Contact Me

About RightWing NutHouse

Site Stats

blog radio

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More


(Romeo St. Martin of Politics Watch-Canada)

"The epitome of a blogging orgasm"
(Cao of Cao's Blog)

"Rick Moran is one of the finest essayists in the blogosphere. ‘Nuff said. "
(Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye)

October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004



Blacksmiths of Lebanon
Blogs of War
Classical Values
Cold Fury
Diggers Realm
Neocon News
Ravenwood’s Universe
Six Meat Buffet
The Conservative Cat






















‘Unleash’ Palin? Get Real






"24" (96)
Bird Flu (5)
Blogging (198)
Books (10)
Caucasus (1)
Cindy Sheehan (13)
Decision '08 (288)
Election '06 (7)
Ethics (172)
Financial Crisis (8)
FRED! (28)
General (378)
GOP Reform (22)
Government (123)
History (166)
Homeland Security (8)
Iran (81)
Katrina Timeline (4)
Lebanon (8)
Marvin Moonbat (14)
Media (184)
Middle East (134)
Moonbats (80)
Obama-Rezko (14)
Olympics (5)
Open House (1)
Palin (5)
PJ Media (37)
Politics (649)
Presidential Debates (7)
RNC (1)
S-CHIP (1)
Sarah Palin (1)
Science (45)
Space (21)
Sports (2)
Supreme Court (24)
Technology (1)
The Caucasus (1)
The Law (14)
The Long War (7)
The Rick Moran Show (127)
War on Terror (330)
Who is Mr. Hsu? (7)
Wide Awakes Radio (8)


Admin Login


Design by:

Hosted by:

Powered by:

We are dealing with absolutely criminal and crazy acts of irresponsible and reckless decision makers, which is on the ground producing dramatic and tragic consequences.” – Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili

Well, that’s one way to describe Vladmir Putin’s naked power grab against Georgia. “Criminal and crazy” certainly fits the Russian prime minister to a “T.” But methinks there may be a method to Putin’s madness.

Putin covets South Ossetia as a way to block western influence in the Caucasus. He also needs the breakaway province as a staging area for his war of nerves with Georgia and its democracy championing president Mikhail Saakashvili. Putin sees Saakashvili as a threat to his iron hold on the caucuses and resents the Georgian president’s attempts to join NATO.

The fog of war is particularly thick since communications are bad to begin with and made worse by the Russians apparently targeting communications hubs. Just how bad things are is anyone’s guess:

Shota Utiashvili, an official at the Georgian Interior Ministry, called the attack on Gori a “major escalation,” and said he expected attacks to increase over the course of Saturday. He said some 16 Russian planes were in the air over Georgian territory at any given time on Saturday, four times the number of sorties seen Friday.

In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, wounded fighters and civilians began to arrive in hospitals, most with shrapnel or mortar wounds. Several dozen names had been posted outside the hospital.

In a news conference, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Georgian attacks on Russian citizens “amounted to ethnic cleansing.”

Mr. Lavrov said Russian airstrikes targeted military staging grounds. Asked whether Russia is prepared to fight “all-out war” in Georgia, he said: “No. Georgia, I believe, started a war in Southern Ossetia, and we are responsible to keep the peace.”

Actually, there has been a low level conflict in South Ossetia since the province broke away with Russian help in the early 90’s. At that time, Russian “peacekeepers” moved in to, in effect, maintain the status quo. Then, in 2004, Saakashvili was elected on a pro-democracy, nationalistic platform promising to reunite with both South Ossetia and another break away province Abkhazia.

Putin, who appears unstable at times, was reported to have had a carpet chewing episode a la Hitler when he heard of Saakashvili’s election – especially since his hand picked candidate got creamed. He vowed not to give up South Ossetia and has tried to kick Georgia out of the province ever since.

This latest round of trouble occurred when several Georgian policemen were killed by a roadside bomb. Georgia responded by lobbing some mortar rounds into a South Ossetian separatist military enclave and Putin (who is in Beijing himself) seeing the world’s attention on China at the moment, decided to launch what is either going to be a punitive raid or perhaps the big enchilada – full scale military invasion of Georgia. At the moment, anything could happen.

One bit of comic relief has been supplied by the man elected President of Russia who is supposed to be in charge of the army and foreign affairs but who apparently was either kept out of the loop or isn’t calling the shots. If anyone needed any proof who is really running the show in Russia, this military action should dispel all doubts:

The conflict in Georgia also appeared to suggest the limits of the power of President Dmitri A. Medvedev, Mr. Putin’s hand-picked successor. During the day, it was Mr. Putin’s stern statements from China, where he was visiting the opening of the Olympic Games, that appeared to define Russia’s position.

But Mr. Medvedev made a public statement as well, making it unclear who was directing Russia’s military operations. Officially, that authority rests with Mr. Medvedev, and foreign policy is outside Mr. Putin’s portfolio.

“The war in Ossetia instantly showed the idiocy of our state management,” said a commentator on the liberal radio station, Ekho Moskvy. “Who is in charge – Putin or Medvedev?”

Putin should stop the charade and just name himself emperor. Or Czar.

Of concern to the west is not only the independence of a democratic Georgia, but also a good chunk of western Europe’s oil supply. The Caspian ports from where that oil is shipped are in danger of being bombed at any time and any interruption in supply will cause the price of oil to reverse its current downward trend and rocket back up into the stratosphere.

On top of all this is the need for Putin to maintain contact with his friends in Tehran. The Caucasus are the back door to the Persian Gulf  and have historically been a vital crossroads in playing “The Great Game” of big powers seeking to control the region where smuggling routes over the years for everything from drugs to blue jeans have meant fabulous profits for those on top. A continuing NATO presence in Georgia threatens Putin’s lines of communication with Iran which is just one more reason for Putin’s bluster in the region.

Chances are this conflict will die down quickly. Georgia can’t afford to go to war with Russia and Putin would rather burrow from within when it comes to taking down Saakashvili. But the real chances for peace lie with the South Ossetia separatists. And they have their own agenda they are following at the moment.

By: Rick Moran at 10:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

Democrat=Socialist linked with Obama Just Can’t Get Right...
Maggie's Farm linked with Back from fishin' links... Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Georgian army moves to retake S. Ossetia...

Well, duh.

The last seven and a half years have seen the world in turmoil. Growth pains due to globalization, the rising challenge of China and India, a newly autocratic Russia, an EU increasingly going its own way economically, and related to that, the slow collapse of NATO as a viable coalition, dying a slow death in the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.

Oh…did I mention 9/11 and the American invasion and occupation of Iraq?

Those looking for a common thread may be tempted to lump all of these civilization altering changes under the rubric of “Bush’s incompetence” or “Bush’s stupidity.” But seriously now, are you really that shallow and stupid? All of those challenges have been developing for at least a decade or more. The growth and rapid advancement of globalization has resulted in unparalleled economic growth as well as massive economic dislocation. Bush policies have accelerated some of the local effects of globalization – some good some bad. China and India would be on the verge of economic superpower status regardless of anything America could do.

The EU is still trying to emerge from infancy, still unsure of itself politically. It’s economic performance is improving but nowhere near what was promised. Nevertheless, the EU seems willing to strike out on its own and become a separate entity from the US. Europe had always defined itself through its relations with America through NATO. No longer.

And NATO itself is dying. Unable to face the growing challenges in Afghanistan as most of its members refuse to commit combat forces to the fight, NATO’s reason for being is being challenged with no good answers emerging to give justification for its continued existence. It was thought adding former Eastern bloc countries to the organization would reinvigorate it. Instead, it has simply delayed the inevitable.

And then, there is Iraq.

To say that the Iraq War has made America unpopular in the world is something of a misnomer. It would be more accurate to say the war has made us more unpopular. In truth, it is a myth – one generated for obvious political reasons by the left – that post 9/11, the world was on “our side” and that we were an object of affection and that the world was with us.

Poppycock. I’ve been trying to debunk this myth almost since I started blogging. Much more of the planet celebrated the collapse of the WTC than wept. Those that laid flowers at memorial sites or wrote heartfelt missives to America were showing their solidarity with the American people, not our government.

This was made evident less than 48 hours after the attacks when audience members attending the BBC TV show “Question Time” brought the former ambassador Philip Laden to the verge of tears as they blamed America for the attacks:

Mr Lader had been attempting to express his sadness over the attacks when a number of audience members had shouted him down to voice their anti-US opinions. Mr Lader had looked close to tears.

At times, David Dimbleby struggled to control the discussion as voices and tempers became raised.

