Friday, February 23, 2007


Saddam Hussein in court. File photo
I didn't support the US decision to turn Saddam Hussein over to Iraqis for prosecution due to the lack of a coalition goverment acting in the interest of a whole Iraq. Consequently, Saddam was executed and as a result, a new breed of extremism surfaces...

It is a typical nondescript village - like many others - in the northern Indian state of Bihar.

It consists of unplastered brick houses, dusty lanes, thatched structures and dirt-laden children with no shoes and running noses.

There appears to be little running water or other infrastructure.

But there is one thing about the village of Lakhanow - and other settlements in the area - that makes them strikingly different.

Sunni Muslims

Ejaj Alam - a small-time civil contractor in his mid-30s - provides the answer: he has decided to re-name his three-year-old son.

Instead of being called Majhar Alam, Mr Alam has opted to call the boy Saddam Hussein in honour of the former Iraqi leader who was executed on 30 December.

Ejaj Alam and Majhar Alam
God willing one day our village will be full of Saddam Husseins

What is more, the child will not be the only Saddam Hussein in the neighbourhood. There are more than 20 other Saddam Husseins in Lakhanow alone.

Local people say there are more than 100 Saddam Husseins in 27 adjoining villages dominated by mostly Sunni Muslims.

There is even a family with one son called Saddam Hussein and a younger sibling called Osama Bin Laden.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that all the children bearing the name of Saddam Hussein were born after the first American war with Iraq in 1991.

Before the war, the name Saddam Hussein was hardly used at all, says Mohammed Nizamuddin, whose grandson was born in 1991 and is called Saddam Hussein.


And, now after the recent high-profile and much photographed execution of the Iraqi leader, the villagers of Lakhanow have decided to name all the new born baby boys after him.

"This is our way to pay tribute to our leader. We want to carry on his legacy here at least in our village," said Ejaj Alam.

"God willing one day our village will be full of Saddam Husseins."

Other villagers feel equally passionate about the issue.

"George Bush can hang one Saddam Hussein but we will create an army of Saddam Husseins. Let him come to our village and see how Saddam Hussein can never be executed," local leader Ayub Khan said.

There is no talk here of the former Iraqi leader's appalling human rights record, no mention of the people he murdered and no references to his numerous "miscalculations". All that is brushed aside by the Saddam Hussein personality cult.

Close to the village is the only private school, Dini Academy, where almost 100 Saddam Husseins come to read, write and know more about the former Iraqi leader.

"It was during the Gulf War we came to know about the bravery and valour of the Iraqi president who mustered courage to defy American diktats," Mr Nizamuddin said.

'Great leader'

The villagers make no secret of the fact that the American president is not their most admired personality.

Most argue that Saddam Hussein has been "immortalised" following his execution.

Many may have only scant knowledge of who Saddam was, but that does not stop them believing propaganda which confers him with almost God-like status.

So what do the new Saddam Husseins think about their name changes? The signs are that they have been told what to think from an early age.

Young Saddam Husseins in Lakhanow
Most say they want to emulate the Iraqi leader

"I feel extremely proud being named Saddam Hussein. He was a great leader, a lion who took on the might of America and became a saviour of the weak," said one "Little Saddam" born in May 1993.

"I too would like to be like the Iraqi president and die a death like him."

Another Saddam - born in May 1992 - says proudly that he "will try and live up to name of the great warrior".

Yet another calls Saddam Hussein a "dear leader".

The eldest Saddam Hussein in the village - born soon after the first Gulf war - appears the most vociferous.

"I owe a great debt to my father for naming me after our revered leader. It was only after his execution, when news and photographs appeared in the newspapers that I came to know how great he was," he said.

On the day of the execution, all the Saddam Husseins of the area congregated in the village mosque to pray for his soul.

Then they staged a procession and burnt effigies of George Bush.

But there is one problem in having so many Saddam Husseins, says villager Mohammed Hassan Abbas.

