Sunday, September 30, 2007

Your government at work

Jack Hoogendyk at Core Principles is semi-live blogging the activities in the Michigan House. ;)

Friday, September 28, 2007

A trout in the milk

A reaction to a couple of comments on yesterday's post.

You can argue that if George Soros didn’t personally sign checks on which James Hansen was the payee, then zero money was given to Hansen by Soros. As a public service to those who might be so inclined, today’s word is “fungible,” brought to you - in the spirit of diversity - by the letter “H.” “H” as in Hsu and Holy Land Foundation.

These H's illustrate why contributions to an intermediary, which subsequently pays for services on behalf of a third party, are equivalent to giving the money directly to the third party. Our examples:

It is true that Norman Hsu, currently a guest of the state of California, did not sign the vast majority of checks he bundled into contributions to Hillary Clinton's campaigns. It is also true that these checks were not written payable to Hillary Clinton personally. However, no one doubts she benefited. Least of all Herself, She’s getting rid of the money.

It is true that when the Holy Land Foundation, currently in hiding, sent checks to terrorist organizations the payees were not literally Hamas, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad. However, the United States and the European Union have no doubt jihadist organizations like those received HLF funds.

So let us not pretend that money can't be laundered.

As to the significance of the amount, the Investor's Business Daily report does indeed say “up to” $720,000. Could be lots less. So, what if the Soros' grantee, Government Accountability Project, only spent $72,000 on promoting advising Hansen? The following old tale would seem to apply:

Man, “Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?”
Woman, “Well, for that much money… I suppose I would.”
Man, “O.K, will you sleep with me for five dollars?”
Woman, “What kind of woman do you think I am?!?”
Man, “I think we’ve established what kind of woman you are; now we are just haggling over the price.”

Some clue as to Hansen's price, since no “Open” detail is forthcoming from Soros, GAP or Hansen, can be found at the Government Accountability Project's website:
GAP Staff Attorney Tarek Maassarani [conducted, on Hansen's behalf,] a year-long investigation that found objectionable and possibly illegal restrictions on the communication of scientific information to the media.
Though Mr. Maassarani is a staff lawyer, and probably did not work exclusively on Mr. Hansen's case for twelve months, such “advice” from lawyers is not inexpensive. Media advisors who get you 1,400 MSM interviews, especially while you're being censored by the President, don't come cheap either. James Hansen didn't pay for these services. George Soros certainly paid for some part of them.

Given that the “central focus” of Soros’ life of late is to bring down George Bush, and that he’d already spent $15 million by 2004 in the attempt, it is reasonable to assume he would use Hansen if he had an opportunity.

Indeed, the Open Society Institute's Web site claims that Soros takes an abiding, detailed interest in its activities:
Despite the breadth of his endeavors, Soros is personally involved in planning and implementing many of the foundation network's projects.
Lacking openness from the payers regarding how much Hansen benefited from Soros' money, I think we can depend on Henry David Thoreau to summarize: "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."

Still, the evidence is more than circumstantial. That Soros' organization took an active interest in Hansen’s press campaign, and that at least some of the money went to help Hansen is a bragging point for The SOROS FOUNDATIONS NETWORK REPORT 2006 says this about it on page 123:
Scientist Protests NASA’s
Censorship Attempts

James E. Hansen, the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, protested attempts to silence him after officials at NASA ordered him to refer press inquiries to the public affairs office and required the presence of a public affairs representative at any interview. The Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection organization and OSI grantee, came to Hansen’s defense by providing legal and media advice. The campaign on Hansen’s behalf resulted in a decision by NASA to revisit its media policy.
No doubt.

Apparently forgoing the advice to which he has become accustomed, James Hansen has this response to others' discovery (Hansen claims he does not know if any money came from Soros) that Soros was his benefactor.

You decide if Hansen adequately addresses the ethical issues. Before you decide, you might also wish to check how he has previously responded to his own error.

James Hansen is to George Soros as Cindy Sheehan was to MoveOn/CodePink/ANSWER/Kos manipulators.

In Hansen's case, his celebrity is only protected as long as Anthropomorphic Global WarmingTM is an issue. George Soros will only be interested as long as the issue provides a stick with which to beat on Western capitalist values (How strange is that in a currency speculation multi-billionaire? But see Soros' network below.) That Soros has severely damaged millions of people in his pursuit of profit seems not to bother him in the least.

Hansen is a tiny invertebrate in a swamp barely large enough to contain him, and he will, if more slowly, assume the same public-consciousness room-temperature as Sheehan. Hansen dares not question Global WarmingTM. Without it, he's toast.

The real issue here is George Soros' attempts to manipulate public opinion. Hansen is a pathetic supporting actor.

Other resources: Less Than Full Disclosure from Jim Hansen? Or Right Wing Smear?

Soros network. Here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fire or ice? Follow the money

James Hansen, the NASA honcho who gave many speeches and interviews charging the Bush administration with censoring him, has not been fired for his outbursts against administration policies, or restrained from speaking in any way.

James Hansen, the NASA eco-celebrity, was responsible for computer programming that overstated "global warming," because he forgot to allow for the Y2K bug. His response to this discovery has been less than forthright.

This is not the first coding error Mr. Hansen has made regarding climate prediction. In an earlier effort he predicted a global ice age. Then he blamed imminent global freezing on the use of fossil fuel. Now he blames fossil fuel use for global warming. His agenda is consistent even if his conclusions are polar opposites. James Hansen has not been fired for incompetence.

The only federal scientist to have been fired for climate change heresy was William Happer. Under the Clinton administration, he dared to challenge Al Gore's "settled science" on ozone. CFC (chloro-fluoro-carbon) damage to upper atmosphere ozone is a theory coming under significant doubt just in the last day.

