on the Democrat-allied unions.


"Randy Hopper is a state senator in Wisconsin. A Republican. He is now holed up with his colleagues — his Republican colleagues — in the capitol. The Democratic senators have apparently fled the state. Hopper says, 'None of my colleagues from the minority party decided to come to work today.'

"The Democrats are denying the Republicans the quorum necessary to vote on key fiscal legislation.

[...]

"Hopper has received threatening phone calls and e-mails. These are threats of a physical nature. 'We are working with law enforcement in my district. They are watching my home and my business.' Other Republicans have had their homes and businesses threatened, too. The unionists have demonstrated outside those homes and businesses.

"A menacing old phrase comes to mind (and has been used by others, in talking about events in Wisconsin): We know where you live.

"Hopper says, 'I've always said that they can threaten me all they want, but it’s not going to stop me from doing what the people elected me to do.' And he says more than once, 'We’re still here.' The Republicans have not run anywhere.

"They have been pushed around (literally), screamed at, etc. The capitol is surrounded. The signs carried by the protesters are 'vicious,' says Hopper. There are comparisons of Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler, of course. And there are other signs 'I won’t describe to you.'"

Kind of funny that the OFA is funding this kind of stuff-- you know, reaching across the aisle and all that.

And of course there's the money involved. Michelle Malkin has a very, very long list of Illinois educators making $100,000+ a year in Wisconsin. Check it out. Do you think they're not going to scream "Hitler" to try to save that sort of money? Guess again.

Obama's OFA Playing Role in Organizing and Promoting Wisconsin Protests



Not exactly a shocker but still extremely inappropriate.


"The Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America arm -- the remnant of the 2008 Obama campaign -- is playing an active role in organizing protests against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's attempt to strip most public employees of collective bargaining rights.

"OfA, as the campaign group is known, has been criticized at times for staying out of local issues like same-sex marraige, but it's riding to the aide of the public sector unions who hoping to persuade some Republican legislators to oppose Walker's plan. And while Obama may have his difference with teachers unions, OfA's engagement with the fight -- and Obama's own clear stance against Walker -- mean that he's remaining loyal to key Democratic Party allies at what is, for them, a very dangerous moment.

"OfA Wisconsin's field efforts include filling buses and building turnout for the rallies this week in Madison, organizing 15 rapid response phone banks urging supporters to call their state legislators, and working on planning and producing rallies, a Democratic Party official in Washington said [emphasis mine]."

Nice to see some of that OFA's genuine grass roots support in action... just like the Coffee Party in that sense, right?

Meanwhile the Dem State Senators are still hiding to avoid the vote. Talk about burying your head in the sand...

Bahraini Troops Rout Protesters



"Troops and tanks locked down the capital of this tiny Gulf kingdom after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators, many of them sleeping, in a pre-dawn assault Thursday that uprooted their protest camp demanding political change. Medical officials said four people were killed.

"Hours after the attack on Manama's main Pearl Square, the military announced a ban on gatherings, saying on state TV that it had 'key parts' of the capital under its control.

"After several days of holding back, the island nation's Sunni rulers unleashed a heavy crackdown, trying to stamp out the first anti-government upheaval to reach the Arab states of the Gulf since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In the surprise assault, police tore down protesters' tents, beating men and women inside and blasting some with shotgun sprays of birdshot.

"It was a sign of how deeply the Sunni monarchy — and other Arab regimes in the Gulf — fear the repercussions of a prolonged wave of protests, led by members of the country's Shiite majority but also joined by growing numbers of discontented Sunnis.

"Tiny Bahrain is a pillar of Washington's military framework in the region. It hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which is a critical counterbalance to Iran. Bahrain's rulers and their Arab allies depict any sign of unrest among their Shiite populations as a move by neighboring Shiite-majority Iran to expand its clout in the region.

[...]

"The capital Manama was effectively shut down Thursday. For the first time in the crisis, tanks rolled into the streets and military checkpoints were set up as army patrols circulated. The Interior Ministry warned Bahrainis to stay off the streets. Banks and other key institutions did not open, and workers stayed home, unable or to afraid to pass through checkpoints to get to their jobs.

