Raging Right Wing Republican

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

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Democrat Harold Ford Endorses Kelo Decision

If voters in Tennessee value their homes, then this may be of some concern to them:
Harold Ford Jr., a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee, has endorsed the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London, allowing local governments to seize provate property and give it to another private owner for purposes of econonmic development and to increase the government's tax revenue.
Ford went on to say:
"I've always believed individual rights are a big thing... but, I find value in the court's decision. As long as people are compensated fairly, I can appreciate the decision. Certain areas in our state are crying for development, if this decision helps - it's a positive."
That the government will justly compensate the individual having his home seized is a very big if, considering that it is the government that also determines exactly what amount is just compensation. I suppose it's not that surprising that some on the left can get behind this.

Interesting, and telling. Hopefully "career limiting" as well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Is Iraq Vietnam? Ask Someone Who Knows

That Iraq is "another Vietnam" was a cliche long before the US led coalition even set foot in Baghdad, but lately the drumbeat has become louder and more tiring than ever. A Google News search for "Iraq" and "Vietnam" reveals more than 6,500 articles in the past month alone; this piece from Bloomberg News is typical:
An unreliable ally in a U.S.-led war against guerrillas, declining public support at home and lack of a coherent exit strategy: That was Vietnam 35 years ago, and it increasingly seems to fit Iraq today.
Is Iraq really similar to Vietnam? Only if we cut and run, and only in the sense that some in politics and the media would like to see America lose.

There is, however, one honorable exception. Last week USA Today asked people who would actually know if Iraq is "another Vietnam": Vietnam veterans now serving in Iraq:
If there are parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, these graying soldiers and the other Vietnam veterans serving here offer a unique perspective. They say they are more optimistic this time: They see a clearer mission than in Vietnam, a more supportive public back home and an Iraqi population that seems to be growing friendlier toward Americans.

"In Vietnam, I don't think the local population ever understood that we were just there to help them," says Chief Warrant Officer James Miles, 57, of Sioux Falls, S.D., who flew UH-1H Hueys in Vietnam from February 1969 to February 1970. And the Vietcong and North Vietnamese were a tougher, more tenacious enemy, he says. Instead of setting off bombs outside the base, they'd be inside.

"I knew we were going to lose Vietnam the day I walked off the plane," says Miles, who returned home this month after nearly a year in Iraq. Not this time. "There's no doubt in my mind that this was the right thing to do," he says. . . .

1st Sgt. Patrick Olechny, 52, of Marydel, Del., an attack helicopter crew chief and door gunner in Vietnam from March 1971 to February 1972, says the most important difference to him is the attitude of the American public.

"Vietnam was an entirely different war than this one," he says. The basic job of flying helicopters is the same, but the overall mission now is clear when it wasn't then. "We thought in Vietnam we were doing the right thing, and in the end it didn't seem that way," he says.

Now, "the people in the United States respect what the soldiers are doing," says Olechny, who still fills in at the door gunner position when he can get away from his administrative duties.

Browning, recently back from two weeks of R&R in the USA, says he was overwhelmed by the reception he got stateside: More than a hundred people met the airplane to help the soldiers and wish them well. "I can't tell you what, as a Vietnam vet, that means to me," he said.
What is mystifying is that some politicians think defeatism is a winning political strategy. That didn't work last year, and it didn't work even during Vietnam.

Skewering Michael Crook

Fox News' Hannity & Colmes is set up as a polarizing political show which regularly features two guests, one for each host to support and one to vigorously debate. However, every now and again, a figure with views so reviled arrives onto the scene which causes both sides to transcend political divisions and unite in opposition.

Michael Crook is such a person. Hannity rightfully skewers the man and his anti-military "Forsake the Troops" hatred. He deserves nothing but ridicule.

Five Corporate Fables

Winds of Change delivers some wise lessons...

Video of President Bush's Speech

You can find it here.

US Deaths in Iraq by Ethnicity

Here's some data which shows the American deaths suffered in Iraq by ethnicity. Looking at these numbers puts to rest the ludicrous anti-war rallying cry that the military and the racist Bush administration are engaging in a covert 'back door draft' by preying on poor minorities and sending them out into the front lines so they can die in droves while old Whitey profits from the war.

American Indian or Alaskan Native: 14
Asian: 32
Black or African American: 175
Hispanic or Latino: 181
Multiple races: 19
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 17
White: 1151

All of these deaths are tragic, yet each man and woman knew what they were signing up for and deserve to be honored for taking up the ultimate sacrifice on the behalf of their fellow countrymen.

Gasaconda


(Cartoon courtesy of Cox and Forkum.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"Complete the Mission"

That was the theme of Bush's speech, and it was a good one.

I particularly liked this part of the speech:
We have more work to do, and there will be tough moments that test America's resolve. We are fighting against men with blind hatred--and armed with lethal weapons--who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq--just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001. They will fail. The terrorists do not understand America. The American people do not falter under threat--and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins.
On the question of a withdrawal deadline, he correctly stated that we will only withdraw when the job is done, and not a day sooner. Otherwise, the terrorists can just wait us out.

To the question of increasing troop levels, the President, a Commander ever confident in his team, said he would always listen to the military, who knew the situation on the ground best. He would heed any requests for additional troops if they were required, but no general had the need - on the contrary, it would be counterproductive as our current objective is to try and get the Iraqis to defend themselves, with less of our help, rather than more.

At the very end, he nearly began to tear up, thanking the military and those in the room for their sacrifices, in an emotional moment.

Now what Bush and Co. have to do is take this theme and run with it. Repeat it every day if necessary - make sure people don't lose sight of the greater goal - explain why Iraq is important and why defeat is not an option.

UPDATE: Welcome Blogs for Bush readers!

UPDATE II: Here's the video of President Bush's speech.

UPDATE III: The Associated Press reports on some soldier's reaction to the President's speech:
In the gymnasium at Fort Bragg, Staff Sgt. Daniel Metzdorf - who lost his right leg to an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq in 2004 - was inspired by Bush's words. He was among the 700 soldiers who stood silently at attention when their comamnder-in-chief took the stage.

Metzdorf, 28, of Altamonte Springs, Fla., has rejoined the 82nd Airborne since losing his leg and said Bush delivered the right message: "We're doing a great job over there, but the job is not over with."

AP Transcends Space, Time

The clairvoyants over at the Associated Press have sent us a dispatch from the future:
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - President Bush on Tuesday appealed for the nation's patience for "difficult and dangerous" work ahead in Iraq, hoping a backdrop of U.S. troops and a reminder of Iraq's revived sovereignty would help him reclaim control of an issue that has eroded his popularity.

In an evening address at an Army base that has 9,300 troops in Iraq, Bush was acknowledging the toll of the 27-month-old war. At the same time, he aimed to persuade skeptical Americans that his strategy for victory needed only time - not any changes - to be successful.

"Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying and the suffering is real," Bush said, according to excerpts released ahead of time by the White House. "It is worth it."

It was a tricky balancing act, believed necessary by White House advisers who have seen persistent insurgent attacks eat into Americans' support for the war - and for the president - and increase discomfort among even Republicans on Capitol Hill.
This was written by the infamous Jennifer Loven, whose biases have been exposed in great detail over at Powerline.

Bush's speech is scheduled for 8 PM EST tonight. The AP is amazing!

Serf Souter

In a recent Supreme Court decision, Justice David Souter wrote, "If the peasants sow the fields poorly, they should be helped - and this particularly applies to the poor peasants - by means of collective cultivation of the large estates. There is no other way of helping the poor peasants." Therefore, "the landed estates must be confiscated immediately."

Actually, as noted by Rudy Takala: "that was Vladimir Lenin writing in an issue of the Communist publication Pravda on June 2, 1917."

Irony reared it's ugly head for Justice Souter and it looks like he might be realizing that there are actual consequencues to the decisions the Supreme Court hands down by the dozen. A victim of his own undoing?
Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Cafe" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
Cilley Hill Road could then be renamed Serfdom Road.

UPDATE: It looks like the political activists involved took Mark Twain to heart.

Man Assaults Cops With Shotgun... And a Bong

They say never bring a knife to a gun fight. I'm not sure what the rule is regarding pot:
A 22-year-old man was wrestled to the ground in the Germantown Police Department Friday afternoon after threatening a dispatcher with a glass bong and a shotgun, police said.

The man walked into the department and handed a threatening note to the dispatcher at a her window around 5 p.m., police said.

As she read the note, he threw a glass bong at the bulletproof glass, police said.