James Hansen has not only not been fired or censored, he's been richly rewarded. Hansen received nearly three-quarters of a million dollars from George Soros to enable his talk show circuit tour predicting we'd all regret it if we didn't do what Al Gore commanded in his seriously flawed movie, An Inconvenient Truth. James Hansen has not only not even been inconvienced by censorship, or his own mistakes on both sides of the climate change question, he's been richly rewarded by a secret sugar daddy.

If there's outrage that some scientists get money from "big oil'" where is it for huge contributions from "big currency speculation?" As the United Kingdom has reason to know, George Soros is a very dangerous man. In part, the existence of such men led to passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, against which this blog has railed since its inception. We were led there in two ways. One, a fear of political manipulation by modern robber barons. Two, a secret campaign by those very robber barons to silence the rest of us.

This manipulation of public opinion on climate change is in common with the Soros/Pew Foundation effort to make Campaign Finance Reform seem like it was a grassroots demand when it was anything but. Soros' objective was to eliminate your abilty to speak through the National Rifle Association or the National Organization for Women. He pretty much succeeded. Unless you can spare $750K, you can't buy a NASA scientist. Worse, sixty days before an election, when the vast majority of Americans actually begin to pay attention to public policy, you can't speak any louder than your individual pocketbook allows. Size matters. Soros knows it.

The solution to this problem, which Mr. Soros assiduously avoids, is transparency. We need complete and immediate publication of all such funding. It would have made a difference to Mr. Hansen's credibility if we had known of Soros funding, and it would have made a difference if we had known Soros secretly gave millions to promote Campaign Finance Reform.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Just a little tongue

Dust My Broom has an expose on Ahmadinejihad's sexual orientation. The wee weasel must have loved Yasser Arafat.

Thanks to joey j. for a memorable comment: "Is that a fatwa in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"

Union "busting"

Not only is Alice a lovely Dromedary, but she quotes Barry Goldwater in time for the UAW strike.


The title is not a typo.

Check out these cartoons at Sparks from the Anvil.

I'll have more to say on the little weasel's invitation to Columbia later.

SCHIP of Statism

Amy Ridenour, at National Center blog, points out the regressive nature of the Democrat plan to spend $35 billion "for the children."
A successful effort by Congress to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $35 billion over five years over White House protests would require low-income Americans to subsidize health insurance for children and young adults in the middle and upper-middle classes, says a September 2007 paper by David Hogberg, Ph.D. published by the National Center for Public Policy Research.
The reason Liberals want to pass this legislation is that it will damage private insurance. It is incremental Hillarycare. The good news is that the President has promised to veto it.

P.S. First post composed on my new Mac.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dear(born) in the Dhimmi-lights

Here's the original story: A 26 year-old man named Houssein Zorkot is arrested in a public park in Dearborn. At the time, he was dressed in black clothing, his face was covered with camouflage paint and he was carrying AK-47 assault rifle (probably only semi-auto, but the reporter does not specify). He has a Website extolling the virtues of the Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah, and he is a Lebanese Shi'ite who is also a medical student - reminiscent of the UK medics here and here who have been involved in serious plots to kill "infidels."

The follow-up story is a measure of the decline of Western Civilization. It's surreal. Emphasis mine.

...what led Zorkot to take up arms is still a mystery.

"At this point, we have not been able to determine a motive," said Police Chief Mike [Clouseau] Celeski. "But this is still an ongoing investigation, and we're still collecting information."

...According to Mayor Jack O'Reilly, several of the pictures [on Zorkot's laptop computer] were taken during a recent trip by Zorkot to Lebanon, and featured him standing in front of pro-Hezbollah billboards.

...According to Zorkot's Web site,, he says he supports Lebanon and "the resistance." Hezbollah is also mentioned numerous times on the site, and is prominently featured in several photos.

However, Zorkot has not been identified as a terrorist and has yet to be linked to any terrorist group or terrorist activities, according to city officials.
OK. He's innocent until proven guilty. If he did none of the things he's charged with, speculation about his jihadist motivations, aka Islamofascism, could be out of place. Unfortunately for this argument, he announced his jihadist sympathies on the Internet. But don't take my word for it. For as long as it's available, here are his own words-

He was not water-boarded into these admissions. After he'd posted them he bought an AK-47 and took a stroll in a public park while carrying it.

In closing, I'll direct you to Debbie Schlussel here and here and Dearborn Underground here. Lots more at both sites (though I wish Dearborn Underground would stop with the hard to read centered text).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The enemy of my enemy is my friend...

...sums up the Iran-Hezbollah-Sudan-al-Qaeda Axis.

Bitter Muslim enemies have dropped their internal blood-feuds to focus on destroying the West. They've been at war with us since 1979. It's about time we recognized the fact.

I highly recommend that you go here, and download Thomas Joscelyn's Iran’s Proxy war against America. You will learn much. The point Joscelyn makes is this:
...the dominant school of thinking inside America’s foreign policy establishment and intelligence community is that Iran has not been an active participant in the terrorists’ war against America since the mid-1990s.

The facts, however, tell a different story. Indeed, six years into the “war on terror,” America has no bigger blind spot. The purpose of this essay is to expose this ongoing intelligence failure.

...In fact, contrary to widespread opinion, Iran has been a vital ally for bin Laden’s international terrorist organization. The evidence is overwhelming.
Indeed, it is.

The appendix titled "A TIMELINE OF TERROR," is worth the download all by itself. It's the history of the war. You can connect the dots yourself.

Read Joscelyn's analysis!

H/T Power Line

Old Glory dissed

...but not for long. I can't help but be struck by the probability that these school administrators would defend the right to burn an American flag, but they won't let you wear one.
SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. – Officials at Hobbton High School have lifted their previous ban on flags.

After the numerous reactions recieved Superintendent Dr. L. Stewart Hobbs, Jr. tells NBC17 they have lifted the ban on all flags and "from this point on, all dress code chages [sic] will be made at the school board level."

