Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Archive for January 2005

Chris Muir Has Been on a Roll …

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… lately zinging the Iraqi elections, the UN, and other targets of opportunity. His cartoon can be found at the bottom of this page and here on his.

Written by martinipundit

January 31, 2005 at 8:50 am

Posted in General

Cats, Cats Everywhere

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Carnival of the Cats #45 is up at Watermark, and appropriately leads off with some Iraqi catblogging.

Written by martinipundit

January 31, 2005 at 8:46 am

Posted in Catblogging, Iraq

Tagged with ,

Iraq’s Turn

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As with Afghanistan, the handwringing nattering nabobs of negativity were wrong.

With the polls closed, it looks like the Iraqi turnout was about 72% easily beating the US turnout of just over 60% last November.

All around the country, Iraqis defied threats of violence and cast their votes. An initial estimate of turnout from the Independent Electoral Commission indicated that 72 percent of eligible Iraqi voters had turned out to cast their ballots.

The US can’t boast turnout approaching that for any election in a generation – and we don’t do it under guns and bombs of fanatic savages.

But the day was not without bloodshed. Eight homicide bombings and mortar strikes at polling stations killed at least 36 people. A Web site statement purportedly from insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group claimed responsibility for the election-day attacks.

And yet, for all the hype and fear-mongering of the MSM and the likes of Ted Kennedy, this is all the savages were able to do. To be sure it was a tragically bloody month in Iraq, but no one expected any less from the desperate terrorists. The foreign terrorists surely know a legitemate Iraqi government will have huge incentive to eradicate their pestilential presence and the Baathists can expect naught but a speedy trial followed by a last cigarette. The vast majority of Iraqis have spoken and they’ve rejected tyranny and terror.

No word on whether Ted Kennedy thinks that’s a good thing or not.

Written by martinipundit

January 30, 2005 at 10:35 am

Posted in GWOT, Iraq

Chloe Is Warm

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It’s been cold here in Massachusetts and while we get good heat in Villa MartiniPundit we’ve been trying to avoid turning it up too high. Daphne and Chloe are not thrilled with this decision, but neither can they reach the thermostat. So we’ve seen some altered behavior, new sleeping spots nearer to heating elements, and then this:

First Chloe discovered the blanket and then Daphne discovered that she could siphon off Chloe’s body heat. Shamelessly clever.

Written by martinipundit

January 28, 2005 at 6:15 pm

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with , ,

Al Gore Call Your Office

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The Brits are certainly getting cheeky, stealing Al Gore’s invention:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, has been named Greatest Briton 2004. Sir Tim, whose invention changed the world forever, was named overall Greatest Briton at the ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

Honestly, will Gore never get the recognition he deserves? First Love Story, then his coronation, and now this. It’s almost enough to make one lose one’s balance …

Written by martinipundit

January 28, 2005 at 9:05 am

The Damaged San Francisco

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The Navy has released pictures of the damage the USS San Francisco sustained when colliding with that undersea ‘mountain.’ Here’s one:

God Bless watertight bulkheads.

Written by martinipundit

January 27, 2005 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Ships

Rice Confirmed

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For all the blather, Condi Rice has been confirmed as the next Secretary of State 85-13.

Here are the senators voting against:

  • Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia
  • Jack Reed of Rhode Island
  • Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts
  • Mark Dayton of Minnesota
  • Barbara Boxer of California
  • John Kerry of Massachusetts
  • Carl Levin of Michigan
  • Tom Harkin of Iowa
  • Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey
  • Evan Bayh of Indiana
  • Daniel Akaka of Hawaii
  • Richard Durbin of Illinois
  • Jim Jeffords of Vermont

Democrats all save for Jeffords the ‘independent.’ The only real surprise is Evan Bayh who’s often portrayed as less extreme than the others on the list. It’s also instructive that Hillary Clinton – nobody’s fool – voted to confirm.

Written by martinipundit

January 26, 2005 at 1:58 pm

Captain Ed’s Cluebat

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Captain Ed eviscerates the dog and pony show the senate Democrats treated us to yesterday. Not to be missed, and surely not improved upon.

Written by martinipundit

January 26, 2005 at 9:05 am

Twisted Humor

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I noticed this ad on Truth, Lies, and Common Sense.

It’s in very bad taste, but still funny in a sick and twisted sort of way.

Update Just so we’re clear, this is a hoax, and not an actual Volkswagen ad.