The bong shattered, but the window did not.

He then pulled out a shotgun, but three officers using a taser and pepper spray were able to subdue him, police said.
Going into a police station with a shotgun, delivering a threatening note, throwing a glass bong at a bulletproof window, and then putting your finger on a shotgun's trigger when surrounded by heavily armed cops?

Nope. This guy doesn't seem like he's a heavy pot smoker or anything.

Gitmo Terro-Gator

I had some fun with this.

Released Gitmo Prisoner Vows to Kill Again; AP Runs Headline About Allegation of Qu'ran Desecration

Unbelievable. Bury that lede, boys. Bury that lede.

Current Truth Updated

Rabid leftist Markos "Screw the troops" Zuniga of Daily Kos desperately tries to repackage the same old anti-American, anti-war platform to fool good intentioned people into signing on with them: Two ways to address the war.
Democrats have been loathe to talk about Iraq, as their palpable fear get in the way of leadership on this increasingly important issue.

So here are two ways to talk about the war that don't betray weakness:

Promoting a withdrawal
We have a lot to be proud of over the past three years. We have freed the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator and given them their first taste of freedom. Iraq held successful presidential elections earlier this year, and the nation is now run by a democratic-elected government.

We have accomplished what we set out to do - bring freedom to Iraq and rid the region of the specter of Saddam's terror.

But now it is time to let the Iraqis take charge of their own lives. The future belongs to a free democratic Iraq, but it is a future they must fight for themselves.
The Iraqis must be able to defend themselves, but it's ridiculous to assert that we've achieved our mission at this point. Anybody knows this; this is merely an attempt to lull people into a false sense of security so withdrawing and leaving the Iraqis at the terrorists' hands will be all the easier to swallow.
Afraid to call for withdrawal? Hammer on "accountability".
We are facing a crisis in Iraq, and yet no one is being held accountable. Our troops don't have enough men, equipment, or armor to effectively and safely do their job, yet those responsible for these deadly miscalculations remain at their jobs. They claim, as they always have, that Iraq is about to turn yet another corner, pass yet another milestone on the road to peace and prosperity. But the reality on the ground mocks those assertions.

We must have accountability in order to win this war. Those responsible for so many catastrophic mistakes must replaced by more competent, more effective, people.
This is outright dishonesty. They're advancing their cause of ridding President Bush and wounding our efforts in Iraq by any means necessary under the false specter of "accountability". And it's laughable for anyone at Daily Kos to feign any sort of respect or compassion for the troops, after comparing them to the Nazis day in and day out and jumping for joy whenever news breaks of American casualties.

It's a glimpse into the utter moral bankruptcy of the far left, as they twist, distort, and change their facts at will, much like the Party approved version of reality which the Politburo used to sanction.

Politicians Visit Club Gitmo, Find Nothing

The Democrats' anti-military PR offensive is petering out. A bipartisan group of Congressman is touring Guantanamo Bay; after the hysterical accusations, the reaction can best be summed up as, "Oops, never mind!"
During a tour of the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists on Saturday, House Republicans and Democrats, including one who has advocated closing the facility, said the United States has made progress in improving conditions and protecting detainees' rights.

"The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif.

After getting a classified briefing from base commanders, the House delegation ate lunch with troops - the same meal of chicken with orange sauce, rice and okra that detainees were served. They then toured several of the barbed-wire camps where detainees are housed, viewing small cells, dusty recreation yards and common areas.

From behind one-way mirrors, lawmakers watched interrogators grilling three individual terror suspects. None of the interrogators touched detainees.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, is one of many Democrats who have called for an independent commission to investigate abuse allegations and have said the facility should close. She said she stood by that position, but acknowledged, "What we've seen here is evidence that we've made progress."
Apparently Gitmo didn't turn out to be the dastardly off-shoot of the Spanish Inquisition it was supposed to be, after all. No torture chambers. No torquemada. Not even one wet Qu'ran.

But the amazing part of Ms. Tauscher's statement is that she had only "heard" about the problems in Guantanamo. The use of that word would just be another of the many embarrassing howlers of our time if it weren't so tragic in all it implies about the reactionary behavior of our liberal mainstream media and our supposedly "liberal" Democratic Party over those same last "few years." Their unrelenting criticisms were all (or mostly) based on hearsay.

The more perceptive among us might infer that what they had heard about Guantanamo Bay was false. But let's not expect such creative thinking from liberal members of Congress.

The other night, I saw footage of the Congressional visit on Fox News. The conditions looked comfortable, if not quite luxurious; in material terms, at least, I've been in worse places.

Meanwhile, Ketherine Kersten over at the Minneapolis Star Tribune tries to dispel the fog of misinformation surrounding Gitmo by interviewing Lt. Pete Hegseth.
The Guantanamo detainees are clearly a dangerous and fanatical bunch. Yet during his year at the base, Hegseth never saw one treated with violence or disrespect. Quite the contrary. "We bend over backwards to conform ourselves to the detainees' way of life," he says, "especially when it comes to religion."

Detainees also have their own Qur'ans. According to Hegseth, specially designated staff members deliver them, wearing rubber gloves to ensure proper respect. "No other soldier can even touch them," he says.

[T]he food is good. ("To be honest with you," says Hegseth, "I think their food is better than what my guys got.") Detainees get top-notch medical care, along with dental care -- which some have never had before. Many detainees correspond with family members, and have access to soccer fields and other recreational facilities.

Hegseth is full of praise for the soldiers he knows at Guantanamo. "I think all Americans would be proud of these guys," he says....According to Hegseth, guards sometimes encounter detainees who spit at them, or throw urine or feces at them. "But if a soldier ever appears to be having a problem with this kind of conduct," Hegseth notes, "he's immediately removed from the block."

In the end, some of the shrillest critics of American defense policy are probably not especially interested in Guantanamo as such, but see it as a convenient opportunity to criticize an institution of which they are deeply suspicious -- the American military -- and to cast doubt on the morality of America's war on terror.
The Democrats' attack on the military through the proxy of Guantanamo Bay has been a fiasco. Domestically, they continue to widen the rift between themselves and the American people, and abroad, it has contributed to anti-Americanism and made the administration's task far more difficult. The enemy can use these irresponsible words against us for a long, long time. ("Don't just take my word for it! Here's a high ranking American official...")

As an aside, here's an interesting survey of world prisons. (Hint: Stay out of the French ones.)

SCOTUS Explains Why You Should Own a Gun

With most of the coverage of the US Supreme Court devoted to its decisions on display of the Ten Commandments, you may have missed this:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police cannot be sued for how they enforce restraining orders, ending a lawsuit by a Colorado woman who claimed police did not do enough to prevent her estranged husband from killing her three young daughters.

Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to police enforcement of the court order against her husband, the court said in a 7-2 opinion.

City governments had feared that if the court ruled the other way, it would unleash a potentially devastating flood of cases that could bankrupt municipal governments.

Gonzales contended that police did not do enough to stop her estranged husband, who took the three daughters from the front yard of her home in June 1999 in violation of a restraining order.

Hours later Simon Gonzales died in a gun fight with officers outside a police station. The bodies of the three girls, ages 10, 9 and 7, were in his truck.

[...]

"The restraining orders are not worth anything unless police officers are willing to enforce them. They are just paper," said Brian Reichel, the attorney for Gonzales.
In other words, we cannot depend on the police to protect us, even if we have a court order. And when they fail to protect us or our families, we are without remedy.

Of course, the police have always been unlikely to be on hand at the moment we most need them. When do they come? After the crime, when it's time to stuff the body bags. Today, as ever, our safety is our own responsibility.

Elsewhere

Government programs cause unemployment:
"Martin Feldstein of Harvard University explains how social insurance programs undermine economic growth by subsidizing unemployment. The left instinctively defends these programs, but they often redistribute away from the poor and hurt the people they were created to help.... Noneconomists who write about social insurance programs often implicitly assume that social insurance programs do not affect the behavior of beneficiaries or the overall performance of the economy. Evidence shows that the opposite is true. Social insurance programs have important and sometimes harmful effects on the economy that are not fully recognized by the public, the Congress, or the politically responsible officials. A substantial volume of work during the past quarter century has shown the various ways in which social insurance programs do affect individual behavior and the overall economy. These effects include reducing national saving, inducing early retirement, raising the unemployment rate, pushing up the cost of health care, and crowding out private health insurance. ...