On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, students at one high school were not allowed to wear clothes with an American flag.

Under a new school rule, students at Hobbton High School are not allowed to wear items with flags, from any country, including the United States.

The new rule stems from a controversy over students wearing shirts bearing flags of other countries.

Gayle Langston said her daughter, Jessica, was told to remove her Stars and Stripes t-shirt.

“Today she wanted to wear her shirt, and I had to tell her no,” said Langston. “She didn't like it at all because I knew it would get her in trouble. Of all days, 9/11, she could not wear her American Flag shirt.”

The superintendent of schools in Sampson County calls the situation unfortunate, but says educators didn’t want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible.

On Wednesday afternoon Superintendent Hobbs, released the following statement prior to the decision to lift the ban:

"We have had a disruption in school caused by the wearing of certain flags by some of our students. We are in the process of consulting with our legal counsel to address the issue presented."
Here's a thought, make the flag of the country in which you live permissible rather than morally equating it with every other.

Another thought, punish those who are disruptive, whatever the cause. It'll help them understand diversity.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Local politics

Three posts over at Right Michigan are worth reading.

Hsu's who in Democrat fundraising:
1- Michigan Dems hoped you wouldn't notice while they raked in tens of thousands from wanted fugitive Stabenow's not giving hers back, either.

Mayor Kilpatrick experiences a richly deserved setback:
2- Jury says the Hip-Hop Mayor is GUILTY! TOC has previously commented on Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick's peccadillos.

Michigan taxpayers take note:
3- They said it couldn't be done...
but the GOP Senate has a plan to fix the budget without raising taxes.

What Bush should say

The inestimable Scott Ott at Scrappleface has a draft speech leaked from the White House:
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, a handful of you this week have listened in on what passes for Congressional hearings. You’ve endured the speeches of politicians who arrived with their minds set in concrete, as bulwarks against the truth. You have watched as one of our nation’s brave, devoted, valiant soldiers was ignored and described (in so many words) as a liar.
These broadcasts brought joy to the caves of al Qaeda, the halls of al-Jazeera, and to the streets of places where 9/11 is celebrated with dancing as the day America was devastated.

...This week’s congressional hearings might lead you to believe that the important issues in this current conflict are body counts, troop counts and withdrawal dates.
For the United States military and the people in whose name they fight, the important issue is always and only victory.

...Two thousand one hundred and ninety days have slipped by since lower Manhattan slipped below the cloud of dust and smoke thrown up by the falling towers. The initial shock, outrage, grief and unity have begun to fade. As a result, we now face a threat worse than any individual attack. It’s called complacency. It’s the attitude that since nothing has happened to us here since 9/11, nothing will. It’s a suicide potion that politicians, pundits and pollsters dispense, and that far too many Americans have drunk.

...Recent polls show that 64 percent of Americans oppose the war. Let me tell you, on behalf of Gen. David Petraeus and the men and women who fight under the banner of freedom, 100 percent of our troops oppose the war. Our troops would rather be home holding their babies, mowing their lawns, taking the boys to football practice, eating a home-cooked meal.
But war has been declared on us. In time of war you do what you hate to preserve what you love.

In time of war, the question is never, ‘How soon can we bring the troops home?’ The question is: ‘How can we win?’ The question is: ‘What will it take to crush the enemy to the point of absolute surrender or impotent insignificance?’
The answer is most definitely not a bunch of grandstanding Senators berating the general they asked to crush that enemy.

It's brilliant. Read it all.

More 9-11 thoughts

I recommend reading all of these and watching the video.

From There to Here
The emotional half-life of 9/11.
By Jonah Goldberg
...If I had said in late 2001, with bodies still being pulled from the wreckage, anthrax flying through the mail, pandemonium reigning at the airports, and bombs falling on Kabul, that by ‘07 leading Democrats would be ridiculing the idea of the war on terror as a bumper sticker, I’d have been thought mad. If I’d predicted that a third of Democrats would be telling pollsters that Bush knew in advance about 9/11, and that the eleventh of September would become an innocuous date for parental get-togethers to talk about potty-training strategies and phonics for preschoolers, people would have thought I was crazy. Then again, lots of people think I’m crazy already, so maybe that’s not the best example.

...But it’s important to remember that from the outset, the media took it as their sworn duty to keep Americans from getting too riled up about 9/11. I wrote a column about it back in March of 2002. Back then the news networks especially saw it as imperative that we not let our outrage get out of hand. I can understand the sentiment, but it’s worth noting that such sentiments vanished entirely during hurricane Katrina. After 9/11, the press withheld objectively accurate and factual images from the public, lest the rubes get too riled up. After Katrina, the press endlessly recycled inaccurate and exaggerated information in order to keep everyone upset. The difference speaks volumes.

The column I wrote in 2002 was subtitled “I want to be disturbed.” It seems that when it comes to 9/11 it would have been more fashionable if I’d written some pabulum subtitled “I wanna be sedated.” (Apologies to the Ramones).
Looking Back in Anger
Memorializing 9/11 is more vital than ever
by David J. Rusin
...September 11 has taken its place alongside December 7 as a date that lives in infamy — and one that is barely contemplated during the other 364 days. But consider the contrast. More than six decades have elapsed since the raid on Pearl Harbor, and the challenges made clear on that fateful morning were resolved in another age, by another generation. Conversely, the Long War with radical Islam that began in earnest merely six years ago stands closer to its outset than its denouement. In World War II parlance, it is still early 1942, and there has not yet been a Midway or a Guadalcanal to signal the turning point.