Some audience members said the US was ultimately responsible for the attacks because of its foreign policy.

William Shawcross, stuck in London following 9/11, reported what happened on the TV program “Question Time” and gave voice to the predominant view on the continent and most of the rest of the world regarding America:
But the response of some of the Question Time audience reveals a darker side and shows the awful truth that these days there is just one racism that is tolerated – anti-Americanism. Not just tolerated, but often applauded. Like any other nation, the US makes mistakes at home and abroad. (I wrote about some of those in Indochina.)

But the disdain with which its failures and its efforts are greeted by some in Britain and elsewhere in Europe is shocking. Anti-Americanism often goes much further than criticism of Washington. Too often the misfortunes of America are met with glee, a schadenfreude that is quite horrifying.

On Tuesday, I sat watching television numbed by the grief, wondering if anyone I knew had been murdered. Since then, I have been devouring newspapers, attempting to learn more and more of the details. Every day, the agony gets worse. The more details we read of the last phone calls, the emails, the relatives watching those they loved as they died on television, the more personal and intimate this catastrophe becomes – and the more the victims, their families and their society deserve our sympathy.

But I have an awful fear that the solidarity with the US expressed at the United Nations and in Europe this week will not last long. Fundamentalist anti-Americanism will again rear its head, as it did on Question Time. Philip Lader behaved with extraordinary dignity on saying, with tears in his eyes: “I have to share with you that I find it hurtful that you can suggest that a majority of the world despises the US.”

And the Wall Street Journal (“The Myth of Squandered Sympathy“) ices the case that the world was never “with us” after 9/11 with this scathing look at the French and the famous newspaper headline “We are all Americans” which was actually an anti-American editorial:
Thus are legends born. For the solidarity ostentatiously displayed in the title of Mr. Colombani’s editorial is in fact massively belied by the details of the text itself.

By the fifth paragraph, Mr. Colombani is offering his general reflections on the geo-political conditions he supposes provoked the attacks:

“The reality is surely that of a world without a counterbalance, physically destabilized and thus dangerous in the absence of a multipolar equilibrium. And America, in the solitude of its power, of its hyperpower, . . . has ceased to draw the peoples of the globe to it; or, more exactly, in certain parts of the globe, it seems no longer to attract anything but hatred. . . . And perhaps even we ourselves in Europe, from the Gulf War to the use of F16s against Palestinians by the Israeli Army, have underestimated the hatred which, from the outskirts of Jakarta to those of Durban, by way of the rejoicing crowds of Nablus and of Cairo, is focused on the United States.”

In the following paragraph, Mr. Colombani went on to add that perhaps too “the reality” was that America had been “trapped by its own cynicism,” noting that Osama bin Laden himself had, after all, been “trained by the CIA”—a never substantiated charge that has, of course, in the meanwhile become chapter and verse for the blame-America-firsters. “Couldn’t it be, then,” Mr. Colombani concluded, “that America gave birth to this devil?”

So much for “solidarity.” The world may have pitied our people. But the record is crystal clear that anti-American feelings were hardly dampened by the attacks on 9/11.

The fact is, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has replaced Russia as the superpower foreigners love to hate. Given all of this, it should come as absolutely no surprise that Barack Obama, according to a massive study by Pew, is favored overwhelmingly by the peoples of the world.

Unfortunately for Barack Obama, citizens of Australia, Japan, Spain and Tanzania won’t have a vote in the November election.

A new survey of 47,000 people in 60 languages by the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that around the world, people who follow the US election view Obama more favourably than Republican nominee John McCain.

The survey in 24 countries confirms Obama as the candidate of choice among those not entitled to vote in the November election.

From gleeful villagers in his father’s native Kenya to a troupe of hula dancers in Obama, Japan, the international community has embraced the Illinois senator in a way unseen in past presidential elections.

While the US electorate is divided about evenly between the two candidates, with Obama currently enjoying a slight lead over McCain in recent polling, 84% of Tanzanians who have been following election news say they have confidence in Obama, while 50% say they have confidence in McCain. Seventy-four percent of Britons expressed confidence in Obama, while only 44% do in McCain, according to the survey.

Those results are reflected in every other country surveyed save Jordan, where 23% surveyed have confidence in McCain, compared to 22% for Obama.

There are many reason why Obama is more popular than McCain. His race gives hope to many. Then there’s 8 years of Bush and Republicans that have soured the GOP brand even overseas.

But the major reason given for preferring Obama is that he will “change American foreign policy.” In fact, Obama is the perfect candidate if you hate America. Not that Obama hates America, just that his policy proposals will enable the America haters around the globe.

It’s no accident that the Iranians, Hamas, Syrians and others who hate the United States prefer an Obama presidency. Obama promises a more compliant America, a less bellicose America, a more deferential America, and a more cooperative America. Some of these changes would be welcome. Others, not. But what has Iran and Syria salivating at the prospect of an Obama presidency is a lot less pressure placed on them by the US to act like responsible international citizens and not the brigands and thugs they wish to be.

Obama – a good and honest liberal – would work within the confines of the United Nations to resolve the various crisis at large in the world today. Bush, in his second term, has tried this and has a spotty record. The biggest failure for the UN in the last few years has been Lebanon where UN forces – UNIFIL - were supposed to stop the resupply of Hizbullah and enforce Security Council resolutions which included the disarming of the terrorist militia.

The result? Utter, total, complete, and embarrassing failure. Same goes for Darfur. The same goes for any and every problem the UN insists it must address with the US in a subservient role.

The world can hate us all they want. Only little children and liberals believe that to be important. What matters is are threats to the peace dealt with or swept under the UN rug? Obama would give it the old college try at the UN but run into the same anti-Americanism, the same bureaucratic inertia that has made problems like Darfur, Lebanon, and the Congo unsolvable. So the choice is America standing in the way of the designs of Syria and Iran (and North Korea) virtually alone or as a “partner” with the UN. Since Obama has been making all the right noises about “multi-lateralism” – not as a policy but almost as religion – the world breathes easier. They can all go back to doing nothing and letting problems like Darfur fester and genocide occur.

Obama would be the perfect post-Bush president – for a large segment of the Anti-American world. Not that it matters. Americans don’t vote for a candidate because of how he is perceived overseas. But perhaps we would do well to ask why our enemies are so anxious to see Obama as president?

By: Rick Moran at 8:02 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)


It would be in the name of “peace,” of course. Either John McCain or Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton for that matter) will most likely be faced with a choice at some early point in their administrations.

Do we continue our policy of isolating Bashar Assad’s gangster regime or do we engage them in a dialogue as part of a Syrian-Israeli peace deal? And if we engage, do we give Syria the only thing they want from us – our pledge not to interfere in Syria’s campaign to re-occupy Lebanon?

As Lebanon Daily Star editorial editor and contributor to Reason Magazine Michael Young points out, those are the grim choices that will face the next US President:

Is it really in the U.S. interest to engage Syria in this context, when its major Arab allies are in the midst of a conflict with Iran they view as vital? In fact, I’m not at all convinced that asking Arab states to change Syrian behavior through “more robust interactions and investments in the country” would work. The Arabs have repeatedly tried to change Syrian behavior through more congenial means, most prominently at the Arab League summit in Riyadh last year. The Syrians have ignored this. Why? Because they know the price for their return to the Arab fold would be to give up on a return to Lebanon. They’re not about to do that, because only such a return, one that is total, with soldiers, would give Syria the regional relevance it lost in 2005, when it was forced out of Lebanon.

It would also allow Syria, from Beirut, to undermine the Hariri tribunal, which threatens the future of the Syrian regime and which will probably begin operating next year. In this, Syria has the full support of Hezbollah, which realizes that without a Syrian comeback, the party will continue to face a majority in Lebanon that wants the party to disarm. I find it revealing that Jon failed to mention Lebanon once in his post. That’s because advocates of engaging Syria realize that the only way you can bring about an advantageous dialogue with Damascus is to give it something worthwhile. That something can only be Lebanon, the minimal price Syria would demand to offer positive concessions in return.

And that, gentle reader, is the bottom line. Obama can talk about meeting with Assad all he wants and it won’t advance the cause of peace with Israel one damn bit unless he’s willing to betray Lebanon.

Lebanon is not only the key to Syrian influence in the region it is also the key to Assad’s survival. Some may be unfamiliar with Syria’s role in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and the formation of a tribunal (now under UN auspices due to Lebanon’s political paralysis) to try and convict the perpetrators.