Abortion harms women:
"Instead of arguing along traditional "pro-life" arguments that reference the fetus as a human being, an argument that Bachiochi claims "intellectually honest" pro-choice advocates have already conceded, Bachiochi disputed traditional "pro-choice" arguments, namely that abortion does not advance the rights of women. "[I want to] challenge the sacred dogma of mainstream feminism that abortion is an untrammeled good for women, that it is necessary to women's equality and women's well-being," asserted Bachiochi. "Many good-willed people have bought this idea - hook, line and sinker - but medical evidence, sociological data and the lived experience of many women has revealed a very different reality: abortion has harmed women, physically, psychologically, relationally and culturally."

Mark Steyn has a hard hitting article about the disgraceful performance of the UN in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster and what it shows about the hopelessness of international organizations. One excerpt:
"The tsunami may have been unprecedented, but what followed was business as usual - the sloth and corruption of government, the feebleness of the brand-name NGOs, the compassion-exhibitionism of the transnational jet set. If we lived in a world where 'it's what you do that defines you', we'd be heaping praise on the US and Australian militaries who in the immediate hours after the tsunami struck dispatched their forces to save lives, distribute food, restore water and power and communications".

Marx, the false prophet:
"All of Marx's major predictions have turned out to be wrong. He said that societies based on a market economy would suffer spiraling class polarization and the disappearance of the middle class. Every society lucky enough to enjoy the fruits of a market economy shows that Marx was wrong about that. He predicted the growing immiseration and impoverishment of the working class in capitalist societies. (Actually, he didn't merely predict that it would happen, he predicted that it would happen necessarily and inevitably-thanks, Hegel!) The opposite has happened. Indeed, as Kolakowski notes, "in the second edition of Capital Marx updated various statistics and figures, but not those relating to workers' wages; those figures, if updated, would have contradicted his theory." Marx further predicted the inevitable revolution of the proletariat. This is the very motor of Marxism. Take away the proletarian revolution and you neuter the theory. But there have been no proletarian revolutions. The Bolshevik revolution, as Kolakowski points out, "had nothing to do with Marxian prophesies. Its driving force was not a conflict between the industrial working class and capital, but rather was carried out under slogans that had no socialist, let alone Marxist, content"

Monday, June 27, 2005

Iran's Manhattan Project to Continue

Iran's Ahmadinejad is committed to nuclear program.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Hardline president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday Iran would press ahead with its controversial nuclear program and said the Islamic Republic had no real need for ties with arch-foe, the United States.
The only question left at this point is whether Iran has already succeeded in assembling nuclear bombs. Kenneth Timmerman's highly recommended new book Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran argues that it's too late to stop them.

News from China

"Ngawang Sangdrol was just 13 when she was first imprisoned by China in Tibet. She was so small her prison guards found it easy to pick her up by the legs and drop her, head first, on to the stone floor of her cell. They beat her with iron rods, placed electric shock batons in her mouth and left her standing in the baking heat until she collapsed of exhaustion. They called her the "ballerina", because when the pain became too much for her, she would stand on the tips of her toes like a dancer. "The more we cried out in pain," she said, "the more they laughed."

China is the host nation for the 2008 Olympics.

Better, Faster, Stronger?

Fifty four year old Jesse Sullivan "accidentally touched live wires while working as a utility lineman in Tennessee," reports Orlando's WKMG-TV. "He suffered severe burns, causing him to lose his arms."

We can rebuild him, doctors said; we have the technology:
Sullivan is the first to try out the most sophisticated artificial arms ever designed.

Surgeons attached his arm nerves to healthy muscles in his chest.

"So now when Jess thinks, close hand, the impulse is picked up by a transmitter, and goes to his hand," doctor Todd Kuiken said. "He thinks, closes hand and it does." . . .

By the time it's perfected, the cost of manufacturing the bionic arm is expected to be about $6 million, according to the report.
A dollar doesn't go as far as it used to these days. Back in the day, $6 million was enough to buy an entire bionic man.

A Middle Finger to the US from Berlin

The socialists and communists (one party is named the Social Democratic Party and the other the Party of Democratic Socialism) running Berlin have decided to bulldoze the Checkpoint Charlie Memorial which was erected to remember those murdered by the Communist regime in East Germany as they tried to escape to freedom in the west. And they're planning to bulldoze it on July 4th.

This Is Why We Have the Death Penalty

We have them for vermin trash like this: Suspect pleads guilty in BTK murder case.
WICHITA, Kan. - BTK suspect Dennis Rader pleaded guilty Monday to 10 counts of first-degree murder, admitting in a chillingly matter-of-fact voice to a series of slayings that terrorized the city beginning in the 1970s.

Rader, 60, of Park City, entered the guilty pleas as his trial was to begin.

Referring to his victims as "projects," Rader laid out for the court how he would "troll" for victims on his off-time, then stalk them and kill them.

"I had never strangled anyone before, so I really didn't know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take," he told the court in describing his first killings in 1974, a couple and two of their children.

[...]

He said he told Nancy Fox he had "sexual problems," forced her to strip, then handcuffed her and strangled her with a belt. After she was dead, he said, he removed the handcuffs from her body and masturbated over her.

SHOCKER! New York Times Approves of International Freedom "We Deserved It" Center

And not only that - if you oppose the idea of having the WTC's primary museum dedicated to blaming America first, you're against the idea of free speech.

Apparently only about one quarter of this country is given the right to free speech by the Constitution. The other three quarters need to shut up, or else we're chilling the dissent of the one quarter that really matters.

SCOTUS: File Sharing Companies Can Be Sued

The Supreme Court of the United States struck a big blow for digital copyright protections this morning. The AP reports:
Internet file-sharing services will be held responsible if they intend for their customers to use software primarily to swap songs and movies illegally, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, rejecting warnings that the lawsuits will stunt growth of cool tech gadgets such as the next iPod.

The unanimous decision sends the case back to lower court, which had ruled in favor of file-sharing services Grokster Ltd. and StreamCast Networks Inc. on the grounds that the companies couldn't be sued. The justices said there was enough evidence of unlawful intent for the case to go to trial.
File-sharing services shouldn't get a free pass on bad behavior, justices said.

"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by the clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the court.
Another nail in the well secured coffin of file sharing. I haven't, um, 'shared' files, for a long time. What a wonderful felonious time that was.

Now it looks like those who currently use P2P programs to download copyrighted programs are going to have to pay for their CDs and DVDs like everybody else.

SCOTUS Punts on Ten Commandments

The ACLU's drive to eliminate religion from the public square was dealt a blow and scored a win all in the same day:
Government officials can post the Ten Commandments on public property in some contexts, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a pair of high-stakes church-state rulings.

The court, voting 5-4, today approved a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds, rejecting arguments that the state was unconstitutionally favoring religion. In a second case, the court ruled 5-4 that two Kentucky counties were too focused on promoting religion when they posted framed copies of the commandments in courthouses.

The decisions will help guide government officials who want to display religious symbols. The rulings will affect the legal status of thousands of statues, murals, monuments and other displays that already are in place around the country.
A seemingly critical sentence in the majority opinion, written by the Chief Justice, in the Van Orden case:
Of course, the Ten Commandments are religious - they were so viewed at their inception and so remain. The monument therefore has religious significance," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the majority in the case involving the display outside the state capitol of Texas.

"Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment clause," he said.
In the McCreary case, however, the court went the other way. Scalia's dissent, as usual, contains remarks scathing only in their unveiling of hypocrisy:
"What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle."
That clears things up... not. Displays of the Ten Commandments now appear to be legal so long as those placing them aren't endorsing their content...

John Podhoretz is not pleased:
Why didn't the Supremes just say you could display the 10 Cs on Monday, Wed, and alternate Fridays, but not on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Or that they could be viewed inside government buildings, but only on the walls of bathrooms and in janitors' closets? Has anybody ever advanced this radical opinion -- that the five justices in question may be intelligent and thoughtful people individually, but that together they form one blithering idiot?
SCOTUSblog has analysis of the Ten Commandments ruling, as well as additional coverage.

Bono Praises Bush

This is U2's Bono on "Meet the Press" yesterday:
Well, I think [President Bush has] done an incredible job, his administration, on AIDS. And 250,000 Africans are on antiviral drugs. They literally owe their lives to America. In one year that's being done. ... Yes, there's a lot of pressure on President Bush. If he, though, in his second term, is as bold in his commitments to Africa as he was in the first term, he indeed deserves a place in history in turning the fate of that continent around.

Good News from Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff has the usual roundup.