"Barbed wire and police cars with flashing blue lights encircled Pearl Square, the site of anti-government rallies since Monday. The square was turned into a field of flattened tents and the strewn belongings of the protesters who had camped there — pieces of clothing and boxes of food.

[...]

"The violence killed four people, said hospital officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

"Bahrain's parliament — minus opposition lawmakers who are staging a boycott — met in emergency session. One pro-government member, Jamila Salman, broke into tears. A leader of the Shiite opposition Abdul-Jalil Khalil said 18 lawmakers resigned to protest the killings.

[...]

"While the protests began as a cry for the country's Sunni monarchy to loosen its grip, the uprising's demands have steadily grown bolder. Many protesters called for the government to provide more jobs and better housing, free all political detainees and abolish the system that offers Bahraini citizenship to Sunnis from around the Middle East.

"Increasingly, protesters also chanted slogans to wipe away the entire ruling dynasty that has led Bahrain for more than 200 years and is firmly backed by the Sunni sheiks and monarchs across the Gulf.

"The stability of Bahrain's government is seen as crucial by its other allies in the Gulf, who — though they rarely say it in public — see Bahrain's Shiite majority as the weak link in their unity against Iranian influence.

"Hard-liners in Iran have often expressed kinship and support for Bahrain's Shiites. But in Bahrain, the community staunchly denies being a tool of Tehran, saying their complaints are rooted in their country's unbalanced system."

How will the US respond, other than urge restraint? Maybe Obama can make some flip-flop speeches again as he struggles to back the right horse.

Obama Set to Rebuke Israel at the UN


Unbelievable.


"The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body 'does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,' a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.

"But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday, according to officials familar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospect that the Obama adminstration will cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.

"Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with Israel and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to its key ally to stop its construction of new settlements. U.S. officials were not available for comment, but two Security Council diplomats confirmed the proposal.

[...]

"Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined the new U.S. offer in a closed door meeting on Tuesday with the Arab Group, a bloc of Arab countries from North Africa and the Middle East. In exchange for scuttling the Palestinian resolution, the United States would support the council statement, consider supporting a U.N. Security Council visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel's settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet.

"The U.S.-backed draft statement -- which was first reported by Al Hurra -- was obtained by Turtle Bay. In it, the Security Council 'expresses its strong opposition to any unilateral actions by any party, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community, and reaffirms, that it does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process.' The statement also condemns 'all forms of violence, including rocket fire from Gaza, and stresses the need for calm and security for both peoples.'

[...]

"The U.S. concession comes as the Middle East is facing a massive wave of popular demonstrations that have brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and are posing a challenge to governments in Algeria, Bahrain, and Iran." And Yemen, though it's not mentioned.


The Obama Administration has from the beginning worked its policies from the erroneous theory that Muslim hostility to the US is mainly due to Israel's existence. This is, most charitably, wishful thinking with no basis in reality. And now we see here Obama's "smart diplomacy" in action. After ingratiating apology speeches that demonstrated the Obama Administration's ignorance of the various Muslims' cultures and histories utterly failed, the Obama Administration will now rebuke Israel to satiate those hot tempers. Idiocy...

People have wondered if Obama would go down in history as the president who lost Egypt. That's probably a best case scenario. The real question is will Obama be the president who presided over a major war against Israel, and will he be the president that fiddled while the Middle East burned.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Protests in Yemen



Protests have spread to Yemen.


"Authorities flooded the streets of Yemen's capital with 2,000 police Wednesday to try to halt six days of Egypt-style demonstrations against the president of 32 years, a key U.S. ally in battling al-Qaida. One person was killed when police and protesters clashed in the southern port of Aden in the first known death during Yemen's political unrest.

"The police, including plainclothes officers, fired in the air and blocked thousands of students at Sanaa University from joining thousands of other protesters in the capital of the Arab world's most impoverished nation.

