Raging Right Wing Republican

For those of us who are politically informed, and therefore Republican.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Intel 'Dead Wrong' on WMD

A report released by a panel today confirmed what we've known for quite some time now, that the intelligence used for the war was drastically flawed. However, buried within this latest article is an interesting tidbit:
But the commission also said that it found no indication that spy agencies distorted the evidence they had concerning Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, a charge raised against the administration during last year's presidential campaign.

"This is not `politicization'," the panel said of its own report. "It is a necessary part of the intelligence process."

- mAc Chaos

Orwellian Language

Radical pro-death euthanasia advocates like Michael Schiavo's disturbed lawyer George Felos had to pull out all the stops to make their case look less ghastly than it truly was:
There was an honest, forthright case for ending the life of Terri Schiavo. It was that her life no longer had any value, for herself or others, and that ending it — the quicker the better — would spare everyone misery. We disagree with that view, holding it wiser to stick with the Judeo-Christian tradition on the sanctity of innocent life. But the people who made this case deserve some credit for straightforwardness.

But while the public may have agreed with the removal of Schiavo's feeding and hydration tube, apparently there are limits to the public's willingness to tolerate euthanasia — and apparently its defenders recognized these limits. So we saw euphemism after euphemism deployed to cloud the issues.
  
Perhaps chief among these was the fiction that we were "letting her die." On March 18, Schiavo was in no medical danger of death. She was profoundly brain-damaged (although just how profoundly remains unknown), but she was not in a coma or on a respirator. She was not being kept alive by artificial means, any more than small children are kept alive by artificial means when their parents feed them. Her body was functioning, there is some reason to believe she was minimally conscious, and she was responsive to stimuli (it's been reported she was actually being administered pain medication). She had devoted parents and siblings who were willing to care for her. She could easily have gone on in these conditions for many years. She was not close to dying. For death to arrive, she would have to be killed.

And for that to happen, the use of words like "starvation" and "dehydration" would have to be discouraged. Those words might, after all, have reminded us that what was done to Schiavo would be criminal if done to an animal and provoke cries of "torture" and "cruel and unusual punishment" if done to a convicted capital murderer. And "killed," of course, was totally verboten. Schiavo was being "removed from life support," not denied basic sustenance. The phrase "persistent vegetative state" had to be repeated constantly — never mind that basic tests were never performed to establish this diagnosis, and such diagnoses have a very high error rate — and treated as though it meant "brain death."

We were told that her "choice to die" was being "honored," although the evidence that she had, at age 26, given any considered thought to her own mortality and potential incapacity was thin and highly suspect — its lone source being a husband who incongruously proclaimed his solemn fidelity to this purported wish of Terri even as he started up a new family, denied Terri basic care, and insisted on denying her heartbroken parents their desire to care for their child.

The charade here was not performed to protect Terri Schiavo's dignity but to increase the public's comfort with the devaluation of life. So it was that Michael Schiavo's lawyer, the euthanasia enthusiast George Felos, sketched for the media (which was naturally not permitted to observe Terri's deteriorating condition) a rosy portrait of Terri's extremis: radiantly beautiful, soothed by soft music and the comfort of a stuffed animal.
The rest should be read.

"Next time, it will be easier. It always is."

- mAc Chaos

Channeling Edwards

From the book Litigation as a Spiritual Practice comes a description of psychic communication between a lawyer and his patient:
As Mrs. Browning lay motionless before my gaze, I suddenly heard a loud, deep moan and scream and wondered if the nursing home personnel heard it and would respond to the unfortunate resident. In the next moment, as this cry of pain and torment continued, I realized it was Mrs. Browning.

I felt the mid-section of my body open and noticed a strange quality to the light in the room. I sensed her soul in agony. As she screamed I heard her say, in confusion, 'Why am I still here … why am I here?' My soul touched hers and in some way I communicated that she was still locked in her body. I promised I would do everything in my power to gain the release her soul cried for. With that the screaming immediately stopped. I felt like I was back in my head again, the room resumed its normal appearance, and Mrs. Browning, as she had throughout this experience, lay silent.
So who is this modern man marvel? Why, George Felos, long time counsel to Michael Schiavo.

Too bad he didn't talk to Terri.

- mAc Chaos

TNR: Bush Deserves More Credit for Democracy's Spread

Well, this is certainly uncharted territory for the left, or even the moderate left. Martin Peretz over at the New Republic argues that Bush deserves more credit for transforming the Middle East from the cauldron of despotism to the changing environment it is turning into today. He denounces the pundits and media for their "churlishness":
If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway, a cure for cancer is all fine and nice, but what about aids?

No, the president has not discovered a cure for cancer. But there is a pathology, a historical pathology, that he has attacked with unprecedented vigor and with unprecedented success. I refer, of course, to the political culture of the Middle East, which the president may actually have changed. And he has accomplished this genuinely momentous transformation in ways that virtually the entire foreign affairs clerisy--the cold-blooded Brent Scowcroft realist Republicans and almost all the Democrats--never thought possible. Or, perhaps, in ways some of them thought positively undesirable. Bush, it now seems safe to say, is one of the great surprises in modern U.S. history. Nothing about his past suggested that he harbored these ideals nor the qualities of character required for their realization. Right up to the moment Bush became president, I was convinced that his mind, at least on matters Levantine, belonged to his father and to James Baker III, whose worldview seemed to be defined by the pecuniary prejudice of oil and Texas: Keep the ruling Arabs happy. But I was wrong, and, in light of what has already been achieved in the Middle East, I am glad to say so. Most American liberals, alas, enjoy no similar gladness. They are not exactly pleased by the positive results of Bush's campaign in the Middle East. They deny and resent and begrudge and snipe. They are trapped in the politics of churlishness.
Ironically enough, it may be the conservative administration which succeeds in one of the most liberal ventures yet conceived.

Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.

- mAc Chaos

Even This, Denied

AP:
"...the parents and their two other children "were denied access at the moment of her death. They've been requesting, as you know, for the last hour to try to be in there and they were denied access by Michael Schiavo. They are in there now, praying at her bedside."

- mAc Chaos

Protecting the Weak

President Bush, earlier today:
Today millions of Americans are saddened by the death of Terri Schaivo. Laura and I extend our condolences to Terri Schaivo's families. I appreciate the example of grace and dignity they have displayed at a difficult time. I urge all those who honor Terri Schaivo to continue to work to build a culture of life, where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others. The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life....

