Saturday, May 31, 2008


TOC noted on May 28th that Marxism and environmentalism both are both systems of metaphysics. Both assert that the anointed know more of the mysteries than you do, and they should decide how you live your life. Charles Krauthammer makes the same point, in Carbon Chastity.
...For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class -- social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies -- arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).

...Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but -- even better -- in the name of Earth itself.

Carbon Chastity and Carbon credits Indulgences. Mystical solutions you must accept on faith.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Taylor Mali

This should be required viewing for the MEA, with a requirement to write an essay about what it means.

What's a Teacher make?

This should be required viewing for anyone who speaks with a rising inflection at the end of a declarative sentence.

Like, you know? Whatever.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

They're a GREAT audience

Barack Obama assures us that his plans for meeting unconditionally with leaders of tinpot dictatorships will help reduce anti-Americanism around the world and make us all safer. He contends that he will heal divisions here at home, especially racism, and make us all more tolerant. Obama has a history of local activism wherein he has been able to hone such skills for an international stage.

So, you would think he's well qualified to bring some of this reconciliation and understanding to his own church. Apparently not. The tinpot dictator wannabes who regularly rant there are too tough for him, despite 20 years of unconditional negotiation. They don't stop foaming at the mouth even when it will obstruct Obama's path to the Presidency.

Jeremiah Wright's foibles are well documented by now, but here's another long time Obama friend continuing the hysterical, anti-American, racist tradition of Barack's Trinity United Church of Christ just this last Sunday:

The worshippers LOVE this exhibitionist vitriol. It's a tribal victory dance led by a narcissistic megalomaniac.

It's no wonder Obama can't persuade such friends not to screw up his presidential campaign. Still, he chose these friends. Still, his fellow congregants cheered in joy at Father Michael Pfleger's words.

Obama repudiates Wright and Pfleger when they piss in his ear 2 or 3 times, but how little can he then credibly claim to know about people he's called friends for 20 years, who've been advisors listed on his campaign website?

Until at least May 24th of this year, Father Pfleger's endorsement was featured on Barack Obama's official website. Pfleger's entry has been removed sometime in the last 4 days. It is easy to see why Pfleger is no longer featured, but via the magic of Google's cache, we can find this:

Father Michael Pfleger
Senior Pastor, St. Sabina Church, Chicago, IL
I’m concerned by issues of poverty and issues of justice and equal access and opportunity especially when dealing with children and education and healthcare. Also, the war in Iraq is non-negotiable: end it! The faith community has to be a prophetic voice to bring us to where we ought to be as a country. Its voice should call every individual to be their best and not assimilate into anything less. Obama is calling back those who have given up and lost hope in the political system both young and old in the belief that we can fix it. He has the intellect for the job and I haven’t heard anyone since Robert F. Kennedy who is causing such an emotional and spiritual awakening to the political possibilities.

Father Pfleger has also been disappeared from the Obama News and Speeches section of Obama's site, where Obama, up until at least May 23rd, noted that he hosted a Climate Change event in Iowa where Pfleger participated in discussion panels. Google cache comes to our rescue again. Also here. And here.

So far, they haven't deleted this reference to Pfleger or this one or this one. Maybe Obama's people couldn't reasonably delete those last 3 because they originate with external bloggers. I suppose the Obama campaign can claim they weren't there the days these were written.

People Barack Obama has closely associated with for 2 decades or more have demonstrated hatred for their country, hatred for those of a specific skin color and hatred for Jews. It's that simple. Whether Obama agrees, or whether he just played along, isn't important. He is unfit to be president on the basis of his character.

It's time for change, all right. Barack Obama may be able to put up with this for many years, but he needs to get his daughters out of that church.

The really odd part is that Father Pfleger would seem to be an Obama supporter. It is hard to understand why he just couldn't stop himself from delivering a deranged rant damaging to his candidate. Here's Pfleger on Obama's passion for change:
"He really came here with a very strong passion about how can we change things, and he understood the churches as being a vehicle for doing that," recalls the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of the Saint Sabina Church, a Catholic church on the South Side, who has known Obama since his early days in Chicago. But he also "realized that with some churches there would be a credibility issue if he were organizing churches but didn't have a home church."
Here's one thing Obama did for Pfleger:
"It happens that there were major supporters in my district who had been supporters before they got member initiatives," Obama said, noting that some of his contributors had been his allies for years.

One of those long-time supporters was Rev. Michael Pfleger, the politically active leader of St. Sabina Church. He gave Obama's campaign $1,500 between 1995 and 2001, including $200 in April 2001, about three months after Obama announced $225,000 in grants to St. Sabina programs.
I bet Obama is disappointed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Marxism is metaphysics... is environmentalism.

Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, recently told the United Nations to forget about mandating global environmental policy. He described this as a question of freedom; freedom from the superstition known as the Precautionary Principle.

In 2007 Klaus delivered a speech at the Cato Institute containing the single most cogent description of modern environmentalism I've ever read.

...The third main threat to individual freedom and liberty I see in environmentalism. To be specific, I do understand the concerns about eventual environmental degradation but I do see a problem in environmentalism as an ideology.

Environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection. Behind their people- and nature-friendly terminology, the adherents to this ideology make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, all of us and our behavior, as well as our values.

There is no doubt that it is our duty to protect rationally the nature for the future generations. The followers of the environmentalist ideology, however, keep presenting to us various catastrophic scenarios with the intention to persuade us to implement their ideas about us and about the whole human society. This is not only unfair but extremely dangerous. What is, in my view, even more dangerous, is the quasi-scientific form that their many times refuted forecasts have taken upon themselves.

What belongs to this ideology?

- disbelief in the power of the invisible hands of free market and belief in the omnipotence state dirigism;

- disregard for the role of important and powerful economic mechanisms and institutions – primarily that of property rights and prices – for an effective protection of nature;

- misunderstanding of the meaning of resources, of the difference between the potential natural resource and the real one, that may be used in the economy;

- Malthusian pessimism over the technical progress;

- belief in the dominance of externalities in human activities;

- promotion of the so-called “precautionary principle“, which maximizes the risk aversion without paying attention to the costs;

- underestimation of the long-term income and welfare growth, which results in a fundamental shift of demand towards environmental protection (this is demonstrated by the so-called Environmental Kuznets Curve);

- erroneous discounting of the future, demonstrated so clearly by the highly publicized Stern-Report a few months ago.