"A call spread via Facebook and Twitter urging Yemenis to join a series of 'One Million People' rallies on a so-called 'Friday of Rage' in all Yemeni cities, seeking the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"'We will remain in the streets until the regime departure,' according to a statement posted on Facebook. Copies signed by a group named the Feb. 24 Movement were distributed among youth via e-mail. The group is taking that name because organizers hope to have their biggest protest on that day next week.

"Taking inspiration from the toppling of autocratic leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, the protesters are demanding political reforms and Saleh's resignation, complaining of poverty, unemployment and corruption.

"Saleh has tried to defuse protesters' anger amid the unprecedented street demonstrations by saying he will not run for another term in 2013 and that he will not seek to set up his son, Ahmed, to succeed him in the conflict-ridden and impoverished nation.

[...]

"Saleh has become a key U.S. partner in battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network's offshoot in Yemen. The group's several hundred fighters have battled Saleh's U.S.-backed forces and have been linked to attacks beyond Yemen's borders, including the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009. The U.S. military plans a $75 million training program with Yemen's counterterrorism unit to expand its size and capabilities in the nation's mountainous terrain.

"It's a difficult balancing act for Saleh, who has been criticized as being too close to the United States.

"Yemeni state TV reported that Saleh has been holding meetings since Sunday with heads of tribes to prevent them from joining the anti-government protests.

[...]

"About 120 judges held a protest in front of the Ministry of Justice in Sanaa, calling for an independent judiciary and better salaries. It was the first demonstration by judges in Yemen.

"Saleh's government is weak — its control barely extends beyond the capital and is dependent on fragile alliances with powerful tribes — and it faces other serious challenges."

These challenges include both north and south Yemen threatening to secede.

This is why ingratiating speeches from the president is not really an American foreign policy. I have posted before about Obama weakening American allies with his apologies and promises to not unilaterally...

The collapse of Yemen's current government would pretty much put an end to any resistance to the Islamic terrorists in the country. Following a collapse, the terrorist groups will undoubtedly involve themselves in the tribal conflicts, but if they don't become an active threat against the tribal leaders as a whole, then they will be quite secure. None of the local tribes could dislodge the terrorist groups by themselves should they have the desire. If the terrorist groups back the right tribal coalitions (not unlike what bin Laden did in Afghanistan), then Yemen could as safe and secure for al Qaeda and their ilk as Taliban-ruled Afghanistan was.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bahrain Experiencing Unrest and Violent Protests


Bahrain is yet another country in the Middle East embroiled in civil unrest.


"Thousands of protesters poured into a main square in Bahrain's capital Tuesday in an Egypt-style rebellion that sharply escalated pressure on authorities as the Arab push for change gripped the Gulf for the first time.

"Security forces have battled demonstrators calling for political reforms and greater freedoms over two days, leading to the deaths of two protesters and the main opposition group vowing to freeze its work in parliament in protest.

"In a clear sign of concern over the widening crisis, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa made a rare national TV address, offering condolences for the deaths, pledging an investigation into the killings and promising to push ahead with reforms, which include loosening state controls on the media and Internet.

[...]

"Oppositions groups aren't calling for the ruling Sunni monarchy to be ousted, but they do want an end to its grip on key decisions and government posts.

"Other demands — listed on a poster erected in the square — included the release of all political prisoners, more jobs and housing, an elected Cabinet and the replacement of longtime prime minister, Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

[...]

"The nation's majority Shiites — about 70 percent of the population of some 500,000_ have long complained of discrimination and being blackballed from important state jobs.

"Many in the square waved Bahraini flags and chanted: 'No Sunnis, no Shiites. We are all Bahrainis.' It also appeared they were planning for the long haul. Some groups carried in tents and sought generators to set up under a nearly 300-foot (90-meter) monument cradling a giant white pearl-shaped ball that symbolizes the country's heritage as a pearl diving center.