- mAc Chaos

Two Different Medical Opinions

There is not a consensus in the medical community regarding Terri Schiavo's condition. The rate for misdiagnosis for PVS is actually rather high. The court appointed Dr. Cranford who studied Terri went on Hannity and Colmes to give his opinion on the matter, which you can find here.

After you watch that, then go here and see the opinion of another doctor on the matter, who disagrees with Dr. Cranford.

- mAc Chaos

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Schiavo FAQ

John Hawkins has written an excellent and comprehensive FAQ on the Terri Schiavo case.

- mAc Chaos

Hashing it Out on Memogate

Howard Kurtz from the Washington Post dives into the controversy surrounding the doubts raised on the Schiavo memo. Unfortunately for Howard Kurtz, Powerline quickly follows behind and tears it to pieces. Michelle Malkin and Ed Morrissey weigh in as well. But the best summary of events is still offered by John Hindraker's Weekly Standard article.

- mAc Chaos

GOP Crack Up?

I can't help but scoff when I read stories like this, hailing the imminent demise of the conservative movement as it devours itself over the Terri Schiavo case. Those who support keeping her alive come from all sides of the spectrum, not just some narrow slice of ultra-right ideologues.

People who look at this strife and conclude that we are doomed are suffering from a misinterpretation of the facts; this shows the intellectual health of the movement, not it's demise. It's when nobody cares to argue anymore that a movement is truly dead - in Communist circles, you never hear anyone questioning the actual theories anymore, because nobody's there to care.

As a party, the Republican Party, like every other political entity, simply caters to whatever works, and the fact of the matter is that their current strategy has won elections - those who express disappointment, as there is much to be disappointed about - should focus on changing the minds of the voters, and then the parties will naturally shift to align themselves, accordingly.

- mAc Chaos

French Corruption

Why am I not surprised?
The latest corruption trial of the French president's cronies leaves the public shaking their heads, yet again. It is a case of deja vu for millions of French people: forty-seven politicians and other officials are on trial this week over a vast kickback scheme. For several years in the early 1990s, construction companies are said to have paid 90 million euros ($116 million) in bribes, swelling the coffers of political parties. Their reward: contracts to build and maintain secondary schools in the Paris area. And yet again, the trials involve President Chirac when he served as mayor of Paris and his allies ...
(Hat tip to Dissecting Leftism)

- mAc Chaos

On Terri Schiavo

If she's brain dead, then how does it hurt anybody to grant her parents' wishes and keep the feeding tube?

If she retains any consciousness whatsoever, then how can we justify starving her to death?

- mAc Chaos

The Ivory Tower

The Washington Post just figured out that the sun rises in the east:
College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.
Just like the media...

Monday, March 28, 2005

Fake But Accurate, Pt. 2

Apparently Dan Rather's self destruction wasn't enough - click here to read a summary of the latest Democratic document forgery - supposedly a Republican memo regarding Terri Schiavo.

Mein Kampf Soars to #1 Best Seller

A few weeks ago, amidst the simmering culdron of antisemitism which Europe has become, Mein Kampf hit the best seller list. The Turkish government, however, seeks to deny reality, insisting that there were no racist ideas fueling the sales:
Turkey's government Monday played down soaring sales of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic book "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle") and said there were no racists in the large Muslim country.
Maybe they got the translation without the concentration camps? Do you know what other country had no racists? Nazi Germany! David Irving says so.
Booksellers say "Mein Kampf," or "Kavgam" in Turkish, has featured among the top 10 bestsellers in the past two months, to the dismay of the country's small Jewish community and of the German embassy in Ankara. ...

"We have never had such an attitude in our culture, nor in our history, and we do not have it now ... It's not possible for people to choose their races ... Turkish society's idea about this issue is clear. There is no racism in this country," [said a government flunky].
There are a lot of Turks really interested in Hitler's ideas about post-WWI debt reparations, I guess.

Apparently the headline lied for effect; Mein Kampf is not, in fact, #1 on the best seller list. What is it, then?
The current No. 1 bestseller in Turkey, ahead of "Mein Kampf," is "Metal Storm," which depicts a U.S. invasion of the country. The Turkish hero avenges his homeland by destroying Washington with a nuclear device.
As always, anti-semitism and anti-Americanism walk hand in hand.

- mAc Chaos

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

ANWR Drilling Approved

Who ever thought they'd pull this one off?
Amid the backdrop of soaring oil and gasoline prices, a sharply divided Senate on Wednesday voted to open the ecologically rich [read: they have many varieties of "environmentally-sensitive" lifeless tundra mud] Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling, delivering a major energy policy win for President Bush.

The Senate, by a 51-49 vote, rejected an attempt by Democrats and GOP moderates to remove a refuge drilling provision from next year's budget, preventing opponents from using a filibuster - a tactic that has blocked repeated past attempts to open the Alaska refuge to oil companies.

The action, assuming Congress agrees on a budget, clears the way for approving drilling in the refuge later this year, drilling supporters said. The House has not included a similar provision in its budget, so the issue is still subject to negotiations later this year to resolve the difference.
Huzzah!

- mAc Chaos

Re-Reading VDH

From the VDH files:
Every time the United States the last quarter century had acted boldly — its removal of Noriega and aid for the Contras, instantaneous support for a reunified Germany, extension of NATO, preference for Yeltsin instead of Gorbachev, Gulf War I, bombing of Milosevic, support for Sharon's fence, withdrawal from Gaza and decapitation of the Hamas killer elite, taking out the Taliban and Saddam-good things have ensued. In contrast, on every occasion that we have temporized — abject withdrawal from Lebanon, appeasement of Arafat at Oslo, a decade of inaction in the Balkans, paralysis in Rwanda, sloth in the face of terrorist attacks, not going to Baghdad in 1991 — corpses pile up and the United States became either less secure or less respected or both.

So it is also in this present war, in which our unheralded successes far outweigh our notorious mistakes. A number of books right now in galleys are going to look very, very silly, as they forecast American defeat, a failed Middle East, and the wages of not listening to their far smarter recommendations of using the U.N. more, listening to Europe, or bringing back the Clinton A-Team.

America's daring, not its support for the familiar — but ultimately unstable and corrupt — status quo, explains why less than three years after September 11, the Middle East is a world away from where it was on the first day of the war. And that is a very good thing indeed.

- mAc Chaos

Eurabia Watch

Disturbing events are taking place in Sweden.

- mAc Chaos

Paul Krugman, Liar Extraordinaire

You know, it used to be shocking when the first two paragraphs of a Paul Krugman piece would contain a blatant falsehood. Now, it's just par for the course.

