Friday, October 01, 2004

Hey guys, here are some pictures I took while camping in the Grand Canyon last week.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Can you believe this?

"An African-American civil rights spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the new computerized voting machines "terrify" her, and that blacks are "afraid of machines like that."

If this isn't blatant racism I don't know what is. What's next, "blacks are confused by the big words on the ballot," or "blacks feel uncomfortable standing in line with so many whites at the polls?"

We may as well settle in for many months of crying and infighting if the Democrats lose. They've already convinced themselves that there's no way they can be defeated in a fair election, so they've set the stage for a scandal. Who cares if they insult every black person in America in the process? This is about taking the country back, right?

It's a pretty good strategy by the Democrats. It makes it so that Republicans have to win by landslides or the election will be considered fraudulent. When the electorate is walking away from you, you have two choices: Change your platform (yeah, right) or rig the game in your favor. Here's to hoping that Kerry gets smoked by such a massive margin that all of the crying and accusations won't matter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I ripped this off from NRO's Corner. How many times have we had this discussion here?

SIGH [Jonah Goldberg]

One more for the how liberals see themselves file. What I love about these explanations (We good. They bad. They simple. We complex.) is that they are so dualistic and simplistic in their us-versus-them-ness at the same time they righteously denounce that kind of thinking. From the novelist Roland Merullo in today's Boston Globe:

At their essence, conservatives are on guard, bristling, armed with a righteous anger, prone to mockery of their enemies, sure of themselves, unwilling to criticize America, especially by comparing it to anyplace else. The attacks of Sept. 11 only confirmed their world view: We are constantly at risk.

Liberals are mannered, sensitive, armed with intellectual cynicism, self-critical, eager to learn from other cultures, wanting there to be no pain in the world. The attacks made them sad and angry, too, but their reflex was more pensive than vengeful.

If I were John Belushi, I'd smash this guy's guitar against the wall.
I've been watching O'Reilly's 3 part interview with the President over the last two days (part 3 is tonight) and I've noticed something interesting: The president is not an idiot. Sure, I've been a supporter of his for a while now, but even I have come to expect him to fumble questions, repeat simple talking points, and occasionally look like a deer caught in the headlights from time to time. I was somewhat taken aback in this interview when the president was, in addition to being his usual likable self, quite eloquent and displayed a detailed grasp of many issues. Not that I didn't think the president didn't understand these issues before, it's just that I thought him incapable of expressing this verbally. At first I thought Bush's good performance might just be due to the fact that he's comfortable with O'Reilly and Fox in general, but I think it goes deeper than that. This experience to me speaks of how effective the MSM has been in portraying Bush as a dope. Even people like me, who support Bush, kind of expect him to come off as an idiot in venues like this. O'Reilly didn't exactly hammer him, but he asked tougher questions than John Kerry has fielded in many months, and Bush answered them very well, often going into a surprising amount of detail and talking over O'Reilly many times when he tried to contradict Bush. It makes me wonder what kind of impression we'd have of the president if we could really see him in action behind the scenes without the media spin. Like Reagan, Bush has been labeled the fool, and many people take that as fact. Of course, this plays right into Bush's hands, because the lowered expectations make it so that even a mediocre performance in the debates surprises everyone. If the same president shows up for the debates that was interviewed by O'Reilly, John Kerry is going to have his hands full.

Check out part 3 of the interview tonight. You might be surprised.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


A short update on the Burqas in Belgium story. In the Eastern Belgian town of Maaseik, pop. 20,000, the past week some 5 Moroccan women have been signalled wearing burqas Taliban-style. This has caused quite some unrest among the locals, and today, this means one week after the facts, Flemish Minister of Internal Affairs Marino Keulen ordered his administration to draft a police regulation forbidding wearing the burqa in public.

Keulen, acting upon the adage that if it looks like a tent, speaks like a tent (*) and is fastened up like a tent, it is probably a Muslim woman, said: “I think it’s normal that non-identifiable people in the streets conjure up an image of insecurity. The burqa also can’t be considered a normal religious symbol.”

The Vlaams Blok noted dryly on its website that Maaseik is only the second case. It appears that in Molenbeek, a western borough of Brussels, burqas are being worn already longer. Especially in shops in the Zuidstraat and Brabantstraat they seem to go swiftly over the counter, underscoring the frantic efforts of our Muslim brethren to integrate themselves in western society.

