Archive for December, 2008
31 Dec 2008

You Thought You Had It Bad?

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José Guardia, quoting the Economist on Spain’s housing bust, demonstrates that some countries have it a lot worse.

The market is dropping fast. Property fairs tout discounts of as much as 60% on new-built homes, or even “buy one, get one free” offers. …

Loan-to-value ratios tend to be safely below 80%. And Spanish mortgages cannot be cancelled by dropping the house keys at the bank: security is provided by all of a borrower’s assets—and sometimes those of relatives as well. It is no surprise that most Spaniards do their utmost not to default.

Ouch! I’m not inclined to think myself that two-for-one deals will really get many houses sold. “Shall we sleep in 514 West Queen Isabella Boulevard or in 516 tonight, Dear?”

31 Dec 2008

New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay

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Robert Burns, author of Auld Lang Syne

From Robert Chambers, A Book of Days, 1869:

NEW YEAR’S EVE, OR HOGMANAY

As a general statement, it may be asserted that neither the last evening of the old year nor the first day of the new one is much, observed in England as an occasion of festivity. In some parts of the country, indeed, and more especially in the northern counties, various social merry-makings take place; but for the most part, the great annual holiday-time is already past. Christmas Eve, Christmas-day, and St. Stephen’s or Boxing Day have absorbed almost entirely the tendencies and opportunities of the community at large in the direction of joviality and relaxation. Business and the ordinary routine of daily life have again been resumed; or, to apply to English habits the words of an old Scottish rhyme still current, but evidently belonging to the old times, anterior to the Reformation, when Christmas was the great popular festival:

Yule’s come and Yule ‘s gane,
And we hae feasted weel;
Sae Jock maun to his flail again,
And Jenny to her wheel.’

Whilst thus the inhabitants of South Britain are settling down again quietly to work after the festivities of the Christmas season, their fellow-subjects in the northern division of the island are only commencing their annual saturnalia, which, till recently, bore, in the license and boisterous merriment which used to prevail, a most unmistakable resemblance to its ancient pagan namesake. The epithet of the Daft [mad] Days, applied to the season of the New Year in Scotland, indicates very expressively the uproarious joviality which characterized the period in question. This exuberance of joyousness—which, it must be admitted, sometimes led to great excesses—has now much declined, but New-year’s Eve and New-year’s Day constitute still the great national holiday in Scotland. Under the 1st of January, we have already detailed the various revelries by which the New Year used to be ushered in, in Scotland. It now becomes our province to notice those ceremonies and customs which are appropriate to the last day of the year, or, as it is styled in Scotland, Hogmanay.

This last term has puzzled antiquaries even more than the word Yule, already adverted to; and what is of still greater consequence, has never yet received a perfectly satisfactory explanation. Some suppose it to be derived from two Greek words, άιαμηνη (the holy moon or month), and in reference to this theory it may be observed, that, in the north of England, the term used is Hagmenu, which does not seem, however, to be confined to the 31st of December, but denotes generally the period immediately preceding the New Year. Another hypothesis combines the word with another sung along with it in chorus, and asserts ‘Hogmanay, trollolay!’ to be a corruption of ‘Homma est né—Trois Rois lá” (‘A Man is born—Three Kings are there’), an allusion to the birth of our Saviour, and the visit to Bethlehem of the Wise Men, who were known in medieval times as the ‘Three Kings.’

But two additional conjectures seem much more plausible, and the reader may select for himself what he considers the most probable. One of these is, that the term under notice is derived from Hoggu-nott, Hogenat, or Hogg-night, the ancient Scandinavian name for the night preceding the feast of Yule, and so called in reference to the animals slaughtered on the occasion for sacrificial and festal purpose word hogg signifying to kill. The other derivation of Hogmanay is from ‘Au gui menez’ (‘To the mistletoe go’), or ”Au gui ľan neuf’ ‘ (‘To the mistletoe this New Year ‘), an allusion to the ancient Druidical ceremony of gathering that plant. In the patois of Touraine, in France, the word used is Aguilanneu; in Lower Normandy, and in Guernsey, poor persons and children used to solicit a contribution under the title of Hoguinanno or 0guinano; whilst in Spain the term, Aguinaldo, is employed to denote the presents made at the season of Christmas.