See if you can spot the whopper in his latest rant over the 'privatization of Social Security'.
As soon as voters started to realize that private accounts would replace traditional Social Security benefits, not add to them, support for privatization collapsed.
If that's what voters realized then they're either stupid, uninformed, Democrats, or a combination of the three. The term 'privatization' is a misnomer that the Democrats and the left have been peddling in their scaremongering to scare senior citizens and others that we're going to be throwing them out onto the street.

Back in reality, private accounts will not replace traditional Social Security accounts, but accompany them. Furthermore, Social Security will not be done away with; there will still be money paid into the system, but now, we as citizens will have more of a say as to what happens with our money. In other words, the procedure has become personalized, allowing each individual to influence his own portion of the program. After all, it is our money, so why not be able to have a say in how our own accounts are managed? As for those who wish to stay in the current traditional system, they will be able to - nothing will touch their benefits - except maybe spend-happy bureaucrats.

So how much intelligence does Paul Krugman think his readers have, anyway?

- mAc Chaos

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

EU Biting Our Dust

Europe's economy is 20 years behind the US:
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The US economy is 20 years ahead of that of the EU and it will take decades for Europe to catch up, according to an explosive new study published on Friday (11 March).

The survey, unveiled by pan-EU small business organisation Eurochambres, is intended as a sharp "wake-up call" for EU leaders as they gather on 22 March for a summit on how to boost growth and jobs in the EU economy.

The EU's current performance in terms of employment was achieved in the US in 1978 and it will take until 2023 for Europe to catch up, the report shows.

The situation is scarcely better when it comes to income per person. The US attained the current EU performance in 1985 and Europe is expected to close the gap in 2072.


But the bleakest picture comes when comparing the two economic blocs in terms of research and development. Europe is expected to catch up with the US in 2123 and then only if the EU outstrips America by 0.5 percent per year in terms of R&D investment.

Presenting the survey, Arnaldo Abruzzi, the Secretary-General of Eurochambres, said, "the current EU levels in GDP, R&D investment, productivity and employment were already reached by the US in the late 70s/early 80s".

"Even the most optimistic assumptions show it will take the EU decades to catch up and then only if there is considerable EU improvement", he concluded.

Furthermore, the survey points out that enlargement will make the EU's mountain even harder to climb.
Surely, socialism has propelled them to an era of prosperity the world has never seen.

- mAc Chaos

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Changing Middle East

ABC News: "The Biggest Ever..."
"The rally, perhaps the biggest anti-government demonstration ever staged in the Arab world..."

- mAc Chaos

Kerry Watch

P.J. O'Rourke has nabbed an excellent John Kerry quote from his latest Weekly Standard column. While he was picking up the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library "Distinguished American Award" he decided to take a few jabs at the First Amendment.
We learned that the mainstream media, over the course of the last year, did a pretty good job of discerning. But there's a subculture and a sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information. And that has a profound impact and undermines what we call the mainstream media of the country. And so the decision-making ability of the American electorate has been profoundly impacted as a consequence of that. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
So does he actually think the government should do something about bloggers and alternative media outlets such as talk radio, simply because they threaten the mainstream media's information monopoly? We already knew he was a sore loser, but to subtly suggest that the rest of the media should be kept in check simply because it hasn't stuck to the mainstream media's pro-Kerry party line is ridiculous.

After four months, the election is over, and yet the Democrats still think the reason they lost is because of Fox News, because the Republicans cheated, and because Americans are stupid.

- mAc Chaos

So Much For Inspections

This is another nail in the coffin of the notion that the weapon inspections prior to the war had any value or were worth trusting. Saddam offered $2 million bribe to WMD inspector.
Saddam Hussein's regime offered a $2 million (£1.4 million) bribe to the United Nations' chief weapons inspector to doctor his reports on the search for weapons of mass destruction. . . .

The news that Iraq attempted to bribe a top UN official is a key piece of evidence for investigators into the scandal surrounding the oil-for-food programme. It proves that Iraq was offering huge sums of cash to influential foreigners in return for political favours.

Nile Gardiner, of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, who has followed the inquiries, said: "It's the tip of the iceberg of what the Iraqis were offering. For every official like Ekeus who turned down a bribe, there are many more who will have been tempted by it."
Meanwhile, the rest spent their time imbibing liter upon liter of alcohol in Baghdad. We were placing our national security in the hands of these people?

This raises an interesting question: If Saddam had nothing to hide, then why did he find it necessary to bribe the inspectors?

- mAc Chaos

Where's Our Axe Control Laws?

A crazed axe murderer hacked an elderly old man to death today in Great Britain. Taking away guns to stop murderers, was it?
A man was beheaded in a frenzied and prolonged axe attack in a London street today.

The axeman, smartly-dressed and in his thirties, felled his victim with one blow and then struck repeatedly "as if he was chopping wood".

The assault lasted several minutes near the Hampstead Theatre in Belsize Park. The attacker ignored his victim's screams and the pleas of two women passers-by and workmen. He stopped when police arrived. He then put down the axe near the body. He was described as looking "emotionless and cool" throughout.
And here I thought banning handguns would have put an end to crimes such as these? Will Britain have to begin regulating the wood chopping industry as well?

This simply goes to show that if a crazed psycopath wants to kill somebody, they're going to find a way to do it - with or without a gun. But if that sixty year old man had been allowed to own a handgun he would have been alive today. It's the great equalizer - the most effective way to level the playing field between a weak ailing man, and a brutish thug on the street.

What a tragedy that another man had to die because of this.

- mAc Chaos

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Gay Marriage

Unlike most libertarians and conservatives, I don't have much of an opinion on gay marriage. However, I had an interesting discussion last night with a libertarian friend about it, which devolved into an argument about a certain kind of liberal/libertarian argument about gay marriage that I find really unconvincing.

Social conservatives of a more moderate stripe are essentially saying that marriage is an ancient institution, which has been carefully selected for throughout human history. It is a bedrock of our society; if it is destroyed, we will all be much worse off. (See what happened to the inner cities between 1960 and 1990 if you do not believe this.) For some reason, marriage always and everywhere, in every culture we know about, is between a man and a woman; this seems to be an important feature of the institution. We should not go mucking around and changing this extremely important institution, because if we make a bad change, the institution will fall apart.

A very common response to this is essentially to mock this as ridiculous. "Why on earth would it make any difference to me whether gay people are getting married? Why would that change my behavior as a heterosexual?"

