Friday, December 22, 2006

Booming Economy --- in <i>Iraq</i>

Iraq is in the midst of civil war, we're told. We've already lost in Iraq, we hear. All that's left is to figure out a graceful exit, the media talking heads solemnly intone. Yet every now and then a dissonant note seeps through the despair and defeatism. Newsweek, of all people, has such a story here. The title? Iraq's Economy is Booming. Given what the MSM report every day who would have thought that?

Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and-mother of all surprises-it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006. The World Bank has it lower: at 4 percent this year. But, given all the attention paid to deteriorating security, the startling fact is that Iraq is growing at all.

Things in Iraq are not all rosy, of course, but neither is the picture anywhere near as dismal, evidently, as the American public is being led to believe. We can win in Iraq. It just takes a little more steel in the spine than many of our politicians and media types have shown so far.

In his outstanding book America Alone, Mark Steyn quotes Goh Chok Tong, the prime minister of Singapore in 2004, who, while on a visit to Washington, observed that "The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail." Exactly so, but, unfortunately, neither of those assets is much in evidence in either the Democrat party or the establishment media.

Mind-Numbed Robots

Liberals often pride themselves on how smart they are, while ridiculing the rubes who vote for conservatives. Blue staters are intelligent, red staters are yokels. At least that's the myth that liberals have comforted themselves with for the past six years. Yet frequently news reports like this one come along that blow the myth right out of the water and cause us to question whether liberalism is not itself a symptom of cognitive debility.

What other explanation can there be for such as we read in the following report?

HAGERSTOWN - A kindergarten student was accused earlier this month of sexually harassing a classmate at Lincolnshire Elementary School, an accusation that will remain on his record until he moves to middle school.

Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said the definition of sexual harassment used by the school system is, "unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors and/or other inappropriate verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed toward others." Mowen said that definition comes from the Maryland State Department of Education.

According to a school document provided by the boy's father, the 5-year-old pinched a girl's buttocks on Dec. 8 in a hallway at the school south of Hagerstown. Charles Vallance, the boy's father, said he was unable to explain to his son what he had done. "He knows nothing about sex," Vallance said. "There's no way to explain what he's been written up for. He knows it as playing around. He doesn't know it as anything sexual at all."

The incident was described as "sexual harassment" on the school form. School officials consider a student's age and the specific action when determining what administrative action to take, Mowen said.

Lincolnshire Principal Darlene Teach [Really?] and Mowen said they were unable to discuss he incident involving the Lincolnshire student. Teach said any student, regardless of grade level, can be cited for sexual harassment. "Anytime a student touches another student inappropriately, it could be sexual harassment," Teach said.

School administrators at a Texas school in November suspended a 4-year-old student for inappropriately touching a teacher's aide after the prekindergarten student hugged the woman. "It's important to understand a child may not realize that what he or she is doing may be considered sexual harassment, but if it fits under the definition, then it is, under the state's guidelines," Mowen said. "If someone has been told this person does not want this type of touching, it doesn't matter if it's at work or at school, that's sexual harassment."

The incident will be included in the boy's file while he remains at Lincolnshire, but Mowen said those files do not follow students when they move on to middle school. She described the incident as a "learning opportunity."

During the 2005-06 school year, 28 kindergarten students in Maryland were suspended for sex offenses, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual activity, according to state data. Fifteen of those suspensions were for sexual harassment. During the 2005-06 school year, one Washington County prekindergarten student was suspended from school, and 12 of the county's kindergartners were suspended for various offenses, according to state data.

A four year old was suspended for inappropriate touching?Twenty eight kindergarten students were suspended for sexual harassment? How can a four year old inappropriately touch? How can kindergarten students sexually harass someone? What kind of people are these who are making the decisions to punish these children by labelling them some sort of sex offender, and do they have any insight at all into how four and five year-olds think? Do they really believe that children this young think in sexual terms at all?

Ms. Mowen considers writing a child up as a sexual harasser to be a "learning opportunity," but it's better described as the sort of sheer idiocy one has come to expect from people who are so brainwashed by mindless ideological dogma that they have absolutely no common sense. Liberal proprieties may demand that we punish a four, five, or six year old for pinching, as if they were sixteen or seventeen, but anyone with an IQ above the freezing point would perceive the utter foolishness of it.

Indeed, the only thing more astonishing than the punishment is the utterly vacuous rationale given to justify it. Like people straight out of a Franz Kafka novel, the sex nazis in Maryland have determined that what this child did fits the definition of sexual harassment and therefore must be treated as such, whether it really is or not.

In their stupid intransigence and bizarre eagerness to punish children just for being children, Ms. Teach and Ms. Mowen offer us, perhaps, the best possible argument for school choice.

Major Conversion

Scrapple Face has the scoop of the century. Al Qaeda's second in command (or, depending on the status of Osama's vital signs, #1) Ayman al-Zawahiri has converted to Christianity and gives his testimony in this video. It's a real shocker to hear him talk like this, but it warms the soul.

At least it does if you don't know Arabic and don't think about the fact that Scrapple Face is a master of satire.