...Anger is frequently portrayed as a negative emotion that debases those who wield it. The counterpoint is offered by Bede Jarrett, a prominent Dominican priest of the early 1900s. “The world needs anger,” he argued. “The world often continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough.” Anger at an injustice spurs people to combat that injustice, as when neighbors unite to drive out drug dealers following the death of a child. Indeed, anger can be both principled and righteous — a force for good in the world.

Are you angry about 9/11 and its aftermath? I am.

I am angry at the carnage of that clear September morning, as 19 soldiers of Allah stole the lives of nearly 3,000 irreplaceable human beings. However, my anger extends far beyond those specific horrors and the terrorists who perpetrated them. Mohamed Atta can never kill again, but the malignant worldview that spawned him continues to target innocents each and every day. That ideology must be the ultimate focus of our anger.

I am angry at the failure of Western elites to robustly acknowledge the true nature of the enemy: a violent, repressive, and expansionist movement grounded in Islam. Rather, we are fed a litany of bromides about the role of poverty and “the religion of peace.” No war has ever been won without knowing the enemy, and this war will not be the first.
Video coverage of 9-11, 2001
Kathryn Jean Lopez

Monday, September 10, 2007

Can't we all just get along? Actually, No.

September 11th, 2001 was also a Tuesday. I was at work when the news first filtered in. Some of our IT staff called to say their flight back from a training session in Atlanta had been canceled because the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had been hit by airplanes. We turned on the television in the board room to try and make sense of this. We watched the second tower hit.

There was a constant, shifting crowd filtering through the board room to watch news coverage about the atrocities: Another plane had gone down in a field in Pennsylvania. We only found out later why. We watched the smoke pour out of the Twin Towers and people jumping to their deaths. We gasped when the Towers collapsed. And cried. Our shock and dismay were gradually supplemented with rage and fear.

I didn't survey those same people I watched in 2001 to see how they feel now; but for many Americans, the rage has dissipated and any fear seems overblown. On the 6th anniversary of the attack, it appears to be becoming very difficult for many Americans to actually remember what happened. Few wish to recall the horror they felt on that day. Maybe if they could stop to remember where they were, they'd remember how they felt. Maybe they would still recognize the threat.

Unfortunately, the threat is more ideological than physical. It's abstract and far away. Western civilization may be at risk, as much from decadent self-absorbed ignorance as anything, but as long as your daughters aren't being forced to wear burqas, why worry about great-granddaughters?

It's as if the New York Times felt compelled to publish an article in 1947 titled "As Pearl Harbor Anniversary Draws Near, a Debate Rises: How Much Tribute Is Enough?"

In fact, the Times did publish such an article prior to Osama Bin-Laden's recent tricked-up(?) video: As 9/11 Draws Near, a Debate Rises: How Much Tribute Is Enough?

The questions raised by some of the comments in this article indicate that many Americans do not even perceive that there is a war. They've bought the Democrat talking points, like John Edwards calling the War on Terror a "bumper sticker."

But, here's the Times subtly murmuring its own snide answer to its headline:

Again it comes, for the sixth time now — 2,191 days after that awful morning — falling for the first time on a Tuesday, the same day of the week.

Again there will be the public tributes, the tightly scripted memorial events, the reflex news coverage, the souvenir peddlers.

Is all of it necessary, at the same decibel level — still?

Each year, murmuring about Sept. 11 fatigue arises, a weariness of reliving a day that everyone wishes had never happened. It began before the first anniversary of the terrorist attack. By now, though, many people feel that the collective commemorations, publicly staged, are excessive and vacant, even annoying.
One gets the feeling the Times wishes 9-11 had never happened solely because it keeps demanding some attention be paid to realities inconvenient to Liberal tropes.
...Few Americans give much thought anymore on Dec. 7 that Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 (the date to live in infamy). Similar subdued attention is paid to other scarring tragedies: the Kennedy assassination (Nov. 22, 1963), Kent State (May 4, 1970), the Oklahoma City bombing (April 19, 1995).
The only appropriate analog in that sentence (dismissed parenthetically) is Pearl Harbor. But in 1947, and long, long after, Dec. 7 was unquestionably a day of infamy to virtually every American. We have a different attitude today. Perhaps because we haven't been hit again, which would remind us of our personal risk. Recognizing the risk to the freedom of future generations of Americans is probably too much to ask. It is certainly too much to ask of Dave Hendrickson:
...David Hendrickson, 56, a computer software trainer who lives in Manhattan, said he began being somewhat irritated by the attention to the commemoration on the third anniversary. “It seems a little much to me to still be talking about this six years later,” he said. “I understand it’s a sad thing. I understand it’s a tragedy. I’ve had my own share of tragedies — my uncle was killed in a tornado. But you get on. I have the sense that some people are living on their victimhood, which I find a little tiring.”
Hendrickson is old enough to have had direct adult feedback about Pearl Harbor. He had opportunity to understand it in a way the MTV generation cannot. He could make the connection himself. Why doesn't he? Because he's a bit too self interested. His Uncle died in a tornado. And he thinks other people are milking their victimhood. Hendrickson's comments are respectively trivial and irrelevant. People should shut up about 9/11 after 3 years because he's irritated? Hell, he must be irritated about a lot of things.

David, not everything is always about you, though I can appreciate that a war where you're not physically attacked frequently - an ideological war - bores you.
Hendrickson is not alone, there's also Charlene Correia, of a similar age:
“I may sound callous, but doesn’t grieving have a shelf life?” said Charlene Correia, 57, a nursing supervisor from Acushnet, Mass. “We’re very sorry and mournful that people died, but there are living people. Let’s wind it down.”
Though "winding down" the memory of the most deadly, cowardly and vicious sneak attack in America's history would be a sorry admission that we have not the courage of our own convictions, Charlene has a point. It is not reasonable to expect human beings to maintain the keening edge of grief contingent upon the immediate aftermath of such a tragedy. But what has happened to the quest for justice? Where is the outrage about such an affront to your country, much less the loathing such an insult to simple human dignity and compassion might demand? Charlene, they just haven't got around to you yet. You'll get it when they do.

