Saturday, April 30, 2011

Three Cups of Spilt Tea

I remember seeing this book a time back and being both interested and somewhat ill at ease with it. The self congratulation seemed a tad over the top. That, and the ready ease with which the author referred to himself as Doctor Greg - it struck me as someone who was all too willing to have people believe he was something other than what he was.

Well, turns out that's exactly right, as Greg Mortenson, the supposed philanthropic Afghanistan school builder, has been exposed by 60 Minutes as the head of a very lucrative bogus charity enterprise.

Bruce Bawer over at Pajama's Media thought things were off from their first encounter:
"When I first heard Mortenson speak at a conference two years ago, I was unaware what a big deal he was. Indeed, as far as I can remember it was the first time I’d ever heard of him. I was immediately appalled. He was swaggering, slick, self-satisfied. These attributes especially stood out in contrast with the other speakers at the conference. For the occasion was the first annual Oslo Freedom Forum, at which many if not most of Mortenson’s fellow speakers were genuine heroes — men and women who’d stood up for freedom in autocratic countries and been punished for it with years of imprisonment and torture.

Those heroes had a right to swagger. Only they didn’t. On the contrary, most of them seemed embarrassed by the attention they were receiving. They weren’t comfortable in the limelight. They recounted their experiences in halting voices, their sincerity shining through. Plainly, they were telling their stories not to sell books or build a brand but because they knew that, for the sake of human justice, their stories desperately needed to be told. The focus of their testimony wasn’t on their own courageous endurance but on the cruelty of the tyrants who’d made them suffer — and on the need to free others who still chafed under the same yoke. Such was their humility that, to my shame, I came away not being able to remember most of their names.

But it was impossible to forget Greg Mortenson’s name. For he was the star of his own story. The whole point of his talk was how much one brave, selfless individual can accomplish in this world even against the most formidable of odds. And that individual was him. The premise of his spiel was that he’s a miracle worker, pacifying belligerent jihadist types by sitting down with them over three cups of tea and listening to their concerns. Yet the egomaniac I saw that day was somebody you couldn’t picture listening to anybody else for more than thirty seconds."
Excellent piece. Read the whole thing here.

Update: May 1st, 2011

Well, April Gavaza has weighed in with her usual directness:
"... as much as I respect and admire Bruce Bawer for all of the amazing writing and investigative work he has done, (you must, must, must read While Europe Slept), my friend who conflates fiction and non doesn't even know he exists, let alone that he's exposed one of her favorite book circle books as complete horseshit peddled by a shady snake-oil salesman who pockets the charity money raised by school children."
Go ahead, you know you want to read the whole thing.

Friday, April 29, 2011

George Jonas Ponders Green Pie In The Sky

As the air rushes out of the global warming balloon, the economic costs of green policies are beginning to be calculated. Citing a paper written by Kenneth P. Green and Ben Eisen for the Winnipeg-based think-tank Frontier Centre, George Jonas castes his gaze upon the utter economic destruction such policies are costing.
"A study released this week concludes that government “green-job” programs aren’t the yellow-brick road to happiness in Europe. Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every job created, while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create five new jobs in the general economy."
What about all that baloney Obama's been spouting about green energy and green jobs for the future?
This week Green-Eisen conclude that "far from generating a new source of economic growth, job creation and government revenue, Spain has found its foray into renewable energy to be unsustainable."
Unsustainable. That's pretty much the situation Obama has going for us here.

'Shanghai Noon' Open Thread

“I am like a wild horse. You can’t tame me. You put the oats in the pen, though, and I’ll come in for a nibble every day… But if you ever shut that gate, I’ll jump fence and you’ll never see me again.”

Roy O'Bannon, Shanghai Noon

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's April Gavaza Been Up To Lately?

Writing great posts, of course.

Not writing at Hyacinth Girl much anymore, but still as much fun as ever.

Never a partilularly cautious writer, she might start out a piece with a giant link line something like this:
And this is why the UN Human Rights Council is a total crock of shit.
to be followed with:
I'm never shocked by the depths to which the UN will sink, but surely you liberal/progressive jackasses who always post lengthy articles on the human rights abuses of America and other civilized nations on my Facebook wall can see that this is wrong. That is this pathetic, pussy behavior on the part of the UN. Assad's people are shooting mourners at the funerals of the other people they shot. Who else is disgusted that Syria isn't laughed out of the UN for even attempting to join that council?