The ongoing UN investigation has shown that 4 Lebanese army generals (now in custody) in cahoots with Syrian intelligence, carried out the car bombing that killed Hariri. The prosecutors have also uncovered evidence that the subsequent political assassinations of several leading government parliamentarians, journalists, and other anti-Syrian figures was also masterminded by Syrian intelligence as well as leading members of Assad’s regime – including Assad’s own brother in law Assef Shawkat who became head of intelligence 30 minutes after Hariri was killed.

The Tribunal – if allowed to function fully and properly – will no doubt indict people very close to Bashar Assad himself. This would spell catastrophe for Assad and Syria which would come under severe sanctions by the US and the United Nations. Since Syria’s forced withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005, the economy has taken a nosedive thanks to the drying up of “protection money” and other means by which Syria milked the Lebanese economy to benefit the regime. The pressure to get rid of Assad would be intense. There would probably also be calls for regime change from both Arab and western governments.

In short, most analysts agree that the number one priority of the Syrian regime is to get back into Lebanon and try and derail the Tribunal. No deal with the Arabs or the west about Iraq, about WMD, about the Golan, or about their relationship with Iran will take place without a quid pro quo involving Lebanon.

And what of Syria’s main ally in Lebanon, Hezbullah? Clearly, Syria would be keen to have Hezbullah become politically ascendant in Lebanon if they were to move back in while simultaneously diminishing Sunni influence. The Christians, under Hezbullah ally Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement party would also share in the spoils of a Syrian re-occupation. So much for Lebanese democracy. So much for Lebanese independence.

The sad fact is that either a President Obama or President McCain will be under enormous pressure to bring Israel and Syria together, believing quite rightly that the best chance to avoid a regional war is to resolve the serious outstanding issues that exist between the two countries, especially Israel’s continued occupation of the Golan and Syria’s support for Hezbullah and their murderous rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. The price of a deal will almost certainly include giving Syria a free hand in Lebanon.

Would either or both be willing to pay that price? Almost all terrorism analysts agree that bringing peace to the Middle East is important to the War against Islamic extremism. And key to that process is making peace between Syria and Israel. Would both presidents see an overriding national interest in helping make peace between Israel and Syria at the expense of Lebanon? Michael Young again:

We are in a regional struggle for power, and Syria happens to stand at its nexus point. It is a weak link that some persist in wanting to strengthen by advocating U.S. engagement of it. But what are the conditions of such engagement? If it is that Syria must surrender Lebanon, Hamas, and Hezbollah to find its salvation in a better relationship with the United States, then be assured that Asad won’t accept such a patently bad deal. He prefers to take his chances with a fight, with Iran on his side. If there are those in the United States willing to give up on Lebanon’s independence, however, and by extension allow Syria to further bolster Hezbollah, then fine. But I again fail to see how that would be in the long-term U.S. interest.

It is impossible to see whether the short term gains made by engaging Syria would ultimately come back to haunt us. But the betrayal of Lebanon for the second time in a generation would be a blot on our history and a blow to our standing as a champion of freedom and independence.

By: Rick Moran at 12:28 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)


Once a Catholic, always a Catholic – that’s me, alright. Despite the fact I have long since left the Church, God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost (changed to “Spirit” in my youth; so much for the immutability of the divine), organized religion, and the idea of the supernatural altogether, I am still a Catholic.

I think like a Catholic. My worldview has been shaped – though not dominated – by Catholicism. In this, the nuns, the priests, the brothers, and probably a monk or two have left their mark on my intellectual, social, and spiritual development. And I will thank them for it till my dying breath. There is great beauty to be found in the strands of logic and insightful, penetrating analysis of humanity by Catholic thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas, Newman, and other Catholic theologians and philosophers.

Conversely, this makes me a lousy atheist. I don’t hate people of faith although making fun of them is sometimes too much of a temptation to resist. Nor do I see religion as “an opiate of the masses” as Marx and Barack Obama (“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed…”) view this all too human phenomena. Belief in a supreme being does not disqualify someone from engaging in rational thought otherwise, although the contradictions can get hairy at times. To this day, Catholic thinkers have, for the most part enriched our inner dialogue as we struggle with the most basic questions of right and wrong.

After 12 years of Catholic education, it is hard to slough off habits of thought that force me to see the world through a prism shaped by my Catholic upbringing. My parents were what used to be called “good Catholics.” They went to church every Sunday with their 10 children in tow (drawing little amazement from the other boomer families made up of 5,6,8, or more kids). They gave us a Catholic education through high school and college if desired. We followed Catholic rituals and practices. (To this day I will not eat a fish stick thanks to meatless Fridays during Lent.)

They say you can always tell what a man believes and how he thinks by going through his library. I challenge anyone to make that adage good in my father’s case. It would be hard to glean anything specific of my father’s politics or religious beliefs from the astonishing breadth of philosophical tracts that lined the shelves of his 3,000 book library. In this, he did the 10 of us a favor by not foisting any particular political or moral view of the world on us. Free to explore ideas from Marx to Martin Neimoller, the Moran children grew up free thinkers – just as my parents intended.

That said, as I grew to adulthood and rejected organized religion, I nevertheless still thought like a Catholic even though I didn’t live like one. In fact, I trace my conversion to conservatism based largely on the fact that in many respects, Catholic teachings line up very nicely with conservative principles although the Jeffersonian ideal of liberty doesn’t translate very well. But in the establishment of a moral and just society – one being just as important as the other – conservatism and Catholicism seemed to me a match made in, well, heaven.

That is why I feel it necessary to defend the Pope and to some extent the Catholic faith from this kind of attack:

“Whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God’s infallible wing man here on Earth, lock away the kids,” said Maher, comparing the Catholic Church to the polygamist cult authorities raided in Texas last week.

“I’d like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult,” Maher said. “Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats.”

That was Bill Maher speaking shortly before the Pope came to the United States in case you missed it. Maher continued to put his foot in it:
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Bill, you shouldn’t be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy Texas cult.” For one thing, altar boys can’t even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands, all over the world. Cults get raided, religions get parades. How does the Catholic Church get away with all of their buggery? Volume, volume, volume!

If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If have a billion, they call you ‘Pope.’ It’s like, if you can’t pay your mortgage, you’re a deadbeat. But if you can’t pay a million mortgages, you’re BearStearns and we bail you out. And that is who the Catholic Church is: the BearStearns of organized pedophilia—too big, too fat. When the current pope was in his previous Vatican job as John Paul’s Dick Cheney, he wrote a letter instructing every Catholic bishop to keep the sex abuse of minors secret until the Statute of Limitations ran out. And that’s the Church’s attitude: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,’ which is fine, far be it from me to criticize religion. But just remember one thing: if the Pope was—instead of a religious figure—merely the CEO of a nationwide chain of day care centers, where thousands of employees had been caught molesting kids and then covering it up, he’d be arrested faster than you can say ‘who wants to touch Mr. Wiggle?’

Now Maher is paid to be a clown so perhaps we should ascribe his outburst more to the fact that he was just doing his job shocking the sensibilities of his bourgeoisie audience who are titillated when an anti-establishmentarian like Maher sticks it to an icon like the Catholic Church.

Maher was forced to apologize about the Nazi crack – a patently untrue charge that anyone with a passing familiarity with the battle in Nazi Germany between the Church and Hitler would never have made. The Pope, as a young Joseph Ratzinger, was forced by law to join the Hitler youth despite Hitler’s signed assurances (the Concordant of 1933) that the Catholic Youth Organization would remain an option for families who did not wish their children to join a secular group.

Predictably, Maher was unapologetic about his other “charges” including his weird interpretation of the letter sent by Ratzinger to all the Bishops of the Church when he was Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

Maher grossly misrepresented the contents of the 2001 letter then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to the bishops. He did not tell them to “keep the sex abuse of minors of State of Limitations ran out.” The letter clarified that the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had jurisdiction according to the Church’s law (canon law) to try clerics concerning abuses of the sacraments, and also, as the letter put it, a “delict against morals, namely: the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue [thou shall not commit adultery] with a minor below the age of 18 years.”

What Maher’s criticism fails to take into account is that not everywhere in the world where the comedian’s attitude toward Catholics dominates is the Church protected by a document like the US Constitution. In fact, Ratzinger’s concerns that the Church be allowed to deal with pedophile priests only in extremely narrow circumstances was protection for the Church in those places where authorities share Mr. Maher’s less than expansive view of religious freedom. There are dozens of countries in the world that would take Mr. Maher’s supercilious suggestion that the Catholic hierarchy should be locked up to heart and use either real or trumped up charges of abuse by priests as an excuse to destroy the independence of the Church from government.