All of these views are associated with social sciences, not with natural sciences. This is why environmentalism – unlike scientific ecology – does not belong to the natural sciences but is to be classified as an ideology. This fact is, however, not understood by the common people and by numerous politicians.

The hypothesis of global warming and the role of man in this process is the last and till this day the most powerful embodiment of the environmental ideology. It has brought along many important “advantages” for the environmentalists:

- an empirical analyses of this phenomenon is very complicated due to the complexity of global climate and the mix of various long-, medium-, and short-term trends (and causes);

- their argumentation is not based on simple empirical measurements or laboratory experiments, but on sophisticated model experiments working with a range of ill-founded assumptions that are usually hidden and not sufficiently understood;

- the opponents of this hypothesis have to accept the fact that in this case we are in the world of non-internalized externalities;

- people tend to notice and remember only extraordinary climate phenomena but not normal developments and slow long-term trends and processes.

It is not my intention, here and now, to present arguments for the refutation of this hypothesis. What I find much more important is to protest against the efforts of the environmentalists to manipulate people. Their recommendations would take us back into the era of statism and restricted freedom. It is therefore our task to draw a clear line and differentiate between the ideological environmentalism and the scientific ecology.
(Here's the entire speech.)

It is presently relevant to us because the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade climate control bill is coming up for consideration in the Senate of the United States. This bill is precisely the statist claptrap described by Klaus. More charitably, the Wall Street Journal deems it "the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s."

If you doubt that means devastation of the United States' economy, check this chart.

Sad enough that it is driven by corporatist greed from companies like General Electric, for whom carbon cap-and-trade creates a whole new market out of nothing and by investors in the 21st Century version of purchasing indulgences like Al Gore.

Yet worse, it will not accomplish its intent even after a 44% increase in electricity rates.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mad Maxine in the Plunderdome

John Hofmeister is the president of Shell Oil, and he is regularly invited to ritual excoriation testify before clueless Congresscritters. Last week he was subjected to a Congressional photo-op/interrogation in regard to fossil-fuel energy costs.

Representative Maxine Waters didn't like his answer to her demand for a guarantee of lower energy prices if drilling restrictions were eased in the United States. She was sufficiently exercised to start channeling Karl Marx and Hugo Chavez more vigorously than is usual even for a bear of such little brain. She was not, as the Fox newsperson graciously speculated, looking for the word "nationalize." She said exactly what she meant. At least her colleagues were amused.

If you haven't seen this performance, now's your chance:

Mark Steyn, on the other hand, is not invited to testify before Ms. Waters, nor even Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. There is good reason for this, but he makes much the same point as did Mr. Hofmeister. Steyn is funnier, however.

The NOPEC 'Fix'

I was watching the Big Oil execs testifying before Congress. That was my first mistake. If memory serves, there was lesbian mud wrestling over on Channel 137, and on the whole that's less rigged. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz knew the routine: "I can't say that there is evidence that you are manipulating the price, but I believe that you probably are. So prove to me that you are not."

Had I been in the hapless oil man's expensive shoes, I'd have answered, "Hey, you first. I can't say that there is evidence that you're sleeping with barnyard animals, but I believe that you probably are. So prove to me that you are not. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence and prima facie evidence, lady? Do I have to file a U.N. complaint in Geneva that the House of Representatives is in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?"

Here's another look at the same point from Pete Du Pont at the Wall Street Journal. Energy and the Executive shows why he's not invited to testify either. Emphasis mine.

...Domestic oil production has declined, to 1.9 billion in 2007 from 3.1 billion barrels in 1980, while imports increased to 3.7 billion barrels from 1.9 billion. We now importing about 60% of the oil we use.

One reason for the imports is that our public policy has forbidden offshore oil drilling for much of the estimated 85 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (an 18-year supply) that are on the Outer Continental Shelf, and another 10 billion barrels of oil in Alaska. Together they could replace America's imported oil for about 25 years, but the first President Bush issued a directive forbidding access to a significant portion of the Outer Continental Shelf. President Clinton extended the restriction through 2012 and vetoed legislation that would have allowed drilling in Alaska.

So America has large amounts of oil and gas, but our efforts to extract it have been significantly reduced by the federal moratorium on drilling. America remains the only nation in the world that has curtailed access to its own energy supplies/ Meanwhile China will soon begin drilling for oil off Cuba and in Venezuela.

When you've read those, check out Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance, Carpe Diem, for more interesting information about oil prices and other economic issues.

Some other TOC reading related to oil prices:

Friday, May 02, 2008
Windfalls are where you find them

Sunday, September 02, 2007
Big Oil, Bigger Government

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorializing the 2nd Amendment

I've added a new links section titled 2nd Amendment. Non-duplicate links from the deleted section Firearms have been moved.

One of the new links is to a specific article. If you find it interesting, use the site menu to explore further. In any case, I recommend reading Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun.

It is Memorial Day appropriate because it speaks both to the security given to us by those who risk/ed death in freedom's defense and to the mind-set of those of us who would be free.

Self-defense is the fundamental right. That others - strangers - would defend your life is an almost unimaginable gift. "Almost," because we have continuing evidence that our military personnel do just that. They appreciate the following truth, even while they have volunteered to risk the existential threat:

...the bearing of arms functions not merely as an assertion of power but as a fierce and redemptive discipline. When sudden death hangs inches from your right hand, you become much more careful, more mindful, and much more peaceful in your heart — because you know that if you are thoughtless or sloppy in your actions or succumb to bad temper, people will die.

Too many of us have come to believe ourselves incapable of this discipline. We fall prey to the sick belief that we are all psychopaths or incompetents under the skin. We have been taught to imagine ourselves armed only as villains, doomed to succumb to our own worst nature and kill a loved one in a moment of carelessness or rage.

...But it's not so.