Written by martinipundit

January 25, 2005 at 4:52 pm

Posted in GWOT

Some Things Never Change

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Imagine, there’s still anti-semitism in, of all places, Russia:

A group of nationalist Russian lawmakers called Monday for a sweeping investigation aimed at outlawing all Jewish organizations and punishing officials who support them, accusing Jews of fomenting ethnic hatred and saying they provoke anti-Semitism.[emphasis mine]

No Jews = No Anti-semitism.

That was the Nazi formula as I recall. Disgusting that there are still those who follow it.

Written by martinipundit

January 25, 2005 at 12:26 pm

More on the Chinese ‘Terror’ Plot

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A plane, four Chinese, a Mexican pilot, and a suspected caller in custody.

Not bad.

It’s now being reported that officials of the Dept. of Homeland Security forced a Cessna to land in San Antonio:

Department of Homeland Security officials forced a small plane carrying four apparently illegal Chinese immigrants and a pilot identified as a Mexican national to land at an airport in San Antonio Monday night, officials said today. The immigrants were being held at Stinson Airfield shortly after federal agents forced their plane down.

Authorities are trying to determine if the four pasengers on board the Cessna 172-P, two men and two women, are linked to a report that several Chinese nationals were attempting to set off a ‘dirty bomb’ in the Boston area.

The plane is apparently co-owned by someone with an Islamic-sounding name:

Online records of the Federal Aviation Administration show the 20-year-old plane is co-owned by Afzal Hameed of Dover, Del. The other co-owner is listed as Alyce S. Taylor, but no address is given for her. The FAA records state that the plane’s last three-year registration was filed in 1999, and that the agency received no response in 2002 after mailing new registration forms to Hameed.

There may yet be an Islamic angle to this odd tale.

Meanwhile, the FBI has a suspect in custody who may be the caller:

Jose Ernesto Beltran Quinones, whom the FBI had identified Friday as a person sought for questioning, was taken into custody by Mexican state judicial police, said Dan Dzwilewski, chief of the FBI office in San Diego. FBI agents attended the questioning, which was still under way last night. Interviewers were likely to focus first on the alleged radiological threat, and then on Beltran’s motivations, which may have been anger that he had not been paid for smuggling Chinese immigrants into the country, Dzwilewski said.

“The first area of concern for the FBI is to resolve any pending national security threat issues, and that issue being the statement that was made that nuclear material was being brought into the United states,” Dzwilewski said. “We’re working with Mexican authorities trying to resolve that question.”

Dzwilewski declined to say how Beltran was identified or located.

However they did it, kudos.

So what’s going on here? The plane apparently took off from Mexico, and while it’s not certain these are the same four Chinese, they superficially meet the description. Did Beltran ‘dump’ them over the border or not? If so, what were they doing back in Mexico? And to be clear – no one is flying a Cessna from Mexico to Massachusetts. Apart from the limited range, eluding detection would be impossible – amply demonstrated by the fact that they didn’t make it as far as San Antonio.

Sooner or later it will turn out that this is all about drugs. Still, there is another question – who is Afzal Hameed?

Michelle Malkin is all over that.

Written by martinipundit

January 25, 2005 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Boston, GWOT

Anti-Smoking Zealots Run Amok

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Frankly, they should sue.

Not something I’m inclined to say lightly, as I think we’re far too litigious a society, however, there are times when the nanny impulse goes too far.

Four employees of a health care company have been fired for refusing to take a test to determine whether they smoke cigarettes.

Weyco Inc., a health benefits administrator based in Okemos, Mich., adopted a policy Jan. 1 that allows employees to be fired if they smoke, even if the smoking happens after business hours or at home.

They claim it’s because the company doesn’t wish to pay for health costs related to smoking. The argument knocking down that specious logic is neither difficult nor new. You know how it goes: what about employees who engage in dangerous sporting activities or drink or are overweight etc.

The anti-smoking crusade is about people wanting to tell other people what to do. it’s the oldest game on the planet. Ever since the first cavemen started living in groups, one of them was always trying to tell the others what to do. Sometimes, he ended up alone on the sabre tooth tiger hunt.

No employer has the right to dictate what an employee does on his or her own free time. Weyco thinks this is a victory. I’d call it a defeat for personal liberties.

Written by martinipundit

January 25, 2005 at 11:39 am

Posted in General, Idiotarians

Carnival of the Cats #44

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The latest Carnival of the Cats is up over at Music and Cats. Go check it out.