An Interview with Ed Klein, Author of "The Truth About Hillary"

John Hawkins managed to land an interview with Ed Klein, and it's pretty good.

Saving Old Glory

Lots of people have linked to this lately, and I will too, because it's such a great story: Chicago Cub Rick Monday saves the flag.

PC Medicine

The diversity issue has crept into the scientific and medical fields.

Doctors are prescribing drugs based on the individual patient's needs, not on the color of their skin or the "social/ethical" background of the patient.
When UCLA researchers reviewed the best available studies of psychiatric drugs for depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder, they found that the trials had involved 9,327 patients over the years. When the team looked to see how many patients were Native Americans, the answer was . . .

Zero.

"I don't know of a single trial in the last 10 to 15 years that has been published regarding the efficacy of a pharmacological agent in treating a serious mental disorder in American Indians," said Spero Manson, a psychiatrist who heads the American Indian and Alaska Native Programs at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Aurora. "It is stunning."

Native Americans are not the only group for whom psychiatrists write prescriptions with fingers crossed, the researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles found as they reviewed the data for a U.S. surgeon general's report: Of 3,980 patients in antidepressant studies, only two were Hispanic. Of 2,865 schizophrenia patients, three were Asian. Among 825 patients in bipolar disorder or manic depression studies, there were no Hispanics or Asians. Blacks were better represented, but even their numbers in any one study were too small to tell doctors anything meaningful.

In all, just 8 percent of the patients studied were minorities.
Apparently this is very, very wrong.

Doctors are now expected to take into account cultural factors in the treatment and outcome of mental disorders. Most interestingly, these factors should also be meshed into the diagnosis. You're black, you can't get out of bed in the morning, you have 'African depression'. You're white, you can't get out of bed in the morning, you have 'Anglo-depression'. It's all a bunch of nonsense.

The Life Cycle of an Insurgency

In an article breathlessly entitled: "Rumsfeld: Iraq could face insurgents for 12 years", AP quotes the SecDef as saying:
Rumsfeld, addressing a question about whether U.S. troops levels are adequate to vanquish the increasingly violent resistance, said, "We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years."
What Rumsfeld is talking about is history, or at least the history of insurgencies elsewhere. And this point about the historical length of insurgencies was brought up in last week's Senate Armed Services committee by Gen. Meyers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Meyers reminded the committee that on average an insurgency has a natural life cycle of five to twelve years. Of course, Meyers also made the point that the life of an insurgency was directly proportional to the oppressiveness of the regime in question and thus the percentage of support among the people. Or said another way, he was hinting that the insurgency in Iraq would be on the short end of the cycle, depending on the success of Iraq's government in having a broad based appeal and the confidence of the people.

So that's the context of Rumsfeld's remarks. He also made another important point which gives credence to the belief that there may be a 'short' life cycle for this particular insurgency:
There is no Ho Chi Minh or Mao (Zedong) there," Rumsfeld said, referring to the famed revolutionary leaders in Vietnam and China.

"There's a Jordanian terrorist who's killing Iraqi people. There's no national movement in that country. They don't have a vision. They're losers, and they're going to lose," he said.
This is another critical pointin the "life cycle" argument of the insurgency. You have a foreign terrorist, with no announced vision who's behind the commission of random terrorist acts which are killing Iraqis in bunches. That's not a person who's likely to garner much support among the populace.

All this to say, I wouldn't get excited about the AP headline as the twelve years would definitely be a worst case scenario. But even if it was the scenario, that doesn't mean it would be one involving US forces:
"Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency," the Pentagon chief told "Fox News Sunday."

"We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency," he said.
And that's the truth of the situation staring us right in the face.

A great example of the successful defeat of an insurgency can be found with the British in Malaya, starting in 1948. That insurgency did indeed last twelve years. But the British granted Malaya its independence in 1957, after it was assured the fledgling government could defend itself. The insurgency was finally defeated in 1960, just three years after the transition of power was made. The model being followed in Iraq is very similar like the model used in Malaya, and other countries in which the British successfully put down similar insurgencies.

Gen. John Abizaid, commander of CENTCOM, made the same point on CBS's "Face the Nation":
But the war does not have a military solution, Abizaid said. Rather, all aspects of national power - economic, diplomatic and the military - must combine to fashion a political solution. "We're the shield behind which the politics will take place," he said. "And ultimately, if the government is legitimate, if the Iraqis are seen fighting and dying for their own country, the insurgents don't have a chance."
That's a critical point. And, as we've seen reported, it appears a little "red on red" - insurgents battling other insurgents - has been happening, another indicator of a short life cycle.

And, of course, there are also reports that some of the Arab media has begun to be less and less charitable to the side of the insurgents as the murder and mayhem continues in Iraq. If that continues, it will be a huge step in eroding what little base of popular support the insurgents do enjoy and again provide an indicator of a possible shortened insurgent life cycle.

The same is true for Afghanistan.

For those looking for a timeline or a milestone, it's best to simply wait 'til everything naturally takes it's course, but Abizaid said the following:
Abizaid said that by spring or summer next year, the Iraqi forces should be trained enough to assume the lead in the counterterrorism effort.
That doesn't mean we pull out our troops, but if they're successful in a year's time, we should be able to pull out a significant number of them. Failing that, it may not be even necessary, as they will be there but not engaging in the brunt of the battles.

Another means to shortening the life cycle of the insurgency is to "make peace" with various parts of it. I don't mean those who are cutting of heads, of course. In this case, the appropriate group are the Sunnis who have fueled some of the insurgency. As Rumsfeld said today, we've beem meeting with the Sunnis who have ties to the Sunni group of insurgents (those mostly wanting the foreign troops out of the country).

Abizaid also remarked on that as well:
The general said American and Iraqi leaders are talking with all groups in Iraq as the political process moves forward. This includes Sunni groups. And the Sunni population - roughly 20 percent of the nation - provides the base for the insurrection. He said some of the people officials are talking with have ties to the insurgency. "It's very, very important that we have opportunities for dialogue with all aspects of the society there," he said. "The Sunnis need to be part of the political future. This doesn't mean we are talking with people like (Abu Musab) Zarqawi or people in his organization."
Abizaid then talked about something which has come to concern him very much:
Abizaid addressed polls showing American support for Operation Iraqi Freedom is dropping. He said public support for the troops is important. "Soldiers don't want to be looking over their shoulders wondering what folks back home are thinking," he said. "They want to know that people understand what we're fighting for, why we're fighting and how we can win this thing.

"It's a challenge to talk about this most complicated region and this most complicated war and put it in the common sense necessary for folks back home to talk about it," he continued. "The vast majority of troops in the field know that we are winning and know it is better to fight abroad than to fight at home."

Abizaid stressed the difficulty of the battle in Iraq. He said an insurgency is the most difficult campaign, and one that needs to include all aspects of governance. That is happening, he emphasized. "The problem is our patience level is low," he said. "We seem to think we're in a sprint. This is not a sprint, this is a marathon."

The general said the effort is in the 21st mile of that marathon, and the U.S. population must not "hit the wall," but rather should finish the race.
It's critical we have a proper historical perspective on what we're faced with, and armed with that perspective, it's equally critical we finish the last five miles of the race.

Ronald Reagan: Our Greatest American


I caught the end of the Discovery Channel's Greatest American show tonight. We voted Ronald Reagan as our Greatest American, over (in order) Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

Reagan was a magnificent President, but I think George Washington and some of the earlier figures in American history should be ranked a bit higher. Still, Reagan is indeed a great national hero. I was disappointed to see from many of the other entrants into the "greatest American" competition come down to the same old anti-"dead white male" crap that started the whole politically correct campus 'diversity' movements.

Anyway, back to Reagan. He's certainly worth consideration as our greatest citizen. He was, in my opinion, the greatest President of the 20th century, just as Lincoln was of the 19th and Washington of the 18th.

Don't let people mislead you into thinking that Reagan's only accomplishment was something like "restoring optimism to America". He did that, but he also freed 50 million people trapped behind the Iron Curtain, revitalized America's economy, effectively advocated the virtues of smaller goverment and promoted individual freedom. And, beyond all of that, he was a good, honorable and decent man. He wasn't perfect, but nobody is, and America is lucky to have had him in our midst.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Church and State?

Whenever a Republican makes a remark with the slightest hint of religion, he's immediately branded an extreme right wing fundamentalist helping to tear down the separation between church and state and misusing his political position.