To which social conservatives reply that institutions have a number of complex ways in which they fulfill their roles, and one of the very important ways in which the institution of marriage perpetuates itself is by creating a romantic vision of oneself in marriage that is intrinsically tied into expressing one's masculinity or femininity in relation to a person of the opposite sex; stepping into an explicitly gendered role. This may not be true of every single marriage, and indeed undoubtedly it is untrue in some cases. But it is true of the culture-wide institution. By changing the explicitly gendered nature of marriage we might be accidentally cutting away something that turns out to be a crucial underpinning.

To which, again, the other side replies "That's ridiculous! I would never change my willingness to get married based on whether or not gay people were getting married!"

Now, economists hear this sort of argument all the time. "That's ridiculous! I would never start working fewer hours because my taxes went up!" This ignores the fact that you may not be the marginal case. The marginal case may be some consultant who just can't justify sacrificing valuable leisure for a new project when he's only making 60 cents on the dollar. The result will nonetheless be the same: less economic activity. Similarly, you--highly educated, firmly socialised, upper middle class you--may not be the marginal marriage candidate; it may be some high school dropout in Tuscaloosa. That doesn't mean that the institution of marriage won't be weakened in America just the same.

This should not be taken as an endorsement of the idea that gay marriage will weaken the current institution. I can tell a plausible story where it does; I can tell a plausible story where it doesn't. I cannot test which is true. Marriage is a big institution; too big to have a successful handle on it.

However, I am bothered by this specific argument, which I have heard over and over from the people I know who favor gay marriage laws. I mean, literally over and over; when they get into arguments, they just repeat it, again and again. "I will get married even if marriage is expanded to include gay people; I cannot imagine anyone up and deciding not to get married because gay people are getting married; therefore, the whole idea is ridiculous and bigoted."

They may well be right. Nonetheless, libertarians should know better. The limits of your imagination are not the limits of reality. Every government program that libertarians have argued against has been defended at its inception with exactly this argument.

Let me take three major legal innovations, one of them general, two specific to marriage.

The first, the general one, is well known to most hard-core libertarians, but let me reprise it anyway. When the income tax was initially being debated, there was a suggestion to put in a mandatory cap; I believe the level was 10 percent.

Don't be ridiculous, the Senator's colleagues told him. Americans would never allow an income tax rate as high as ten percent. They would revolt! It is an outrage to even suggest it!

Many actually fought the cap on the grounds that it would encourage taxes to grow too high, towards the cap. The American people, they asserted, could be well counted on to keep income taxes in the range of a few percentage points.

... Well, that didn't work out very well.

Now, I'm not a tax-crazy libertarian or conservative; I don't expect you to be horrified that we have income taxes higher than ten percent, as I'm not. But the point is that the Senators were completely right--at that time. However, the existence of the income tax allowed for a slow creep that eroded the American resistance to income taxation. External changes--from the Great Depression, to the technical ability to manage withholding rather than lump payments, also facilitated the rise, but they could not have without a cultural sea change in feelings about taxation. That "ridiculous" cap would have done a much, much better job holding down tax rates than the culture these Senators erroneously relied upon. Changing the law can, and does, change the culture of the thing regulated.

Another example is welfare. To sketch a brief history of welfare, it emerged in the nineteenth century as "Widows and orphans pensions", which were paid by the state to destitute families whose breadwinner had passed away. They were often not available to blacks; they were never available to unwed mothers. Though public services expanded in the first half of the twentieth century, that mentality was very much the same: public services were about supporting unfortunate families, not unwed mothers. Unwed mothers could not, in most cases, obtain welfare; they were not allowed in public housing (which was supposed to be--and was--a way station for young, struggling families on the way to homeownership, not a permanent abode); they were otherwise discriminated against by social services. The help you could expect from society was a home for wayward girls, in which you would give birth and then put the baby up for adoption.

The description of public housing in the fifties is shocking to anyone who's spent any time in modern public housing. Big item on the agenda at the tenant's meeting: housewives, don't shake your dustcloths out of the windows--other wives don't want your dirt in their apartment! Men, if you wear heavy work boots, please don't walk on the lawns until you can change into lighter shoes, as it damages the grass! (Descriptions taken from the invaluable book, The Inheritance, about the transition of the white working class from Democrat to Republican.) Needless to say, if those same housing projects could today find a majority of tenants who reliably dusted, or worked, they would be thrilled.

Public housing was, in short, a place full of functioning families.

Now, in the late fifties, a debate began over whether to extend benefits to the unmarried. It was unfair to stigmatise unwed mothers. Why shouldn't they be able to avail themselves of the benefits available to other citizens? The societal prejudice against illegitimacy was old fashioned, bigoted, irrational, they said.

But if you give unmarried mothers money, said the critics, you will get more unmarried mothers.

Ridiculous, said the proponents of the change. Being an unmarried mother is a tiring, thankless task. What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state was willing to give her paltry welfare benefits?

People do all sorts of idiotic things, said the critics. If you pay for something, you usually get more of it.

C'mon said the activists. That's just silly. I just can't imagine anyone deciding to get pregnant out of wedlock simply because there are welfare benefits available.

... Doesn't look like that worked out too well, either.

Of course, change didn't happen overnight. But the marginal cases did have children out of wedlock, which made it more acceptable for the next marginal case to do so. Meanwhile, women who wanted to get married essentially found themselves in competition for young men with women who were willing to have sex, and bear children, without forcing the men to take any responsibility. This is a pretty attractive proposition for most young men. So despite the fact that the sixties brought us the biggest advance in birth control ever, illegitimacy exploded. In the early 1960s, a black illegitimacy rate of roughly 25 percent caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write a tract warning of a crisis in "the negro family" (a tract for which he was eviscerated by many of those selfsame activists.)

By 1990, that rate was over 70 percent. This, despite the fact that the inner city, where the illegitimacy problem was biggest, only accounts for a fraction of the black population.

But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way. Possibly one of the most moving moments in Jason de Parle's absolutely wonderful book, American Dream, which follows three welfare mothers through welfare reform, is when he reveals that none of these three women, all in their late thirties, had ever been to a wedding.

Marriage matters. It is better for the kids; it is better for the adults raising those kids; and it is better for the childless people in the communities where those kids and adults live. Marriage reduces poverty, improves kids outcomes in all measurable ways, makes men live longer and both spouses happier. Marriage, it turns out, is an incredibly important institution. It also turns out to be a lot more fragile than we thought back then. It looked, to those extremely smart and well-meaning welfare reformers, practically unshakeable; the idea that it could be undone by something as simple as enabling women to have children without husbands, seemed ludicrous. Its cultural underpinnings were far too firm. Why would a woman choose such a hard road? It seemed self-evident that the only unwed mothers claiming benefits would be the ones pushed there by terrible circumstance.

