Monday, October 31, 2005

Galloway in the dock Things are heating up for Not-so-gorgeous George Galloway.

With typical bravado Galloway spent much of last week saying he was "begging" to be prosecuted. He could get his wish, perhaps on both sides of the Atlantic. As Scotland on Sunday reveals today, Coleman has now sent his report and extracts from Volcker's findings to the Department for Justice, two federal prosecutors and to the district attorney's office in Manhattan. The aim is to ensure that as many prosecutors are involved State-side as possible in the hope that at least one will launch a criminal investigation.

Galloway is right to say that, even now, no-one has produced evidence to prove he personally profited from Saddam's regime, though it is becoming pretty clear his "charity" did, as did his wife, from whom he is now estranged (but was not when the money transfers were made to her account from his close business associate). Galloway also claims that Aziz was misquoted by the US Senate Committee.

But the evidence against him is growing. We now see what appears to be a trail of money linking Galloway's wife, his charity, his spokesman and his business partner to a fraud scheme run by one of the world's most brutal dictators. Even if that does not lead to his day in court, in America or Britain, he might still have to face Sir Philip Mawer, the House of Commons commissioner for standards. He has a broader remit and has already started conducting his own inquiry.

When he emerged from Senator Coleman's committee last May, Galloway declared the United States to be "tinder dry, waiting for a spark like this". This weekend the flames are drawing uncomfortably close to his own feet.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Defending The Indefensible Here's maybe the best George Will column I've read. Certainly the best on the Harriet Miers fiasco.

Still, Miers must begin with 22 Democratic votes against her. Surely no Democrat can retain a shred of self-respect if, having voted against John Roberts, he or she then declares Miers fit for the court. All Democrats who so declare will forfeit a right and an issue -- their right to criticize the administration's cronyism.

And Democrats, with their zest for gender politics, need this reminder: To give a woman a seat on a crowded bus because she is a woman is gallantry. To give a woman a seat on the Supreme Court because she is a woman is a dereliction of senatorial duty. It also is an affront to mature feminism, which may bridle at gallantry but should recoil from condescension.

As for Republicans, any who vote for Miers will thereafter be ineligible to argue that it is important to elect Republicans because they are conscientious conservers of the judicial branch's invaluable dignity. Finally, any Republican senator who supinely acquiesces in President Bush's reckless abuse of presidential discretion -- or who does not recognize the Miers nomination as such -- can never be considered presidential material.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Festival for fools Here's a beaut about an arts festival in Australia that seems to have been designed by Monty Python.

VICTORIA Hanna, said an awed Age reviewer, is an "Arab Jew" who sings "words drawn from ancient Hebrew" and even Aramaic.

Her repertoire for this Melbourne International Arts Festival is so insistently mystical that it "includes a prayer for going to the toilet".
And, such being the vibe of this festival, the madder she acts and the more incomprehensibly she sings, the more convinced is her audience that it's witnessing art at its most profound.

As our Age reviewer reported: "At one point, Hanna donned dark glasses and climbed onto a chair, chanting in klezner-style gibberish like a zany character from an Emir Kusturica film.

"Later, she produced a bowl of crisp apples and crunched loudly, her voice processed and moulded into a percussive backdrop as she chewed and spat with increasing fervour."

I wonder whether Hanna, back in her hotel room after chewing apples at a mystic-minded Melbourne crowd, laughed and laughed and laughed at getting away with it. How could her audience be so silly as to regard the chewing of an apple as art?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Transterrestrial Musings A satire of how Iwo Jima might have been covered by today's press.

March 3rd, 1945

IWO JIMA (Routers) Controversy has erupted among the press corps in the last few days as news has spread that the now-famous picture of the "victorious" flag raising over Iwo Jima a couple weeks ago was staged. Many believe that, as the huge number of casualties mounted in the ill-fated and pointless invasion of this tiny island, the Roosevelt administration, desperate for a bit of pro-war propaganda, arranged to have the photo taken for dissemination to the world's news services.

It has been revealed that the picture was actually of a "recreation" of an earlier flag raising of a much smaller flag, though even that event has now been cast into doubt by the apparent attempt to mislead the press.

There is abundant evidence that the picture was not only unspontaneous, but orchestrated on orders from higher ups.