Written by martinipundit

January 24, 2005 at 8:39 am

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with

Sunday Reads

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The big story this week is of course the W2 inauguration which we’ll get to in a moment, but first, a reminder that even our most steadfast allies like Britain cannot be taken for granted.

Senator Boxer has been having a bad month. Some continue to defend her in the name of ‘protest,’ that sacred right to speak truth to power or something like that. Protest for protest’s sake is little more than rhetorical masturbation, but no matter – Boxer still does it in public. In some people’s worlds, Alan Alda is the archetypal conservative. I don’t watch the West Wing (anyone surprised?) but I don’t have to wait a whole year to find out that he’ll be losing his fictional election. In Hollywood, all presidents are Democrats – I’d rather the real world anyway.

Running up to the inauguration, Tim Hames wonders about the pervasiveness of the ‘Bush is dumb’ meme. He need not as it applies to all Republicans.

On Bush’s second inaugural address, Michael Barone thinks it revolutionary, Bill Kristol historic, and Peggy Noonan is not so sure. Robert Kagan thinks it’s a move to realism.

A lot of people understand that the Mad Mullahs in Iran should be worried.

And we round out with Mark Steyn’s view.


Written by martinipundit

January 23, 2005 at 11:08 am

Posted in General

Cats Sans Shame

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Cats are notoriously without shame (I believe the great philosopher George Carlin once remarked on this) and Chloe and Daphne are no exceptions. This vision was bad enough:

But Daphne has a long way to go to top this:

Written by martinipundit

January 21, 2005 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with , ,

Still No Iraqis but Add One American

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It looks like we’re reaching the end of the Chinese terror ‘plot.’ The anonymous tipster has now added a used car dealer from San Diego previously known to the DEA.

The tipster also gave police the names of a San Diego used car dealer and his girlfriend, contending that they were involved in a smuggling ring and in drug dealing, according to several law enforcement officials. The car dealer has previously been investigated as a possible drug dealer by federal and state officials in California

Sounds like this guy has a long list of people he wants to get in trouble. And more light has been shed on the origin of the photos and additional names:

The unidentified caller directed police to a package he had tossed over a border fence into California with three visas that had been issued to three of the Chinese nationals by the Mexican embassy in Beijing and a Chinese identity card for the fourth, the officials said.

According to one official, inside the package were airline ticket stubs indicating that the four had flown from Beijing to Mexico City. Some documents in the package, including baggage claim tickets, contained 10 additional names, but it was unclear what their connection was to the six or whether they are aliases for them.

The Associated Press reported last night that nine of the additional names are Chinese: Yu Xian Weng, a woman either 40 or 41; Quinquan or Quiquan Lin, 21; Liqiang Liang, 28; Min Xiu Xie, 27; Xiang or Xing Wei Liu, 22; Mei Xia Dong, 21; Xiuming Chen; Cheng Yin Liu; and Zao Yun Wang. The 10th name is Jose Ernesto Beltran Quinones, of unknown age or national origin, according to the AP. The FBI said that none of the 10 appeared previously on any kind of watch list, the AP reported.

My suspicions about the quality of the photography aside, this is looking more and more like a drug deal gone sour. We may never know who the anonymous caller is, but if as it now appears this turns out to be a hoax and we catch him he should be charged and prosecuted for everything we can find – including overdue parking tickets. As to the Chinese – immediate deportation back to the PRC seems right.

The greater good that can come out of this is the need to change our border procedures. The threat would have been far less credible if border jumping were far more difficult.

Written by martinipundit

January 21, 2005 at 8:43 am

Posted in Boston, GWOT

Still No Iraqis

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The FBI is seeking ten more Chinese for questioning in an alleged terror plot aimed at Boston, but still nothing on any Iraqis.

Is that not a little strange?

I mean, the Chinese have no ethnic history of terrorism but all of a sudden fourteen of them are involved in a plot? With a couple of Iraqis who apparently are dead ringers for the invisible man.

And I still find the pictures of the four we have to be odd.

Written by martinipundit

January 20, 2005 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Boston, GWOT

Thoughts on the Second Inaugural of President Bush

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President Bush is only the 16th president to win a second term in office, and given his father is not among them, today must be of special significance for him. If he completes the term (and God willing it will be so), he will join an even smaller circle of presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton – eleven in all – who have been reelected after their first term and completed the second. All of these men left an indelible mark on the nation. It is often said that second terms (after the 22nd Amendment) are punctuated by slow decline, but even the three presidents who’ve fallen under its requirements still made an enormous impact. Perhaps it’s merely the amount of time – nearly a decade – that causes them to permeate the national scene in ways denied to one term presidents, but it’s also the ability to pursue an agenda for that period of time as well. (Grover Cleveland might also count in this group, but he lost his reelection bid after his first term. I’m also oversimplifying in that Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Truman, and Nixon left considerable legacies for better or for worse.)