The Catholic Church operates in a world that is by and large not very friendly to it. But clearly the abuse scandals here and abroad as well as the actions of individual bishops to cover it up, pay off the victims, stonewall secular authorities, allow pedophiles to continue their abuse from posting to posting knowing their propensity to “sin,” – all of this dark chapter in the Church’s history must be aired out and exposed (with due diligence made to respect the privacy of victims) before the breach that has opened up between the hierarchy and the congregation is closed.

Does this validate Maher’s over the top, exaggerated, hateful rant? As any good satirist, Maher has taken the germ of truth and blown it up into impossibly overstated and wildly embroidered bombast – all for a few laughs and the notoriety that comes to those who deliberately offend people in order to get attention; much like a 5 year old who tells his parents he hates them.

Perhaps Mr. Maher believes religion should be regulated by government. He doesn’t say so outright but the threat inherent in his diatribe is clear. Is that simply part of his shtick? Or does this angry atheist actually believe that government should find a way to “regulate” against these sorts of outrages?

To place those institutional sins in the context of the modern Church is difficult. The Pope, in his visit to the US has tried to reconcile the Church’s interests with those of the victims – pleasing some and not others:

It is in the context of this hope, born of God’s love and fidelity, that I acknowledge the pain which the church in America has experienced as the result of sexual abuse of minors,” Benedict said.

“No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention.”

During the Mass, the pope said the church has worked “to deal honestly and fairly with this tragic situation” and to ensure that children are safe.

That last has come to pass only recently and ignores the years of neglect prior to the last few years of the John Paul II pontificate and Benedict’s ascension. This doesn’t erase the problem and much more needs to be done. But it does make a start that any fair minded person would have to admit that while long overdue is a necessary and vital step on the road to reconciliation.

I have expressed my admiration in the past for this Pope and his remarkably supple intellect with its subtlety and depth. But this is a case where the Pope needs to show leadership and compassion – a test he has passed to this point. What he does when he returns to Rome will determine whether his American flock continues to distrust their bishops. They certainly have reason to – a fact not lost on this Pope who will seek to heal the breach caused by the abuse scandals and make the Church whole again.

By: Rick Moran at 7:49 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)


Even a rabid sports fan like myself recognizes the Olympics for what they are – a plot by starry eyed one worlders, striped pants internationalists, filthy rich do-gooders, and anachronistic royalists to take over the world and force their saccharine sweet, brotherhood of man crapola on the rest of us.

I’m kidding, of course – mostly. The part about filthy rich dilettantes with nothing else to do, putting on an athletic extravaganza for their own amusement is not far from the truth. The International Olympic Committee has shown through the years that the fake European royalty, the decadent descendants of fabulously wealthy European commercial houses, and the group of genuine shady characters who are the real power in that body believe they have a gold mine and plan on milking the games for all they’re worth.

And to give the lie to the very idea of an “Olympic spirit” that the IOC and the “Olympic Movement” try to foist upon unsuspecting rubes and leftists the world over, the entire point of the games has been lost – gentleman (and gentle lady) amateurs competing in an atmosphere of competition free from politics and other mundane considerations.

The Olympic torch relay is part of the lie. Forced by the prospect of thousands of pro-Tibet protestors who might get violent, San Francisco authorities changed the route of the relay at the last minute, running the relay through streets empty of onlookers thus defeating the whole purpose of the exercise in the first place.

That didn’t stop one enterprising American athlete from ruining the day even more for the Chinese:

A New Yorker bearing the Olympic torch staged a rogue anti-China protest Wednesday even as cops took extreme measures to thwart demonstrators in San Francisco.

As she ran with the flame, Majora Carter, 41, a South Bronx environmental activist, whipped out a small Tibetan flag to condemn China’s human rights abuses in the Himalayan province.

Carter, who hid the flag in her sleeve, was quickly hustled off the route by surprised police who seized the torch.

The image of American police stifling free speech at the behest of communists made Allah’s blood boil:
[O]ne of the American cops shows her how they do it in Beijing, giving her a gratuitous shove into the crowd to keep her away from the communist propaganda pageant she was momentarily a part of. She’s wrong on the law, to be sure; her free speech rights don’t entitle her to violate the contract she signed before participating. But watching U.S. cops enforce Chinese policy is so disgusting, Newsom should have simply canceled the event lest he be forced to do it.

Free speech is one issue that makes the Olympics a cesspool of corrupted ideals. How about the idea that the athletes should compete solely for the thrill of the competition with no thought of renumeration?

The fact that almost all the western athletes who will be competing are being paid by their home grown sports federation (which usually receives its money from the nation’s Olympic Committee) means that the very meaning of the word “amateur” has been corrupted beyond recognition. And from the beginning of the revival of the games in 1896, politics has been a constant companion.

When Eastern European athletes began to outshine the west due to superior training, a drug regimen that built superior bodies, and the fact that their athletes were given make believe jobs by the state so that they could train full time, the US and other western countries decided to change the way they approached the Games.

While athletes from the west were previously struggling to combine training and making a living, most western Olympic Committees made a decision to adopt the communist model. Of course, the state didn’t give the athletes make believe jobs. It was corporations who, in return for hiring top flight athletes they could feature in commercials, paid the US Olympic Committee so that the company could become an “official sponsor” of the games.

The point being, of course, that these guys are about as amateur and pure as a hooker on Welles street in Chicago. These days, the Olympics don’t even require the fig leaf. They openly encourage professional athletes to compete. Most of the world class track and field athletes have been making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and a gold medal will set them up for life. Olympic soccer uses professional league players on the national teams. Others who participate in lesser known sports receive a healthy stipend from their sport’s governing body in order to train constantly for the big show that occurs every 4 years.

As a sports fan, I could care less if they pay the players or not. But as a former hopelessly incurable romantic, there was something to be said for an event that brought the world together for a fortnight to celebrate athletics and compete peacefully. One of the most cherished memories of my youth is watching American Dave Wottle on TV round the last turn of the track in the 800 Meter finals in Munich and with a spectacular final kick in the last 25 meters, overtake the Russian to win an improbable gold medal.

Those were the Olympics marred by the death of 11 Israeli athletes who were kidnapped and murdered at the hands of Black September. In spite of pleadings from many around the world, the crotchety head of the IOC at the time, Avery Brundage, declared that the show must go on.

And the show has gone on despite boycotts, corruption (bribe taking in connection with the 2002 Winter Games), and the discovery that the East German teams that garnered such an extraordinary number of medals featured not only blood doping and steroid use, but also taking the transgender revolution to new heights by turning women into men, feeding their female athletes steroids when they were as young as 11. Two coaches were later found guilty of giving steroids to athletes and not telling them what they were (they told them they were “vitamins”).

All of these issues with the Olympics pales in comparison to the straitjacket the IOC puts athletes in so that any expression of individual political thought is forbidden. The most famous example was at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics when two black American athletes – John Carlos and Tommie Smith – who medaled in the 200 meter dash, raised their clenched fist salute to black power during the playing of the national anthem during the medal ceremony.

One might question the gesture but to punish them by sending them home and stripping them of their medals was so foreign to our idea of freedom of speech that it raises the question of why we should participate in such a hypocritical and oppressive event.

And that goes double for the Olympics in China:

Athletes who display Tibetan flags at Olympic venues — including in their own rooms — could be expelled from this summer’s Games in Beijing under anti-propaganda rules.

Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said that competitors were free to express their political views but faced sanctions if they indulged in propaganda.

He accompanied those comments with an admission that the Games were in “crisis” after pro-Tibet protests engulfed the Olympic torch relay.

Mr Rogge’s call for Beijing to abide by its promise to address human rights was given short shrift by Beijing, which bluntly told him to keep politics out of the Games.

Riddle me this: How is it possible that competitors are “free to express their political views” but will get kicked out for displaying the Tibetan flag? This kind of doublespeak is worthy of the communists and poor, naive, earnest Mr. Rogge – who actually believed the Chinese would improve their human rights if their Olympic bid was successful – is tying himself into an intellectual pretzel in an attempt to reconcile these two radically different notions:
Addressing concerns about free speech, Mr Rogge described the scenario of a Spanish athlete doing a lap of honour in the Olympic stadium with Spain’s national flag and his provincial flag as “perfectly legitimate”.

He said: “We have had many examples of mixed flags where the athlete is proud of that. Is there a will to demonstrate propaganda or is it a desire to demonstrate joy in his victory?”