...To believe one is incompetent to bear arms is, therefore, to live in corroding and almost always needless fear of the self — in fact, to affirm oneself a moral coward. A state further from the dignity of a free man would be rather hard to imagine. It is as a way of exorcising this demon, of reclaiming for ourselves the dignity and courage and ethical self-confidence of free (wo)men that the bearing of personal arms, is, ultimately, most important.
Clinging to our guns is "clinging" to being free people. RTWT


The Associated Press claimed on Thursday that top Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani was issuing anti-American fatwas.
Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric has been quietly issuing religious edicts declaring that armed resistance against U.S.-led foreign troops is permissible — a potentially significant shift by a key supporter of the Washington-backed government in Baghdad.
When I saw it was an AP story, I had a good idea that it was either inaccurate or incomplete. Indeed, AP seems to have been mistaken according to the independent Iraqi news agency Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq). Check out the denial at the link.

See also: Busted!!... Iraqi Press Denies AP Report On Ayatollah Sistani, and Red Herring Fatwas.

I'm keeping an eye on Iraq the Model for updates.

...Insert segue here...

The other item, related only by the word "bogus," is NASA's photo demonstrating one effect of warming on the planet Jupiter.
Jupiter's recent outbreak of red spots is likely related to large scale climate change as the gas giant planet is getting warmer near the equator.
I wonder how the IPCC computer models account for this? Could be solar activity. Could be something unique to Jupiter. What it isn't is too many Jovians driving around in SUVs.

Note; rising temperatures have also been observed on Mars and other bodies in the Solar System. There may be reasons a computer model of climate change on Earth would ignore changes in the rest of the Solar System. The only one I can think of, however, is that our best models can't yet handle how our own clouds work, much less Jupiter's, so incorporating data from other planets probably wouldn't help improve accuracy. On the other hand, it probably wouldn't hurt either.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

We remember

And we thank you. And not just on Memorial Day.

Here are ways to display appreciation and recognize those who protect our freedoms throughout the year.

Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation


Wounded Warrior Project

Soldiers Angels

Operation Gratitude

This is hardly an exhaustive list, so if you don't see an organization you can support - go and find one you can. Because,

The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive how the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.
-George Washington November 10, 1781

Finally, check out this Memorial Day tribute.

Update: 4:11PM Something else you could do

More, 5:18PM Memorial Day 2008 Sgt. Michelle Rudzitis addresses the Michigan Senate.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lame AND pathetic

I thought this was a joke, and I guess it is, but it wasn't intended to be. John McCain has announced the political equivalent of S&H Green Stamps, though it is not yet clear what redemption may ensue. For myself, I'm not expecting a Cabinet job.

The deal is, say nice things about John McCain on selected blogs - the Daily Kos is one of those suggested - and you get "points," hereafter known as McCainPoints. McCain's website actually includes suggested talking points to help inform your posts and comments.

Can we not get the FEC to declare this a violation of McCain-Feingold? Are these not solicitations of "contributions in kind?" Do McCainPoints have any monetary value? Is there a "cap and trade" program for McCainPoints? The Other Club could use it.

If we got enough McCainPoints could we trade McCain for Fred Thompson?

Here's the McCain webpage solicitation:

Help spread the word about John McCain on news and blog sites. Your efforts to help get the message out about John McCain's policies and plan for the future is one of the most valuable things you can do for this campaign. You know why John McCain should be the next President of the United States and we need you to tell others why.

Select from the numerous web, blog and news sites listed here, go there, and make your opinions supporting John McCain known. Once you’ve commented on a post, video or news story, report the details of your comment by clicking the button below. After your comments are verified, you will be awarded points through the McCain Online Action Center.
Unfortunately for the McCain campaign, the sock puppets and trolls he's trying to motivate value their integrity (with the exception of Richard Warman - who in any case is a Canadian).

Fortunately for me, The Other Club is not one of the "suggested blogs." If it were, I would have negative points. Let The Other Club be known henceforth as the "McCain Online Inaction Center," the primary inaction being not to vote for the man.

Since McCain is once again calling for an illegal immigrant amnesty program as a top priority...

McCain calls for guest worker visas

UNION CITY - Republican presidential candidate John McCain joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in calling today for comprehensive immigration reform, including guest worker visas to bring employees to California's Silicon Valley and the state's vast agricultural fields.

..."We need to change the system. All this is part of a comprehensive immigration reform. You can't piecemeal this thing," Schwarzenegger said.

While the governor said, "securing the border is extremely important" to California he added: "You have to have the courage to do this kind of immigration reform so we can bring people into this country legally."

Schwarzenegger said he supported a pathway to legal status so that more people can have "legal drivers licenses" and "everyone would have bank accounts...and there would be background checks so that there would be no criminal element in this country."

Afterwards, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman hosted a fundraiser for McCain expected to draw 350 donors and $2 million in contributions.
...maybe McCainPoints should be called Frequent Liar Guiles™?

Anyone who would like to attempt to get McCainPoints by commenting here has my full support. I'll even publish guest posts. I will assure the McCain campaign of your straight-talking reputation for only a small fee.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Count every vote!

In Michigan, John Edwards supporters arranged it so Barack Obama could take his name off the ballot. This was an advantage to Edwards because he was also allowed to take his name off the ballot in a primary where he would have finished last, or near enough to it to make no nevermind. Edwards supporters wanted to force a caucus. Screw the voters.

Florida didn't make the mistake of letting their renegade primary be totally compromised by party hacks and union influence. Then again, the Florida Party Chair wasn't in the tank for John Edwards and the Union bosses who liked his populism:

Mich. Democrats officially approve Jan. 15 primary
The Democrat-controlled House on Monday night passed the bill to put all eight Democrats on the ballot, but failed to come up with the two-thirds vote needed for it to take effect before the election.

Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell — who along with Gov. Jennifer Granholm backs Clinton — blamed the Edwards campaign for derailing the vote.

"It's very clear that the Edwards people have been at the forefront of trying to keep the primary from happening in Michigan," Dingell said Tuesday. "They felt they would have had a better chance at a caucus" because union members who like Edwards would make up a disproportionate share of Democratic caucus voters.

Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis blamed both the Edwards campaign and Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer for keeping the names off the ballot.