President Bush has laid out the themes for his second term and his legacy very simply in his second inaugural speech: freedom, liberty, the end of tyranny. In an address lasting just over twenty minutes, he spent the first 10 or so on the subject of freedom, the next 5 on a ‘good neighbor’ at home and the responsibilities of freedom (social security got a passing mention as — retirement savings”) and the last 5 on liberty. The speech itself was simple and straightforward without rhetorical excess – it was not Cicero – and it threw down a gauntlet cannot be doubted.

Meanwhile, Mike Newdow must be chewing nails as the references to God were quite abundant even calling him the — author of liberty.” Additional references to the ideals of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Koran no doubt rankled as well. Freedom gnaws at the soul of us all, and the President dares to dream that one day it will light the darkest corners of the world.

But from the moment Bush referred to the — day of fire” it was clear that this was to be a shot aimed across the bows of tyrants. — The survival of liberty in our land depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” The mad mullahs in Iran, Gumby in North Korea, the tyrants in Riyadh, Damascus, Havana and elsewhere, must now know they’ve got a tough four years – assuming they survive them which many of them also know they will not.

Bush declared that we will oppose tyranny, support democratic movements, and defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms if need be. I think we can also assume that defense will sometimes be interpreted to include a good offense. For all the talk in the last few weeks of social security, taxes, and judges the clear theme for the second Bush term is freedom is on the advance.

Lincoln – whose second term was cut tragically short – is the only person quoted by name in the speech and his legacy is the abolition of slavery in the United States. Bush is aligning himself with that achievement and calls for the end of tyranny in our world. Ambitious to be sure, but never has the prospect for success been brighter. Now that will be a legacy.

Update Text of the speech here.

Update II Joe Gandelman is rounding up other views.

Written by martinipundit

January 20, 2005 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Politics

What About the Iraqis?

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The FBI has released pictures of the four Chinese suspects and identified them – possibly through China as there appears to be no criminal record involved. Here they are:

According to the Boston Herald, the photos were left at the designated “drop spot,” but that the informant was not there. No information on the Iraqis so far.

Although this threat still seems far-fetched, the authorities are correctly taking it very seriously. While a so-called “dirty bomb” is not a nuclear device, and is unlikely to be dangerous itself outside the immediate blast area, depending on the amount of radioactive material, it could contaminate a large part of the city. (Winds of Change has a dirty bomb primer.)

Yet it’s more likely that this was an illegal border crossing gone bad somehow. This is a topic Michelle Malkin has been covering for some time. More vigilance on the quite porous Mexican border (and Canadian while we’re at it) would seem prudent at least for the duration of the GWoT.

I find it odd to have four Chinese and only two Iraqis. If indeed Chinese ‘chemists’ were needed, it seems unlikely that they would outnumber the Iraqis. Further, given that there are no photos of the Iraqis (are those passport photos of the Chinese?) could it be that the real story is that four Chinese attempted an illegal border crossing, said they were planning to go to Boston, but crossed their Mexican benefactor somehow who then concocted the tale – throwing in the Iraqis to give the story some starch.

Stay tuned.

Update Backcountry Conservative lists many of the bloggers on the story.

Another Update Soxblog has thoughts on gallows humor.

Yet Another Update I’ve found an actual image of a Chinese passport here and the photo doesn’t really look like the ones of the suspects. Indeed, as I look at the latter, the pictures of the four seem strangely old-fashioned. I’m not sure what to make of that as I’m no expert on photography, but they look old as if taken in the 70s. Here’s one larger. I can’t help but notice that the colors are a bit washed out, as if this picture had been around for some time. I suppose someone could have botched the scanning job, or it may be something else. One thing is clear – someone is playing games.

Written by martinipundit

January 20, 2005 at 9:22 am

Posted in Boston, GWOT

Barbara Boxer Unleashed

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Barbara Boxer has gotten away from her handlers again. As if contesting Ohio wasn’t silly enough, she made a fool of herself in the Condi Rice hearings yesterday:

“And I personally believe — this is my personal view — that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth.”

I’d say the senator’s gross partisanship and loathing for this President has overwhelmed her respect for civility and decency.

Written by martinipundit

January 19, 2005 at 10:14 pm

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