Apparently, if your political views don’t offend anyone – most of all the host country – then you are perfectly free to express them. (I wonder what Rogge would have said if that same Spanish athlete had grabbed a Basque flag instead of a “provincial” one?)

But Rogge, the Chinese, and the rest of the whole bloody Olympic “movement” just doesn’t get it. They have no clue what “free speech” might be. The point is that any display of nationalism is by definition propaganda and that there is no difference in making a political statement about your own country or someone else’s – not to anyone who cares a tiny bit about “free speech.”

Going back to 1968, no one complained a few days after the Carlos-Smith protest when George Foreman, after winning his gold medal in boxing, grabbed a miniature American flag and walked around the ring celebrating. The fact that Foreman’s political statement was a response to a political gesture by others made Foreman equally guilty of disseminating propaganda. But it was nice propaganda, the kind that the American Olympic Committee (who pressured Brundage to seize the gold medals of Carlos and Smith while kicking them out of the Olympic village) heartily approved.

It is this kind of rank hypocrisy that makes the Olympics such degrading venue for Americans. If it were up to me, I’d pass out Tibet flags to every single athlete marching under the American flag during the opening ceremonies and force the Chinese to kick them all out. The Olympic boosters – corporations, sports federations, and especially governments – who harp on the “spirit of brotherhood” present in the games are selling a poisonous idea; that freedom is separate from the notion that we are all equal and that therefore, we should all get along in peace.

 I’m all for that. Just don’t expect me to kowtow to any government that oppresses its people and then tries to use the Olympic games as a perfume to remove the stench of their rotten human rights policies. The athletes should feel that way as well which is why perhaps we should be handing out those Tibetan flags to anyone and everyone who sides with freedom against tyranny.

Such a move might ruin the Olympic games. But it would be one helluva statement of solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world and would usher in an era of true “brotherhood” for the Olympics.

By: Rick Moran at 11:54 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)


The progress of the Olympic torch which snakes its way around the world after being lit in Greece to end up in the host country and carried into the stadium at the opening ceremonies where it is used to light the Olympic flame for the duration of the games is followed with great interest by many around the world. It is a symbol of the Olympic spirit and ideally, should not be extinguished from the time it is lit to the end of the games.

Occasionally, the flame has gone out as a result of weather or some mechanical malfunction with the torch. But it has been a long time since it was extinguished as a result of protests against the host country’s political and human rights policies:

The Olympic torch relay was disrupted Monday by protesters in Paris demonstrating against the Chinese government, causing authorities to twice extinguish the flame and put the torch on a bus, according to The Associated Press.

The torch was being carried by a wheelchair athlete when it was halted and extinguished for a second time due to demonstrators shouting, according to AP. Backup flames, also lit from the birthplace of the ancient games in Olympia, Greece, are on call with the relay at all times to relight the torch.

Agencies report that the relay has now resumed.

The incidents came one day after human-rights activist demonstrators made the torch’s journey through London more like running the gauntlet than a journey of celebration, with UK police making more than two dozen arrests
This is an enormous embarrassment to the Chinese government. The progress of the torch is supposed to be triumphal. Instead, it is turning into a constant reminder of the government crackdown on the Tibetan people and their continued occupation of the tiny country.

Measures to protect the torch for the remainder of its journey through France are surreal:

Paris police have conceived a security plan to keep the torch in a safe "bubble," during its 17-mile (28 km) journey, with a multi-layered protective force to surround the torch as it moves along the route.
French torchbearers will be encircled by several hundred officers, some in riot police vehicles and on motorcycles, others on rollerblades and on foot. Chinese torch escorts will immediately surround the torchbearer, with Paris police on rollerblades moving around them.
French firefighters in jogging shoes will encircle the officers on rollerblades while motorcycle police will form the outer layer of security. The relay route in Paris is also significantly shorter than that in London Sunday.
Police rollerblading around the torchbearer is probably not the visual the Chinese government would wish to see carried around the world when reporting on the progress of the Olympic flame.

Just how is the Chinese government reacting to all this controversy swirling around the torch relay? They are basically ignoring the protests, chalking them up to "a small number of pro-Tibet" protestors:

There have been attempts made to disturb and sabotage the Torch Relay by a small number of "pro-Tibet independence" activists.

The Olympic Torch Relay embodies the Olympic spirit and represents the earnestness and excitement with which the world awaits the Olympic Games. A small number of "pro-Tibet independence" activists have attempted to sabotage the event. During the Greece leg of the relay, a few activists attempted to stop the relay by lying on the street. In London, a few protesters planned and carried out several destructive actions. One "pro-Tibet independence" activist tried to grab the torch and another attempted to extinguish the flame when well-known U.K. television presenter Konnie Huq was carrying the torch in northwest London. Their actions were stopped by local police, although Konnie Huq sustained a slight injury. During a lunch break, several "pro-Tibet independence" activists got past security in an attempt to clash with torchbearers and disturb the relay. The British police were successful in preventing these efforts.

Local people in London strongly opposed the attempt to sabotage the Torch Relay. And the behavior of "pro-Tibet independence" activists has aroused resentment and received condemnation in London.
Press reports had thousands of protestors in the streets of London and Paris while little in the way of condemnation has come their way – except from Chinese officials. But the above is what the Chinese people are seeing and reading about the torch and its torturous passage through the free countries of the world.

Up next for the torch is San Francisco. With its large ethnic Chinese population, one would think the torch would be in big trouble. But the Chinese have a friend in Mayor Gavin Newsom who has deemed any disruption of the festivities a black mark against San Francisco as much as the Chinese. Hence, he has restricted protests to areas where the cameras following the torch will not be able to record how angry people are with China’s Tibet policy:

Organizations that oppose China’s human-rights record said Tuesday that they’ve been denied demonstration permits at large outdoor gathering areas on April 9, the day of the torch relay.

They will instead be forced into certain areas, possibly far from the main torch route. City officials said that the restrictions are necessary to ensure security at the event but that those precautions shouldn’t limit the protesters’ rights to gather, a right guaranteed in the First Amendment. Tens of thousands of protesters are expected, organizers said.

The event will be open to everyone, said Mayor Gavin Newsom, including "those who want to see this as an opportunity to raise the flag of concern about issues of disagreement with the Chinese government. That is something that is sacrosanct to us." But that opportunity will be limited in ways uncommon for the city that hosts myriad rallies and protests.

Protesters will be restricted to "areas set up for First Amendment rights issues," according to Sgt. Neville Gittens, spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department.
Maybe they should have asked President Bush to carry the torch. You can bet Newsom and his crew would have bent over backwards to make sure there were tens of thousands of protestors following the flame then.

Indeed, one is hardpressed to think of a situation where liberal protestors in San Francisco have been restricted from making their feelings known against such targets as military recruitment, docking of Navy ships, or speeches by prominent conservatives. Apparently it only matters when they might be seen as being beastly to a murderous communist government – a curious but typical bit of intellectual legerdermain by liberals.

I would guess that a few Chinese protestors will make it to the relay route and attempt to disrupt its passage anyway. I say good on them for not allowing the French of all people to outdo Americans in a demonstration of liberty loving. And I can’t see how the Paris police will outdo any west coast cops when it comes to rollerblading. 

Our guys can outblade the French any day of the week.

This blog post originally appears on The American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 9:06 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Raucous UK Protests Greet Olympic Flame...

Perhaps gunning down unarmed monks can be added as an Olympic sport. The Chinese, so concerned about the games later in the summer, could solve their “image problem” by simply including the practice in the Olympic program. This would result in a sure gold medal for the home team.

A small village high in the mountains was the scene of what can only be called a massacre by Chinese police. The authorities entered a monastery and began confiscating pictures of the Dalia Lama – photos of whom have been banned since the 1990’s. Then the police deliberately incited a reaction by throwing the pictures of the Lama on the ground which was considered a sacrilege by the monks.

One old monk protested the affront to his god-king and was arrested. This was a bad move by the police because apparently, the ancient monk was very well regarded by the villagers as a man of wisdom and piety.

That brought both villagers and monks to the camp of the police with predictable and tragic results:

About 6.30pm, the entire monastic body marched down to a nearby river, where paramilitary police were encamped and demanded the release of the two men. They were joined by several hundred local villagers, many of them enraged at the detention of the elderly monk, who locals say is well respected in the area for his learning and piety.

Shouting “Long Live the Dalai Lama”, “Let the Dalai Lama come back” and “We want freedom”, the crowd demonstrated until about 9pm. Witnesses said that up to 1,000 paramilitary police used force to try to end the protest and opened fire on the crowd.