This argument is compelling and logical. I would never become an unwed welfare mother, even if benefits were a great deal higher than they are now. It seems crazy to even suggest that one would bear a child out of wedlock for $567 a month. Indeed, to this day, I find the reformist side much more persuasive than the conservative side on first glance, except for one thing, which is that the conservatives turned out to be right. In fact, they turned out to be even more right than they suspected; they were predicting upticks in illegitimacy that were much more modest than what actually occurred--they expected marriage rates to suffer, not collapse.

How did people go so badly wrong? Well, to start with, they fell into the basic fallacy that economists are so well acquainted with: they thought about themselves instead of the marginal case. For another, they completely failed to realise that each additional illegitimate birth would, in effect, slightly destigmatise the next one. They assigned men very little agency, failing to predict that women willing to forgo marriage would essentially become unwelcome competition for women who weren't, and that as the numbers changed, that competition might push the marriage market towards unwelcome outcomes. They failed to forsee the confounding effect that the birth control pill would have on sexual mores.

But I think the core problems are two. The first is that they looked only at individuals, and took instititutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to marry, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new financial incentives for out-of-wedlock births. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn't a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to marry, financial freedom not to, arrayed against eachother; those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other.

The second is that they didn't assign any cultural reason for, or value to, the stigma on illegitimacy. They saw it as an outmoded vestige of a repressive Victorial values system, based on an unnatural fear of sexuality. But the stigma attached to unwed motherhood has quite logical, and important, foundations: having a child without a husband is bad for children, and bad for mothers, and thus bad for the rest of us. So our culture made it very costly for the mother to do. Lower the cost, and you raise the incidence. As an economist would say, incentives matter. There are externalities.

(Now, I am not arguing in favor of stigmatising unwed mothers the way the Victorians did. I'm just pointing out that the stigma did not exist merely, as many mid-century reformers seem to have believed, because of some dark Freudian excesses on the part of our ancestors.)

But all the reformers saw was the pain inflicted on unwed mothers. They saw the unfairness of punishing the mother, and not the father. They saw the injustice of treating American citizens differently because of their marital status.

But as G.K. Chesterton points out, people who don't see the use of a social institution are the last people who should be allowed to reform it:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.
Now, of course, this can turn into a sort of precautionary principle that prevents reform from ever happening. That would be bad; all sorts of things need changing all the time, because society and our environment change, however conservatives are not opposed to reform as such. But as a matter of principle, it is probably a bad idea to let someone go mucking around with social arrangements, such as the way we treat unwed parenthood, if their idea about that institution is that "it just growed". You don't have to be a rock-ribbed conservative to recognise that there is something of an evolutionary process in society: institutional features are not necessarily the best possible arrangement, but they have been selected for a certain amount of fitness.

It might also be, of course, that the feature is what evolutionary biologists call a spandrel. It's a term taken from architecture; spandrels are the pretty little spaces between vaulted arches. They are not designed for; they are a useless, but pretty, side effect of the physical properties of arches. In evolutionary biology, spandrel is some feature which is not selected for, but appears as a byproduct of other traits that are selected for. Belly buttons are a neat place to put piercings, but they're not there because of that; they're a byproduct of mammalian reproduction.

However, an architect will be happy to tell you that if you try to rip out the spandrel, you might easily bring down the building.

The third example I'll give is of changes to the marriage laws, specifically the radical relaxation of divorce statutes during the twentieth century.

Divorce, in the nineteenth century, was unbelievably hard to get. It took years, was expensive, and required proving that your spouse had abandonned you for an extended period with no financial support; was (if male) not merely discreetly dallying but flagrantly carrying on; or was not just belting you one now and again when you got mouthy, but routinely pummeling you within an inch of your life. After you got divorced, you were a pariah in all but the largest cities. If you were a desperately wronged woman you might change your name, taking your maiden name as your first name and continuing to use your husband's last name to indicate that you expected to continue living as if you were married and expect to have some limited intercourse with your neighbours, though of course you would not be invited to events held in a church, or evening affairs. Financially secure women generally (I am not making this up) moved to Europe; Edith Wharton, who moved to Paris when she got divorced, wrote moving stories about the way divorced women were shunned at home. Men, meanwhile (who were usually the respondants) could expect to see more than half their assets and income settled on their spouse and children.

There were, critics observed, a number of unhappy marriages in which people stuck together. Young people, who shouldn't have gotten married; older people, whose spouses were not physically abusive nor absent, nor flagrantly adulterous, but whose spouse was, for reasons of financial irresponsibility, mental viciousness, or some other major flaw, destroying their life. Why not make divorce easier to get? Rather than requiring people to show that there was an unforgiveable, physically visible, cause that the marriage should be dissolved, why not let people who wanted to get divorced agree to do so?

Because if you make divorce easier, said the critics, you will get much more of it, and divorce is bad for society.

That's ridiculous! said the reformers. (Can anybody see where this is going?) People stay married because marriage is a bedrock institution of our society, not because of some law! The only people who get divorced will be people who have terrible problems! A few percentage points at most!

Another success! Not quite.

When the law changed, the institution changed. The marginal divorce made the next one easier. Again, the magnitude of the change swamped the dire predictions of the anti-reformist wing; no one could have imagined, in their wildest dreams, a day when half of all marriages ended in divorce.

There were actually two big changes; the first, when divorce laws were amended in most states to make it easier to get a divorce; and the second, when "no fault" divorce allowed one spouse to unilaterally end the marriage. The second change produced another huge surge in the divorce rate, and a nice decline in the incomes of divorced women; it seems advocates had failed to anticipate that removing the leverage of the financially weaker party to hold out for a good settlement would result in men keeping more of their earnings to themselves.

What's more, easy divorce didn't only change the divorce rate; it made drastic changes to the institution of marriage itself. David Brooks makes an argument I find convincing: that the proliferation of the kind of extravagent weddings that used to only be the province of high society (rented venue, extravagent flowers and food, hundreds of guests, a band with dancing, dresses that cost the same as a good used car) is because the event itself doesn't mean nearly as much as it used to, so we have to turn it into a three-ring circus to feel like we're really doing something.