Both have "been working for months to scuttle Michigan's presidential primary, working in open opposition to Governor Granholm and the large majority Michigan Democrats who joined Republicans in supporting a Jan. 15 primary," Anuzis said in a release. "The only thing the Democrats have done is chosen to score political points by disenfranchising their own voters."
In the long-ago of March 2008, many Obama backers were arguing Barack deserved the Democrat presidential nomination because he led in the popular vote. At the time, TOC advised these people to Be careful what you wish for.

TOC speculated that if Hillary got within 200,000 votes, especially given that Obama got 429,000 of his then 717,000 margin solely from Cook County Illinois, that the electoral college calculus might not be on his side.

Looks like we may have underestimated Hillary's popular vote:

In most inclusive count, Clinton has the numbers
By Jonathan Last
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Lost in the excitement of Barack Obama's coronation this week was an inconvenient fact of Tuesday's results: Hillary Clinton netted approximately 150,000 votes and is now poised to finish the primary season as the popular-vote leader. In some quaint circles, presumably, these things still matter.

Real Clear Politics keeps track of six versions of the popular-vote total. They are, in ascending order of inclusivity: (1) the popular vote of sanctioned contests; (2) the total of sanctioned contests, plus estimated votes from the Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington caucuses; (3) the popular vote plus Florida; (4) popular vote plus Florida and the caucuses; (5) the popular vote plus Florida and Michigan; (6) popular vote plus Florida, Michigan, and the caucus estimates. After Tuesday, Clinton now leads in two of these six counts.

If you believe that the most important precept in democratic politics is to "count every vote," then the sixth category is the most inclusive, and here Clinton leads Obama by 71,301 votes. Of course, this includes the Michigan result, where Sen. Obama had removed his name from the ballot. So while it may be the most inclusive, it may not be the most fair.

The third and fourth counts - the ones which include Florida - seem more fair. Here, Obama is clinging to a slight lead of 146,786 votes (257,008, with the caucus estimates). However, with Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota remaining, he will almost certainly finish behind her in these counts, likely by a few hundred thousand votes.

But could Clinton take over the lead in all of the popular-vote tabulations? Quite possibly. In Puerto Rico's last major election, two million people voted. Let's assume that turnout for this historic vote - Puerto Rico has never had a presidential primary before - will be equal to or greater than that turnout. ...
This is fun.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How'd that happen?

A decline in global terrorism. Must be secret unconditional negotiations.

Iraq figures distort terrorism statistics: study
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A study released on Wednesday reports a decline in fatal attacks of terrorism worldwide and says U.S. think-tank data showing sharp increases were distorted due to the inclusion of killings in Iraq.

"Even if the Iraq 'terrorism' data are included, there has still been a substantial decline in the global terrorism toll," said the 2007 Human Security Brief, an annual report funded by the governments of Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Britain.
What if they threw a terrorism party and nobody came?

Investment advice you can figure out for yourself

The Lansing area UAW just finished a month-long local strike here in the economically worst performing state in the Union. American Axle workers in Hamtramck are voting on whether to end an 87 day strike. The UAW is also just coming off a strike in Kansas.

In the mid 60s I worked on the line at the GM Fisher Body plant in Lansing, building Oldsmobile F-85, 88 and 98 chassis on two different assembly lines. When our chassis rolled off the end of the line they were transported to a different plant by truck to be mated with the drive-train and frame. The engines were built in a third facility. Times have changed, more so where the UAW does not hold sway.

This: Ford's most advanced assembly plant operates in rural Brazil, is a good example of why Michigan needs a right to work law. It's also a good example of why manufacturing is a dead-end in Michigan otherwise.

And it doesn't matter if it is manufacturing windmills, Jennifer.

In non-manufacturing news:
ZURICH, Switzerland: Swiss bank UBS AG said Wednesday it has sold subprime and other mortgage-based securities with a nominal value of US$22 billion for US$15 billion (€9.5 billion) to a newly created investment fund run by U.S. asset manager BlackRock Inc.

The sale is part of an attempt by Switzerland's largest bank to offload risky positions that contributed to its massive writedowns of US$37.4 billion over the past nine months.

The securities had a nominal value of about US$22 billion (€14 billion), but have been listed with a book value of US$15 billion since March, UBS said. Investors have shunned mortgage-backed securities over fears too many of the mortgages were made to people with shaky credit who may eventually default.

The fund received a US$11.25 billion (€7.14 billion) loan from UBS to buy the assets.
We have a short, clear analysis of this transaction from an anonymous tipster:
The mortgage industry's lunacy at its finest.

UBS loans billions to a hedge fund so the hedge fund can in turn, buy crap loans owned by who else, but UBS!! Oh, and the purchaser is 49% owned BY Merrill Lynch, a fierce, cut-throat competitor of UBS.
Tip of the Hat for both stories.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Grab 'em by their testicles circulation and their hearts and minds will follow

The New York Times has another balanced story on Iraq. There was also one on April 20th during mopping up operations in Basra.

The surge must truly be working for the Times to notice progress in Iraq twice within 30 days. That, or the anti-surge in their circulation and stock value... having an effect.

Operation in Sadr City Is an Iraqi Success, So Far
Published: May 21, 2008

BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces rolled unopposed through the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City on Tuesday, a dramatic turnaround from the bitter fighting that has plagued the Baghdad neighborhood for two months, and a qualified success for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

As it did in the southern city of Basra last month, the Iraqi government advanced its goal of establishing sovereignty and curtailing the powers of the militias.

This was a hopeful accomplishment, but one that came with caveats: In both cities, the militias eventually melted away in the face of Iraqi troops backed by American firepower. Thus nobody can say just where the militias might re-emerge or when Iraqi and American forces might need to fight them again.

...Mr. Maliki was strengthened politically in his drive to shape an image as a strong and decisive leader, the kind of leader many Iraqis, Sunni and Shiite, think is needed to control the country.

...So far, the Iraqi Army has been a winner. Iraqi commanders received, and sometimes rejected, advice from the American military. But in the end they were able to execute a plan that was very much their own.
It is prudent for the Times to end their headline with "so far." If only they had shown similar circumspection when they were crying that Operation Saulat al Fursan was a disaster, even while they were confusing it with Tet.