Writing interesting, thought provoking pieces is standard fair for fan favorite April Gavaza, our original "Fun Read".

Check out her new stuff over at Inveterate Scars.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Take Over, Terry!

Chris Matthews is an ongoing embaressment to journalism, never better demonstrated than in his recent dialogue with Pat Buchanan and Terry McAuliffe on MSNBC's Hardball. As per usual, Chris starts the show off with an ass clown of an opening question.
"He is suggesting he isn't really the guy he says he is, the President of the United States, I am going to start with Pat because I am looking around for "birthers" and I consider a 'birther', and this is my rule Pat, my colleague, anybody who has questions, anybody who thinks this is a significant issue in this campaign coming up. Is this a significant issue to you?"
So, how about if I ask Chris this one:
"First let me tell you that I am looking for morons, and dear colleague, my rule is that anyone that believes the US would be well served if Obama won a second term is a clear cut moron. Are you, Chris, someone who thinks the country would be well served if Obama served a second term?"
Loaded questions don't lead one to informative answers. I guess Chris missed that one in j-school.

Pat goes on to point out that whether he believes it or not is immaterial, and if Chris is troubled by people asking this question then perhaps the president should put the question to bed and answer it, once and for all, and while he is at it, why not release his grades and LSAT scores? Why not be transparent? All are excellent questions, for which Chris and smiling Terry did not condescend to answer.

Informing the public, seeking answers to questions, these used to be the stuff for news men. No more. Chris doesn't care much about the questions.

Pat's final comment:
"You're supposed to be a journalist."
Amen to that.

Update April 27th

Apparently the president has released the sought after information. Smitty has commentary on it here. Jill weighs in here. Nice to know Barry's done goofing around...

... or is he?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

As Prices Soar, Obama Adds Levity

"Holy cow!"
At a fundraiser in Southern California last week the president said:
“My poll numbers go up and down depending on the latest crisis, and right now gas prices are weighing heavily on people. I admit, the Secret Service doesn’t let me fill up the pump anymore, but it hasn’t been that long since I did.”
The president often treats us to little jokes to illustrate he is a "man of the people", but invariable the joke simply underscores that he is anything but. Whether he is picking the Final Four on national TV or taking off his coat and tie with Mark Zukerberg, we're left with a certainty that our President is not invested in the same concerns we are.

I preferred it when candidate Obama was bowling gutter ball after gutter ball on his way to a mind-numbing 37.

Gas prices when Obama entered office averaged $1.84 a gallon. Today we are having to pay $3.88 for a gallon of regular gasoline. That's an over 200 percent increase.

About the same time that Obama was reaching out to the people of middle America, David Brooks was feeling a wave of clairvoyance at the sight of Obama's pant crease. A better insight into the Obama presidency was on display in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

(With a tip of the hat to Pundit and Pundette).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Steyn Stopped, Children Saved From Kinder Egg Caper

"No eggs for you!"
With all the pat downs and scanning going on these days, one gets a bit testy. Its encouraging, then, to see US Customs and Border Protection forces swinging into action and actually doing a bit of good.

It seems one Mark Steyn, a journalist of some note and general rabble rouser, was attempting to slip across the Canadian/US border with a carton of kinder eggs when US customs confiscated the confectionary treats before the Steyn children could be harmed by them.

It was a bloody run go. The young Steynsters were dearly tempted by the chocolates, and were nearly placed in hazard.

Steyn was philosophic:
As Janet Napolitano would say, the system worked.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

That Stacy McCain Has Too Much Fun!

This is good stuff:
"Let’s face it, folks: When it comes to exposing liberal media bias, Trig Palin has probably accomplished almost as much as Brent Bozell. Not bad for a 3-year-old."
And Stephen Crowder rips it!

The Leftoids skewering Sarah Palin's three year old son on his birthday? Why not? The so-called sensitive among us over at Wonkette see nothing wrong when the target is someone they disapprove of.

Here is the original slam post by Wonkette's Jack Stuef. What a putz.

Oh, and here's the original Hot Air piece knocking Stuef into next week by Susannah Fleetwood.

Very nice.

'You Gotta Stay Happy' Open Thread

Did you have a little fun?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two Snaps!

Did you realize that Pundit and Pundette have a Fresh Steyn roll on their side bar?