"In the playground we have Saddam Hussein running after Saddam Hussein, behind Saddam Hussein who is ahead of Saddam Hussein but too far from Saddam Hussein... it can all get a little confusing," he said.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Clinton vs Obama - SMACKDOWN!

Slate summarizes the recent imbroglio between Hillary and Barack:

Maureen Dowd quoted former Clinton supporter David Geffen as saying a variety of unkind things about the former first couple. "Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling," said the media mogul, who hosted a fund-raiser for Obama Tuesday.

The Clinton campaign immediately called for Obama to disavow Geffen's remarks and return his money. Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs, responded sharply in a statement, saying "We aren't going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln Bedroom."

The Clinton campaign shot right back: "I would have thought that a campaign trying to change our politics would have disavowed those comments and moved on," said Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson.

By Slate's estimation, Clinton comes out ahead on this one. The Obama campaign's tartly worded reply, as well as their refusal to disavow Geffen and his comments, belies Obama's alleged high-mindedness, and shows that he is a hypocrite who will sink to gutter politics. I haven't followed this non-event religiously, but I gather that's the overarching theme of the media coverage.

I don't read it this way at all. The Clinton camp baited Obama by issuing an ultimatum; if Obama HAD denounced Geffen's comments, he would have been sinking to the Clinton campaign's level by even acknowledging this. Candidates can't be held accountable for the comments of their donors. If this were the case, Obama would have to hire a full time staff of people just to disavow comments. Gibbs's comment was frankly fantastic and right on the money. This is the way that politics works, and besides, I haven't heard Obama say anything about how he would conduct his campaign that would preclude his campaign manager from having made such a comment.

I guess they are saying she "won" because her camp was able to turn this negative comment about Clinton into a negative about Obama. I agree, the Clintonites are pretty shrewd at playing on the public's dislike of hypocrisy; but they should be very, very careful, as this knife cuts both ways.

Friday, February 16, 2007

And trim the hedges while you're at it

WaPo's Dana Milbank recounts the shenanigans in the House debate on Iraq this week, and unearths this doozy:

Fortunately, Ric Keller (R-Fla.) was on hand to restore gravity to the debate. He spoke about lawn care as a metaphor for Iraq:

"Imagine your next-door neighbor refuses to mow his lawn and the weeds are all the way up to his waist. You decide you are going to mow his lawn for him every single week. The neighbor never says thank you, he hates you, and sometimes he takes out a gun and shoots at you. Under these circumstances, do you keep mowing his lawn forever?"

Wha...? I've spent my entire lunch break trying to translate this metaphor into English. Maybe there's something lost in the translation from Florida Republicanese to metaphor.

Is Iraq supposed to be the neighbor, who is supposed to thank us for the great job we did mowing their lawn?

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The "Pelosi asked for a 757" meme, though thoroughly discredited by now, will continue to be repeated as gospel by winger radio hosts, cable news jockeys, and bloggers into the forseeable future, and will therefore bleed into the popular press to some degree as well. I can think of several examples of this phenomenon: BS stories about Al Gore claiming to have invented the internets, or been the model for "Love Story," or discovered Love Canal ; about outgoing Clinton staffers vandalizing the White House; about John Kerry faking injuries to get medals.

I assume there are some examples of left-wing fabrications about Republicans that live on in spite of a lack of evidence, but none comes to mind.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Rush to Judgement

As one of the right leaning bloggers taunted for being long absent I thought I would do a quick post. I have to make it quick since as an imperialist, capitalist, exploiter of the working class I have to get back to cracking the whip and stealing from the poor.

I find it absurd the declaration that it is settled science that global warming is caused by manmade greenhouse gasses. The left decries the politicization of science, when in fact that is what they have done.

Read this article in the London Times online:

The small print explains “very likely” as meaning that the experts who made the judgment felt 90% sure about it

In scientific terms this is a huge whole. Activists are rounding up to make their case.

...The best measurements of global air temperatures come from American weather satellites, and they show wobbles but no overall change since 1999.