A couple in 1940 (and even more so in 1910) could go to a minister's parlor, or a justice of the peace, and in five minutes totally change their lives. Unless you are a member of certain highly religious subcultures, this is simply no longer true. That is, of course, partly because of the sexual revolution and the emancipation of women; but it is also because you aren't really making a lifetime committment; you're making a lifetime committment unless you find something better to do. There is no way, psychologically, to make the latter as big an event as the former, and when you lost that committment, you lose, on the margin, some willingness to make the marriage work. Again, this doesn't mean I think divorce law should be toughened up; only that changes in law that affect marriage affect the cultural institution, not just the legal practice.

Three laws. Three well-meaning reformers who were genuinely, sincerely incapable of imagining that their changes would wreak such institutional havoc. Three sets of utterly logical and convincing, and wrong arguments about how people would behave after a major change.

My only request is that people try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes. The argument that gay marriage will not change the institution of marriage because you can't imagine it changing your personal reaction is pretty arrogant. It imagines, first of all, that your behavior is a guide for the behavior of everyone else in society, when in fact, as you may have noticed, all sorts of different people react to all sorts of different things in all sorts of different ways, which is why we have to have elections and stuff. And second, the unwavering belief that the only reason that marriage, always and everywhere, is a male-female institution (I exclude rare ritual behaviors), is just some sort of bizarre historical coincidence, and that you know better, needs examining. If you think you know why marriage is male-female, and why that's either outdated because of all the ways in which reproduction has lately changed, or was a bad reason to start with, then you are in a good place to advocate reform. If you think that marriage is just that way because our ancestors were all a bunch of repressed bastards with dark Freudian complexes that made them homophobic bigots, I'm a little leery of letting you muck around with it.

Is this post going to convince anyone? I doubt it; everyone but me seems to already know all the answers, so why listen to such a hedging, doubting bore? I myself am trying to draw a very fine line between being humble about making big changes to big social institutions, and telling people (which I am not trying to do) that they can't make those changes because other people have been wrong in the past. In the end, our judgement is all we have; everyone will have to rely on their judgement of whether gay marriage is, on net, a good or a bad idea. All I'm asking for is for people to think more deeply than a quick consultation of their imaginations to make that decision. I realize that this probably falls on the side of supporting the anti-gay-marriage forces, but I can't help that. I think the approach is consistent, if not exactly popular.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Rice in '08?

Rice isn't ruling out a '08 presidential bid, according to the Washington Post:
"I never wanted to run for anything — I don't think I even ran for class anything when I was in school," she said. "I'm going to try to be a really good secretary of state; I'm going to work really hard at it.
Notedly, she didn't decline to actually rule out the bid, to avoid boxing herself in, politically. While it may seem a fanciful prospect to entertain the idea of a Rice candidacy as early as '08, I think that she's unlikely to run, especially because she's too inexperienced. It's the same case with Barack Obama. They may run in the future, and in the case of Obama, it's almost a given, but as of now, Rice would be too weak, without any experience in any form of governing position. She needs to fill out her resume before she can become more qualified to even fathom the White House.

However, moving onto her comments regarding abortion...
Describing pro-lifers as "the other side" is one of the ways Miss Rice articulates her position as a "mildly pro-choice" Republican. She explained that she is "in effect kind of libertarian on this issue," adding: "I have been concerned about a government role.

"I am a strong proponent of parental notification. I am a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people and I think that that's where we should be.
How is supporting a government backed ban on late term abortions and a mandatory parental notification being 'libertarian' on the issue?

As a self-declared gun rights absolutist, she draws my support, but as far as her support for abortion goes, I don't think I'd be able to support her candidacy if she was pro-abortion. However, with the political realities surrounding abortion and the incrementalist process involved in removing it's corrosive taint from society, I could stand by it. It's too early, at any rate.
"We ought to have a culture that says, 'Who wants to have an abortion? Who wants to see a daughter or a friend or a sibling go through something like that?'

"Miss Rice described abortion as an "extremely difficult moral issue" which she approaches as "a deeply religious person."
And she is correct - for the barbaric practice of abortion to be lessened, it will require cultural change, in addition to legal change. Otherwise, we will have outlawed it, but there will be a substantial black market for it, as people themselves will ignore the law and seek what they mistakenly view as a justified right.

This view, of course, is flawed on it's face, as there is no right to kill somebody else, and the 'right' to privacy which seemingly means the same thing, as it justifies this act, does not supercede the right to life.

- mAc Chaos

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Sorry For the Posting Drought

It should start picking up again soon.

- mAc Chaos

Hopping onto the Bush Bandwagon

Mark Steyn pens another brilliant article, this time on the shifting tides in the Middle East and the Bush bandwagon:
Come on, lads. You don’t want to be the last to leap aboard the bandwagon. The New York Times are running front page stories with headlines like “Unexpected Whiff Of Freedom Proves Bracing For The Middle East”. Daniel Schorr, the dean of conventional wisdom at National Public Radio, was for once almost ahead of the game, concluding his most recent editorial with a strange combination of words that had never before passed his lips in that particular order: “Bush may have had it right.”

Did he simply muff the reading? Did he mean to say: “Bush may have had it - right?” But apparently not. Ever since, the same form of words has mysteriously flowered from Toronto to London to Sydney. It’s the catchphrase du jour - like “Show me the money” or “You are the weakest link. Goodbye.” Now it’s “Could Bush be right?” Even America’s media naysayers have suddenly noticed that they can hardly hear their own generic boilerplate about what a Vietnam quagmire the new Iraq is over the sound of raven-tressed Beirut hotties noisily demanding Lebanon’s freedom in the streets of Beirut.

Over at Britain’s Guardian, meanwhile, the poor chaps are desperately trying to give credit to anyone but the reviled Bushitler. Here’s how Timothy Garton Ash opened his disquisition: “Has Osama bin Laden started a revolution in the Middle East?” Well, that’s one way to look at it. Maybe he could share the Nobel Peace Prize with Michael Moore and MoveOn.org.

- mAc Chaos

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Bush Boom?

Larry Kudlow over at NRO calls witness to the economic supply side powerhouse fueled by lower tax rates:
The economy is on a tear. You might not know this from coverage in the mainstream media, which may have a built-in bias against George W. Bush. Sure, some big outlets like the New York Times have come around at least somewhat on the president’s freedom-and-democracy revolution in the Middle East. But they’re not about to concede on the economic power of lower marginal tax-rate incentives.
  
Too bad, because the evidence is overwhelming that the supply-side tax cuts enacted in the spring of 2003 have triggered an economic boom. Yes, I will call it the Bush boom.