Luckily we still have the European entertainment sector, in casu German movies, to cheer us up a little: the opening week of “The Downfall” (Der Untergang), about Hitlers last days in his bunker in Berlin, drew almost half a million people. The film recounts the story as seen from the viewpoint of Traudl Junge, one of Hitlers secretaries. Playing Herr Hitler is Swiss actor Bruno Ganz. The film is different from earlier ones dealing with the subject in that it also shows Hitlers human side (sic), and so we can see him like granpa Jones giving Goebbels children a ride on his knee (sniff!!! How touching!!!). The Holocaust? Oops, we almost forgot that!!! Luckily some smartass managed to throw in some prose dealing with that footnote somewhere between the happy end and the names of the cast.

Bruno Ganz as Hitler

(Uncle Adolph having a bad hair day)

Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaahhh… Napoleon ruined his country, got its territorial integrity damaged and made a million French women widow – not to speak of the much worse carnage inflicted in virtually every European country. Today he rests in the Panthéon under a top-heavy sarcophagus and is considered a demi-god.

If you ask me, in 50 years the site in Berlin where Uncle Adolph traded this earthly valley of tears for 72 virgins will be adorned by a 20-foot statue of Germany’s Last True Action Hero.


(*) (i.e. keeps its piehole shut)

Monday, September 27, 2004


I’d love to talk about something else, but my rants these days seem to center around one issue. I get the impression that in due time, and maybe sooner than you think, it will become the no.1 issue for the western World.

Yesterday I had a post on Turkey’s bid to join the EU. By coincidence, our pal Chrenkoff in Down Under decided to share some thoughts on the same subject too. As you will notice he, unlike me, takes a rather moderate stance.

Rather, he’s so keen to offer us a little piece of history, namely the key role the Polish King John III Sobieski played in smashing the Turks before Vienna in 1683 with a cavalry army of a.o. Polish Hussars. I gather that Arthur’s seemingly positive inclination toward the Turks stems from the respect the Ottoman’s in later times still payed their erstwhile foe, the Polish, for after Poland was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria by the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries (the three so-called Polish Divisions), the chef de protocol at the Ottoman Court still paid homage to a nonexistent Polish Ambassador at the occasion of the yearly summoning of the Ambassadors and consuls in Istanbul, and reportedly kept doing so till the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Nice story, Arthur. The question that stuck with me however is the one you posed at the end:

This is what's at stake here: will Europe be able to Westernise its Muslims before the Muslims succeed in Islamicising Europe.

Arthur, I think the question is answering itself already:

a.) A story from Italy, courtesy MSNBC:

ROME - An Italian woman who is married to an Arab man and converted to Islam, has been ticketed twice in the past week for wearing a burqa in her small village in the province of Como.

The dispute, which may eventually reach Italy's highest court, highlights growing unease in this staunchly Catholic country over a growing Muslim population.
Many Italians are unhappy with the impact of immigration from Islamic countries. Prior to the controversy in Como, there was a public outcry when a judge agreed last October to a Muslim activist's demand that a crucifix be removed from his son's classroom wall.

b.) A story from Belgium, a reader’s letter in some Belgian newspaper:

Jan Creemers, (CD&V) mayor of Maaseik, gets phone calls from worried citizens on the subject of several Muslim women who venture out only in burqa anymore. Are the people from Maaseik afraid of veiled women? I think not, but you can pose yourself questions on dress articles like the burqa, chador and niqab, all very covering pieces of clothing. That you want to dress demurely is something only commanding respect. But I think one should always remain recognizable. By the way, what will one do with the photo on the new identity papers? With or without burqa?

Burqas in Belgium… now already.

I don’t feel well.

France and Germany say they won't be part of John Kerry's multilateral Iraq coalition.

These silly Europeans clearly don't realize what a diplomatic wizard Kerry is.

Here's Arthur Chrenkoff with another roundup of things that are going well in Iraq.

Warning: This may come as a shock to those who rely on the mainstream media for their "news."

Sunday, September 26, 2004


You may or may not know that I’m rather reluctant, not to say hostile, at the idea of Turkey joining the EU. That is because of Erdogan’s AKP (Justice and Development) Party being in power now for two years. A lot can be said about Erdogan’s so-called moderate face of islam but to me he’s rather like a wolf in sheep’s clothes. In the nineties he got jailed in the then strictly secular Turkey for reciting an inflammatory poem about minarets and bayonets. He has sent his daughters to the US because Turkish law forbids them to wear hijabs in state schools. Once his AKP Party came to power a trick was applied by his predecessor Gul to get him Turkish PM (because of said poem and other Islamist activities the post was denied him). In Spring 2004 his party, which has the majority of seats in Turkish Parliament, tried to force a law through Parliament granting students from the religious Imam Hatip schools easy access to Turkish universities. Apart from the fact that their religious formation does not prepare them for scientific, law or medical faculties, it is beyond doubt that these religious zealots upon arriving on campus will start harassing female students.