In country places in Scotland, and also in the more retired and primitive towns, it is still customary on the morning of the last day of the year, or Hogmanay, for the children of the poorer class of people to get themselves swaddled in a great sheet, doubled up in front, so as to form a vast pocket, and then to go along the streets in little bands, calling at the doors of the wealthier classes for an expected dole of oaten-bread. Each child gets one quadrant section of oat-cake (some-times, in the case of particular favourites, improved by an addition of cheese), and this is called their hogmanay. In expectation of the large demands thus made upon them, the housewives busy themselves for several days beforehand in preparing a suitable quantity of cakes. The children on coming to the door cry, ‘Hogmanay!’ which is in itself a sufficient announcement of their demands; but there are other exclamations which either are or might be used for the same purpose. One of these is:

‘Hogmanay, Trollolay, Give us of your white bread, and none of your gray.’

And another favourite rhyme is:

Get up, goodwife, and shake your feathers,
And dinna think that we are beggars;
For we are bairns come out to play,
Get up and gie’s our hogmanay!’

The following is of a moralising character, though a good deal of a truism:

Get up, goodwife, and binna sweir,
And deal your bread to them that ‘s here;
For the time will come when ye’ll be dead,
And then ye’ll neither need ale nor bread.’

The most favourite of all, however, is more to the point than any of the foregoing :

My feet’s cauld, my shoon’s thin;
Gie’s my cakes, and let me rin!’

It is no unpleasing scene, during the forenoon, to see the children going laden home, each with his large apron bellying out before him, stuffed full of cakes, and perhaps scarcely able to waddle under the load. Such a mass of oaten alms is no inconsiderable addition to the comfort of the poor man’s household, and enables him to enjoy the New-year season as much as his richer neighbours.

In the primitive parish of Deerness, in Orkney, it was customary, in the beginning of the present century, for old and young of the common class of people to assemble in a great band upon the evening of the last day of the year, and commence a round of visits throughout the district. At every house they knocked at the door, and on being admitted, commenced singing, to a tune of its own, a song appropriate to the occasion. The following is what may be termed a restored version of this chant, the imagination having been called on to make up in several of the lines what was deficient in memory. The ‘Queen Mary’ alluded to is evidently the Virgin:

‘This night it is grid New’r E’en’s night,
We’re a’ here Queen Mary’s men;
And we ‘re come here to crave our right,
And that’s before our Lady.

The very first thing which we do crave,
We ‘re a’ here Queen Mary’s men;
A bonny white candle we must have,
And that’s before our Lady.

Goodwife, gae to your butter-ark,
And weigh us here ten mark.

Ten mark, ten pund,
Look that ye grip weel to the grund.
Goodwife, gae to your geelin vat,
And fetch us here a skeet o’ that.

Gang to your awmrie, gin ye please,
And bring frae there a yow-milk cheese.

And syne bring here a sharping-stane,
We’ll sharp our whittles ilka ane.

Ye’ll cut the cheese, and eke the round,
But aye take care ye cutna your thoom.

Gae fill the three-pint cog o’ ale,
The maut maun be aboon the meal.

We houp your ale is stark and stout,
For men to drink the auld year out.

Ye ken the weather’s snow and sleet,
Stir up the fire to warm our feet.

Our shoon’s made o’ mare’s skin,
Come open the door, and let’s in.’

The inner-door being opened, a tremendous rush was made ben the house. The inmates furnished a long table with all sorts of homely fare, and a hearty feast took place, followed by copious libations of ale, charged with all sorts of good-wishes. The party would then proceed to the next house, where a similar scene would be enacted. How they contrived to take so many suppers in one evening, heaven knows ! No slight could be more keenly felt by a Deerness farmer than to have his house passed over unvisited by the New-year singers.