Dave and Charlene demonstrate that "9/11 fatigue" is real. So does MSM reaction to Osama's latest video effort from beyond the grave. We get dispassionate, sterile - even surreal - analysis. Has he dyed his beard? Does his bragging about having planned and committed the atrocity have any effect on the "Truthers?" What will the left do to downplay his critique of them as ineffective supporters of his cause? Why does he praise Noam Chomsky, but ignore Michael Moore, Dennis Kucinich and Juan Cole?

Who cares? This focus on Bin-Laden is an invention of the Democrats. We haven't caught him, so George Bush is not just a fascist, he's an incompetent fascist. The Democrats would be competent. Catching Osama, however, would end neither the existential nor the ideological threat which the Democrats pretend is disconnected from their demand for precipitate withdrawal from Iraq.

Look at how they treated General Petraeus today - a man unanimously confirmed by the same Democrat Senators who are calling him a liar even before he reports.

Perhaps we can use some instruction from a blogger living in Baghdad. Islam, The Solution..!? (Part II) The Bin Laden Video
The conflict is not about Bin Laden and America; it's an ideological conflict in which there are people and regimes across the world that support one side or another, meaning that the conflict was inevitable even if America hadn't taken part. Otherwise the region would have been living in peace and prosperity now!

In fact, and I think many people agree with me, the American-led intervention was defensive rather than offensive when Bin Laden's ideology jumped to strike the towers in New York. At that point it became evident that such an ideology, in the presence of regimes that support it, could threaten any spot on the map with no exception from Bali to Madrid—and although the victims of this ideology have been mostly from the middle east, this could well change in the future if the extremist manage to take over the region.

We shouldn’t think that such crazy messages could come only from a Salafi extremist like Bin Laden; because it actually reminds me of a similar call from Khomeini to the leaders in Moscow to convert to Islam shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The late Ayatollah also said that Islam was the solution, so the point we should realize here is that this way of thinking is not an aspect of one particular sect as much as its part of the totalitarian ideology of Islamists that is deeply rooted in the minds of those, from one sect or another, who want to revive the Caliph rule.

Like we said in the previous post, regimes that follow this ideology, be it the Sunni Taliban or the Shia Mullahs, have failed to offer a civilized model of life so they chose instead to beautify and sell the idea of death under the old slogan of "Our dead are in heaven and your dead are in hell".

It's even more interesting in a way that this call for converting to Islam is a big fantasy since Bin Laden and the like know very well than America or other countries in the west would never impose a certain faith on their people. This message marks a deep trouble in the way extremists think; they live in illusions with complete disregard for facts, which is a very dangerous phenomenon when it's at this magnitude. And it leaves no room to doubt that they would do anything to drag the region, and the world, to an uncalculated confrontation.
It's War folks. Time to get with the nuance.

Here are some reminders -

The statism of your health

Read the whole thing - Socialized Medicine Is Already Here - but here's an excerpt:
...Consider two distinguishing features of socialist economies. The first is that the government decides what individuals may produce, what they consume, and the terms of exchange.

That is largely true of America's health care system. Government controls production and consumption by determining the number of physicians; what services medical professionals can offer and under what terms; where they can practice; who can open a hospital or purchase a new MRI; who can market a drug or medical device; and what kind of health insurance consumers may purchase.

Government bureaucrats even set the prices for half of our health care sector directly, and indirectly set prices for the other half. When you read about Medicare over-paying imaging centers and hospitals, or that it's impossible for Bostonians to get an appointment with a general practitioner, it's largely because the bureaucrats got the prices wrong, and those rigid prices do not automatically eliminate shortages and gluts like flexible market prices do.

A second feature of socialist economies is that there is little incentive to make careful economic decisions, because government has put everyone in the position of spending other people's money.
This is the same point TOC made here and here, among others.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Holy Land Foundation: Unindicted co-conspirator update

HLF Prosecution: CAIR "affiliated with" Hamas
On Tuesday, the prosecution in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) filed its motion in opposition to the amicus brief filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

In addition to picking apart the arguments laid out in CAIR's brief piece by piece, the government set an important precedent, officially and definitively linking CAIR to Hamas...
See also - Daniel Pipes wondering whether we have publicly funded unindicted co-conspirator training in the U.S.: Teach Arabic or Recruit Extremists?
...pre-collegiate Arabic-language instruction, even when taxpayer funded, tends to bring along indoctrination in pan-Arab nationalism, radical Islam, or both. Note some examples:
  • Amana Academy, Alpharetta, Georgia, near Atlanta: A charter school that requires Arabic-language learning, Amana boasts of its "institutional partnership" with the Arabic Language Institute Foundation (ALIF). But ALIF forwards the learning of Arabic as a means "to convey the message of Qur'an in North America and Europe" and thus to "help the Western countries recover from the present moral decay."
  • Carver Elementary School, San Diego: A teacher, Mary-Frances Stephens, informed the school board that she taught a "segregated class" of Muslim girls and that each day she was required to release them from class for an hour of prayer, led by a Muslim teacher's aide. Ms. Stephens deemed this arrangement "clearly a violation of administrative, legislative and judicial guidelines." The school's principal, Kimberlee Kidd, replied that the teacher's aide merely prayed alongside the students and the session lasted only 15 minutes. The San Diego Unified School District investigated Ms. Stephens's allegations and rejected them, but it nonetheless changed practices at Carver, implicitly substantiating her critique. Superintendent Carl Cohn eliminated single-gender classes and reconfigured the schedule so that students can pray during lunch.
  • Charlestown High School, Massachusetts: The school's summer Arabic-language program took students on a trip to the Islamic Society of Boston, where, the Boston Globe reports, students "sat in a circle on the carpet and learned about Islam from two mosque members." One student, Peberlyn Moreta, 16, fearing that the gold cross around her neck would offend the hosts, tucked it under her T-shirt. Anti-Zionism also appeared, with the showing of the 2002 film Divine Intervention, which a critic, Jordan Hiller, has termed an "irresponsible film," "frighteningly dangerous," and containing "pure hatred" toward Israel.
  • Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.: Islamic Relief Worldwide, an organization that allegedly has links to jihadism and terrorism, sponsored this charter school, which requires Arabic as a second language. The academy's name openly celebrates Islamic imperialism, as Tarek ibn Ziyad led Muslim troops in their conquest of Spain in 711 A.D. Local journalists report that "a visitor might well mistake Tarek ibn Ziyad [Academy] for an Islamic school" because of the women wearing hijabs, the carpeted prayer area, the school closing down for Islamic holidays, everyone keeping the Ramadan fast, the cafeteria serving halal food, classes breaking for prayer, almost all the children praying, and the constant use of "Brother" and "Sister" when adults at the school address each other.
Further - the Department of Justice working at cross purposes? MacFarquhar Strikes Again
... In his article, MacFarquhar [New York Times writer Neil MacFarquhar] not only gives a free pass to Islamists, but at the same time dismisses legitimate criticism of the Department of Justice's presence at the conference (which seems especially inappropriate, and newsworthy, when it is considered that ISNA has been named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the ongoing Hamas fundraising trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF)).

