Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

St. Nick in Austria, Switzerland and Germany

Long ago I heard of Saint Nicholas Day (December 6), but I haven't seen it celebrated. Likewise, I knew as a boy that a lump of coal and a switch were the "gifts" left for boys and girls who weren't good -- but they were to be left in the stocking by Santa Claus.

Here is another look at Christmas traditions in an area where Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated:

While Santa rules in the far north, the jolly elf has little tradition in Austria and surrounding countries. As in past years, some booths at Vienna's main Christmas market are again plastered with stickers depicting Santa with a diagonal red bar across his fluffy white beard - the work of a group in Austria, Switzerland and Germany that sees Santa as a symbol of the commercialization of Christmas and a threat to local traditions.

Instead, kids grow up with traditional Dec. 6 visits from St. Nicholas or Nikolo - a bearded, mitered figure in bishop's garb dating back to the 4th century who hands out sweets to good girls and boys. Christmas is reserved for the "Christkind" or Christ Child, who sneaks into homes and deposits presents under the tree and sometimes brings the tree itself.

As for naughty kids, there is St. Nick's sidekick, who in Austria goes under the name of "Krampus" - a hairy behorned figure who gives them lumps of coal and threatens them with a swipe of his switch unless they mend their ways.

Notice how Santa is opposed as a commercialization of Christmas, but they "keep Christ in Christmas" by having the Christ Child instead of Santa deliver gifts. How do they avoid commercializing the Christ Child?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A "Two-fer" in Iraq for the Fifth Column

According to the Washington Post, a military intelligence report attributes a big part of our problems in Iraq's Anbar province to the perception that the U.S.A. will pull out of Iraq before the job is done:

True or not, the memo says, "from the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realized: Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalized." Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability.

Not only are members of Al Qaeda emboldened by the steady drumbeat in America in favor of retreat, but also the Sunnis in Iraq are choosing to help Al Qaeda rather than rely on us:

The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival," fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across the capital.

It's hard to win a war when the "fifth column" is so large.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Divisive Leftists in Mexico

At least leftists in the U.S.A. haven't gone this far yet in their efforts to divide Americans and cripple the government:

Obrador 'inauguration' in Mexico

The defeated left-wing candidate in Mexico's presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has held an unofficial swearing-in ceremony.

During his "inauguration" in Mexico City, Mr Lopez Obrador said he was launching a "parallel government".

He claims [he] was the victim of fraud in July's election - a view shared by millions of Mexicans.

But some of his supporters think his alternative inauguration is ill-advised and politically irresponsible.

What's the Spanish word for "divisive"?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

CO2 times 4

The latest scare story on global warming and carbon dioxide emissions is out.

According to The Independent (UK), the rate of growth in carbon dioxide emissions was four times greater in the past few years than it was in the '90s. And, note who is responsible for a big part of that growth:

Data on carbon dioxide emissions shows that the global growth rate was 3.2 per cent in the five years to 2005 compared with 0.8 per cent from 1990 to 1999, despite efforts to reduce carbon pollution through the Kyoto agreement.

Much of the increase is probably due to the expansion of the Chinese economy, which has relied heavily on burning coal and other fossil fuels for its energy.

China was not required by the hallowed Kyoto Protocol to do anything at all to reduce its emissions, as everyone who recognized the senselessness of the Kyoto Protocol noted.

Neither were India and Brazil, among others, and here's what reported:

One likely contributor is China, whose emissions slowed at end of the 1990s before rising again. China is now the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US. On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency released a report predicting that it would become the world’s top emitter by 2030 (see World
faces 'dirty, insecure' energy future

Other growing developing countries, such as India and Brazil, are also fast becoming large emitters.

The Independent included one fact that is rarely reported, since it shows how impossible it would be to solve the problem (assuming arguendo that it is a problem needing a solution) by limiting carbon dioxide emissions anytime soon:

Professor Bill McGuire, director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre in London, said: "This is more very bad news. We need a 60 to 70 per cent cut in emissions, but instead, emission levels are spiralling out of control. The sum total of our meagre efforts to cut emissions amounts to less than zero."

Try cutting emissions by that much without extraordinary technological changes to replace the power no longer generated by combustion of fuels. It isn't possible, unless you want to live in a stone-age, subsistence-farming society -- and even that would barely do it.

Attempting to "cap" emissions through government regulation offers no promise of success.

Does Al Qaeda Know US?

This report by CBS News provides food for thought.

Al Qaeda plans more attacks in Europe, but why? Their strategy surely involves splitting off the few allies or potential allies of the U.S.A. If they can work it right, attacks in Europe will succeed as they did in Spain -- they will persuade the Europeans to hunker down and hope to be left alone.

Al Qaeda has for several months been sending its men out of Afghanistan, but why? The Taliban can maintain the level of violence needed to discourage Americans -- and can do so without appearing to be anything other than a local resistance to the fledgling democratic republic which the U.S.A. and our allies support. The propaganda value of an indigenous "resistance" will help Al Qaeda persuade Americans to abandon all hope in Afghanistan.

Many people talk of the "lessons of Vietnam." Al Qaeda leaders apparently believe they understand lessons of Vietnam that are useful to them.

They want western governments to abandon the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Splitting off Europe from the U.S.A. and convincing Americans that Afghans (and Iraqis) are a lost cause would tend to produce the isolationist sentiments in America and Europe that Al Qaeda wants.

If Al Qaeda really does know us, they won't attack us within our own borders for a while. They will kill our armed forces personnel when they can overseas, since that may persuade us to bug out. They won't give us reason to come after them with a vengeance again -- until they are ready.

Friday, November 10, 2006

More Greenbacks for Greens?

As reported by The Seattle Times, the Democrat majorities in Congress may give the "greens" more greenbacks:

With Democrats now in power, Dicks outlined an ambitious environmental agenda. He said he would use the power of the purse in Appropriations to help clean up Puget Sound, provide more money for Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks and force the EPA to enforce pollution standards.

Dicks also wants to hold hearings on the impact of global warming, particularly on Puget Sound fish and wildlife.

"The state is one of the big winners in this election," said Heather Weiner, a longtime D.C. environmental lobbyist now based in Seattle. "It's all about the chairmanships and all about appropriations, all about the money."

Assuming the other 49 states go along with it, perhaps more money will be spent in Washington state on parks, the sound, etc. I wonder how big their wish list is, and whether they can do much of it without tax increases.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Seymour Hersh vamps for another Pulitzer Prize

Has Seymour Hersh lost touch with reality? It's more likely that he simply feels no obligation to be truthful in the pursuit of his political goals.

As reported by The McGill Daily, his speech to the students in Montreal, Canada, included this calumny:

If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans, Hersh said.

“In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation,” he said. “It isn’t happening now, but I will tell you – there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq.”

Notice how the editor felt it necessary to insert "[American]" into what was actually said by Hersh. Perhaps there is yet some recognition that massacres of noncombatants were conducted as a matter of strategy and policy as recently as the 20th century by Communists and others who have no regard whatsoever for human life -- and are still being done on purpose by Islamic radicals.

A statement attributed to John F. Kennedy comes to mind: "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."

Seymour Hersh is a name to remember. His vicious lies about the American military personnel in Iraq show beyond any doubt that he is our enemy.