The doings of the guisers or guizards (that is, masquers or mummers) form a conspicuous feature in the New-year proceedings throughout Scotland. The favourite night for this exhibition is Hogmanay, though the evenings of Christmas, New-year’s Day, and Handsel Monday, enjoy like-wise a privilege in this respect. Such of the boys as can lay any claim to the possession of a voice have, for weeks before, been poring over the collection of ‘excellent new songs,’ which lies like a bunch of rags in the window-sill; and being now able to screech up ‘Barbara Allan,’ or the ‘Wee cot-house and the wee kail-yardie,’ they determine upon enacting the part of guisers. For this purpose they don old shirts belonging to their fathers, and mount mitre-shaped casques of brown paper, possibly borrowed from the Abbot of Unreason; attached to this is a sheet of the same paper, which, falling down in front, covers and conceals the whole face, except where holes are made to let through the point of the nose, and afford sight to the eyes and breath to the mouth. Each vocal guiser is, like a knight of old, attended by a sort of humble squire, who assumes the habiliments of a girl, ‘with an old-woman’s cap and a broomstick, and is styled ‘Bessie: Bessie is equal in no respect, except that she shares fairly in the proceeds of the enterprise. She goes before her principal, opens all the doors at which he pleases to exert his singing powers; and busies herself, during the time of the song, in sweeping the floor with her broomstick, or in playing any other antics that she thinks may amuse the indwellers. The common reward of this entertainment is a halfpenny, but many churlish persons fall upon the unfortunate guisers, and beat them out of the house. Let such persons, however, keep a good watch upon their cabbage-gardens next Halloween!

The more important doings of the guisers are of a theatrical character. There is one rude and grotesque drama which they are accustomed to perform on each of the four above-mentioned nights; and which, in various fragments or versions, exists in every part of Lowland Scotland. The performers, who are never less than three, but sometimes as many as six, having dressed themselves, proceed in a band from house to house, generally contenting themselves with the kitchen for an arena; whither, in mansions presided over by the spirit of good-humour, the whole family will resort to witness the spectacle. Sir Walter Scott, who delighted to keep up old customs, and could condescend to simple things without losing genuine dignity, invariably had a set of guisers to perform this play before his family both at Ashestiel and Abbotsford. The drama in question bears a close resemblance, with sundry modifications, to that performed by the mummers in various parts of England, and of which we have already given a specimen.

Such are the leading features of the Hogmanay festivities in Scotland. A similar custom to that above detailed of children going about from house to house, singing the Hagmena chorus, and obtaining a dole of bread or cakes, prevails in Yorkshire and the north of England; but, as we have already mentioned, the last day of the year is not in the latter country, for the most part, invested with much peculiar distinction.

31 Dec 2008

Third in a Series

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Scrappleface reports that, while waiting for the inauguration, Barack Obama is working on another memoir. This one will chronicle his days in the Senate.

According to a news release from the publisher, the memoir entitled 143 Days That Shaped a Nation: The Senate Career of Barack Obama, “is third in a series of biennial Obama memoirs and promises a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the senate from an outsider’s perspective, along with personal anecdotes about senate colleagues whom Sen. Obama occasionally met, or heard about.”

“When you have served as long as I have,” said Mr. Obama, “I think you have an obligation to pass on some of that wisdom that comes from your experience for the benefit of the people of the world.”

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich must now choose a replacement who has experience comparable with Sen. Obama’s — a daunting task, the governor said, “when you realize that whomever I pick as junior senator might be just one great speech away from the Democrat presidential nomination.”

31 Dec 2008

Don’t Underestimate Blagojevich

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The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass advises. Playing the race card was a brilliant stroke which instantly put the national democrat party on the defensive.

Since he was federally charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been wrongly caricatured as some kind of hapless jester prancing on the edge of madness.

Jesters hold rattles with a likeness of their heads on the end of a stick, and they hop off into a corner, prattling to themselves. That’s what jesters do.

Jesters don’t pick up the race card in a nationally televised news conference and slam it into the face of every Democrat in the U.S. Senate, a palm heel strike to the tip of the nose, leaving all of them watery-eyed, their lips stinging.

Yet that’s what Blagojevich—aided by former Black Panther-turned-Daley-machine-functionary Bobby Rush—did at that stupendous news conference in Chicago on Tuesday. That’s when the governor appointed Democratic empty suit Roland Burris, an African-American, to fill the Senate seat vacated by Obama.

“Please don’t allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man,” said Blagojevich.

It was a brazen move, and a smart one, and though the race card was ugly, there was no passion in it. There was no lunacy involved.