... Furthermore, the article is tantamount to a hit piece against Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Rep. Sue Myrick. MacFarquhar allows ISNA keynote speaker, Rep. Keith Ellison, to attack his colleagues for a letter they wrote challenging the DOJ's decision to officially participate in the ISNA conference. According to the Times, Ellison characterized the letter as "ill informed and typical of bigoted attacks that other minorities have suffered." Yet Hoekstra and Myrick never criticized Islam or minorities. Rather, they criticized ISNA as an organization, a particular Muslim Brotherhood front group with a long and documented history of support for terrorism. And this, of course, is the very reason ISNA ended up on the list of un-indicted co-conspirators in the HLF trial in the first place.
Political correctness appears to have infected the DOJ. Maybe this is why.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Whose property are you?

Trial lawyer extraordinaire John Edwards is going to force you to see a doctor. Ipso facto, he does not think you own your body.

Therefore, I'm sure he's a big fan of removing other property rights, as described here: Earmarks & the Kelo Decision Rolled Into One

If the Founding Fathers had wanted local zoning decisions made by the federal government, they would have written the Constitution that way.
And if they'd wanted the Feds to regulate individual health care decisions, they wouldn't have bothered with the Tenth Amendment.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Victims of Risk

Jeremy commented on Saturday's post, Creeping "Compassionate Conservatism," wherein I pointed out that the debate about health care has unhappily shifted to how government can best provide it, rather than whether government has any business in it.

I had pointed out that Nanny-state meddling has consistently failed to achieve its high minded objectives. Jeremy does not disagree, but thinks some aspects of the problem were overlooked:
I agree with Mitch's comment about government-mandated expanded coverage of things that most people couldn't care less about. However I think it's a bit unfair to blame rising health care costs primarily on government "meddling" - and not mention the exponential increase in litigation which has in turn raised the cost of liability insurance for doctors. I think that perhaps the biggest factor of rising health-care costs has been a cultural shift and greater sense of entitlement. Fifty years ago people understood that a doctor would do his best but he's not God. Today people expect doctors to be omniscient. Can't say I have hard data to back this up but it seems evident to me.
While these points are accurate, they leave open the questions of why is there an epidemic of litigation, and why do people have this ultra-entitlement attitude? I think cause and effect may be confused in Jeremy's examples. The examples are really just symptoms of the disease.

Serendipitously, Jeremy's comment comes on the heels of an excellent illustration of why his examples represent a cause-effect reversal: John Edwards' comments that health care will be mandatory should he be elected President. Scroll down one post for a note on that. While you're at it, scroll down one more for another example of bureaucratic bungling that continues despite evidence that such policies accomplish exactly the opposite of their purported intent. "Purported," because the actual intent is always "more government."

Jeremy is exactly right about litigation and the enormous increase in Americans' entitlement mentality. I would argue, however, that these examples are synergistic symptoms. A broadly litigious society is made more fragile when potential litigants are very much encouraged to see themselves as offended. This victimhood culture is simply a special case of the entitlement mentality. Neither is sufficient by itself to account for the abject stupidity of public policy. Together, they are nearly all you need to know. Together, they may be sufficient, but they are not necessary.

It is the surge in public acceptance of victimhood that ensures the success of frivolous litigation. Aren't we all treated unfairly, by our own lights, at some point or other? Aspiration to victimhood is an industry. By aspiration I mean both the yearned for status, and the CPR (Consistent Populist Rectitude) that sustains it. Which institution is most responsible for encouraging people to think of themselves as victims and providing the sympathetic infrastructure to satisfy their grievances? Government.

Why do we select such government? Much of it has to do with our anti-market bias. An example on a different front is pollution abatement, mentioned in an October Reason magazine article, The 4 Boneheaded Biases of Stupid Voters. (Check the site in a month or so, the article will be online.) Here's a tiny excerpt:
Anti-market biases lead people to misunderstand and reject policies they should, given their preferences for end results, support. For example, the Princeton economist Alan Blinder blames opposition to tradable pollution permits on anti-market bias. Why let people "pay to pollute," when we can force them to cease and desist?

The textbook answer is that tradable permits get you more pollution abatement for the same cost.
Unfortunately, Adam Smith's message is both counterintuitive and, here, politically incorrect. Those who feel entitled to a zero risk life do not easily tolerate the messiness of a market. Unenlightened self-interest, expressed at the ballot box, helps the command-and-control political elite to provide more and more entitlements. They use everybody's money to buy everybody's vote. The more victims they can succor, the better. Then the lobbyists take over.