"None of the men in the picture actually carried the flag to the top," one reporter noted. "It was brought up by a lieutenant in charge, probably at White House orders." In addition, none of the men in the picture had even been injured in the fighting to that point.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq

We have made plenty of mistakes since September 11, often failed to articulate our goals and values, and turned on each other in perpetual acrimony. Federal spending is out of control, and our present energy policy won’t wean us off Middle Eastern petroleum for years. But still lost in all this conundrum is that the old appeasement of the 1990s is over, the terrorists are losing both tactically and strategically, and, as Tony Blair said of the evolving Western mentality, “The rules of the game are changing.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

John Fund on Harriet Miers What a disaster this is. Bush is providing lots of evidence that many of the things the Left says about him aren't far wrong. This is really disillusioning.

Reactions to her from her former colleagues were mixed. Craig McDaniel, a liberal council member, praises her ability to get along with diverse groups of people and tells the Dallas Voice, a gay newspaper, "This is as good as we would ever get out of a Republican administration." Jerry Bartos, a conservative council colleague, rated her effectiveness at "zero" and called her "the consummate loner." But Sharon Boyd, a longtime friend and GOP activist, says many conservatives resented her solely because she had remained a Democrat until 1988. Ms. Boyd calls Ms. Miers's record on the council "very conservative." Yet when pressed for examples, she could only offer Ms. Miers's opposition to civil unions for gays and support for a constitutional amendment against flag burning.

On other issues, Ms. Miers's record is one of initially supporting a conservative position and then abandoning it. She started out backing a plan to redistrict the City Council that had received the endorsement of two-thirds of Dallas voters in a 1989 referendum. When it appeared that plan would lose a court case on account of its alleged effect on minority representation, she backed a plan for single-member districts supported by liberals. "I formally debated her on the issue," recalls Tom Pauken, a former chairman of the Texas Republican Party. "She was a liberal then. I don't know about today, but in the last week all the liberals who've been on the council have been singing her praises."

Similarly, Ms. Miers was originally part of a council majority that urged Congress to repeal the Wright Amendment, a law that restricts flights from Dallas Love Field. Southwest Airlines and free-market advocates had long attacked the restriction as favoritism toward American Airlines, which has a hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International. Ms. Miers reversed her position after 10 months and sponsored a resolution in favor of the Wright Amendment. She called her move "a triumph of reason over rhetoric" and cited two studies that claimed flying more planes out of Love would lead to traffic congestion. Most aviation experts dispute that conclusion.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Withdraw This Nominee Krauthammer here on the Meiers nomination.

By choosing a nominee suggested by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and well known only to himself, the president has ducked a fight on the most important domestic question dividing liberals from conservatives: the principles by which one should read and interpret the Constitution. For a presidency marked by a courageous willingness to think and do big things, this nomination is a sorry retreat into smallness.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Katrina & Race Bush is worse than Bull Connor? Check out these stats on federal spending in Louisiana. We've been throwing money down that rathole for years and the Left tries to pin the remaining poverty on Bush? Nice try.

Using the Consolidated Federal Funds Report’s latest data, Johnson found that, “Across all federal programs, Orleans Parish received $12,645 per capita in fiscal year 2003. At the same time, the national average was $7,089 per capita. Put another way, New Orleans received 78.4 percent more funding per person than the national average.”

Johnson also examined 21 low-income-assistance programs. Among them, inflation-adjusted federal poverty spending in Orleans Parish equaled $5,899 per-poor-person in Bill Clinton’s final, full-fiscal-year 2000 budget. By fiscal 2003, such outlays soared to $10,222. Under Bush, federal anti-poverty spending per-poor-New Orleanian ballooned 73.3 percent, or an average, annual hike of 24.4 percent over three years!

Johnson discovered, for instance, that spending on Immunization Grants dropped 80.51 percent, and Supportive Housing for the Elderly fell 25.6 percent during Bush’s first three years. However, Child Support Enforcement grew 8.3 percent. Head Start rose 13.8 percent. Food Stamps increased 43.1 percent. Pell Grants advanced 126 percent. Community Health Center funding accelerated 163.6 percent, and so on.

In 1999, under Clinton, Orleans Parish had 135,429 poor people and a 27.9 percent poverty rate. In 2004, under Bush, 102,636 New Orleanians were poor, while the poverty rate eased to 23.2 percent. So, pre-Katrina, the Big Easy’s poverty rate slid 16.8 percent during Bush’s tenure. What was that about the KKK?