“This is not about Roland, this is about Rod,” said savvy political consultant Thom Serafin when I called him while watching the circus of the politically bizarre. Serafin correctly predicted weeks ago that it would be Burris, shortly after Blagojevich was arrested and most other Senate hopefuls pulled out lest they be infected by the governor’s dilemma.

“This is Rod telling the political class that he’s still active, that he’s still around, that he’s still the governor,” Serafin said. “And how do they deny Roland Burris? They can’t.”

Read the whole thing.

31 Dec 2008

Michael Ramirez on Hamas

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30 Dec 2008

Meet the New Boss: Same as the Old Boss

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Victor Davis Hanson predicts that, six months into the new administration, it will be apparent that it was not actually the policies which changed. It will be how they are being reported and described.

All the campaign talk of the Great Depression, a Vietnam-like war, and our shredded Constitution will now thankfully subside as the Obama administration assumes office and solves problems with conciliation, dialogue, and multilateral wisdom, rather than shrillness, unilateralism, preemption, and my-way-or-the-highway dogmatism. We will hear that, by historical levels, unemployment is still not that bad, that GDP growth is not historically all that low, and that deficits, inflation, interest rates, and housing starts are all within manageable parameters. “Depression” will transmogrify into “recession” which in turn by July will be a “downturn” and by year next an “upswing” on its way to boom times.

Indeed, almost supernaturally crises will be solved with the departure of the hated Bush: no more flooding streets from cracked water mains that were a result of a President’s neglect of infrastructure, and no more spontaneous crashes of Mississippi River bridges due to diversions of critical federal aid from cash-strapped states to Iraq. And when the temperatures rise or drop, the wind howls, the clouds burst forth or go away, the snow melts or piles up, it will be, well, nature that caused the havoc, not the current occupant of the White House who failed to sign Kyoto.

As we watch the innocent die from natural mayhem, it will be due to the breakdown of local responders who now suddenly kill people, not federal inaction–except perhaps for an occasional few Bush federal holdovers that have not yet been rooted out. Human nature, of course, now will be seen more culpable, more selfish, as in needlessly resisting wise and caring federal interventions, rather than being inherently noble but shunned by an uncaring Washington. Yes, when dikes collapse and planes collide on crowed runways, it will be due to a cruel and unpredictable nature, or intrinsic design flaws, or improper local use and maintenance, or the past President’s nefarious legacy, not current government policies. (But if you still must bash the government, it will be wise to do it in 1950s style of inattentive state and local officials, prone to regional and tribal prejudices, blocking the infinite wisdom of a caring federal government.)

Some military action abroad could be necessary–and necessarily reported on as measured and reluctant, rather than cowboyish and gratuitous. European whining will be a result of miscommunications or the Euros’ unfair caricatures of Americans, not Bush’s alienation of allies. If radical Islam strikes, it will be, well, radical again and sometimes even dangerous, not a figment of neocon pipe dreams. If an administration official quits, goes on 60 Minutes, and writes a nasty tell-all book about Obama’s insensitivity and his government’s directionless ennui, he will be a heretic, a whiner, a turncoat, not a truth teller or brave maverick who blew the whistle in need of a bestseller hyped from NPR to the New York Times. We will come again to hate the filibuster, obstructionist Congressional policies, and the occasional loud-mouthed Senator who voices slurs against our nation in unpatriotic fashion.

Those around Barack Obama understand that precisely those measures most derided during the campaign–wiretaps, the interrogation of prisoners in Guantanamo, the decimation of al Qaida members in Iraq and Afghanistan, overseas detentions–probably account likewise most for the absence of another 9/11-like attack. In other words, as the Obamians privately ignore the media hype about flushed Korans and hundreds of innocents caught in the cauldron of war and unfairly detained, and instead examine the sort of killers who are presently in Guantanamo, the type of intelligence gathering that led to prevention of dozens of planned attacks since 9/11, and those who turned up and were killed or arrested in Iraq and Afghanistan, they will realize how dicey it will be to follow through with campaign rhetoric about Bush, Inc. torching the Bill of Rights, fighting made-up enemies abroad, and generally alienating our allies.