In the gunfire, eight people died, according to a local resident in direct contact with the monastery. These included a 27-year-old monk identified as Cangdan and two women named as Zhulongcuo and Danluo.

Eight people were reportedly gunned down with many more injured. Predictably, the Chinese government spun the massacre as a “riot” with an invisible “government official” getting beat up:

State-run Chinese media confirmed that the police resorted to force but insisted that it was only after a government official was attacked and seriously wounded by protesters.

“Local officials exercised restraint during the riot and repeatedly told the rioters to abide by the law,” they reported. The use of live rounds was a last resort, the Xinhua news agency said, without specifying how the Tibetan demonstrators had injured the official. It said: “Police were forced to fire warning shots and put down the violence, since local officials and people were in great danger.”

Perhaps the Chinese could tell us how 8 people were killed by “warning shots?”

If the Chinese keep this up, the games themselves will be in trouble as western nations contemplate a full boycott in response to the crackdown. At the moment, such a move would not be popular. But if the Chinese government continues to use the people of Tibet as targets for the police, most decent nations will probably find it impossible to send their athletes to participate in games hosted by this murderous regime.

This blog post originally appears at The American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 11:32 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)


Image Hosted by


We already knew the Chinese government were a bunch of freedom denying, liberty hating, collectivist scumbag Communist sons of bitches. But it is still shocking to realize how deep their cruelty truly goes.

For years, the Chinese government turned a blind eye to the infanticide of female children – a direct result of the forced “one child per family” (OCPF) that the benighted savages in Beijing forced upon the populace. A sample of “scientific socialism” at work:

The one-child policy is criticized as violating basic human rights. Many are concerned with the practices used to implement this policy. China has been meeting its population requirements through bribery, coercion, forced sterilization, forced abortion, and possibly infanticide, with most reports coming from rural areas.[attribution needed]

Some examples include:

1. a former administrator of a Chinese Planned Birth Control Office had stated his experience of execution forced abortion on a 9 month pregnant woman. [31]

2. A former Chinese population control administrator named Gao Xiao Duan testified before a United States House subcommittee in 1998, regarding her participation in forced sterilizations and abortions.[32]

3. A 2001 report exposed in Guangdong a quota of 20,000 abortions and sterilisations was set for Huaiji County in the same year due to reported disregard of the one-child policy. The effort included using portable ultrasound devices to identify abortion candidates in remote villages.

Earlier reports also show that women as far along as 8.5 months pregnant were forced to abort by injection of saline solution.[33] Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute announced that the One child policy is “an ongoing genocide”. He argued that free market capitalism will solve the overpopulation and overconsumption problems of developing nations. [34]

Whether Moore is correct is not the point. The problem is with an ideology that sees life as a statistic rather than a precious entity, born with the right to life, liberty, and other natural rights that the Chinese government neither celebrates nor acknowledges.

It is easy to oppress when you’ve lost your humanity.

So it should come as absolutely no surprise that this same government that sees nothing wrong with parents murdering their own children (until international pressure forced them to do something about it in 2001), should see the problem of controlling the feline population in such beastly and inhumane terms:

Thousands of pet cats in Beijing are being abandoned by their owners and sent to die in secretive government pounds as China mounts an aggressive drive to clean up the capital in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Hundreds of cats a day are being rounded and crammed into cages so small they cannot even turn around.

Then they are trucked to what animal welfare groups describe as death camps on the edges of the city.

The cull comes in the wake of a government campaign warning of the diseases cats carry and ordering residents to help clear the streets of them.

Cat owners, terrified by the disease warning, are dumping their pets in the streets to be picked up by special collection teams.

Paranoia is so intense that six stray cats -including two pregnant females – were beaten to death with sticks by teachers at a Beijing kindergarten, who feared they might pass illnesses to the children.

China’s leaders are convinced that animals pose a serious urban health risk and may have contributed to the outbreak of SARS - a deadly respiratory virus – in 2003.

Even if you despise cats – and I know that there are many of you out there – you cannot help but be struck dumb with outrage over this completely unnecessary, draconian, and positively medieval method of controlling the cat population. Any western nation could have helped the Chinese with this problem and it could have been done much more humanely and without the government using deliberate scare tactics to jack up the citizenry and turn them against cats.

When I wrote of the medieval methods used against cats by the Chinese I was not using allegory. Whipping up a frenzy of emotion against cats was a favorite ploy of the church in the middle ages. In something of a delicious irony (from the cat’s perspective) when our ancestors had killed off most of the cats in Europe, invading rats overran the continent. They bore fleas that carried bubonic plague that killed of a third of its population. In their frenzy to burn witches and murder their “familiars,” Europeans were unwittingly sealing their doom by eliminating their only salvation against the plague carrying rats – cats.

But the Chinese efforts at eliminating cats are not just being done for health reasons. These Communist bozos are so intent on making a good impression for the Olympics this year that they don’t want a bunch of stray cats wandering around the venues:

But the crackdown on cats is seen by animal campaigners as just one of a number of extreme measures being taken by communist leaders to ensure that its capital appears clean, green and welcoming during the Olympics.

Polluting factories in and around the city are being ordered to shut down or relocate during the Games to ease Beijing’s choking smog and drivers are allowed out on to the roads only three times a week.

Fares on the city’s underground network have been cut to just two yuan (14p) for any journey – a six-fold reduction on some routes – to keep people off buses, and beggars and street sleepers are being moved to out-of-town camps or given train fares back to their home provinces.

Meanwhile, taxi drivers have been made to attend lessons in how to greet passengers politely in English and a city-wide courtesy campaign has been launched to teach Beijing’s notoriously dour and grumpy citizens how to smile and be pleasant to foreigners.

The cull of Beijing’s estimated 500,000 cat population is certain to provoke international outrage as it comes just over a year after the Chinese were criticised for rounding up and killing stray dogs across the country.

I apologize to you dog lovers out there. If I had known of that barbarism, I would have been just as outraged I assure you.

You might ask are there no cat lovers in China? Of course there are. Here’s an example of what they are up against:

Animal welfare groups in China are already protesting, but their members fear punishment from the authorities.

Officials say people can adopt animals from the 12 cat pounds set up around the city, but welfare groups say they are almost impossible to get inside and believe few cats survive.

One cat lovers’ group negotiated the release of 30 pets from one of the compounds in Shahe, north-west Beijing, but said they were in such a pitiful condition that half of them died within days of their release.

“These cats are being left to die. It is very

It gets worse.

“People don’t want to keep cats in Beijing any more so they abandon them or send them to the compounds.

“When we went inside, we saw about 70 cats being kept in cages stacked one on top of the other in two tiny rooms.

“Disease spreads quickly among them and they die slowly in agony and distress. The government won’t even do the cats the kindness of giving them lethal injections when they become sick. They just wait for them to die.

“It is the abandoned pets that suffer the most and die the soonest. They relied so much on their owners that they can’t cope with the new environment.

“Most refuse to eat or drink and get sick more quickly than the feral cats.”

Ms Yan’s group has now been denied access to the pounds. “We do not believe any of the cats that go in there survive,” she said. “They are like death camps.”

If you are a cat lover, the more you read of this article in the Daily Mail the more you will feel like organizing a military expedition to free the animals from their confinement.

The cat lovers are up against the cruelest of human institutions; dead ass communist bureaucracy. They have begged the government to offer cut rate spaying and neutering all to no avail. Indeed, the government has mandated spaying and neutering but few can afford the 200 yuan pricetag. (Most American cities and towns also require spaying and neutering but with many clinics offering cut rate or installment payment plans it is relatively easy to comply with the laws.) Couple that with a dearth of no-kill shelters or shelters of any kind and you have the makings of this man made holocaust.

I do not dispute the necessity to control the feline and canine populations – especially in big cities. And I might point out that our own efforts in this regard are not always the model of humane behavior. But we have made a vast improvement from even just 10 years ago. Controlling the feral cat population in US big cities now includes a wide range of actions including “trap, neuter, and release” as opposed to simply trapping and killing the animals.

Feral cats tend to congregate in the same area when the food supply is reliable. These “colonies” are made possible by legions of cat lovers across the country who volunteer to watch and care for their charges. New arrivals are immediately caught and, usually in cooperation with a kindly vet, fixed for free or a nominal cost. The colony manager also watches for outbreaks of disease and tries and keep track of any predations the cats might engage in – especially against birds. Kittens are removed from the colony and sent to adoption centers.