"Bahrain is one of the most politically volatile nations in the Middle East's wealthiest corner despite having one of the few elected parliaments and some of the most robust civil society groups. A crackdown on perceived dissent last year touched off weeks of riots and clashes in Shiite villages, and an ongoing trial in Bahrain accuses 25 Shiites of plotting against the country's leadership.

"A prolonged showdown could draw in the region's two biggest rivals: Saudi Arabia, as close allies of Bahrain's Sunni monarchy, and Iran, whose hard-liners have spoken in support of the nation's Shiite majority [emphasis mine]."

The last sentence is especially important. It's hard to say exactly what will happen in Bahrain, but the possibility of long, violent protests that escalate into a full-scale revolution is very possible. Clearly the king of Bahrain senses the possibility as demonstrated by his appearance on TV.

The Muslim Brotherhood exists in Bahrain as the Al Eslah Society, the president of which, Isa bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, is a member of Bahrain's royal family. The political wing of the Al Eslah Society is the Al-Menbar Islamic Society. In the Dec. 2010 election, the Al-Menbar Islamic Society won only 2 seats in the Council of Representatives which has 40 members. However, the Al-Menbar Islamic Society is very well organized and, as noted, has associates within the royal family of Bahrain. They could flourish with a little chaos.

If a violent Revolution should happen (which could happen with or without the support of the Muslim Brotherhood), Bahrain could become a key battleground in a proxy war. The Saudis and Iranians could turn the country of Bahrain into something like Beirut from the 1980s with various factions with foreign support fighting for dominance.

It is a place worth watching, and the implications of a weakened and violent Bahrain are significant for the region. Given that the Obama Administration had no contingencies for a revolution in Egypt beyond trotting out Obama to give speeches desperately trying to back the right horse, Bahrain will receive little advice and no help from the US should the situation escalate.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Were WMDs Found in San Diego or Elsewhere in the US?

There's a local San Diego news (10 News San Diego, an ABC affiliate) video making the rounds, in which a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent seemed to have confirmed that weapons of mass destruction have been found by U.S. officials in the past. Maybe.

Bob McCarty at BigJournalism.com has an article here, coupled with a couple of shaky videos someone filmed while watching the TV news reports. The television news reports themselves are unwarrantably alarmist (especially once the raw footage of the interview is viewed), and the news anchors actively misconstrue what was really said by assistant port director Al Hallor.

The 10news.com article is better and can be found here. It reads:

"10News was granted access to San Diego's seaport for a firsthand look at how Customs and Border Protection officers safeguard against weapons of mass effect.

"'Given the open waterways and the access to the Navy fleet here, I'd say, absolutely, San Diego is a target,' said Al Hallor, who is the assistant port director and an officer with Customs and Border Protection.

"10News investigative reporter Mitch Blacher asked, 'Do you ever find things that are dangerous like a chemical agent or a weaponized device?'

"'At the airport, seaport, at our port of entry we have not this past fiscal year, but our partner agencies have found those things,' said Hallor."

This exchange came a bit later in the article:

"'So, specifically, you're looking for the dirty bomb? You're looking for the nuclear device?' asked Blacher.

"'Correct. Weapons of mass effect,' Hallor said.

"'You ever found one?' asked Blacher.

"'Not at this location,' Hallor said.

"'But they have found them?' asked Blacher.

"Yes,' said Hallor.

"'You never found one in San Diego though?' Blacher asked.

"'I would say at the port of San Diego we have not,' Hallor said.

"'Have you found one in San Diego?' Blacher asked.

"The interview was interrupted [by a public affairs officer] before Hallor was able to answer the question."

Huh.

Hallor is clearly hesitant and nervous in the interview. He is also clearly not used to being interviewed by the news which could be the reason for his nervousness (it was very obviously at least a partial factor). Did Hallor misspeak? If he did, he did so twice about the same subject, which is possible.

To their great credit, channel 10 has posted the raw video here. It's only about 6 minutes 30 seconds long, but it is very interesting. Check it out.

From the video:

(from about 2:53 in the video)

Blacher: Do you ever catch dangerous stuff, like uh... chemical agents, bombs?