So all that will change for now will be the sudden absence of shrill complaints that we live in an America without a Constitution. Static, same-old, same-old government policy will, of course, be said to have altered radically (“hoped and changed”), but it will also be refashioned in the media as “sober” and “judicious”, as the administration moves “in circumspect fashion” to probe and explore “complex” and often “paradoxical” matters of national security that “indeed at the end of the day have no easy answers”.

Read the whole thing.

30 Dec 2008

Russian Professor Predicts Breakup of USA… in 2010!

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The Wall Street Journal reports on the theories of Igor Panarin, whose pessimistic view of the US economic crisis makes Russians very very happy. Dream on, Ivan.

For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument — that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. — very seriously. Now he’s found an eager audience: Russian state media.

In recent weeks, he’s been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. “It’s a record,” says Prof. Panarin. “But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger.”

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it’s his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin’s views also fit neatly with the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories. ..

“There’s a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur,” he says. “One could rejoice in that process,” he adds, poker-faced. “But if we’re talking reasonably, it’s not the best scenario — for Russia.” Though Russia would become more powerful on the global stage, he says, its economy would suffer because it currently depends heavily on the dollar and on trade with the U.S.

Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces — with Alaska reverting to Russian control. …

He based the forecast on classified data supplied to him by FAPSI analysts, he says. He predicts that economic, financial and demographic trends will provoke a political and social crisis in the U.S. When the going gets tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union. Social unrest up to and including a civil war will follow. The U.S. will then split along ethnic lines, and foreign powers will move in.

California will form the nucleus of what he calls “The Californian Republic,” and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of “The Texas Republic,” a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an “Atlantic America” that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls “The Central North American Republic.” Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.

“It would be reasonable for Russia to lay claim to Alaska; it was part of the Russian Empire for a long time.”

The poor chap is completely confused.

Obviously the Texas Republic, aka the Confederacy, would go right up to Virginia, and, if independent, would not be absorbed by Mexico, but would instead wind up annexing Mexico (and much of the Carribean).

The California Republic would merely be a narrow strip along the coast, buying water from the Republic of Montana which would own everything east of the Diablos, and would undoubtedly ultimately become a part of France, not China or Japan.

30 Dec 2008

Dutch Labor Party Changes Position on Islamic Immigrants

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Violence and social unrest have finally awoken the Dutch left from its Rousseau-ian dream. A new Labor Party policy paper calls for an end to the politics of victimhood and a quick dip in the melting pot for Holland’s Islamic new arrivals.

International Herald Tribune
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Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, the Netherlands had lived through something akin to a populist revolt against accommodating Islamic immigrants led by Pim Fortuyn, who was later murdered; the assassination of the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, accused of blasphemy by a homegrown Muslim killer; and the bitter departure from the Netherlands of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali woman who became a member of Parliament before being marked for death for her criticism of radical Islam.

Now something fairly remarkable is happening again. …

Two weeks ago, the country’s biggest left-wing political grouping, the Labor Party, which has responsibility for integration as a member of the coalition government led by the Christian Democrats, issued a position paper calling for the end of the failed model of Dutch “tolerance.” …

The paper said: “The mistake we can never repeat is stifling criticism of cultures and religions for reasons of tolerance.”

Government and politicians had too long failed to acknowledge the feelings of “loss and estrangement” felt by Dutch society facing parallel communities that disregard its language, laws and customs.

Newcomers, according to Ploumen, must avoid “self-designated victimization.”

She asserted, “the grip of the homeland has to disappear” for these immigrants who, news reports indicate, also retain their original nationality at a rate of about 80 percent once becoming Dutch citizens.

Instead of reflexively offering tolerance with the expectation that things would work out in the long run, she said, the government strategy should be “bringing our values into confrontation with people who think otherwise.”

There was more: punishment for trouble-making young people has to become so effective such that when they emerge from jail they are not automatically big shots, Ploumen said.

For Ploumen, talking to the local media, “The street is mine, too. I don’t want to walk away if they’re standing in my path.

“Without a strategy to deal with these issues, all discussion about creating opportunities and acceptance of diversity will be blocked by suspicion and negative experience.” …

For the Netherlands’ Arab and Turkish population (about 6 percent of a total of 16 million) it refers to jobs and educational opportunities as “machines of emancipation.” Yet it also suggests that employment and advancement will not come in full measure until there is a consciousness engagement in Dutch life by immigrants that goes far beyond the present level.