Such managed colonies could never occur in China, however. The movement began at the grass roots and demanded that government support them. If you start demanding anything from government in China, you will most likely end up in prison.

No matter. There are more humane ways to kill the animals than simply not feeding them and allowing them to die horribly. But to the Chinese bureaucrats intent on projecting a squeaky clean image to the rest of the world for the olympics, there is only a problem that needs to be solved as quickly and cheaply as possible.

May they rot and then burn in hell.

By: Rick Moran at 5:14 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

baldilocks linked with Chinese Cats...

A protest against power cuts to southern Beirut – cuts the power company denies making – escalated into a riot when protesters blocked roads and threw stones at police and the army who were trying to maintain order.

Southern Beirut is a Hizbullah stronghold but it is not certain that the violence was connected exclusively to the political crisis involving the election of a president that would be acceptable to both the Hizbullah led opposition and the majority March 14th forces. Then again, one can hardly dismiss the idea that this was a demonstration organized by Hizbullah which had recently promised “decisive action” in the streets in order to force the government to accede to their demands.

Both sides are currently in a standoff over the issue with the government proposing Army Chief Michel Suleiman for the post while the Syrian backed opposition opposes his election, still maintaining that any government formed by the new president must give them enough ministers to have veto power over the majority’s decisions.

There were reports of snipers firing from rooftop positions into the crowd below. One of their targets was an opposition Amal official:

Among the victims was an official from Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal movement. The others were four Hizbullah activists, a rescue worker and a civilian.
The official was identified as Ahmad Hamza, Amal’s representative in Hay Mouawwad quarter of Shiyah, where protests first broke out at around 4 pm.

“Hamza has passed away after being shot in the back,” an Amal official told AFP, adding that he was unable to identify the source of the fire.

The bloodshed came amid fears of civil unrest in Lebanon which has been gripped by a prolonged presidential crisis, and two days after a massive car bombing killed a top intelligence officer and four other people.

The intelligence officer, Wassam Eid, was involved in terrorism investigations. He was reportedly assisting the International Tribunal in their investigation of the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri and other murders of anti-Syrian politicians and journalists.

The riot quickly spread from Beirut to the suburbs where the rioters blocked roads and threw stones at cars and police vehicles:

The army shut down many roads to stop the protests from spreading, and soldiers also took positions on rooftops.

But as night fell, riots spread to reach the airport highway, where demonstrators cut the main road with burning tires. Soon afterwards protesters cut the Mar Elias road in west Beirut while gunfire rang out sporadically across the southern suburbs.

Riots also reached south Lebanon, where the coastal highway between Sidon and Tyre was closed by blazing tires.

The road to Baalbek in east Lebanon’s Bekaa valley was also briefly closed.

A car that had been set ablaze exploded, triggering panic in Beirut where only two days ago a massive car bombing killed a top anti-terror officer and four other people.

A top security official warned the riots could spread unless politicians reined in their supporters.

What sparked the riot? Evidently, the old Hizbullah gambit of closing the road to the airport – something they have done before in their street protests. Only this time, the army intervened:

The unrest broke out after demonstrators set ablaze tires, blocking a main road linking the Shiyah and Mar Mikhael neighborhoods to protest at power shortages.

The army fired warning shots to disperse the demonstrators, a security official said.

Witnesses said that gunmen in the crowd opened fire at the security forces who retaliated.

Premier Fouad Saniora declared Monday a day of national mourning and ordered schools and universities closed.

As of today, it is unclear how many or if any of the demonstrators were killed by the army and how many by rooftop snipers who were apparently caught on tape and shown on Lebanese television.

Lebanese bloggers are weighing in offering analysis and mostly bemoaning what appears to be the powerlessness of the government to stop the murders. Mustapha at Beirut Spring offers some speculation about the rooftop snipers:

The puzzle has a missing piece. It seems that a third party wants to stir things up by breaking the balance of restraint between the Lebanese parties. As political analyst Ossama Safa puts it: “This is the work of agents provocateurs — someone is in there stirring trouble [..] I really think they want to get a hold of the situation. But someone, somewhere is doing this.”

The politicians will try to calm the situation. But expect a lot hot-headed blame to be tossed around.

And the fact that Hizbullah is now pointing the finger directly at the army is very significant. Could the opposition had staged the protest, started the riot by firing at the army from inside the crowd, and assured even more anger by having snipers pick off Hamza all to discredit General Suleiman? I would say it a more likely scenario than March 14th forces trying to deliberately start a civil war.

Abu Kais wants the government to start telling the truth about the violence:

Many of us have their own suspects. It doesn’t take a genius to point the finger at Syrian intelligence—the motives are there, and the methods too predictable. Yet despite all this obviousness, we ultimately sink in confusion because no one is willing to present an official account of what happened, and who did it. It’s always swept under the rug of “investigation”. Killers roam free and kill again while being “under investigation”. And the argument against Syrian culpability weakens, because not even the official authorities are able to point the finger.

Needless to say, we are tired of it all. If this is war, then could someone involve the dying public in the details of the fight? This public cannot subsist on the same old indirect accusations. Instead of declaring a day of mourning, how about a day of truth? How about teaching the interior minister how to speak? How about the army commander, instead of phoning the dictator next door, be asked to report to the defense minister and to the public? Is the enemy so powerful that we are afraid to at least give it the media treatment we have given Israelis when they were doing the killing?

And to underscore that point, Daily Star editorial page editor Michael Young interviewed former UN prosecutor Detlev Mehlis who was the first prosecutor appointed as part of the International Tribunal and whose initial investigation implicated high level Syrian ministers in the plot to kill Hariri. Mehlis was disappointed in the subsequent investigations of the Tribunal:

Mehlis, who was the first U.N. chief investigator, has said in his reports that the Hariri plot’s complexity suggested that Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services had a role, but [Serge] Brammertz has not echoed his view. Four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals have been under arrest for almost two years for alleged involvement in the murder.

In his final appearance before the U.N. Security Council in December, Brammertz said that progress made in the last few months has enabled investigators to identify “a number of persons of interest” who may have been involved in some aspect of the crime—or knew about the preparations.

The investigation “appears to have lost the momentum it had until January 2006,” Mehlis said in the interview. “When I left we were ready to name suspects, but it seems not to have progressed from that stage.”

“If you have suspects you don’t allow them to roam free for years to tamper with evidence,” Mehlis told The Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, for a while Brammertz seemed to be treating the Syrian government with kid gloves, praising their “cooperation” with the Tribunal while hinting that no Syrian ministers would be charged in the assassination. There was also evidence that Brammertz refused to follow up some leads with regards to Palestinian involvement in the crime.

All the violence takes place against the backdrop of an Arab League attempt to get the two sides to agree on a presidential candidate. Secretary Moussa will travel to Lebanon again this week to continue his fruitless search for a compromise acceptable to Syria and the opposition.

Meanwhile, the murders continue, the two sides become even more entrenched and the citizens of Lebanon are on edge wondering what will come next. The Blacksmiths of Lebanon outline the endgame:

The attacks on our institutions continue with the aim of dismantling the Lebanese state and replacing it with a quasi-Syrian province [slash] Iranian paramilitary front.

Thanks to the inviability of these plans and the historically proven inability of any one side [this time Hizballah] to impose its will on the rest of the Lebanese political/sectarian groupings, these plans will most likely fail. The issue remains, however: what will it cost our country before they do? Syria, Iran and their quislings in Lebanon [starting with Nasrallah, Berri, Aoun, and going all the way down to “the Qansos”, Wahhab, and Franjieh] continue to work to ensure that price is high.

It is best if the western powers who continue their strong backing of prime minister Siniora remember that these are the stakes in play.

By: Rick Moran at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

pennsylvania medical insurance quotes linked with pennsylvania medical insurance quotes...

A very interesting and in the end, a very depressing article in The Guardian this morning about some recommendations by a blue ribbon panel of ex-military leaders in NATO who believe that the organization is in danger of becoming irrelevant to the security interests of its members.

In short, they conclude that NATO is not addressing the fundamental security threats facing the organization in a rapidly changing world and that there is a real danger that NATO itself will not survive many of the challenges facing it.

The headline grabbing part of the article is actually the least surprising – that NATO should maintain its nuclear first strike option. This has always been NATO’s unstated doctrine going back to the cold war given the huge perceived disparity in conventional forces the organization was facing from the Soviets. It was always believed that the US would have to abandon Western Europe in the face of a Soviet attack or launch its missiles. Maintaining this doctrine then is not surprising when faced with the possibility of rogue states or terrorist organizations threatening a launch against a NATO member.