Hallor: (sighs) Um... I don't know how to answer that one.

Hallor then asks a partially off camera woman, almost certainly the public affairs officer, about how to answer the question. Lots of inaudibles follow and not much of an answer is given.

In print this appears far more nefarious then it actually is on the video, but clearly Hallor and the public affairs officer have a list of "do not dos and mentions" in their guidelines regarding interviews. Another example of this, but hardly an alarming one, is at about 4:53 of the video when Hallor asks the likely public affairs officer if he should or should not talk specifically about the RID device, which is simply a part of the procedure to detect radiation in cargo containers.

The exchange about finding weapons of mass effect in San Diego transcribed in the 10 news article occurs at about 5:45 of the raw video. Right after the short largely inaudible exchange between Hallor, the public affairs officer and Blacher, this happens:

Blacher: Okay. You never found one in San Diego?

Hallor: (makes pained face before answering) I would say in the Port of San Diego, we have not.

Blacher: Have you found one in San Diego?

Hallor: (after about a six second pause) Trying to--

Public Affairs Officer (partially inaudible): Yeah, we'll just talk about the Port of San Diego. I'll follow up later because personally [inaudible] ever. So, I just want to double check to make sure we give them accurate information. So I'll follow up later about that.

As the 10 News article says, Customs and Border Protection sent this statement after the interview:

"CBP has not specifically had any incidents with nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry. CBP is an all-threats agency. The purpose of many security measures is to prevent threats from ever materializing by being prepared for them. And, we must be prepared to stop threats in whatever form they do materialize at the border, whether it’s an individual or cargo arriving by land, air, or sea. Regardless of what the contraband or threat is, we’re being smart, evaluating, and focusing in on anything or anyone that is potentially high-risk.

"We were able to show you first-hand one example of how we evaluate segment risk, inspect, etc. in the cargo environment by air and sea here in San Diego. This is one portion of the CBP mission, and hopefully gives you some examples of how much has evolved in the past decade, with the new technologies we have at our disposal. This, coupled with document requirements at the border, advanced passenger and cargo information, better information sharing, and many other measures help us to secure the border - and each measure doesn’t work individually or in a vacuum, but rather in the layered security that we were able to demonstrate one facet of."

I don't quite know what to make of all this. Local news in Southern California (as local news does elsewhere, I am sure) often jump on "scoops" and excitedly over-report on subjects that turn out to be nothing-- such as the Southern California "missile" incident (it was an aircraft's contrail).

Was this incident another nothing? Most likely.

Much of Hallor's hesitancy appears to come from wanting to be as accurate and specific as possible to the questions asked, as well as being on guard to some out-of-context "gotcha" moment. Likewise his nervousness could have been entirely from being camera shy. Hallor's manner suggests that he is not often called upon to do television interviews.

That being said, clearly Hallor said something that he should not have. Either he misspoke or let something slip.

The questions are:

When Hallor answered "yes" to the question "Have they found them [weapons of mass effect]?", was he accurate?

Did Hallor misunderstand the question, or did he get a little confused by the line of questioning due to being nervous? Could Hallor have thought that the "they" in the question referred to the devices that detect radioactive materials?

It would seem that if weapons of mass effect had been found and that the knowledge of was well-known enough for Hallor to be privy it, it would be almost impossible to keep it out of the public eye for so long. And the sort of slips that Hallor makes throughout the raw video seem mostly due to stage fright and being very intent about not saying something that could be misconstrued-- a bit of irony there, I suppose.

That said, Hallor does seem to make the same mistake twice, and the statement from Customs and Border Protection addresses only "nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry" and not non-nuclear weapons of mass effect. It's a little too specific for my tastes-- but, once again both government agencies and the media must play by the card regarding these sort of issues.

My bet is that this is all much ado but nothing-- but, I don't want to just completely dismiss the other possibility. It would certainly be nice if the media would follow up on this to confirm it one way or the other. I doubt that they will, though.