Friday’s payroll-jobs increase of 262,000 is yet another data-point arguing that the economy may actually be speeding up in the first half of 2005. Using a 12-month moving average of monthly job changes, nonfarm payrolls have increased to 200,000 through February 2005 from a decline of 150,000 going all the way back to January 2002.

Since May 2003 — which not coincidentally was the debut period for Bush’s tax cuts on personal income, dividends, and capital gains — the economy has generated 3 million new jobs. Using the Labor Department’s household survey, 2.6 million more people have been employed since the tax cuts. The unemployment rate has dropped to 5.4 percent from 6.3 percent. Weekly unemployment claims have fallen to 300,700 — the lowest since late 2000.

- mAc Chaos

Hillary Watch

She's the lucky winner of the first time ever 'Weasel award':
(PRWEB) March 4, 2005 -- The Information Technology Professionals Association of America (ITPAA), an advocacy group based in Wilmington, Delaware representing professionals in the high-tech field has handed out its first Weasel Award of 2005 to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D - NY). The organization, representing over 1,200 IT professionals nationwide, presents this award to business and political leaders that it believes betrays the trust of the American people.

Scott Kirwin, founder of the organization, states, “We are tired of Democrats pretending they care about the problems facing average Americans. Senator Clinton’s actions prove they clearly do not.”

The ITPAA based its award on Indian press reports of Sen. Clinton supporting outsourcing and assuring political and business leaders in India that the US would not attempt to save the jobs lost. “Outsourcing will continue,” Clinton said in Delhi on Feb 28, according to a report by the Asia Times. “There is no way to legislate against reality. We are not in favor of putting up fences."

“Her statements got little press here but were splashed all over the Indian media,” Kirwin says. “Does she think we aren’t going to find out about it?”

- mAc Chaos

Nobody's Perfect

The Cold War is over, but the morally relativistic Left's defense of Communism lives on.

- mAc Chaos

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Quote of the Day

Thomas Jefferson:
"I think we have more machinery of government than is
necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the
industrious."

- mAc Chaos

What Would Jefferson Say?

A great article in Newsweek about the Ten Commandments case in relation to the Supreme Court, and where our rights are derived from. An excerpt, dealing with the fallacy in sourcing our rights from rationality alone:
He might teach the court that there are only three ways human rights are accorded to citizens. Either they are the rational construct of people trying to avoid “the war of each against all” in what Rousseau called the "State of Nature." This way sees civil rights as a rational outgrowth of our fear of those who want to hurt us or steal our iPods. Thomas Hobbes stated the view of human nature underlying such theories of the social contract, homo homini lupis: “Each man is the wolf of his neighbor.” Freedom in this theory is merely protection from the guy down the street. The problems with this theory are severe despite its appealing claim on human reason. In this view, some people can easily be excluded from rights because of some rational argument claiming to prove that it is not rational to protect them. Such perversions of human reason to oppress human beings include denying rights to patients in a vegetative state because they are not conscious; denying the right to live for unwanted fetuses because they are not yet living outside the womb; denying rights to mentally challenged people because they can’t get into Harvard; or to blacks in the antebellum South because they were rationally intended to be property and not people, or denying women the right to vote until 1920 because of the rational fact of their lack of capacity. We must remember that the majority of professors in Nazi Germany supported the Third Reich on rational grounds. The deepest flaw in this view was, ironically, stated by Marx in an 1844 essay against Bruno Bauer who rationally argued that Jews should not be accorded civil rights in Germany. Marx wrote that the flaw in this idea of civil society is that it perniciously teaches us “to see in our fellow man the source of our limitation rather than the source of our fulfillment.” All that reason can produce is the notion that freedom is a good high fence for healthy, smart and politically well-connected people, and this is not good enough.
For rights to have meaning, they must be absolute.

- mAc Chaos

Some Interesting Tidbits

Constitution killers:
"The Supreme Court's judicial activists are cutting off the branch on which they sit. By rejecting the law and putting their personal opinions in its place, the justices invite the people to imitate them and disregard their decrees with the same willfulness they disregard the Constitution. If Anthony Kennedy isn't bound by the framers' words, why are the people bound by his? The authority of Supreme Court justices derives from the authority of the Constitution: once they deny its authority, they deny their own. The Roper v. Simmons decision is a stunningly stark illustration of this despotism that masquerades as jurisprudence."

San Francisco, Nanny State USA:
"Those who favor smaller government will likely be familiar with the term 'nanny state.' A nanny state is defined as 'a government which tries to give too much advice or make too many laws about how people should live, especially about eating, smoking or drinking alcohol.' Perhaps not coincidentally, nanny states and blue states tend to go hand in hand. Indeed, if you're searching for the epitome of the ultimate nanny state, look no farther than San Francisco. With plenty of time on their hands and an exaggerated sense of self-importance, the 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are obsessed with looking for new laws to pass and ordinances to introduce and gaining control over every aspect of citizens' lives. Although the City is famously libertine in its approach to certain behaviors, anything that fits into its 'progressive' paradigm is fair game."

Government failure succeeds:
"When [WWII] ended, Congress set to work to create a giant plan to control the transition to a peacetime economy, work the returning soldiers into the labor force without disruption, and generally save us from chaos and destitution. But, instead, one of those miracles happened that don't come around very often: Congress argued so long over the plan that it was never implemented. So the U.S. economy had to fend for itself -- and fend it did. The ex-servicemen found jobs, the economy took off upward, and the Great Depression was finally over after 16 years."

- mAc Chaos

World War I Photos - in Color

Check out these color (!) photos from World War I.

- mAc Chaos

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Reverse Domino Effect


(Cartoon courtesy of Cox and Forkum.)

Arab world squirms under Bush's call for freedom:
Unless [Syrian President Bashar] Assad can transform himself, two bombs in February -- one that murdered the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, and the other last week's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv blamed on Syrian-backed radicals -- may come to be seen as marking the final decline of his regime. Mr Bush will doubtless be hoping that this "domino effect" will also be felt on the other side of Iraq -- in Iran.

- mAc Chaos

Elsewhere

Moderate Democrats, are jumping ship:
"Citing his dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party and its liberalism, Tippah County, Miss., Sheriff Brandon Vance switched parties Tuesday. "Howard Dean taking the chairmanship of the Democratic Party brought home to me that I was no longer comfortable in the Democratic Party. Dean's and the Democratic National Committee's values and beliefs are too far on the fringe for me," Vance said. Vance's decision to join the GOP continues a trend that picked up steam after Mississippi Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck switched parties prior to her successful bid for re-election. State Republican officials said four state senators, five state representatives, Public Service Commissioner Michael Callahan, and several county and municipal officials have followed Tuck since she crossed the aisle in 2003".