Apparently Mr. Erdogan confuses the fact that you have the majority of seats in a democracy with the right to enforce your views on minorities. Seeing that he faced stiff opposition not only from the opposition but also from the President, the Army General Staff and industry he backed off – but vowed to pick up the case in 2005:

To those who opposed the bill, especially President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and the Office of the Chief of General Staff, he said: "This debate is not about the system. It is about how institutions work. We came to power with the support of the people. You have to accept the will of the majority."

The content and tone of the speech were aggressive. He indicated that the YOK bill had been postponed for now, while more the important matter of laws dealing with the European Union would be tackled.

Then there has been the very recent struggle to introduce a harsh law enforcing heavy sanctions on adultery into Turkish penal law. I guess that with all the election frenzy over there you heard nothing, but over here in Europe it made headlines. Now mind you, I’m not advocating to approach the issue of adultery on a light note. It’s just that I’m sure that if this bill was passed the situation for women in Turkey would have worsened considerably. Over the past month there have been fierce protests from women's rights groups against the proposed law. Given that a recent Amnesty International report stated that 50% of Turkish women are beaten by their husbands, I can understand why they are worried.

The hot and potentially divisive issue as to whether Turkey should outlaw marital infidelity will feature high on the agenda of talks between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheguen on 6 September. Verheugen is scheduled to spend five days in Turkey for talks aimed at confirming Ankara's readiness to open membership negotiations.

There you have it. I’m sure that you’re all aware that Turkey desparately wants to join the EU. On October 6, thus within one week, an EU report is expected assessing if Turkey may or may not be admitted in the EU Waiting Room depending on the reform of its law and its meeting a certain set of EU-defined set of standards concering human rights, involvement of the Army in politics and economy-related issues. It is clear Erdogan and the AKP dropped the law so that their chances on a favorable report would not be jeopardized.

And indeed, the past week the Turkish government dropped the harsh clause concerning adultery from the reformed penal code. There was a little prodding from EU Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, responsible for enlargement. He confronted Erdogan and it seems to have worked. Today the Turks announced the new version of Turkish penal code, from which the clause has been dropped. To be sure, the issue was but one of many within the process of reforming Turkishpenal code. In short the focal points are:

*Assaults on women will be more heavily punished
*Rape in marriage recognised
*Life terms for perpetrators of "honour killings"
*Jail terms for the sexual molestation of children, trafficking of human organs and the pollution of the environment
*Tougher measures against perpetrators of torture
*Corruption in government to be tackled
*Proposal to criminalise adultery dropped

Now, while these are all good measures, the show put up by Erdogan and his AKP over the past year have convinced me that this man is NOT a true Democrat. Time and again he has tried to abuse the AKP’s majority to try to force Sharia-inspired laws through Parliament. If you ask me, it’s crystal-clear that the fact that the EU was watching, pending the necessary reforms to meet admittance conditions, made him tone down his rhetoric a bit and back down – but just temporarily.

I fear for the day that an AKP-dominated Turkey joins the EU. Luckily true admittance can at its earliest be expected by 2015. Let’s hope the US’s democratization effort in the ME has by then proceeded far enough to encourage large swaths of the younger Turks not to follow the siren’s song of an anachronistic movement that will ultimately ruin the great achievement of that truly great Turk Mustafa Kemal, more commonly known as Ataturk, founder of te modern Turkey. I agree on a lot of issues with President Bush, but he should stop pressing the EU to swiftly welcome Turkey in its club.

Ok, it’s heavy stuff for a Sunday evening so let me stop on a lighter note. In Scotland I climbed the UK’s highest mountain, the Ben Nevis, for a second time (the first time being in September 2003). At 1,344 m you will proably be smirking when I use the term “mountain”, especially Mark/CO who has the Rockies in his backyard, so to speak. Still the impression it leaves is majestic, as the slopes start virtually at sea level. The nearby town Fort William lies at the northern edge of Loch Linnhe, which is in fact a narrow sea-arm protruding inland. Climbing it gives you the same sensation as climbing a 3,000 m Swiss Alp from a valley bottom at 1,700m. Anyway, since it’s the highest peak the view from above is magnificent. Despite its modest height, the rather northerly latitude forbids vegetation on its summit, which as a result is a barren desert of rough boulders. Using the tourist path I managed to reach the top in 2h50 minutes, which is considered a fairly good time. If you ever venture to Scotland and you are reasonably fit, be sure to climb it.

View towards Loch Linnhe and the sea from the top of Ben Nevis