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Friday, July 22, 2005


You may remember Gitanes as the unfiltered, French cigarettes that are strong enough to choke a camel. However, "les gitanes" is also French for "gypsies." There are many gypsies today in France (and elsewhere in Europe), but the use of the word "gitanes" to describe them is no longer PC. Instead, they are officially known as "les gens de voyage," which means "traveling people."

Les gitanes have a very bad reputation as beggars, thieves, burglars and pickpockets, and changing what they are called is not going to affect that. They live in small trucks and trailers and travel from place to place in groups. When they arrive in a camping area, everyone else heads for the hills. On this trip we saw a pair of gypsy children loitering in a parking area of a medium-sized city, casting sideways glances into parked cars in search of valuables.

To deal with the problems of this "oppressed minority" the French government passed a law requiring cities to provide special areas for gypsy caravans to camp in, complete with electrical and plumbing facilities. The cities are not allowed to charge les gitanes anything for these services, so the local taxpayers have to pick up the tab for their "guests." They're not residents, so the gypsies don't pay any of the local taxes to create and maintain these areas. Since much of their income is in cash transactions, the gypsies don't pay much income tax or Value Added Tax (TVA) to the national government either.

It's a pretty sweet deal. Perhaps les gitanes from the rest of Europe will soon be "voting with their feet" by moving en masse to France. Most Europeans are notoriously reluctant to relocate to where opportunities are better. At least the gypsies don't have that problem.

Update: Some more information about Gypsies, aka Roma or Rroma can be found at The World Wide Web Virtual Library: Roma - Introduction and RELIGION AND CULTURE OF THE ROMA.

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PC Multiculturalism Is the Real Suicide Bomb

Normally we'd post a good Cox & Forkum cartoon here on DLMSY. This time, however, the context provided by Forukum's blog post is extra good, so you should just go there and read the whole thing.

Chappaquiddick After 36 Years

Glen at Nashville Truth reminds us that an important anniversary passed on July 18. On that date in 1969 Ted Kennedy had his rendezvous with destiny at Chappaquiddick Island.

Those too young to remember those events should review the actions of this man who claims the "moral authority" of liberalism. Even the left-leaning Wikipedia's short account of the incident is devastating. For the full story follow the link in Glen's post.

"When I returned, Mary Jo and the car were gone."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Candy Cigarettes Redux

Candy Cigarettes 3
Candy Cigarettes 2
We couldn't go back to France without buying more candy cigarettes. These don't have the same great names as last year's, but it's hard to top "Kamakaze" and "Old Toad."

The "Coronation" and "Everest" packs are from the same company as last year's, and include that same nifty, but non-functional lighter.

However, the real gem is the other group. The names, "Pirat's Island" and "Aladin," are good, but you also get the extra, loose chocolate cigarettes in the picture and little pipe. But wait, there's more: the fake lighter comes apart and it's full of white powder.

The powder in the lighter is sugar, which is peculiar, but we suppose when you're teaching the kids to smoke with candy cigarettes, pumping them full of extra sugar is no big deal.

We just opened this up today. Fortunately the Customs agents didn't examine that lighter. We'd probably still be there.

Update 7/22: We opened the Aladin pack. The cigarettes are chocolate "tobacco" in a paper tube. They're non-filter cigarettes, too, so the kids can maximize their fake-smoking pleasure.


Abe the Gun Runner

On our return from vacation in France, alert Customs officials found contraband in our luggage: an illegal toy gun. Americans can rest easier knowing that the vigilance of our government has foiled another smuggling attempt.

The story began when Viper (age 15) spent about $14 winning a plastic, toy gun and plastic ammo (total value, about $2) at a carnival shooting gallery. We were none too pleased when he chose that prize, but there it is. The gun was excessively realistic-looking, so we informed Viper that he would not be allowed to take it anywhere that would entail a risk of him being mistakenly shot by a police officer.

Normally, Mrs. Abe delights in handling all aspects of the Customs Declaration process, but for some reason this time she put my name on the form. We had some French food in the luggage, so that had to be examined. The food was no problem, but in the process, the deadly toy gun was discovered. The first agent called another, who called another, who finally found the exact rule on the computer: it was illegal to bring Viper's toy gun into the US. We read the rule off the screen, and the toy lacked the required orange plug in the barrel and was clearly verbotten.

The toy was confiscated. I had to have my passport photocopied and sign a form acknowledging the confiscation. I wasn't frogmarched out of the hall in handcuffs to be stripsearched or even fined, but I do wonder if I'm now on some list of prior smugglers. The next time they may not go so easy on me...