Those socialists are at it again, in Germany:
"More than 5.2 million Germans were out of work in February, new figures show. The figure of 5.216 million people, or 12.6% of the working-age population, is the highest jobless rate in Europe's biggest economy since the 1930s. The news comes as the head of Germany's panel of government economic advisers predicted growth would again stagnate. The growth warning triggered anger even from government supporters, who said the Social Democrat-Green administration of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had to do more. "We are not going to create more jobs with growth of 1%," Harald Schartau, head of the Social Democrats in the northern state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told ZDF television. The German government insists its efforts to tackle the stubbornly-high levels of joblessness with a range of labour market reforms are only just getting under way. The core is the "Hartz-IV" programme introduced in January to shake up welfare benefits and push people back into work - even if some of the jobs are heavily subsidised"
Maybe they need a dose of 'cowboy capitalism'.

Foreign aid mostly wasted:
"Red tape, inefficiency and nepotism mean that only one fifth of international aid actually gets to the people who need it, aid agencies said Monday. Not only that, but 40 percent of international aid is spent buying overpriced goods and services from the donors' own countries, Action Aid and Oxfam said in a joint report calling for urgent reform of a politically compromised system".

Impotent Canadians:
"For all our talk of exporting "Canadian values," the reality is that long-term neglect of our international responsibilities has left Canada a bit player. The recent deployment of our Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to tsunami-stricken Southeast Asia was a telling example. Our deployment was tiny and came almost two weeks after the Americans and Australians sent in their own larger forces. The spectacle mocked the government's boast that "Canada is among the most generous international donors to respond to this disaster with humanitarian and early recovery assistance."... Indeed, if we are to apply Mr. Pettigrew's formulation that foreign policy "expresses the personality of a country," then Canada might well be described as a braggart who is all talk, no action. Consider this past week's grandiose promise by the Prime Minister to do "whatever is required" to end the humanitarian crisis in Darfur -- as if Canada had the capacity to do even a small fraction of what is needed in war-torn Sudan. A similar boast from Hungary or Latvia would have been more credible".

A pretty good bias study:
"Applying a novel approach based on frequently used ratings of the liberal or conservative leaning of politicians, a researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia discovered that most mainstream media outlets do exhibit a strong liberal bias. "We found that most of the mainstream media view events through a 'lens' that is very similar to that used by Democrats in Congress," said Jeff Milyo, MU associate professor of economics and public affairs. "That is, most major media outlets and Democrats cite similar sources of expertise, such as particular think tanks and advocacy groups. This suggests that popular complaints about a liberal bias in the media are well-founded. To determine the bias of media outlets, Milyo and colleague Tim Groseclose, a political scientist at UCLA, applied the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) scoring system. ADA scores are used widely in political science to describe the placement of an individual member of Congress on an ideological scale"

- mAc Chaos

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Chnrekoff Interviews VDH

An interview definitely worth your time.

- mAc Chaos

Yet Another Reason France Sucks

And people say we should be more like them:
A HUGE paedophile trial opens in France today in which 66 adults - 27 of them women - will appear before a court in Angers charged with the rape and abuse of 45 children aged between six months and 12 years.

At the centre of the scandal are 15 couples accused of prostituting their children in return for cigarettes, a few kilos of potatoes or a couple of days’ camping. Some parents allegedly sold their children for modest sums of money which they spent in nightclubs.

The alleged abuse took place between June 1999 and February 2002 in garden sheds on allotments and in council flats in the Angers suburb of Saint-Léonard.

Of the 66 accused, 39 are being held in custody. They are accused of "aggravated pimping" and "rape of minors under 15" and face up to 30 years in jail if found guilty. The remaining 27 are charged with "sexual aggression" and "failure to denounce a crime" and risk jail sentences of up to ten years.

Several unidentified "clients" of the paedophile ring are still being sought. Police have already identified eight. They are not, as rumour had suggested, important members of the community, but parents who disguised themselves so they would not be recognised by their own children.
- mAc Chaos

Jobless Record Hits All Time High

... in Germany.

I don't know. If I were the French, I'd start to get a little anxious when a bunch of Germans find themselves unemployed and looking for something -- let's say a "party" of some sort -- to belong to.

- mAc Chaos

Juvenile Death Penalty Case

Justice Anthony Kennedy, arguably the Supreme Court's least gifted member, today takes a meat cleaver to the Constitution.
WASHINGTON - A closely divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that it's unconstitutional to execute juvenile killers, ending a practice in 19 states that has been roundly condemned by many of America's closest allies.

The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of 72 murderers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes.

The executions, the court said, violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The real issue at hand is that the Supreme Court has deemed that the laws of 19 individuals states are now null and void. This is just another example of the Court abusing their power and preventing people to form their own laws and rule themselves.
"It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime," he (Justice Kennedy) wrote.
Perfect! Let's just throw out state's rights, federalism, the Constitution, and the law, and instead just base our decisions on what the international community thinks, as if that should matter.

Scalia, in his scorching dissenting opinion, hits it right on the head, as usual:
"The court says in so many words that what our people's laws say about the issue does not, in the last analysis, matter: 'In the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty,"' he wrote.

"The court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our nation's moral standards," Scalia wrote.
Perhaps we should simply do away with the middlemen, and abolish Congress, so that the Judiciary could simply rule uninhibited, as our robed masters would surely agree.

- mAc Chaos

The Arabs' Berlin Wall Crumbles

Mark Steyn pens another excellent article. Now if only Beirut would follow suit, we could add that to the list of democratic events.

- mAc Chaos

'Putin Youth' Set to Control Streets

For some reason, I'm getting a sense of deja vu...
Putin sets up youth brigade to tighten grip
By Julius Strauss in Moscow
(Filed: 01/03/2005)

With President Putin's popularity in sharp decline, the Kremlin has set up a new Russian youth movement to ensure its control of the streets in the event of mass anti-government protests.

Hundreds of youths, many belonging to the president's cultural society "Walking Together", held a meeting in a house owned by the Kremlin Property Department to launch the group at the weekend. The organisation, which leaders hope will attract 300,000 members, was christened "Nashi" [Ours], a word which in Russian has chilling nationalist overtones.

When two outsiders – one from an opposition party, the other a journalist – sneaked into its founding conference, they were humiliated and one was beaten.

- mAc Chaos