So why is it when a Democrat gives a sermon from the pulpit of a church he isn't immediately pilloried for violating the First Amendment and ushering in a new age of theocratic tyranny?

I'm just curious...

(The content of the speech is actually quite good, though.)

Happy Birthday Secret Service

The Secret Service, which takes on the gargantuan and thankless task of protecting the President in his travels and appointments, is 140 years old today.

Argumentum ad Dean

I love this 'argument', by Howard Dean, in an obviously perverse way because, well, you should expect better from somebody that everyone touts as being such a bright guy:
"Let me remind those Republicans,'' he said, that the Bible mentions helping the poor "3,000 times. I have not yet seen gay marriage mentioned in the Bible. That is a Republican issue.''
Someone should remind him it doesn't mention child pornography, either. Does that make it okay and a Republican issue as well?

I mean, does he really want to argue this way?

Drapes at Justice Dept. Taken Down

Everybody drop what you're doing, the security of our country depends on the decision to derobe the statues at the Justice Department:
After more than three years, the most talked-about coverup at the Justice Department has come to an end.

Two soaring blue drapes that hung in the department's Great Hall were unceremoniously removed yesterday, once again revealing a pair of risque Art Deco-era sculptures that flank the room’s stage.

Drapes went up when John D. Ashcroft was attorney general, but officials denied that he gave the order.

Justice spokesman Kevin Madden said that the decision to remove the drapes was made by Paul Corts, assistant attorney general for administration, and that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales "agreed with the recommendation." He declined to elaborate on the decision.

The 12-foot cast aluminum semi-nude sculptures - which include an exposed female breast - had been hidden from view since early 2002, when the drapes were installed at a cost of $8,000.

Paranoia Central

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Uses Crying Children in Stem Cell Stunt

No matter what you feel about the stem cell debate, you should be appalled by the tactics used by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. They're sending children as young as age five to Senators offices to lobby for federal stem cell funding. In order to go on the trip to DC, the children's parents had to sign a written promise to support JDF's position favoring federal funding for stem cell research. When aides for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) tried to explain why he was against federal stem cell funding they burst into tears. JDF, which is usually a fine organization, should be ashamed of themselves for using children, who can't possibly grasp or have any concept of the complex debate surrounding this issue, as political pawns.

Must See Supreme Court Ad

Stop what you're doing right now and watch this new commercial from Progress for America. Hopefully they'll get lots of money to run it again and again.

Beverly Domain


Shifty Shafer
Good afternoon, Mr. Clampett, I'm here to inform you that I'm purchasing your home.

Jed Clampett
Well, it's mighty nice o' you to offer, but the house ain't for sale.

Shifty Shafer
No, you don't understand sir, it's eminent domain.

Jed Clampett
Pleased to make your acquaintance Mr. Domain, but like I say, the house ain't for sale. But thanks for stoppin' by anyhow.

Shifty Shafer
Perhaps I'm not making myself clear. You see, this has all been approved by the Supreme Court.

Jed Clampett
We-l-l-l-ll, Supreme Court, you say?

Shifty Shafer
Yes sir.

Jed Clampett
Can't say as I know exactly what that is.

Shifty Shafer
The Supreme Court, sir, it's the highest court in the land.

Jed Clampett
I imagine they must have a right pretty view from up there - good for them!

Shifty Shafer
You don't understand, Mr. Clampett. You see, I now have the right to purchase this property if the city says I can, and indeed they do. I don't need your approval.

Jed Clampett
Don't hardly seem fair now, does it?

Shifty Shafer
Oh, I assure you, it's strictly on the up-and-up, sir, strictly on the up-and-up. Justice Stevens himself wrote the majority opinion.

Jed Clampett
Well, it's kinda hard to argue with a feller named Justice - that a right official-soundin' name.

Shifty Shafer
Yes, and Justice Souter, Justice Bader Ginsburg, Justice Breyer and Justice Kennedy all joined him in that opinion.

Jed Clampett
That there Supreme Court must be a right confusin' place to work at.

Shifty Shafer
How so, sir?

Jed Clampett
Well, with all them people bein' named Justice, I imagine it must be hard to tell when someone's talkin' to you or the feller next to you.

Shifty Shafer
Actually, some of the Justices are women.

Jed Clampett
Can't see as that would make it any easier.

Shifty Shafer
Yes, well, be that as it may, Mr. Clampett, I've been authorized to give you this check, and to inform you that you have 30 days to vacate the premises.

Jed Clampett
To tell the truth, I never vacated any premises before, so I ain't really sure how it's done.

Shifty Shafer
That simply means you have to be out of the house in 30 days, sir.

Jed Clampett
Well, Granny does have a hankerin' to move back home, so I suppose I can't really complain too much.

Shifty Shafer
Excellent, sir, excellent.

Jed Clampett
Say, I don't mean to be any trouble, Mr. Domain, but this here check is for quite a bit less than I paid for the house.

Shifty Shafer
Yes, that's what we call the 'fair market' value.

Jed Clampett
Well, I was about to say that it don't seem fair for me to have to sell my house for less than I paid for it, 'specially when I wasn't plannin' on sellin' it in the first place, but I think it's best I hush up before that there Supreme Court decides to take this check back altogether.

Shifty Shafer
A very wise decision on your part, and may I say it's been a pleasure doing business with you.

Jed Clampett
Wish I could say the same.

Shifty Shafer
Good day, sir.

Jed Clampett
Maybe for some people - thanks for stoppin' by!

The Mild, Mild West

John Tierney on the Wild West:
It was Hobbes's prescription for "war of every man against every man," and he was echoed by newspaper predictions of a "theater of tragic events" in which "brute force will reign triumphant." But the miners peacefully worked out rules for delineating claims and resolving disputes so well that the system was adopted at later camps like Deadwood.

Roger McGrath, a historian who studied dozens of Western mining camps and towns, found a high rate of homicide in them mainly because it was socially acceptable for young, drunk single men to resolve points of honor by fighting to the death. But other violence wasn't tolerated, he said.

"It was a rather polite and civil society enforced by armed men," Dr. McGrath said. "The rate of burglary and robbery was lower than in American cities today. Claim-jumping was rare. Rape was extraordinarily rare - you can argue it wasn't being reported, but I've never seen evidence hinting at that."
An armed society is a polite society, as Robert Heinlein noted.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

It's not just for Hayden Christensen anymore. Turns out failed wanna-be suicide bombers say it too.

CNN Thinks Iranian Elections Were Real

If you read CNN's account of the Iranian election, you would have been under the impression that it was a real election. Note the language, which is laughable in how it makes this election seem normal and valid.
Ahmadinejad's win over Rafsanjani, who was largely seen as the front-runner, marked a remarkable comeback.

Ahmadinejad had not been expected to even make it into the runoff, but he managed to pull off a surprising second-place finish in last week's balloting, putting him into the showdown with Rafsanjani.
Of course, CNN did no real reporting, but rather just regurgitated what the state information agency declared.
The state-run IRNA news agency said Ahmadinejad -- a favorite of the working class -- captured more than 61 percent out of the 22 million ballots cast. Roughly 47 percent of the nearly 47 million eligible voters took part in the election, according to IRNA.
Unlike CNN, others have done real reporting to show that the IRNA's turnout claims are dubious. Thankfully, we are no longer captive to an information monopoly centering around the big three networks and their ilk, on information dissemination and fraudulent peddling of "news". In the meantime, CNN ought to be embarassed by this pathetic and lazy example of journalism.

Making Saddam Look Like A Petty Thief

Now that Africa has re-emerged as a central issue in international politics, especially in terms of how best to get the perenially struggling continent back to self sufficiency, the question of corruption has become a central sticking point once again. Unfortunately, for those of us who would like to do something effective, the question got a big answer in today's London Telegraph, which reports that the previous leaders of Africa's most prosperous nation stole more than $400 billion dollars over the last several decades:
The scale of the task facing Tony Blair in his drive to help Africa was laid bare yesterday when it emerged that Nigeria's past rulers stole or misused £220 billion.

That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa's most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent.

The figures, compiled by Nigeria's anti-corruption commission, provide dramatic evidence of the problems facing next month's summit in Gleneagles of the G8 group of wealthy countries which are under pressure to approve a programme of debt relief for Africa.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has spoken of a new Marshall Plan for Africa. But Nigeria's rulers have already pocketed the equivalent of six Marshall Plans. After that mass theft, two thirds of the country's 130 million people - one in seven of the total African population - live in abject poverty, a third is illiterate and 40 per cent have no safe water supply.
The sheer scale of this theft boggles the imagination. It's as if Nigeria conducted twenty Oil for Food scams in 39 years, between 1960 and 1999, when the loot disappeared. As bad as Saddam's corruption got, it pales in comparison to the sinkhole in Nigeria - and that's just one nation on the continent.