An entitlement mentality exists because statist politicians have been pushing it for decades. The evidence of their success is that so-called conservatives now promote it, too. Mitt Romney's example pales in comparison to what George Bush already has done with prescription drugs under Medicare, and these are not "things that most people couldn't care less about."

The problem Romney and Edwards are trying to address is entitlement envy. Other Western democracies have state run health care, why don't we? It's a NATIONAL TRAGEDY to have millions of people without access to high quality health care!

This argument skips right by the definitions of "access" and "high quality," by incorrectly assuming countries like Canada, France, Great Britain - and even Cuba - actually provide such health care. They don't. "We" could, though, because we'd put the "right people" in charge. ... I digress.

The problem being bandied about is that the United States has people who are without health care insurance. Ignore the fact that hospital emergency rooms are required to treat people, and that billions of dollars of legitimate health care charges go unpaid by people making $50K who "couldn't afford" health insurance.

The point is, of the millions of uninsured claimed to exist in the United States, many choose to be uninsured; younger people and the affluent in particular. For example,
...according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2001 Consumer Expenditure Survey, households headed by young people between ages 25 and 34 spend more than three times as much of their income on entertainment and dining out as on out-of-pocket health care expenses. For even younger heads of household (18-to-24-year-olds), the annual expenditure on entertainment and dining out is almost five times more than out-of-pocket spending on health care. By contrast, households headed by individuals ages 65 to 74 spend almost 50 percent more on out-of-pocket health care than on entertainment and food away from home. If the young uninsured had unmet health needs, they likely would shift some of this discretionary spending into health care.
For another example:
From 1993 to 2002 the number of uninsured people in households with annual incomes above $75,000 increased by 114 percent.

The number of uninsured in households with annual incomes from $50,000 to $75,000 increased by 57 percent.

By contrast, the number of uninsured people in households with incomes under $25,000 fell by 17 percent.
What we see here is people making decisions about risk. What the socialized medicine proponents want to do is eliminate that choice. Young people should not be frittering their money away on movies and restaurants when they can be paying for someone else's health care. People who don't have insurance are entitled.

This entitlement mentality has been extended so far that the majority of Americans expect they should be exposed to no risk whatsoever. Spill a McDonald's coffee in your lap. Sue McDonald's. Jab yourself in the eye with a screwdriver. Sue the manufacturer, the steel companies and Archimedes. Can't pay your mortgage? Made stupid loans? The Feds will bail you out. There should also be no cost,
because markets are immoral and Government is everyone's alma mater.

Entitlement to a zero-cost, zero-risk life starts with the simple desire to have the government take out the garbage, tuck your kids in at night, or make everyone use low-flush toilets - all services that somebody else has to pay for. It creeps from there into the full munificence of the precautionary principle.

Expanding on the question of victimhood, litigiousness, and who's responsible for making your decisions, I'm recycling an OpEd I wrote for the Lansing State Journal.

I tltled it "Risk Proof," can't remember what they called it:

What do mercury, the Kyoto Treaty, Vioxx, arsenic, genetically enhanced plants, silicone breast implants, and product warning labels such as “DO NOT USE FOR PERSONAL HYGIENE” on toilet-bowl brushes have in common? They exemplify widespread confusion regarding risk, especially the dogma that we should never be exposed to any.

“Risk ignorance” provides fertile ground for
pseudoscientific environmental policy, frivolous lawsuits, inferior health care and all manner of costly appeals to government for regulation and redress - affecting our freedoms and the cost of regulating them.

The poster child for this problem is the “
Precautionary Principle”. It pretends to abolish risk by ignorantly demanding that we assay no progress until and unless we can prove no harm could ever possibly come from the attempt.

Technophobic extremists, aspiring to be the final arbiters of science and ethics, preach precautionary panic to encourage
statist enforcement of their views. It isn’t about risk, it’s about power.

Here are some of the penalties we pay for that conceit.

The World Health Organization, Health Canada, and other similar bodies, have clearly established the safety of mercury exposure levels many times higher than those of the Environmental Protection Agency. Still, we are
subjected to scare stories by our own basic-science-challenged media.

The Kyoto treaty, by estimation of its proponents, might reduce global warming in the year 2100 by two-tenths°C (from 2.1°C to 1.9°C) - at a cost of a trillion dollars. Many think the risk justifies the expense, despite the fact that the prediction relies on computer models which, beyond even their serious methodological deficiencies, cannot even “predict” past climate change.

Overwhelming evidence exists that present standards for arsenic in drinking water are perfectly safe. Still, rampant environmentalism has California about to set standards
below the limit of current technology to detect.

The odds of heart attack or stroke double while on
Vioxx for over 18 months. Another way to present the research is that the chance of a heart attack increases by less than 1 in 100 people. Vioxx controls arthritis pain very effectively, at substantially lower risk for gastrointestinal bleeding than other drugs. Gastrointestinal bleeding causes 16,500 deaths and over 100,000 hospitalizations annually. Some arthritis sufferers would prefer the Vioxx risk. Still, Merck voluntarily withdrew it, hoping to avoid a risk ignorant jury.

Genetically enhanced “Golden” rice
could mitigate the devastating effects of beriberi for millions of third-world poor. Despite the fact that its creators will give it away, EU bureaucrats and technophobic environmentalists oppose it for political reasons they justify via the precautionary principle.

Multiple, rigorous studies
have proven that silicone breast implants do not cause disease. Still, major companies were bankrupted by suits based on this most egregious example of “junk science as policy” in our lifetime.