Indeed, Ploumen says, “Integration calls on the greatest effort from the new Dutch. Let go of where you come from; choose the Netherlands unconditionally.” Immigrants must “take responsibility for this country” and cherish and protect its Dutch essence.

Not clear enough? Ploumen insists, “The success of the integration process is hindered by the disproportionate number of non-natives involved in criminality and trouble-making, by men who refuse to shake hands with women, by burqas and separate courses for women on citizenship.

“We have to stop the existence of parallel societies within our society.”

29 Dec 2008

Barack, the Magic Negro

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Rick Moran comments on the latest liberal-manufactured controversy, defending Rush Limbaugh and song parodist Paul Shanklin.

Shanklin’s stuff is mostly brilliant satire. But like all good political humor, it walks a line of good taste and decorum. In fact, by pushing the boundaries as Shanklin does, he defines for us the essence of political satire. In this respect (not in talent) Shanklin’s material is no more objectionable than Jonathan Swift or George Orwell for that matter.

That is, unless you’re a liberal seeking to make political hay and stifle free expression. You can criticize “Barack the Magic Negro” as unfunny or not in good taste. But when you use the inflammatory word “racism” to describe it, you go beyond critiquing the work and enter the world of pure politics. This liberals do on a regular basis and they get away with the sliming of political speech and speakers they disagree with because the press refuses to call them out on it.

In fact, the left has lowered the bar on what constitutes “racism” by redefining the term to suit their own political needs. And by refusing to acknowledge any set definition of the word, the left deliberately undermines free speech by cutting off debate with liberals firmly ensconced in a superior moral position while the person being unfairly smeared as a racist is unable to defend themselves. If one tries to stand up and fight the charge, they give automatic legitimacy to the left’s argument. And if they remain silent in the face of such slimeball tactics, the smear works and sticks to the accused like glue.

Having said all this, is it an appropriate Christmas message from a potential RNC chairman? It wouldn’t be my first choice but then I don’t think Saltsman the guy for the job anyway.

What is clear is that this despicable tactic by the left predates Obama and has done more to poison relations between the races in this country than all the cross burnings and hate speech delivererd by the morons in the Klan or the Skinheads. The reason is simple; the left has appropriated the word “racist” in order to define the debate on race – any issue, any time, anywhere – on their terms and their terms alone. Do you oppose Affirmative Action? You’re a racist. Do you oppose set asides for business based on race? You are a racist. Do you oppose racial quotas in college entrance requirements? You are a racist.

No debate. No exchange of ideas. No give and take on any issue that touches race unless you first accept the left’s position on these and other issues. If you don’t, the debate is closed off by simply calling you a racist – end of discussion.

So it’s no surprise they see legitimate satire as “racist.” In fact, the surprise would be if they didn’t.

Eric Alter has the song on video, and is shocked…. shocked! way back in April of ’07.

And here’s the David Ehrenstein La Times column from March 19, 2007, which first identified Barack Obama as representing the “Magical Negro” archetype.

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Hat tip to the News Junkie.

29 Dec 2008

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

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The Richter Scales update the old tune to fit contemporary gloom.

2:12 video

29 Dec 2008

2008: A Weird Year

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Humorist Dave Barry lists strange occurrences in 2008.

O.J. actually got convicted of something.

Gasoline hit $4 a gallon — and those were the good times. …

The surprise winner is Barack Obama, who is running for president on a long and impressive record of running for president. A mesmerizing speaker, Obama electrifies voters with his exciting new ideas for change, although people have trouble remembering exactly what these ideas are because they are so darned mesmerized. Some people become so excited that they actually pass out. These are members of the press corps.

28 Dec 2008

The Year that Global Warming Died

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Christopher Booker, the Telegraph, notes the many ways in which 2008 has been a bad year for the Climate Change industry.

Looking back over my columns of the past 12 months, one of their major themes was neatly encapsulated by two recent items from The Daily Telegraph.