The authors of this “manifesto” are an eye opening lot and “paint an alarming picture of the threats and challenges confronting the west in the post-9/11 world and deliver a withering verdict on the ability to cope.”

General John Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff and Nato’s ex-supreme commander in Europe, General Klaus Naumann, Germany’s former top soldier and ex-chairman of Nato’s military committee, General Henk van den Breemen, a former Dutch chief of staff, Admiral Jacques Lanxade, a former French chief of staff, and Lord Inge, field marshal and ex-chief of the general staff and the defence staff in the UK.

And this distinguished group of dedicated soldiers did not create this document in a vacuum; they discussed their findings and got recommendations from a wide variety of current and former civilian and military leaders.

Here are some key findings:

The five commanders argue that the west’s values and way of life are under threat, but the west is struggling to summon the will to defend them. The key threats are:

· Political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.

· The “dark side” of globalisation, meaning international terrorism, organised crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

· Climate change and energy security, entailing a contest for resources and potential “environmental” migration on a mass scale.

· The weakening of the nation state as well as of organisations such as the UN, Nato and the EU.

So is this a call to action? Or the last gasp of a dying organization that is making a final attempt to reconstitute itself in order to become relevant to its members and the security of the world?

As peacekeepers, NATO is doing a pretty good job in Bosnia and Kosovo. As warriors in Afghanistan, the organization is losing the war to the Taliban.

Now diplomats and the military fear unless something is done to revitalise strategy against the Taliban, Western governments will also lose their will and pull out their troops. Without Western backing, Karzai’s government may not last very long.

“If we cannot show progress in the next year or two, or at least show we are moving in the right direction, we will have serious difficulty in keeping some of our partners engaged in Afghanistan,” said one senior Western diplomat.

Six years after the Taliban were ousted following the Sept. 11 attacks, support for the war is waning and Canada, Germany and the Netherlands could withdraw troops by 2010, leaving a big hole that other NATO nations may be unwilling or unable to fill.

But it isn’t just support for the war at home that is the problem. The fact is, according to Defense Secretary Gates, that not only are NATO soldiers not trained for a counter-insurgency mission but that NATO governments themselves are reluctant to commit their troops to combat:

“I’m worried we’re deploying [military advisors] that are not properly trained and I’m worried we have some military forces that don’t know how to do counter-insurgency operations … Most of the European forces, NATO forces, are not trained in counter-insurgency; they were trained for the Fulda Gap [NATO’s Cold War battle lines in Germany].”


Gates warned the NATO mission “has exposed real limitations in the way the alliance is, or organized, operated and equipped. I believe the problem arises in a large part due to the way various allies view the very nature of the alliance in the 21st century, where in a post-Cold War environment, we have to be ready to operate in distant locations against insurgencies and terrorist networks.” He solicited help from US Congressmen for “pressuring” the NATO capitals “to do the difficult work of persuading their own citizens [in Europe] of the need to step up to this challenge.”

Gates again spoke forcefully at the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Edinburgh, Scotland, on December 14. But “no one at the table stood up and said: ‘I agree with that’,” he later lamented.

Only the Dutch, Canadians, British, Australian, and American forces engage in combat operations in Afghanistan (the French have several hundred special forces operating in the north). For the rest, there are “caveats” – legal loopholes in the NATO charter that allows nations to avoid the fighting – and according to the manifesto, are contributing to NATO losing the war in Afghanistan:

In the wake of the latest row over military performance in Afghanistan, touched off when the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, said some allies could not conduct counter-insurgency, the five senior figures at the heart of the western military establishment also declare that Nato’s future is on the line in Helmand province.

“Nato’s credibility is at stake in Afghanistan,” said Van den Breemen.

“Nato is at a juncture and runs the risk of failure,” according to the blueprint.

Naumann delivered a blistering attack on his own country’s performance in Afghanistan. “The time has come for Germany to decide if it wants to be a reliable partner.” By insisting on “special rules” for its forces in Afghanistan, the Merkel government in Berlin was contributing to “the dissolution of Nato”.

Ron Asmus, head of the German Marshall Fund thinktank in Brussels and a former senior US state department official, described the manifesto as “a wake-up call”. “This report means that the core of the Nato establishment is saying we’re in trouble, that the west is adrift and not facing up to the challenges.”

To put the caveats used by a majority of NATO countries in Afghanistan in perspective, one Canadian officer was quoted as saying ““How many battalions does it take to protect Kabul airport?”

Recommendations in the manifesto are pointed and specific:

To prevail, the generals call for an overhaul of Nato decision-taking methods, a new “directorate” of US, European and Nato leaders to respond rapidly to crises, and an end to EU “obstruction” of and rivalry with Nato. Among the most radical changes demanded are:

· A shift from consensus decision-taking in Nato bodies to majority voting, meaning faster action through an end to national vetoes.

· The abolition of national caveats in Nato operations of the kind that plague the Afghan campaign.

· No role in decision-taking on Nato operations for alliance members who are not taking part in the operations.

· The use of force without UN security council authorisation when “immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings”.

The European left will not support any of these changes. In fact, the commitment of troops in Afghanistan by most NATO countries is opposed by a majority of their own populations. And if Afghanistan is a red line that NATO must prove its worth or perish, then I fear the entire alliance is in mortal danger of collapsing given the recalcitrance of large NATO member states like Germany and France in committing more of their troops to the fight.

NATO wanted this job. They criticized the US mercilessly for “going it alone” in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now that the Taliban has been reconstituted (thanks largely to Pakistan’s inaction in the border provinces and US inaction in tamping down poppy production) several member states are looking anxiously at their domestic political position knowing full well that increased casualties as a result of them allowing their troops to engage in combat operations will almost certainly drive the left into the streets demanding a withdrawal.

This is something those countries never bargained for when they allowed their troops to be deployed under NATO’s banner in Afghanistan. At the time NATO agreed to the Afghan mission, it appeared to be mostly a reconstruction and peacekeeping operation. And now that they are desperately needed as combat troops to assist the Canadians and Dutch in the south in fighting off a growing number of Taliban fighters, they feel their hands are tied by a domestic opposition that opposes anything NATO does to help the United States.

If NATO won’t fight in Afghanistan, where will they fight? As Russia grows in strength and confidence under Vladmir Putin, the former satellites of the old Soviet Union who are now NATO members may start to wonder if the countries of western Europe will confront that menace if a showdown were to come. With western interests and credibility at stake in Afghanistan and member states failing to answer the call, it is a legitimate question whether NATO would fight in the Baltic states or even in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

NATO has had many crisis in the past but perhaps none that threatened the organization in such an existential way. NATO is struggling to find a reason to exist. And unless its member states can overcome their reluctance to commit to the idea of collective western security, it is possible that NATO will pass into history as just one more alliance that unravelled due to its own internal contradictions.


Most of the buzz on this article is centered around the pre-emptive nuclear strike aspect of the story. As I mention above, this is nothing new – just a recommendation to continue a long standing policy that NATO was forced by default to follow once the perceived superiority of Soviet conventional forces became so overwhelming.

However, as Dave Schuler points out, announcing such a policy may defeat its purpose:

In the end I’m left with a number of questions. First, does strategic ambiguity enhance or diminish deterrence? Is it a political necessity that undermines the strength of deterrence? Second, does a supernational organization like NATO increase the strength of the nation state or reduce it? How does the majority rule provision of the report influence that? Finally, what is the role of NATO today? U. S. defense expenditures are around 4% of GDP, Britain’s around 2% and under substantial scrutiny at home, France’s somewhat lower, and Germany’s below 2% and falling. If NATO’s members, accustomed to the U. S. military aegis, elect to have armed forces incapable of projecting force beyond Europe, of what practical use is the old military alliance?

Excellent questions all that the report (James Joyner found a PDF link here) fails to address.

Allah wonders whether the report’s nuclear option is aimed at Iran or Pakistan and if this is evidence of NATO’s growing irrelevancy:

I’m guessing this is aimed more at Iran than Pakistan, although a confirmed report of nukes loose in the tribal areas would naturally warrant a “strong” response. It’s not clear if they’re referring to pinpoint nuclear bunker busters to destroy underground weapons facilities or some sort of larger, make-an-example decapitating strike (the ambiguity is probably intentional), but the fact that they’re willing to rattle this particular saber publicly shows how helpless they feel re: other deterrent options. The west can roll back proliferation, they say, but it had better be prepared to make some hard choices to do so.