Way cool.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Warren Sees Governing Class Loyalties In Question

As our national leaders work to address fundamental issues of financial solvency and the growing economic dependence that threaten to destroy our very nation, many of us our confronted by an unresponsive ruling class that is primarily driven by a desire to maintain position in office. David Warren comments on the similar dilemma faced by Canadians:
"Each politician pretends to be "a man of the people," when he is really a man of the governing class, whose routine interests are those of his class. It is an unedifying spectacle, in which candour is seldom on display. And when it is displayed, it is gravely punished."
Good stuff. Read the whole thing here.

Author Ayn Rand Seen As Dangerous Influence

Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan has become the target of intense scrutiny by the Left, the criticism extending to Mr. Ryan's literary tastes. Ryan, of course, has been a serious proponent of gaining control of the nation's run-away spending, and he has offered a proposal to reduce the deficit, implementing changes such as simplifying the tax code and eliminating tax deductions.

Criticism against Ryan has been as distorted as it is ill informed. MSNBC’s “The ED Show" interviewed David Cay Johnston, the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner for "beat reporting". Johnston called in to question Ryan’s legitimacy on the basis that he’s a fan of ... Ayn Rand (?!).

In Rand’s book, “The Fountainhead,” a fictional character named Howard Roark blows up a building. In Johnston's view, that means people should evaluate the possibility that Paul Ryan is a proponent of blowing up buildings. Fortunately for Johnston, being able to make logical progressions were not a skill deemed necessary to winning the Pulitzer prize.

Johnston offered a few beat reporter insights:
“You know, Congressman Ryan requires his staff to read Ayn Rand, whose fictional hero, Howard Roark, is a man who blew up a building because it wasn’t built exactly to his specifications as the architect”
No, Mr. Pulitzer prize, Mr. Ryan does not require his staff to read Ayn Rand. That's just a made up piece of nonsense. Apparently Mr. Ryan has read "The Fountainhead" and does believe it holds themes that are relevant and worth appreciating, themes such as the evil of oppressive statism and the loss of individuality, but he does not require his staff to read novels, this one or any other. That would just be silly, a term which fits your whole appearance on the "ED" show.

Recommending books that we find thought provoking and interesting are things that many of us do. There is nothing sinister about that. Perhaps you should consider doing a little reading yourself, Mr. Johnston. Maybe do a little background research before going on programs like "The ED Show."

Mr. Johnston continued:
“I mean, that’s the kind of society we want where our leaders say, not only are we taking from the sick and poor but we’re going to hold out as a model people who commit felonies like blowing up buildings. We really need to dig into understanding the kind of people who would put forth these ideas.”
Really? Perhaps we should dig into understanding how a Pulitzer prize winning beat reporter could get his story so wrong on the substance of its chief points. Never mind. We already understand how that goes.

Perhaps Mr. Johnston believes those Rand books should be put to the torch. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot. The left are the open minded ones among us.


Update April 21st, 6:15 pm (Pacific time).

There is further controversy! It is now contended that Ryan insists on the reading of "Atlas Shrugged", and not "The Fountainhead". No matter. Ben Domenech clears it up for us:
Always skeptical about the offhand, unsourced anecdote from Beam’s piece (which wasn’t even focused on Ryan), I reached out to several former Ryan staffers yesterday to ask them whether the Budget Chairman had required them to read Rand. While everyone knows Ryan is indeed a personal fan of Rand’s work, not a single one of them said Ryan had required them to read the books. Responses include: “I had already read it prior to working for him, but it is by no means a requirement for employment,” and “Saying he ‘requires’ his staff to read it is definitely stretching the truth,” and the flat out denial: “We are not required to read Rand.”
If Ryan's staff are to be believed, the claims of forced Rand readings are specious. However, the greater point is that regardless of whether or not Mr. Ryan's staff read Ayn Rand, that does not give one license to claim that he is a man whose bent is toward blowing up buildings. That is an outrageous claim that is utterly contemptible and without merit. It should not be a part of the public debate, and certainly should not be inserted into the debate by a journalist.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Here's News: Editorials at The New York Times Never Wrong Nor Incorrect

"What?!" you say.

That's right. Letters to the editor which "correct" the New York Times editorial writers, or contend that the editorial was in fact "wrong" cannot be printed as a letter to the editor.

That would be the New York Times editorial page policy.

If you are looking for a laugharoo, Eugene Volokh has a fun little story on it here.
The Times responded: “We cannot say ‘incorrectly’ because that is the province of corrections, in which case I would forward the letter to the corrections editor and it could not be considered as a letter."
Your letter which corrected our editorial cannot be considered a letter.