The Iraqi government's confrontation with al-Sadr is not over, though Prime Minister al-Maliki's increased political clout has made the outcome more certain. This is exactly the sort of action - enforcement of the rule of law by an elected Iraqi government - that deserves the continuing support of the United States.

TOC's earlier posts on this topic:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Hit the tip jar

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Tet-à-Tête with Mooky

Saturday, April 26, 2008
Saulat al Fursan

Sunday, April 20, 2008
teT - a palindrome

Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Operation Knight's Assault - continuing success

Monday, April 07, 2008
War Theater Critic

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Tet redux?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This is from Obama's official website. Emphasis mine.
Obama: Initial Meetings With Hostile Nations Would Start With Lower Level Aides; Bush Admin "Preconditions" Are Exactly What Need to Be Negotiated In These Meetings.

Asked whether his idea of meeting with hostile nations consisted of "from the get-go of the President of the United States" or lower level aides, Obama said, "The latter. Understand what the question was. The question was a very specific question. Would you meet without preconditions? Preconditions as it applies to a country like Iran for example was a term of art. Because this administration has been very clear that it will not have direct negotiations with Iran until Iran has meet preconditions that are essentially negotiations with Iran until Iran has met preconditions that are essentially what Iran used and many other observers would view as the subject of the negotiations. For example, [For example??] their nuclear program. The point is that I would not refuse to meet until they agree to every position that we want. But that doesn't mean that we would not have preparation, and the preparation would involve starting with low level-lower level diplomatic contacts, having our diplomatic corps work through with Iranian counterparts, an agenda. But what I have said is that at some point I would be willing to meet. And that is a position, I mean, what's puzzling is that we view this as in any way controversial, when this has been the history of U.S. diplomacy, until very recently. This whole notion of not talking to people, it didn't hold in the ‘60s, it didn’'t hold in the '70s, it didn'’t hold in the '80s, it didn'’t hold in the '90s, against much more powerful adversaries; much more dangerous adversaries. I mean, when Kennedy met with Khrushchev, we were on the brink of nuclear war. When Nixon met with Mao, that was with the knowledge that Mao had exterminated millions of people. And yet we understood that we could advance our national security interests by at least opening up lines of communication. And this was bipartisan. And it's a signal of how badly our foreign policy has drifted over the last eight years; how much it has been skewed by the rhetoric of the Bush Administration that this should even be a controversial proposition." [Obama Press Avail, 5/15/08]
Obama is right that the question was a very specific question; more specific than he apparently can recall. It was, "Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?"

I don't quite follow the italicized explanation(?) that purports to support the headline: "Bush Admin "Preconditions" Are Exactly What Need to Be Negotiated In These Meetings," when the question was about preconditions Obama called unnecessary.

We can ignore twaddle about preconditions meaning "until they agree to every position that we want." Nobody ever said pre-conditions meant that, the claim represents an insular arrogance about lying we haven't even seen from the Clintons.

Aside from the fact that the meetings with Khrushchev and Mao were not held without conditions, there are several other problems for Obama in equating those meetings with meeting Bashir al-Hassad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Raoul Castro, and Kim Jong-il, not the least of which is the implication of granting these psychopaths the prestige of a face-to-face meeting with the President of the United States.

So, now there are preconditions, they're just called "preparations. Now he's telling that "in the first year" doesn't mean right away.

That's some ingenious argument, all right.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Punctuation. Matters.

Supreme Court upholds part of anti-child porn law

I read the story to be sure. Despite the above headline, the porn law is definitely not anti-child. This is not about some court implementing NAMBLA's agenda.

A book that deals with the topic of meaning and punctuation is worth a read: Eats, Shoots and Leaves."

Don't be evil Google's corporate motto, so you can trust them, right?

A question you'll need to consider is whether you want to trust them to store all your health information in their databases. They're calling this service "Google Health."

They promise not to release any of your information except in "certain limited circumstances."
7. How does Google Health protect the privacy of my health information?

You should know two main things up front:

1. We will never sell your personal health information or data
2. We will not share your health data with individuals or third parties unless you explicitly tell us to do so or except in certain limited circumstances described in our privacy policy.
This is the same Google described here:
After a Google user posted a profane picture of the Hindu saint Shivaji, Indian authorities contacted Google to ask for his IP address. Google complied. He was arrested and is reported to have been beaten by a lathi and asked to use the same bowl to eat and to use in the toilet. Not surprisingly, Google is a keen to play this down as Yahoo is being hauled over the coals by US Congress for handing over an IP addresses and emails to the Chinese Government which resulted in a Chinese democracy activist being jailed.
Think I'll pass on this Google Health thing, thanks.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Appeasement by any other name...

Would have the same stench.

The man on the right has questioned whether Jews are human beings and has called for Israel to be destroyed.

The man on the right denies that the Holocaust happened, and he participated in the Dhimmi Carter era hostage taking of American Embassy personnel in Tehran. See here and here.

The man on the right can no more disown this crime against the entire civilized world than he could disown his grandmother. Or his own Imam.

The man on the right heads a nation which is developing nuclear weapons in defiance of international sanctions. No sane person doubts they are to be pointed at Israel. No sane person thinks they wouldn't be pointed at us if an appropriate delivery system becomes available.

The man on the right heads a country which ships weapons into Iraq, and provides training in their use, for the purpose of killing American soldiers.

The man on the right has publicly described his visions of being surrounded by a mystic halo during a speech to the United Nations. In short, he is possessed of a fanatic religious certitude, immune to compromise. Or negotiation.

The man on the right is a person with whom Barack Obama has said he would negotiate unconditionally.

That is, Obama would negotiate without regard to Israel's existence, Iran's nuclear weapons program, killing Americans in Iraq or the morality of violating international law. Moreover, Obama suggests unconditional negotiations with a man subject to Islamic rapture of the 12th Imam.

The man on the right is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a state sponsor of terror. Would you even enter the same room with such a man without conditions?

The man on the left is an Iranian puppet, the current Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah. His funding comes from Iran. His is just one terrorist organization funded by Iran, the “most active state sponsor of terrorism.