Foreign aid isn't working. How long is it going to take for people to realize that it's the corrupt leaders who are primarily holding Africa back, not the humongous amount of money we're sending them?

Quickest Way to Reverse Kelo Decision

From NRO's The Corner:
The quickest way to reverse Kelo is to find some conservative town in Utah somewhere to shut down an abortion clinic in order to make room for a Wal-Mart. Also, that would be the most fun way to get Kelo reversed.

War of the Worlds

The fact that only one journalist was allowed to view the pre-screening leads me to believe that it's either the best movie to hit the screens for a long time or one of the worst.

Marijuana Flavored Lollipops

Get it at the store today, kids!

"Fox News Is the Best Place I Ever Worked"

So says Susan Estrich, liberal commentator, in her defense of the beseiged network.

Leviathan

John Fund:
After celebrating the Supreme Court's decision yesterday to effectively give local governments carte blanche to seize land for private development, some local officials began quickly moving to use their new unlimited authority. Officials in the beachfront town of Freeport, Texas, announced they would move forward with plans to commandeer property owned by two seafood companies in order to allow the construction of a 900-slip private marina. Freeport will even be loaning the developers $6 million to finance the project, and if it fails the town won't be getting its money back. What is certain is that the displacement of the two seafood companies will cost scores of jobs.

The Supreme Court's decision, by a narrow majority with Justice Anthony Kennedy as swing vote, has prompted state Rep. Frank Corte, a Republican from San Antonio, to propose a state constitutional amendment limiting the power to condemn private land for use by other private entities. He says the amendment is now necessary in order to "limit a local governmental entity's power of eminent domain, preventing them from bulldozing residences in favor of private developers." No doubt there will be similar moves in other states as voters wake up to the realization that the Supreme Court has granted revenue-hungry local governments more or less unlimited authority to seize homes and businesses in order to achieve a "higher use" of the property.

Hear the Rebel Yell

The AP still is calling those Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists "rebels".

I'm just waiting for the first "freedom fighter" reference.

Beaten to Death

The Associated Press is ruminating, again, about a draft. And surprisingly, most Americans oppose it!

This poll is irrelevant; no draft is coming to the US. They might as well start polling whether or not Americans want the country turned into a monarchy, because both are as likely to occur.

What If You Threw An Election And Nobody Came?


The Iranians are massively boycotting the runoff election, reports Publius, with lots more information.

Google News: It's al-Qaedariffic!

I must admit I'm less impressed with Google News than I used to be.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Free Trade & CAFTA

It's Friday, which means it's time for another excellent column by Charles Krauthammer. He makes a good opening point by talking about how the Democrats are the party of "reactionary liberalism", opposing everything that Bush proposes even if it means backtracking on ideals that they used to hold dear. Then he goes on to examine CAFTA and how the Democrats have broken with the idea of free trade and helping the poor:
It's a no-brainer. If we have learned anything from the past 25 years in China, India, Chile and other centers of amazing economic growth, it is that open markets and free trade are the keys to pulling millions, indeed hundreds of millions, of people out of poverty. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is a chance to do the same for desperately poor near-neighbors.

You would think this treaty would be a natural for Democrats, who have always portrayed themselves as the party with real sympathy for the poor -- in contradistinction to Republicans, who have hearts of stone if they have any at all. The Democratic Party has always seen itself as the tribune of the oppressed of the Third World and as deeply distressed by the fact that "the United States by far is the stingiest nation in the world for development assistance or foreign aid," to quote Jimmy Carter, former Democratic president, current Democratic saint.

You would think, therefore, that Democrats would be for CAFTA. Not so. CAFTA is in great jeopardy because Democrats have turned against it. Whereas a decade ago under President Bill Clinton, 102 House Democrats supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, that number for CAFTA is down to 10 or less. In a closed-door meeting this month, reports Jonathan Weisman of The Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put heavy-handed pressure on all congressional Democrats to observe party discipline in killing the treaty.

Arguing free trade is particularly tiresome because it is the only proposition in politics that is mathematically provable. It was proved by British economist David Ricardo in 1817 that even if one country is more efficient in producing two items, trade between two countries based on the relative efficiency of production is always beneficial to both countries.
I suppose they would prefer using American taxpayer money to just shell out foreign aid rather than using the strength of free trade to everybody's benefit.

"I Have A Feeling They're Getting Pushed"

Bravo to General Abizaid for pointing out how all the negativism in the media and Congress is affecting the soldiers in Iraq.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) warned, "I fear that American public opinion is tipping away from this effort."

If there is such tipping among Americans, Rumsfeld allowed, "I have a feeling they're getting pushed" -- an apparent reference to unfavorable news coverage and political commentary. Rumsfeld expressed confidence that support would rebound.

Abizaid, in turn, voiced concern that U.S. troops are becoming aware of the drop in public support and are asking him "whether or not they've got support from the American people."

Abizaid noted that while confidence among U.S. forces in the field "has never been higher," the political mood in Washington appears strikingly different. "I've never seen the lack of confidence greater," he said.
Abizaid acknowledged the strength of the terrorist attacks, but he and the other generals rightly rejected any call for a withdrawal date. That would absolutely be the worst decision. Yeah, let's prove that Osama bin Laden was right about the US not having the willpower to stick out difficult times. Abandon the Iraqis to the terrorists. Establish a precedent for any future enemy so that they can wear us down through American polls. It's like playing kidnapper.

And this is another truly dumb idea from Carl Levin:
Arguing that something needs to be done to "change the current dynamic in Iraq," Levin suggested added pressure on Iraqi authorities to keep to their schedule for a new constitution and national elections by warning them that failure would cause the United States "to rethink our presence there."
Does Levin think thatthe Iraqis don't have their own motivation to get a Constitution written and ratified? They're trying something that has never been done before: establishing a constitutional democracy in the Middle East. Even the concept of such a thing seems absurd. They're doing it in the midst of terrorist bombings with three major ethnic groups who have been trained to despise each other. How would threatening them with withdrawal of our troops if they don't finish in time for our deadline help anything? Do these people not understand the situation? All they can do is continually fall back on proposals for cutting and running.

I noticed the LA Times has the same question by Joe Lieberman about declining suppport for the war, but neglects to include Abizaid's powerful answer.

Rove on Hardball

Rove appeared on Hardball, took each question and gave a strong answer. This point about Guantanamo stood out:
GREGORY: What is it about Guantanamo Bay, you said after the Abu Ghraib scandal that it will take a generation for the U.S. image to recover. When you hear the accusations about what’s going in Guantanamo, and hear how enemies of the United States are using Guantanamo Bay against the United States, do you worry that the same kind of damage could be being done?

ROVE: You use the right word: accusations. In what we’ve seen about Guantanamo is by and large accusations from dangerous people who were picked up on a battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it is appalling to me that some public figures seem to put more credence in the views and statements of a jihadist, who has been in many cases instructed by his training to attack the United States, to attack his treatment — they put more credence in those people than in our men and women in uniform. I frankly believe that our men and women in uniform — we are a compassionate country that has taken people who do not abide by the rules of warfare who have never signed the Geneva convention and we treat them with great dignity and respect and care and we ought to be proud of the men and women who are manning the barricades at Guantanamo.

Twisted Priorities

Apparently, there are some far left groups in Europe contributing money to the terrorists in Iraq:
Who's funding the insurgents in Iraq? The list of suspects is long: ex-Baathists, foreign jihadists, and angry Sunnis, to name a few. Now add to that roster hard-core Euroleftists.

Turns out that far-left groups in western Europe are carrying on a campaign dubbed Ten Euros for the Resistance, offering aid and comfort to the car bombers, kidnappers, and snipers trying to destabilize the fledgling Iraq government. In the words of one Italian website, Iraq Libero (Free Iraq), the funds are meant for those fighting the occupanti imperialisti. The groups are an odd collection, made up largely of Marxists and Maoists, sprinkled with an array of Arab emigres and aging, old-school fascists, according to Lorenzo Vidino, an analyst on European terrorism based at The Investigative Project in Washington, D.C. "It's the old anticapitalist, anti-U.S., anti-Israel crowd," says Vidino, who has been to their gatherings, where he saw activists from Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Italy. "The glue that binds them together is anti-Americanism." The groups are working on an October conference to further support "the Iraqi Resistance." A key goal is to expand backing for the insurgents from the fringe left to the broader antiwar and antiglobalization movements.
Yes, they hate America so much that they're willing to give money to people who are blowing up innocent Iraqi civilians and our military. Hate is indeed stronger than love for these people.