The first, on May 21, headed “Climate change threat to Alpine ski resorts” , reported that the entire Alpine “winter sports industry” could soon “grind to a halt for lack of snow”. The second, on December 19, headed “The Alps have best snow conditions in a generation” , reported that this winter’s Alpine snowfalls “look set to beat all records by New Year’s Day”.

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.

Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the “hottest in history” and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free – as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.

Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to “natural factors” such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely “masking the underlying warming trend”, and that the temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).

Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a “scientific consensus” in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world’s most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that “consensus” which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.

Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month’s Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and “environmentalists” gathered to plan next year’s “son of Kyoto” treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for “combating climate change” with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.

Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for “emissions trading”, “carbon capture”, building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to “biofuels”, are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.

As 2009 dawns, it is time we in Britain faced up to the genuine crisis now fast approaching from the fact that – unless we get on very soon with building enough proper power stations to fill our looming “energy gap” – within a few years our lights will go out and what remains of our economy will judder to a halt. After years of infantile displacement activity, it is high time our politicians – along with those of the EU and President Obama’s US – were brought back with a mighty jolt into contact with the real world.

28 Dec 2008

Record Boxing Day Turnout Defies the Hunt Ban

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Cheers as the hunt goes out in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire

Some day Britain’s contemptible Labour Government will fall and the petty tyranny of its Hunting Ban, passed via the overthrow of the British Constitution and the usurpation of the authority of both houses of Parliament by a temporary majority in the House of the Commons, will end.

In the meantime, persecution of rural traditions and sport has backfired on the Left, awakening a new political consciousness and determination on the part of their victims. Hunting is stronger than ever in Britain.

Daily Mail:

Record numbers turned out for the Boxing Day hunts yesterday – adding fresh fuel to criticisms of the ‘ban’ introduced under Labour.

More than 300,000 people converged on the countryside to take part in or cheer on the annual events across England, Wales and Scotland.

Pro-hunt groups used the turnout to renew calls to repeal the controversial 2004 Hunting Act, backed by a petition with thousands of signatures and Conservative plans to end the ban. …

More than 300 hunts, including 194 fox hunts with packs of hounds, were held yesterday, according to the Countryside Alliance. More than 6,000 turned out for one in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

The majority used ‘trails’ in which a scent of the quarry is laid down artificially. A dead fox is often used as a reward for hounds at the hunt’s end.

But many took advantage of exemptions, including around 50 which used the ‘bird of prey’ exemption.

This involves a fox being flushed out by hounds into the path of a bird of prey. Many hunts now have their own eagle owl or golden eagle.

Other hunts use an exemption in which two dogs flush out quarry from woodland for shooting. …

A petition launched last week to repeal the ‘confusing, unnecessary and divisive’ Act has already gathered 7,700 signatures, the Countryside Alliance said.

Spokesman Tim Bonner added: ‘We believe that the evidence of the last four years is that the Hunting Act has just failed in every possible term.

‘It does no good at all for animals’ welfare, is a huge cost of police time, and puts innocent people at risk of prison.’

Mr Bonner claimed a low turnout of protesters yesterday was due to them being ‘drowned out’ by supporters in recent years.

The Hunting Act was controversially passed using the Parliament Act, which meant the approval of the House of Lords – which wanted to regulate hunting with dogs – was not needed. …

It came into effect in England and Wales in February 2005 and followed a ban in Scotland introduced two years earlier.

The Act was brought in to outlaw the hunting of foxes, as well as deer, hares and mink with dogs, as well as organised hare coursing.

But opponents have argued against it on grounds including there was no evidence of cruelty and it provided a means of controlling animals numbers.

Tory leader David Cameron has said he will offer a free vote on the matter if he becomes prime minister.

Read the whole thing.

27 Dec 2008

When Joel Stein Moves to Europe

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He’s going to find that the European commitment to free speech is a just a bit different from ours.

Washington Times:

Last week, the European Parliament, meeting in Strassbourg, France, gave its Sakharov Prize honoring free speech to Chinese freedom campaigner Hu Jia. Bravo. The same day, the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament cancelled a screening of the Dutch film “Fitna” on the grounds that criticizing Osama bin Laden and other terrorists is tantamount to “racism” against Muslims (never mind that the film is not a hate product and that Islam is a religion, not a race). Boo, hiss.

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