Here's some insight from the Council on Foreign Relations.
U.S. officials say Iran mostly backs Islamist groups, including the Lebanese Shiite militants of Hezbollah (which Iran helped found in the 1980s) and such Palestinian terrorist groups as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A few months after Hamas won the Palestinian Authority (PA) elections in early 2006, Iran pledged $50 million to the near-bankrupt PA. The United States, among other nations, has cut off aid to the PA because of Hamas’ terrorist ties.

Iran is suspected of encouraging Hezbollah’s July 2006 attack on Israel to deflect international attention from its nuclear weapons program. Iran was also reportedly involved in a Hezbollah-linked January 2002 attempt to smuggle a boatload of arms to the PA. Some reports also suggest that Iran’s interference in Iraq has included funding, safe transit, and arms to insurgent leaders like Muqtada al-Sadr and his forces.

...What terrorist activities have been linked with Iran?

The U.S. government first listed Iran as a terrorist sponsor in 1984. Among its activities have been the following:

* Observers say Iran had prior knowledge of Hezbollah attacks, such as the 1988 kidnapping and murder of Colonel William Higgins, a U.S. Marine involved in a UN observer mission in Lebanon, and the 1992 and 1994 bombings of Jewish cultural institutions in Argentina.

* Iran still has a price on the head of the Indian-born British novelist Salman Rushdie for what Iranian leaders call blasphemous writings about Islam in his 1989 novel The Satanic Verses.

* U.S. officials say Iran supported the group behind the 1996 truck bombing of Khobar Towers, a U.S. military residence in Saudi Arabia, which killed nineteen U.S. servicemen.
If Barack Obama thinks unconditional negotiations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are a good idea, I pity his daughters. He'll have even more difficulty with them, and they will be the worse because of it. Heaven help us if they acquire nukes.

In Obama's favor in this endeavor is the fact that he already has extensive experience with religious bigots, even if he has assiduously avoided negotiating with them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shoe fit?

I don't know whether Cinderella would have been forced to marry the prince once it was found that the glass slipper fit her, but she couldn't deny it did fit; and I'm not going to retell the story about the Foo Bird, but it obviously applies. I will say that Senator Obama doth protest too much about the established shape of his own feet.

mine. Words, who'd believe it, Associated Press:

Bush gave a speech to Israel's Knesset in which he spoke of the president of Iran, who has called for the destruction of the U.S. ally. Then, Bush said: "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along."

"We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history," Bush added.

...The first-term Illinois senator responded to the comments as if they were criticism of his position that as president he would be willing to personally meet with Iran's leaders and those of other regimes the United States has deemed rogue.
That is his position, but he's invoked the Obama Rules: "I never actually said that I'd meet with terrorists, and if I did, I didn't mean it that way. You know better than to think that of Me."

Since Obama has said straight out on national TV that he would meet unconditionally with the heads of terrorist states:

...and since the following statement is still appearing on his Website...
Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.
I don't know what Obama's problem is with having his position illustrated accurately and in historical context. After all, it's not as if he doesn't share this appeasement philosophy with more than half of prominent democrats. I mean, if Bush's remarks were directed at an individual, John Edwards, Jimmy Carter or Russ Feingold would immediately come to mind. Or... well the list is very long.

OTOH, Obama did claim that FDR, Truman and Kennedy all negotiated with our enemies without condition. And, he maintains the fantasy that extensive talks with Iran haven't taken place.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Time could not be reached for comment

So much for Time magazine's "Al-Sadr Wins Another Round" story. (TOC yesterday.)

We haven't stopped killing the Mahdi Army thugs and Sadr's been shown not even to have control within his own supposed sphere.

Shi'ite gunmen in Baghdad slum ignore truce

An agreement aimed at ending fighting in the Baghdad bastion of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr appeared on the verge of collapse on Tuesday after gunmen attacked U.S. troops.

The deal between the ruling Shi'ite alliance and Sadr's opposition movement in parliament to end fighting in the Sadr City slum district was formally signed on Monday.

But with the ink barely dry on the 16-point pact, clashes flared overnight and through Tuesday, raising questions over how much control the anti-American cleric has over some of the Mehdi Army militiamen who profess allegiance to him.

Worth reading

A headline that is four words too long.

A "complete lack of consciousness."

A 10 percenter speaks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A chronic condition

This is how Canadian-style human rights commissions have been implemented in the United States.
A student teacher who uses a service dog for his epilepsy has had to leave his position early after a Muslim student harassed the animal, and worse. Tyler Hurd needs the dog for his protection and for emergency supplies for first-aid responders, but apparently Technical High School in St Cloud believes that Hurd’s needs are secondary to providing a dog-free zone for its Muslim students. Hurd says he feels threatened by the action, as well he should — because the student threatened to kill the dog:
And this.

It's telling that these institutions are government schools, typical government schools.

It's worse that there are thousands of examples.

Hit the tip jar

Regular readers of The Other Club will know that Saulat al Fursan, or Operation Knight's Assault, wherein Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki cracked down on the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al Sadr has been very successful.

On April 20th, TOC noted that,
Even the New York Times now understands that the Battle of Basra was a military and political victory for the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, that it shows American training of Iraqi forces has been effective, that the Iraqi government is increasingly unified and that these facts are having an effect on external relations.
On May 10th, we noted the McClatchy Newspapers acknowledgment of reality:
In big concession, militia agrees to let Iraqi troops into Sadr City

BAGHDAD — Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

...It also would be a startling turnaround in fortunes for Maliki, who'd been widely criticized for picking a fight with Sadr's forces, first in the southern port city of Basra and then in Sadr City.
Now comes Time magazine. Apparently they did not get the memo. As Time reports that same McClatchy story: Al-Sadr Wins Another Round
The fact that a leading figure in al-Sadr's ranks announced the deal and pointedly rejected the Iraqi government's key demand to disarm suggests that the cleric is still controlling the agenda tactically and politically despite the most serious challenge his power the Iraqi government could muster. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki set out to break the back of the Mahdi Army in March, when he launched an offensive against areas the militia controls in the southern city of Basra.
Why isn't Time clued in? Probably because they don't read Ardolino, Roggio, Totten or Yon. In the real world:

Operations continue in Sadr City
By Bill Roggio

US and Iraqi forces continue to strike at the Mahdi Army in Baghdad despite the agreement reached between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army late Friday. Seventeen Mahdi Army fighters were killed in northeastern Baghdad over the past 24 hours.