Underming Democratic Legitimacy

Will we ever be able to have a presidential election again without Democrats claiming they've been robbed? All it takes is for some Democrat bigwig or race activist like the Rev. Jesse Jackson to make an unsubstantiated allegation of black voter suppression. Henceforth, the truth of such allegations will be accepted and believed by large numbers of people, including many blacks, who trust Democrat bigwigs and the Jesse Jacksons not to lie to them.
If the facts don't support your allegations, just mutter about the appearances of impropriety. Make the allegation and in a few years, you can assert it as fact.

Eminent Domain Ruling

There was nothing conservative about that decision. I don't know many conservatives who wish to undermine private property.

It's liberalism at it's worst. It's the socialist who wishes to merge business with state. A conservative would simply have the government and businesses mind their own business, letting the companies that cannot compete fail. What this ruling did is blur the lines between business and state. Eminent domain was originally meant to serve as a limit on government power, yet the Court managed to twist it into something that broadly expands governmental authority. And for what justification? It reeks of the standard terminology of liberalism: "public good", "common interest", and so on, with the specific justification in this case being that it would serve as an increase in tax revenue. So, simply it being the case that tax revenues would increase apparently makes it alright to seize an individual's home against their will. All this so the government behemoth can continued to be fed so the supply of social spending does not run dry.

The idea that it's a conservative giveaway to the corporations makes little sense, and once you consider that every conservative on the court voted in dissent, makes no sense at all.

Abortion Reduces Crime?

Here's a point by point takedown of Steven D. Levitt's hypothesis that abortion legalization in the 70's brought down crime in the 90's.

The Death Penalty

To put it quite simply, we need the death penalty to bring the worst among us to justice.

To understand why the death penalty is warranted for murderers and the rest, one must first understand our relationship to each other and society. As we traverse through various activities in our daily lives, we are implicitly abiding a "social contract" by partaking in the benefits provided by society. For our own protection, and security, we cede some of our freedoms to society, and in turn, we gain it's protection. As such, the government must protect our right to life, and other rights, because we are law abiding citizens under the Constitution which codifies the bedrock of those laws. We agree to infringe on the freedoms of nobody else, so that our own freedoms are not infringed upon.

What a murderer does in taking the life of another innocent human being is violate this contract, as he has brutally brought to an end the most sacred gift entrused to an individual: life. Having violated this fundamental agreement, implicit between the interactions of all people within a society, he is no longer granted the benefits of it's protection. A criminal forfeits most of his rights - a murderer, all of his rights. For this reason, we may imprison criminals, as their status before society has changed; imprisoning a citizen who has done no wrong, on the other hand, would be an obvious injustice, because they have done nothing to negatively affect their position.

The foundation of justice revolves around compensation and equality; as such, the punishment must be proportional to the crime committed. To demonstrate, we can imagine that somebody had stolen an item. The proper punishment would be for the felon to either return the item, or compensate the affected party so that the loss of the item is not felt. This is a punishment which is proportional to the crime; it would surely be considered unjust if the felon was to be stretched out onto a torture rack and flogged for simply stealing something, because it is a ridiculously severe punishment for a crime relatively mild. Likewise, if there was a man who sexually abused a girl, it would be an outrage for the man to simply receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist. In each case, the punishment is either too severe or too lenient.

There is nothing else that the murderer can give to redress the grievances of the victim, for the victim is no longer alive to enjoy whatever may be given. The value of life is incalculable, so having the criminal serve a certain arbitrary amount of years in a prison or public service can never near the value of the innocent life which was taken away. Therefore, the only thing that can put the murderer in an equal position as his victim - the only thing that can balance the debt accrued on the scale of justice - is for the murderer to lose his own life.

One can argue, on practical grounds, that it is cheaper to imprison the murderer for life than to achieve justice, but morally, the man's life is forfeit. A man in prison can still feel, learn, exercise, enjoy food, listen to music, read, think, and more. However, to his victim, justice is lost, as all of these things are eternally denied.

It is precisely because we care so much about innocent life that we put an end to the guilty's.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dick Durbin's Apology

I just wanted to comment on Sen. Durbin's apology for his remarks. After flailing under wall to wall criticism for a week, he finally relented and apologized. (Video here.)

While there are some who are doubting his sincerity, I think it's enough. He seems to have learned his lesson. He was practically on the verge of breaking down and crying at some points.

The damage from his remarks has been done and the enemy has been handed their propaganda victory. But he's no longer standing by the remarks.

I imagine the greater backlash will arrive when people realize just how much longevity these kinds of comments will have as they circulate throughout the Middle East.

Stem Cell News

We may end up being able to side-step the entire debate over stem cell research, based on this news:
PITTSBURGH, June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- In a ground-breaking study, scientists at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh have discovered that adult, or post- natal, stem cells have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to multiply, a previously unknown characteristic indicating that post-natal stem cells may play an important therapeutic role.

Adult and post-natal stem cells are often overlooked in favor of embryonic stem cells in the national debate over the therapeutic use of stem cells. Until now, it has been generally believed that embryonic stem cells had a greater capacity to multiply than post-natal stem cells, making them more desirable to research as a potential treatment, according to Johnny Huard, PhD, director of the Growth and Development Laboratory at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
We can just use other stem cells, rather than the ones which are causing so much controversy.

The Truth Hurts

Democrats have seized on Karl Rove's comments in outrage and are now calling for him to resign. Where were they when Sen. Durbin started making Nazi accusations? When he insulted all those who suffered and died in the Holocaust?

Decapitation for Dummies

We have manuals on how to properly handle the Qu'ran and humanely treat prisoners, paying respect to their cultural sensitivities, they have manuals on how to properly torture and decapitate hostages.
US Marines have found manuals on taking hostages and decapitation during a raid on a guerrilla hideout in the Iraqi village of Karabla, near the town of Qaim, close to the Syrian border. The Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that in the hideaway the troops also found several hostages who were being held there by Islamic militants. The hiding place was being used as a centre for the interrogation and torture of hostages, and contained electrodes and other instruments of torture.

The manuals found were used as Jihad (Holy War) handbooks. The first was titled: "How to choose the best hostage", the second covered decapitation and was called: "Rules for cutting off the heads of infidels", and the third manual, "principles of the philosophy of the Jihad", was more theoretical.

Jobless Claims Plunge

The economy continues to do well:
The number of Americans seeking new claims for jobless benefits fell by a larger-than-expected 20,000 last week to the lowest level in two months, the government said Thursday.

[...]

The drop exceeded Wall Street forecasts for a dip to 330,000 from the original reading of 333,000 in the week ended June 11. The decline brought the claims to their lowest level since 299,000 in week ended April 16.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors behind the drop.
That last bit is notable, as there are frequently technical (illusory) reasons for sudden spikes or drops in the jobless rate, and apparently they're not applicable here.

Conservatives Continue Hyping Hillary Book... By Ripping It A New One

Only Tony Blankley seems to like it.

For Better or for Worse

The legal complications of gay marriage are finally starting to be explored, and as predicted, they're messy.

The other day, I heard on the radio the case of a lesbian couple who had a few children, then split up. The who had bore them kept the children and sued her ex-partner for support. The country, who had been providing welfare for her and the twins (one with Downs syndrome), also thought she should kick in some money. Her response? I'm not the father. I have no biological connection to those kids. Leave me alone.

By her reasoning, then, men who provided the sperm should be on the hook for supporting the kids. Let that stand, and lesbians across the nation will suddenly find out their chances of becoming parents literally drying up as men start realizing that a moment of generosity can come back to haunt them for the next 20 or so years.

This case isn't about equality - it's about privilege. In essence, this woman wants the benefits of marriage, but none of the obligations that come with it.

There's a reason why marriage vows say "for better or for worse". Marriage is intended to be permanent. Undoing a bond of that level should never be easy.

This is especially true when there are children involved.

Rove: Democrats Don't Get It

The one Republican more hated by the Democrats than President Bush has come out to knock some heads:
NEW YORK - Speaking in a Manhattan ballroom just a few miles north of ground zero, Karl Rove said on Wednesday night that the Democratic party did not understand the consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

[...]