It’s momentarily unlikely someone will successfully sue because they were damaged while brushing their teeth
with a toilet bowl brush, but we all pay more because of the needed legal opinion and the applied warning label.

There is no excuse for hiding risk. We should be accurately informed and penalties applied if we are not, but the precautionary principle is deliberately misleading. If you need to be warned that a screwdriver is “NOT FOR USE IN THE EYE”, perhaps you
shouldn’t be using a screwdriver.

Had we followed the precautionary principle historically, we would have forgone, for example, fire, penicillin, electricity, the wheel, internal combustion and aspirin. None of these technologies could ever be proven risk-free.

Evaluating risk via the precautionary principle is a retrograde road to, as Thomas Hobbes famously put it, life “nasty, brutish and short.”

Monday, September 03, 2007

Didn't see the doctor? Off to the Gulag with you both.

There's no proof that Stalin actually said anything like this when he used the power of the state to have people committed to "mental hospitals" or sent to the Gulag, but John Edwards has just said something very like it.
TIPTON, Iowa - Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday that his universal health care proposal would require that Americans go to the doctor for preventive care.

"It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care," he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. "If you are going to be in the system, you can't choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK."

...Edwards said his mandatory health care plan would cover preventive, chronic and long-term health care. The plan would include mental health care as well as dental and vision coverage for all Americans.

"The whole idea is a continuum of care, basically from birth to death," he said.
Emphasis mine. Whole article here: Edwards backs mandatory preventive care

This is a plan for cradle to grave socialized medicine from the horse's ... well one end or the other. You pick.

If John Edwards is elected President, he's going eliminate the confusion about choice in health care. You will see a doctor, or you'll both go to jail. There are two Americas. One where you retain free choice and another where John Edwards is in charge.

I'm sure we'll see "clarifying" remarks.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Big Oil, Bigger Government

In the popular mind Big Oil is gouging consumers and should either have their profits capped or taxed away. In the bureaucratic mind (for the sake of argument, assume there is one) taxes on refined oil should not be decreased when gasoline prices spike, maybe they should even be raised to discourage consumption and further increase revenue. These opinions have been expressed repeatedly by that Huey Long of the airwaves, Bill O'Reilly; and by politicians like Hillary Clinton and Jennifer Granholm.

Alan Reynolds had this to say on the topic in The War on Energy:

Demand is apparently unaffected by [energy] prices, but is directly affected by taxes. Besides, with higher prices we would only get more energy, while with higher taxes we could get more government. This is a plan to solve the chronic shortage of government.
Thanks to Reason magazine for the that quote from the October, 2007 Reason magazine feature, "Thirty years ago in Reason."

Things haven't changed much, including the media and political frenzy to claim "Big Oil' collusion in setting prices for gasoline.

What we don't see in media, at least not as prominently, is news like this: Big Oil did not manipulate U.S. gasoline prices: FTC

By Tom Doggett Thu Aug 30, 3:11 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Big oil companies did not conspire to raise U.S. gasoline prices last summer, as it was high crude oil costs and supply problems that caused the spike in pump prices, government investigators said on Thursday.

The Federal Trade Commission said that about 75 percent of the rise in gasoline prices was due to a seasonal increase in summer driving, higher oil costs and more expensive ethanol that was blended into gasoline.

The other 25 percent of the price increase stemmed from lower gasoline production as refiners moved to using ethanol as the main clean-burning fuel additive and lingering damage from hurricanes Katrina and Rita that reduced refining capacity.

"Our targeted examination of major refinery outages revealed no evidence that refiners conspired to restrict supply or otherwise violated antitrust laws," the FTC said. "We therefore conclude that further investigation of the nationwide 2006 gasoline price spike is not warranted at this time."

Many lawmakers at the time had accused oil companies, which were raking in billions of dollars in record profits, of overcharging U.S. consumers at the pump.

President George W. Bush directed the FTC and the Justice and Energy Departments to look into whether manipulation or other illegal activity by oil companies was behind the sharp rise in gasoline prices.

The national retail monthly average gasoline price jumped from $2.28 a gallon in February 2006 to $2.89 by the beginning of May, and then declined slightly through June. Prices started rising again in July and hit a peak of $3.02 a gallon during the second week of August, and then took a steep decline to $2.18 by the end of October.

The FTC said its investigation found the increases in motor fuel prices "were caused by a confluence of factors reflecting the normal operation of the market."

FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz dissented from the report's conclusions and issued a separate statement that said the agency developed a "theoretical model" for why gasoline prices likely increased.

Leibowitz said he believes "there was profiteering (by oil companies) at the expense of consumers."
I'll raise a cup of ethanol with a toast: To Jon Leibowitz, simply a fool.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Creeping "Compassionate Conservatism"

Conservatives are now apparently reduced to debating the best way to expand government intervention in areas where government's previous attempts have created major problems.

Mitt Romney recently released a policy statement suggesting we need more bureaucrats regulating health care. An excerpt from his website: Expanding Access To Affordable Health Care
...Governor Romney's conservative reforms also make the states true partners in the effort to expand access to affordable, quality health insurance.
The Orwellian juxtaposition of the words "conservative" with states as "true partners" in a socialized health care scheme is, to be charitable, disappointing. Watching the Congressional debate on SCHIP, one can only shudder at the prospect of states defining hospitals in Michigan and Wisconsin to actually be in Illinois. From the language of a SCHIP earmark:
"any hospital co-located in Marinette, Wisconsin and Menominee, Michigan is deemed to be located in Chicago."
This language ensures that any such hospital will receive far higher Medicare fees. There is one such hospital. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-MI, knows exactly where it is.

At one time affordable health care was the responsibility of the market, but as a direct consequence of increasing government meddling in health care, costs have sky-rocketed.

Mitt Romney tells us the cure is more government. No thanks. One Bush 43 promoting vast health care entitlements is far more than sufficient.