Nine of the Mahdi Army fighters were killed in Sadr City: four Mahdi fighters were killed by an air weapons team as they planted an explosively formed penetrator roadside bomb; three were killed as they attacked the barrier emplacement teams along Qods Street; and two were killed as they fired rockets. Five more Mahdi Army fighters were killed by air weapons teams in New Baghdad as they grouped for an attack, and three more were killed as they conducted attacks in Adhamiyah.

The cease-fire signed yesterday between the Sadrist movement, which runs the Mahdi Army, and the government of Iraq will not hinder the building of the concrete barrier or operations against the Mahdi Army, US military officials have stated.
In Pictures: Patrolling the Shorja Market with the Sons of Iraq
By Bill Ardolino

Since the relative diminishment of al Qaeda in Iraq, the Al Sadria Sons of Iraq consider the Mahdi Army their main enemy in the district. Support for the Mahdi Army in Rusafa is diminishing as the populace grows tired of the militia’s criminal activity and as the Mahdi operatives clash with government forces. Faris and his men hate the Mahdi Army and consider them on par with al Qaeda.

...The Mahdi Army has taken heavy casualties in Sadr City and the surrounding neighborhoods since the fighting began on March 25. A total of 579 Mahdi Army fighters have been confirmed killed in and around Sadr City since March 25,
It is highly likely that the NYT and McClatchy have been affected by the accuracy and reputation of independent reporters like Ardolino and Roggio. Without them, who knows?

These guys report what they see in Iraq and they do it on their own dime. Help them keep it up.

Bill Ardolino,
Bill Roggio,
Michael Totten and
Michael Yon.

And, BTW, get Yon's book Moment of Truth In Iraq.

Update: 9:38PM Sadrist bloc buckles, agrees to let Iraqi Army in Sadr City

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jeremiah had a Trumpet

Was a good friend of mine.
I always understood every word he said,
but I can't still wink at his whine.
He always had some mighty fine whine.

Joy ain't the word,
for all the stuff I've heard, now.
Change ain't the message that he gave to me.
It was white conspiracy.

And if I become the President,
tell you what you'd see.
I'd throw away the cars and the bars and the wars,
that's Messianic me.

Sing it now

You know I need the ladies'
votes to end my run.
I'm a high note speaker and effete lib thinker,
so stop clinging to your guns.
I said I want to take your guns

Barack Obama finally became "outraged and appalled" not by the content of his close friend Jeremiah Wright's speeches, but by Wright's temerity in calling Obama a politician. Wright recently repeated and defended claims, made from the pulpit, that the United States is a terrorist nation, that the US government invented the AIDS virus to kill black people, that the destruction of the World Trade Center by fanatics was the act of an angry God and that Louis Farrakhan is one of the greatest persons of of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Wright has been saying and publishing these things for years. It was repeating them in a Bill Moyers interview, in front of an NAACP conference in Kwame Kilpatrick's beloved Detroit and in front of the National Press Club that upset Obama. That, and the fact that Reverend Wright implied Obama's earlier non-specific, tepid criticism of the very same statements only occurred because Obama has to do "what politicians do."

Obama and Wright have both used the "Wright's statements are being taken out of context" defense to excuse sound bites that, in fact, perfectly and clearly represent Wright's mindset. Wright is still using it, but Obama cannot. Wright can still use it because he meant every word he said. His stated context is anti-semitic, anti-American and anti-white.

Obama cannot use this particular context as an excuse for his support of Wright, because Wright continually reveals himself as just one more talented bigot in the tradition of Louis Farrakhan and George Wallace. Wright is a bigot, a truther, and an advanced conspiracy theorist.

Along with the "context" obfuscation, examined here, these dictums:
  • 9/11 was God punishing the United States
  • The United States invented AIDS to visit genocide on Blacks
  • Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki were acts of terrorism
  • Hamas is not a terrorist organization
...of Wright's liturgy are the very things Obama now specifically says are beyond the pale.

Outraged? Appalled? Not me. You can't be outraged by business as usual, and it's hard to be appalled by the standard operating procedure. My expectations of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright were much lower than were those of his close friend Barack Obama.

The time to be outraged occurred absolutely no later than two months ago, when Wright's bombast came to the attention of the general public. We've heard since then that Jeremiah Wright stands behind these opinions.

What we got from Barack Obama's racial reconciliation speech was an excuse for Reverend Wright - as if he were just the crazy uncle in the attic. Helen Thomas with a pulpit and more melanin, so to speak.

The time to be appalled was during the five, ten, fifteen or twenty years Wright has been spreading his gospel of division in front of the very pews Barack Obama occupied alongside his daughters - when he could remember it was Sunday and his hearing aid was screwed in. We've heard lately that if Jeremiah Wright has been preaching bigotry as the foundation of his career, it's news to Barack Obama.

What we got from Barack Obama's racial reconciliation speech was a comparison of Wright to Obama's grandmother. David Duke in drag and with more years, so to speak. Ancavia Materna Culpa.

For a man posing as a post-racial unifier and healer, the time to be outraged and appalled might have been during the very sermon where Jeremiah Wright is quoted as saying, "...white folks' greed runs a world in need". Wright is quoted as saying this in Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams From My Father. Here, you can listen to Obama talking about how this line inspired him. Presumably, he is now outraged and appalled by his own book.

Outraged? Why? Nothing new has been revealed by the Reverend's magical mystery tour.

Appalled? At what, repetition of the black liberation theology principles Wright's been pumping for decades?

The time for disowning has passed, as has the time for outright condemnation.

The time now is for reflection on the philosophy of Barack Obama. Obama said he didn't vet his pastor before deciding to seek the presidency. He said he was very distressed that attention paid to Wright has been a distraction to the purpose of a campaign.

Very distressed? I bet.

Distraction? This is about the character of a potential President. I can't see how it is a distraction when that candidate is running as the post-racial candidate of change. Far from being a distraction, the obfuscation and denials reveal a core element of Barack Obama's character, which necessarily defines "the purpose of the campaign."