What we always suspected.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Obama Speaking Gibberish

“I know it is wet 
And the sun is not sunny... 

After the recent budget debate, I am a bit out of sorts over the shrinking influence of the Republican majority in the House. Voted in on the promise of cutting 100 billion off the nation's budget, it became pro-rated to 61 billion for the portion of the year left, then to 38 billion at the signing, to 20 billion on re-accessing the provisions to a final 0.353 billion on the post-signing analysis, all of which was hailed by the press as massive cutting in government spending and a major victory by Speaker of the House John Boehner.

With this as the back drop, we have our president providing the following:
"... we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities. We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments."
Allow me to be clear, Mr. President: we are a great country because we are free.

Still, the president droned on:
"We will invest in medical research. We will invest in clean energy technology. We will invest in education. We will invest in job training. We will invest in new roads and airports and broad band."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when this guy says "We will invest", he really means "We will spend". We will spend, we will spend, we will spend. Wow, that's some fiscal restraint you're showing there, Mr. President.
"And we will win the future!"
"We offered the world ORDER!" What a nutbar. And at what cost, there, professor? How much will all this "investing" of yours cost us? How much more debt do you intend to burden our children with? Spending of tax payer money should be considered carefully, cautiously, not just thrown out on dubious programs that are more payback to your union and government shills then they are instruments that will benefit the country. When will you take your responsibility for addressing the nation's financial woes seriously?

Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas, was appreciative of the president's rhetorical efforts:
"He spent approximately half an hour giving us a history lesson blaming everyone for the nation's fiscal woes, but himself. I don't know about my colleagues, but I thought to myself: 'And I missed lunch for this?' This was not a speech designed for America to win the future. This was a speech designed for president to attempt to win re-election. For the first time in two years the president has joined the deficit debate, and what he brings to the table is more job-killing taxes and more rationing of health care. The American people deserve a budget plan that takes our nation off the road to decline and onto a path to prosperity. New platitudes and new taxes will not grow our economy or solve the spending-driven debt crisis. These record deficits are the symptom – spending is the disease. The only way to grow our economy and save the American dream for our children and grandchildren is to stop spending money that we don’t have.
Damn straight.
“In the time since he’s taken office, we’ve experienced the first and second trillion-dollar deficits in American history, and we’re on our way to our third. Unemployment is still hovering around 9 percent. Instead of offering a real plan to cut spending, the president’s resorting back to raising taxes on job creators, which will discourage job creation, destroy economic growth, and do nothing to get spending under control.
But we can have 
Lots of good fun that is funny!” 

For the past two years the president and the Democrats in Congress have been spending money that we don’t have, record amounts of spending that has left the nation buried under a mountain of debt, burning up the vast majority of available financing and placing a huge inflationary pressure on our economy.

What's next for this guy?

"We are going to find savings in the tax code"


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ulithi Photos

Descriptions of Typhoon and Naval hearing

Photo New Jesey in the storm

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Movietone News

As a young lad I was a fan of Errol Flynn, as most young boys not troubled by inconsistencies might be, easily entertaining the discordant thoughts of honest pirates and the daring feats of bravery they might do, but the interest waned with time. Matthew Coniam's recent piece on the actor that played Captain Blood and Robin Hood brought new interest to the man that embodied all those roles:

"But this is merely to fall into the trap Flynn set himself: that of devaluing the illusions he offered, underrating their significance and overlooking the skill, ingenuity and talent that went into creating and sustaining them. To be the world’s greatest swashbuckler is not to be nothing; to remain a byword for dash, bravery and athleticism nearly fifty years after your death is achievement of another magnitude again.

Viewed today, his screen persona seems more ambiguous than it once did, certainly more so than, say, John Wayne’s or Clark Gable’s. Beautiful rather than handsome, he appears athletic and virile but not necessarily all that tough. (Screenplays often call upon him to prove himself physically early on, as frequently, it seems, did life.) The little playboy’s moustache warned of frivolousness and unreliability, and he often seems mildly foppish, careful in his manners and dress and vain about his looks (which Flynn in fact was not).

He did not deal in cynical heroes, but, watching him, we suspect a cynical man behind the lustiness and derring do, despite the total absence of irony in the portrayal itself. His characters seem to wink at us, but at us alone, as if keen to reveal to us facets of themselves they never show other characters."

It is a great pleasure to run into a well written blog that is interesting, insightful and a fun read. Matthew Coniam's Movietone News has been a delight. Check out the whole thing here.