I have nothing against the agents, who were only doing their jobs in a professional manner, but the whole thing was a silly waste of time and money. I know the rationale. A realistic toy gun could lead to a fatal accidental shooting in a split second decision. I'm sure children have been injured/killed in these kinds of incidents, but, realistically, there was zero chance of that happening to Viper with this gun. It would probably have never left our house (had it made it that far).

In the guise of protecting people more and more extensive regulations are promulgated dealing with smaller and smaller risks. But risk can never be eliminated, and what are we giving up in this quest to do that? No one is expected to know the rules, and no one can. It took the agents 10 minutes to figure out that the toy was illegal, and this is just one tiny tip of a massive regulatory iceberg. Each rule is a little (or sometimes a lot) less freedom and more bureaucracy and red tape. Massive complexity turns everyone into lawbreakers, since we can't always comply with a vast legal web we don't know about.

So now I'm a smuggler. I thought it would be more glamorous than this.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Yoda We Are

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

The Force is also strong in Hugh Hewitt.
A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light.

Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life greets it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere.

He's Dead, Jim

Scotty has been beamed up:
James Doohan, Actor Who Played Scotty on 'Star Trek,' Dies at 85: "James Doohan was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, on March 3, 1920. He was the youngest of four children, and his father, Mr. Doohan wrote in his memoir, 'Beam Me Up, Scotty' (Pocket Books, 1996), was an abusive alcoholic. Mr. Doohan served in the Canadian Army during World War II and was struck by six bullets on D-Day. One bullet blew off his right middle finger, an injury he would later conceal from the 'Star Trek' cameras.

When Mr. Doohan, then a character actor with extensive radio experience, tried out for the role of Montgomery Scott, the ship's engineer, with Gene Roddenberry, the creator of 'Star Trek,' he read the lines with various accents, including French and German. 'They both decided an engineer has got to be a Scotsman,' Mr. Stevens said."
We never learned to like the later Star Treks, but the original will always have a special place in our heart. Thanks, Scotty, and may you find intelligent life up there.

No, Really, This Time You've Got Him

A very funny satirical article at Point Five:
Bush Vows That Plame Controversy Won't Humiliate MSM "President Bush today promised reporters that their relentless harping on Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame would not end up making them look like fools..."
Can't the MSM see The Invisible Hand of Rove behind this kerfuffle? Obviously, he's suckering them in yet again, only to pull the football away at the last moment.

I Agree with Kos

Does this mean The End of the World is near? It all began innocently enough, when I was reading an excellent post at The Blog of M'Gath on the issue of FEC regulation of blogs. Gary McGath is obviously a very bright guy, as his fine article linked to a post of mine on the same topic and we share a similar view of the issue.

Then it happened. At the bottom of McGath's post was a link to a post on the topic at The Daily Kos, and out of curiosity I clicked it. I could hardly believe my eyes: Kos was making sense. Even half the comments in the thread were non-nutty.

I need to go take a shower now. For some reason I feel dirty.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Roberts Nomination

After reading Steve's post on the topic and some other writings, John Roberts looks like an excellent choice for the Supreme Court. I was initially concerned that a "safe choice" might lead to another Souter, but no worries.

On a personal note, as a middle-aged, white guy, the Roberts selection gives me goosebumps. I just want to hug him. I'm just that pleased that somebody like me can still get a plum job.

Invoking My Right to Guest Blog

I'll make my voice be heard here on DLMSY one last time- I'm doing a massive round-up at Madam concerning the Roberts Supreme Court pick.

Hearts and Minds

Here are two interesting editorials at a South African Muslim web site, The Voice of the Cape,
which reflect the increasing disenchantment of Muslims with terrorism as a tool. (There's no permalink at present, so the full articles may become hard to find.) It was OK at first, when the victims were all Israelis, and there wasn't much cost to Muslims in supporting it. In the first article, SUICIDE BOMBINGS OR MARTYR KILLING? by Munadia Karaan, the author says the times they are a-changing:
"With every new attack I personally run out of excuses for it. I understand and agree fully with the need to fight occupation. I understand even better the ability to use the most sophisticated propaganda in the media to make the other side look bad and clean your image as if you were the angel Gabriel himself. In the words of Prof Mahmood Mandani, author of the book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, the language has all changed and it has helped the world to see state sponsored terrorism as 'good violence' and so-called Islamic fundamentalism as 'bad violence'. It is two sides of the same coin.