"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."
Well, speaking as one, I can tell you that conservatives do want to understand our terrorist enemies. We want to understand that they're dead.

John Hawkins:
Isn't this the same Democratic Party that has complained incessantly about every aspect of the war on terror? Isn't this the same Democratic Party that has members who favor a draft simply because they think it would hurt the war effort? Isn't this the same Democratic Party that has called for Gitmo to be shut down? Isn't this the same Party that ran a Presidential Candidate in 2004 who called for a "more sensitive" war on terrorism and said he'd treat the war on terror "'primarily' as law-enforcement action?"

NC Counties Accuse PETA of Killing Animals

After the incident involving the two PETA members who were caught killing animals they had supposedly taken in for adoption, it turns out that it goes beyond them:
NORFOLK, Va. - Two North Carolina counties have stopped turning over shelter animals to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (search), saying they were surprised the group euthanized cats and dogs instead of trying to find them homes.

The Norfolk-based animal-rights group said it tried to have some of the animals adopted, but the condition of some strays and the availability of homes made it impossible.

The Bertie County Board of Commissioners (search) voted unanimously Monday to cut all ties to PETA, despite a written apology from its president. County Manager Zee Lamb said he believed euthanasia would be only a last resort for cats and dogs that were not adoptable.

Northampton County health director Sue Gay said she assumed the same. The counties learned that most animals instead had been euthanized after two PETA workers were arrested and charged with dumping dead animals in a shopping center's garbage bins.

[...]

Documents filed with the state of Virginia showed that PETA euthanized about 6,100 domestic animals from 2001-03. Daphna Nachminovitch (search), director of PETA's domestic animal and wildlife department, said she didn't know how many were from North Carolina.

"Did we euthanize some animals who could have been adopted? Maybe," Nachminovitch said.
And they're the ones who dare use the Holocaust hyperbole.

The Failing Insurgency

Max Boot takes us through the reasons the insurgency in Iraq is bound to fail:
The rebels lack a unifying organization, ideology and leader. There is no Iraqi Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro or Mao Tse-tung. The top militant is Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has alienated most of the Iraqi population, even many Sunnis, with his indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
There's no unifying leader; no "cult of personality". Zarqawi certainly can't pull it off with the way he's blown up everything that moves, and bin Laden isn't in the running because he has no real visibility anymore. The only possible unifying Iraqi personality, al-Sadr, has covertly joined the political process, not the opposition to it.
Support for the insurgency is confined to a minority within a minority — a small portion of Sunni Arabs, who make up less than 20% of the population. The only prominent non-Sunni rebel, Muqtada Sadr, has quietly joined the political process. The 80% of the population that is Shiite and Kurdish is implacably opposed to the rebellion, which is why most of the terror has been confined to four of 18 provinces.
We have a country which was a veritable ammo dump when we invaded. Saddam had been on an arms and explosives shopping spree for years. It is weapons from Saddam's splurging we keep turning upon when we find a cache. Eevn what seems to bein an endless supply is in actuality finite. So while this small minority in a minority seems well supplied now, it will eventually begin to run out, and without inside or outside support, its effectiveness will wane.
Unlike in successful guerrilla wars, the rebels in Iraq have not been able to control large chunks of "liberated" territory. The best they could do was to hold Fallouja for six months last year. Nor have they been able to stage successful large-scale attacks like the Viet Cong did. A major offensive against Abu Ghraib prison on April 2 ended without a single U.S. soldier killed or a single Iraqi prisoner freed, while an estimated 60 insurgents were slain.
As Gen Vines pointed out, this is a movement of four different parts, all with different aims. There is no cohesiveness. As Marines have nioted, they're even fighting amongst themselves. The lack of a safe haven limits their ability to plan, marshall and effectively attack. They've got no Laos to hide in.
The biggest weakness of the insurgency is that it is morphing from a war of national liberation into a revolutionary struggle against an elected government. That's a crucial difference. Since 1776, wars of national liberation have usually succeeded because nationalism is such a strong force. Revolutions against despots, from Czar Nicholas II to the shah of Iran, often succeed too, because there is no way to redress grievances within the political process. Successful uprisings against elected governments are much rarer because leaders with political legitimacy can more easily rally the population and accommodate aggrieved elements.
As Boot notes, this is probably the fatal problem for the insurgency. It isn't fighting to destroy a tyranny, it is fighting to establish one. It is fighting against the direct will of the people of Iraq as demonstrated by their vote. The ball, of course, is in the Iraqi government's court. Forming a broadly inclusive government which satisfies the vast majority of Iraqis will go a long way towards this insurgency's defeat. And indications are that's the way the process is going.

Boot goes on to outline the problems which Iraq still faces. But the bottom line is, given time, and our continued presence and effort, there is no reason why a democratic Iraq able to defend itself cannot emerge. The end to this story has already been written; it's merely a matter of time now. It's our obligation, as a nation, to help them achieve their goal.

UN Springs Into Action, Condemns US

AP headline: UN Uncovers Torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Well, not really, but it really pulls you in, eh? This is ALLEGED torture, despite the misleading headline.
U.N. human rights experts said Thursday they have reliable accounts of detainees being tortured at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The experts, who report to U.N. bodies on different human rights issues, said their request for a visit was "based on information, from reliable sources, of serious allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, arbitrary detention, violations of their right to health and their due process rights."

"Many of these allegations have come to light through declassified (U.S.) government documents," they said.
Where are these declassified documents? Are these "reliable sources" as "reliable", as say, Newsweek's or CBS'? What exactly does "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" constitute? As for "arbitrary detention" and "due process rights", every detainee in Gitmo already has gotten a hearing - which means it is not "arbitrary" detention, and that they've gotten all the due process they're entitled to thus far.
Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, said his team needed full access to Guantanamo's facilities and prison population, but the United States refused to guarantee him the right to speak to detainees in private.
Ah, yes, terrorists making allegations that will be magnified via the media megaphone. We've certainly never seen that before. Of course those detainees would say they're being mistreated! It's right out of the al-Qaeda training manual, (.PDF file, page 16-17) after all.

A more appropriate headline would have read "UN claims to uncover torture at Guantanamo", but of course that would not draw in the reader - certainly as the definitive "uncovers torture" does. And based on recent comparisons (Dick Durbin) and recent polls, A.P. obviously thought it needed all the help it could get to grab those readers.

UPDATE: AP has changed their incredibly biased headline to: UN Officials Seek Guantanamo Bay Visit.

You can still find the original headline at a different location.

Top al-Qaeda Leader Killed in Iraq

And another one bites the dust:
The Web statement said Abdullah Mohammed Rashid al-Roshoud was killed in fighting near Qaim, on the border with Syria. It was signed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most notorious terrorist leader in Iraq.

[...]

"When the Crusaders could not enter the area, the only thing they could do was bombard the mujahedeen with warplanes," it said. "Our sheik (al-Roshoud) got what he wished" - martyrdom.
As for the wishes of martyrdom, may those wishes come true, and quickly.

Supreme Court Strikes Again

They've had quite a run lately. The statist decision:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- -- The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development.

It was a decision fraught with huge implications for a country with many areas, particularly the rapidly growing urban and suburban areas, facing countervailing pressures of development and property ownership rights.

[...]

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.
RIP, private property.

This ruling is nothing short of atrocious. The ursurping of private property is one of today's greatest injustices and our legislating extremists on the Left (thank you, Anthony Kennedy) have once again eroded the very protections we as a free society expect from our Constitution.

I'm surprised, but pleased, by O'Connor in joining with the dissent.

Getting new conservative judges on the Supreme Court is of paramount importance.

How the Right Wing is Killing Americans, One At a Time

It's not a satire, even though it reads like one:
Corwyn (Cory) William Zimbleman
Tucson, AZ (formerly of Champaign, IL)

Age 53. Born April 18, 1952 to the late Willard and Gilda (Ebert) Zimbleman, died June 10, 2005. Throughout his life Cory was an extraordinary artist. His artistic talent and imagination would bring awe to all who viewed his work.

[...]

Having never gained the recognition he deserved in his own lifetime his family hopes to publish a book of his works.
A legend in his own mind, apparently.
An avid atheist, he studied the bible and religion with more fervor than most Christians. He had strong political opinions and followed Amy Goodman's radio broadcast "Democracy Now." Alas the stolen election of 2000 and living with right-winged Americans finally brought him to his early demise. Stress from living in this unjust country brought about several heart attacks rendering him disabled.
Bush Derangement Syndrome claims another victim.