That levelling off is just what is expected by the chief rival hypothesis, which says that the sun drives climate changes more emphatically than greenhouse gases do. After becoming much more active during the 20th century, the sun now stands at a high but roughly level state of activity. Solar physicists warn of possible global cooling, should the sun revert to the lazier mood it was in during the Little Ice Age 300 years ago.
Climate history and related archeology give solid support to the solar hypothesis. The 20th-century episode, or Modern Warming, was just the latest in a long string of similar events produced by a hyperactive sun, of which the last was the Medieval Warming.

...But more than 10 years have passed since Henrik Svensmark in Copenhagen first pointed out a much more powerful mechanism. ...

...He saw from compilations of weather satellite data that cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars....

....The only trouble with Svensmark’s idea — apart from its being politically incorrect — was that meteorologists denied that cosmic rays could be involved in cloud formation. After long delays in scraping together the funds for an experiment, Svensmark and his small team at the Danish National Space Center hit the jackpot in the summer of 2005.
In a box of air in the basement, they were able to show that electrons set free by cosmic rays coming through the ceiling stitched together droplets of sulphuric acid and water. These are the building blocks for cloud condensation. But journal after journal declined to publish their report; the discovery finally appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society late last year.

I believe there has been some change in the temperature of the earth, but I am far from convinced it is from manmade causes. I am not convinced that this isn't any more than the normal temperature cycle the planet has gone through over thousands of years. It was less than 30 years ago that Time Magazine declared a new Ice Age on its covers. I have seen arguments that the data many of the sharp rises in temp recently has to do more with methodology and equipment than actual changes. Is it all based on the suns activity? I don't know and I don't think anyone else does for sure either.

Are there reasons to reduce carbon emissions besides the chicken littles screaming the sky is falling and the world as we know it will be dead in ten years? Yes. Air quality, energy efficiency, and energy independence are all good reasons, but lets be honost in the debate.

(I apologize for this being a very unfocused post, I just don't have time to edit it, must get back to exploiting the sick and infirm).

Friday, February 09, 2007

Republicans Are Liars

For Immediate Release

February 8, 2007

As the Sergeant at Arms, I have the responsibility to ensure the security of the members of the House of Representatives, to include the Speaker of the House. The Speaker requires additional precautions due to her responsibilities as the leader of the House and her Constitutional position as second in the line of succession to the presidency.

In a post 9/11 threat environment, it is reasonable and prudent to provide military aircraft to the Speaker for official travel between Washington and her district. The practice began with Speaker Hastert and I have recommended that it continue with Speaker Pelosi. The fact that Speaker Pelosi lives in California compelled me to request an aircraft that is capable of making non-stop flights for security purposes, unless such an aircraft is unavailable. This will ensure communications capabilities and also enhance security. I made the recommendation to use military aircraft based upon the need to provide necessary levels of security for ranking national leaders, such as the Speaker. I regret that an issue that is exclusively considered and decided in a security context has evolved into a political issue.

Global Climate Change - Stage 2

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified the following stages of grief:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

When it comes to global climate change, most on the right are still in stage one, though signs are appearing--such as this letter to the Washington Times--that stage two is on the horizon:

Cool reception

Let's grant (if just for the sake of argument) that environmental scientists have proved that Earth's ideal average temperature was reached about a century ago and that the temperature is rising because of human activity ("Just the facts," Op-Ed, yesterday).

The truth remains that these scientists have no expertise to judge whether government can be trusted with the power and resources to "combat" global warming. Nor can these scientists tell us how a free market likely would deal with global warming's consequences.

Contrary to widespread belief, environmental scientists can legitimately say nothing about whether, or how, to respond to global warming.

Department of Economics
George Mason University

My geographer friend Shane responds:

Now would be the perfect time to give these people an island of their very own.

Do it right, though, via plebecite. As an economist -- not an ethicist -- they wouldn't really have the standing to resolve whether it would be "good" or "bad" to employ democratic power to such an end.

Contrary to widespread belief, economists can legitimately say nothing about whether or not they should be deported to aquatic death camps. They could only say definitively that such a program expresses an aggregate preference.