But even if we accept that the world stage and politics has changed after the cold war, we must admit that Islamic politics and resistance has changed just as dramatically and not for the better. It now leaves you and me as ordinary Muslims to ask ourselves if - amid the rapid increase in attacks by Muslims in response to Western terror, we can still find excuses for radicalism. Can we really be comfortable with the extreme measures chosen and with the spiraling lost of innocent life?"[emphasis added]
Karaan is still comfortable with lies/distortion in service of the ends, and there's quite a bit more about the details of how carefully they craft their language.
"And if we can, where does it all end because every counter attack becomes fiercer than the last. This week a US congressman told the media that the US would have no problem bombing Islamic holy sites like Makkah if fundamentalist terrorists were to attack US cities with nuclear weapons. I do not believe for a moment that this hypothetical statement could not come true."
We didn't hear of this comment from an unnamed congressman ourselves, being out of the country. Did this actually happen? A few months ago, Jack Wheeler, asserted that GWB had secretly threatened bin Laden with the nuking of Mecca in response to any WMD attack on the US. It's certainly good for terrorists (and perhaps "moderate" Muslims, as well) to have to contemplate that possibility.
"Our discussion board has been hectic with comments on this issue, one of whom asked the question so what are we to do in the face of continuing colonial, Western attack? How realistic is it to expect us to simply turn the other cheek when millions of Muslims are being killed in attacks from Iraq to Afghanistan, to Palestine, Chechniya, China, Kashmir and all the other places I cannot ever recall? Until the time that another Salahudin Ayubi arrives on the scene we need to fight with whatever tools we have to beat a stronger enemy at his own game, he says.

But two wrongs do not make a right. I cannot agree that while we wait for Salahudin we bomb the heck out of every enemy, never mind the loss of innocent life. That is too easy an answer when it is not your life or that of your loved one that is sacrificed. Why wait for a Salahudin when we bring children into this world every day who could be nurtured to become a Salahudin? Do the examples they see today lead them towards becoming a Salahudin? I think not."
Despite the peculiar delusion that "millions" of Muslims have been killed by non-Muslims, sense is starting to break through. That's good for everyone.

The second article on the page, THE LONDON FATWA, ISOLATING THE BOMBERS by Shafiq Morton, is grudgingly coming to similar conclusions:
"The other side of the proverbial coin is that the broader community may argue that it sees too little of Muslim abhorrence of terror. The fact is that it's usually there, but unheard. When, for example, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of New York condemned 911 with his Christian and Jewish counterparts, the New York Times edited out his statement."
Yeah, right. What a joke.
"Another point is that the extremist-Islamist faction has successfully prevented, and manipulated, Sunni Islam from isolating it, thus unfairly branding the whole Deen with the same reputation. Using a combination of emotional blackmail through shared concerns such as Palestine and a call for 'global unity', it has managed to poison mainstream Islam much in the same way that political Zionism has polluted the Jewish psyche.

Its simplistic threat of 'you're either with us or against us', plus its generous--but petro-dollar strings attached--patronage has intimidated many with the power of pronouncement into silence. Then it has also abused the hospitality and innate tolerance of mainstream Muslims.

These extremists--who've never had any compunctions killing Muslim opponents--know that Sunni Islam has enjoyed a thousand year tradition of unwillingness to even excommunicate other believers, no matter how repugnant their views. But if recent reports in the British media are anything to go by, the extremist 'honeymoon' may soon be over.

Severin Carrell of the Independent has reported that senior Muslim community leaders in Britain believe they must now deflect a wave of revenge attacks against Muslims by questioning the religious basis of any alleged terrorist's Islamist ideology--and more significantly, by issuing a fatwa questioning their rights to call themselves Muslims.

This dramatic move followed an emergency meeting in London after the blasts. Held under the aegis of the Muslim Council of Britain, delegates were unanimous in saying that if the bombers were found to be Muslim, the whole community had a responsibility not only to condemn their actions, but to thoroughly dissociate themselves from their actions."
So perhaps the British fatwa does represent a turning point in the battle for Islam between the terrorists and "moderates." We must say, however, that elements of this article are exactly the kind of half-hearted condemnation of terrorism and simultaneous appologetics for it we've seen too much of in the past. Here's a hint: if the deen is tacitly going along with the terrorists, whether for "global unity" or "petro dollars," then blaming the deen for its actions is not "unfair."

Another article on the same site makes a nice coda:
The Voice of the Cape - "In a widely published article last year, human rights activist and political science lecturer at the University of Durban Westville, Lubna Nadvi, said: 'I have come to one conclusion, and that is that such groups have effectively become the enemies of the very faith whose interests they claim to advance, and have essentially evolved into self-serving agents, whose glorification of martyrdom as an end in itself (commensurate with attaining heaven and 70 virgins), has ultimately come to supersede its otherwise stated objectives--ridding the Middle-East and Muslim states of Western occupation, foreign troops and the 'infidels.' And even if these goals are really why you are engaging in acts of violence, then your actions are not working.'"[emphasis added]
Bingo. Message received.

So lets review the scorecard for GWB and the GWOT. Remove terrorist regime in Afghanistan--check. Remove terrorist regime in Iraq--check. Establish freedom and let it grow--working. Drive a wedge between the terrorists and the rest of Islam--working. Aggressively attack the remaining terrorists and state sponsors throughout the world--ongoing.

Update: Thanks to Seawitch for noting in the comments that Congressman Tancredo made the remarks in question about targeting Mecca as a response to a nuclear attack on the US by terrorists.

Update 2 (8/21/05): Mr. Morton responded in the comments, and I must agree that I see no instances of him "half-heartedly" condemning terrorism. I therefore withdraw that charge and apologize for making it in the first place. I have placed "strikethrough" style on that remark above. See this post for more information.

Extraordinary Circumstances

Sen. Barabara "Shorts" Boxer was on Fox this afternoon. She's arguing that Justice O'Connor's retirement is ipso facto "extraordinary circumstances," since O'Connor was a swing voter. That sets the bar mighty low.

Sen. Ben Nelson, one of the seven Democrats who were actually involved with the agreement to Save the Filibuster, has a different view according to his letter to the Lincoln Journal Star on Sunday:
Bench Memos on National Review Online: "In a July 12 letter Robert A. Wolff of Sterling said I owe it to the people to say what I consider extraordinary circumstances when it comes to filibustering a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

I have repeatedly made my position clear in numerous interviews with reporters since our group of seven moderate Republicans and seven moderate Democrats brokered a compromise to break the logjam on judicial nominations.

On the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Los Angeles Times quoted me as saying 'If someone was committed to being a judicial activist that would raise the question of extraordinary circumstances.' There was a similar quote in the Washington Post. On Fox News Sunday another member of the 'Gang of 14,' Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and I concurred that 'Based on what we've done in the past, ideological attacks are not an extraordinary circumstance.' That position was restated at a news conference in Omaha the day O'Connor announced her retirement.

I will say it once again for Wolff's benefit as he seems to have missed it in the past; philosophical views do not constitute extraordinary circumstances. I would hope Wolff would agree that the Supreme Court is no place for an activist judge."
Now the only question is: what's the meaning of "activist?"

We got a letter on this topic from Sen. Chuck Hagel today that was pleasing. He speaks strongly for the right of all the nominees to an up or down vote in the Senate. Speaking of the Save the Filibuster movement, he says:
"I did not support this compromise. It was unjust and not right. Fourteen Senators should not have the right to determine which of the President's judicial nominees get votes and which do not get votes. All nominees deserve up-or-down votes and that should have been the principle that anchored any agreement."

Fatwa Condemns London Bombings

It's A Pretty Good Thing, although one wishes it was not so newsworthy. Fatwa condemns London bombings:
"BIRMINGHAM, England -- Ten days after Islamic radicals carried out deadly attacks on the London transport system, Britain's largest Sunni Muslim group on Sunday issued a binding religious edict, a fatwa, condemning the July 7 suicide bombings as the work of a 'perverted ideology.' The Sunni Council denounced the bombings as anti-Islamic and said the Quran, the Muslim holy book, forbade suicide attacks.

'Who has given anyone the right to kill others? It is a sin. Anyone who commits suicide will be sent to Hell,' said Mufti Muhammad Gul Rehman Qadri, the council chairman. 'What happened in London can be seen as a sacrilege. It is a sin to take your life or the life of others.'

The council said Muslims should not use 'atrocities being committed in Palestine and Iraq' to justify attacks such as those in London that killed 55 when suicide bombers struck in three Underground trains and a double-decker bus, the fatwa declared.

'We equally condemn those who may have been behind the masterminding of these acts, those who incited these youths in order to further their own perverted ideology,' Qadri said."
Now if only the mention of "atrocities being committed in Palestine and Iraq" referred to the actual atrocities being committed there: the murderous attacks on Iraqi and Israeli civilians perpetrated in the name of Islam. Instead, the statement suggests such atrocities are acceptable. A true "Religion of Peace" would be condemning all jihadi murders. Until it's willing to do that, Islam is just a pretender to its RoP claims.

Amsterdam - Surprising Toilets!

Yes, "Amsterdam -- Surprising Toilets!" is what the sign just outside the men's room said at Schiphol Airport yesterday. It was a small, permanent sign on the wall with an arc with blue-to-red band at about 90%.

"Surprising" in not an adjective we normally like to associate with toilets, so we entered with some trepidation. The main surprise turned out to be a female janitor working the crowded room as men went about their business. On the plus side, it was clean and comfortable.

We are now back here in The Great American Desert, recovering from jetlag. Thank you to Ryne and Steve for keeping DLMSY warm while we were on vacation. It's much appreciated.

Monday, July 18, 2005


To headlines at Drudge Report right now:


"China to send pig sperm into space!".

I know that post hoc ergo propter hoc is a logical fallacy, but I wish that just this once it were true.