In closing, I'll direct you to Stanley Kurtz' examination of what Jeremiah Wright has been putting in print since 1982:

Jeremiah Wright's 'Trumpet'
The content of the magazine produced by Barack Obama's pastor reveals the content of his character.

As Kurtz says; "There can be no mistaking it. What did Barack Obama know and when did he know it? Everything. Always. "


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tet-à-Tête with Mooky

The McClatchy Newspapers reported yesterday on the continuing defeat of Iran's houseboy guest, Iraqi cleric Muqtada al Sadr. Sadr was threatening "open war" with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki as recently as mid-April. Turns out it's more like "open borders" in Sadr City.

In big concession, militia agrees to let Iraqi troops into Sadr City
BAGHDAD — Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

...It also would be a startling turnaround in fortunes for Maliki, who'd been widely criticized for picking a fight with Sadr's forces, first in the southern port city of Basra and then in Sadr City.
Actually, Maliki's success is only a startling turnaround from the point of view of the Maim Scream Media™. Maybe the McClatchy organization is referring to their own startlement, since their grudging recognition of the obvious is the real turnaround... a big concession.

There was plenty of information in late March that the "Tet" meme was utter BS. See: Tet redux? Eventually the story line must become aligned with reality.

As to being a "big concession," it is a significant political victory for Maliki. For Sadr, given the continued maceration of his forces, it's more preservation than concession.

Frank "it's Tet" Rich could not be reached for comment.

Update: 6:29PM, Sadrist bloc buckles, agrees to let Iraqi Army in Sadr City

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Obama; Needs time in Canadian Instructional League?

Hillary Clinton appears to have lost her chance for a redo on socializing health care. Not to worry, Obama's for it too.

It's too bad we can't get him to spend some time in an Instructional League. Canada, for example, where a Halifax newspaper has published an opinion piece entitled: Private clinics ruining public health care. This is indeed a change from 30+ years of mandatory public health care destroying private initiative.

The assumptions the article makes might give even Obama pause. Some examples:

Private clinics are spreading like bad weeds across the country, welcomed by a federal government that is content to look the other way while these for-profit ventures offer health care for a price.

Last weekend, health coalitions, citizens’ groups and other organizations that support public health care confronted the federal government’s abandonment of the public health care system. People across the country raised a united voice to say that these private clinics continue to pose a real threat to the future of public health care in Canada.

It may seem easy to dismiss the clinics merely as service providers, filling a niche where people can pay money if they want to access surgeries, medical procedures and even family doctors. If people have the extra money, why shouldn’t they be able to pay for something as personal and essential as health care?
Why indeed? "Extra money," what is that? Money I should have paid in taxes in a fairer world?

In any case, the federal government can do nothing to stop these "bad weeds" because having the "extra money" means Canadians can come to the United States for treatment if they want to receive it in a timely fashion. Actually, they're perfectly free to go to Cuba too, but I have not received any word of this.

Now, it's probable for some people on the fringes of having "extra money," say saved up by eating Kraft Dinners for decades, that the additional cost of travel to the US might prevent them from circumventing Canada's free health care system. The idea then, seems to be punish the semi-fortunate, or force US health care providers to accept payments on the Canadian government's price schedule.

This second option is problematic even if US health care providers agreed to accept such payment, or Senator Stabenow forced them to. If Canada could afford to provide timely treatment at the regulated price they would already be doing it. It's not a doctor shortage that's the problem. The problem is the health care system is set up to discourage people from becoming doctors. If a magic influx of health care professionals reduced every waiting time in Canada by 75%, at the same unit prices, the total cost of Canada's health care would skyrocket. This is why health care must be rationed in Canada... but it's pissing more and more people off.

So, perhaps the federal government is "content to look the other way" because it realizes public health care is slow to be delivered and is an unsustainable entitlement. Government can't fix it. What the Canadian feds know for certain is that there is a price for health care whether it is public or private; a price measured both in dollars and in suffering. The public health care system in Canada is failing on both counts.

If public health care is so wonderful, you might ask, how can places that deliver health care for "a price" be a threat to it? Might the danger be that people begin to wonder about rationing if such enterprises thrive?

The fact is that Canada does not have enough trained doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses or other health care providers. The professionals who practise in private clinics are spending their time away from the public system where there are arguably more people with greater needs – including the elderly, the disabled and the chronically ill. Private clinics may be able to help some, but they are the advantaged few. Everyone else is left with even longer waiting times or without access to family doctors.
Fully legalizing private clinics could help a lot more by encouraging people to become health care professionals.

Why is there a shortage of health care professionals in Canada? Perhaps because health care professionals don't want to be government employees who are directed to treat those "with greater need" according to some government official or newspaper editorialist. Besides, with the United States as a safety valve, the problem is not one of unequal access based on privilege. The problem is resentment that the "privileged few" are being allowed to use their property (their money and their bodies) as they see fit. So long as anyone is "unprivileged," the public health care theory goes, this should not be allowed.

Some other TOC comments on free health care can be found here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Japes of Wrath

TOC has made these exact points, here and here, respectively. These Powerline posts are nice reinforcement.

The Wright context

In the just-published issue of National Review, Stanley Kurtz provides a detailed look at Rev. Wright's black liberation theolgy. [sic] He concludes that "the only thing worse than quoting Jeremiah Wright out of context is quoting him in context."
Michelle Obama's gospel of bitterness
This past Friday Michelle Obama gave essentially the same stump speech in Charlotte, North Carolina that she had given the week earlier in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Based on the stump speech, Yuval Levin calls Mrs. Obama "The unhappiest millionaire." Levin's NRO column carries a link to the C-SPAN video of Mrs. Obama's North Carolina speech. It is well worth watching.

Levin characterizes the pervasive themes of Mrs. Obama's stump speech as the "gospel of bitterness." Levin finds Barack Obama to be preaching a similar gospel, albeit one that benefits from "a peppier and more upbeat stump speech[.]" Senator Obama's enormous political skills make it much more difficult to discern the somewhat repulsive views and attitudes that are nakedly on display in Mrs. Obama's stump speech.

Michelle Obama seethes with bitterness. While she preaches the gospel according to Barack, she wears resentment and bitterness on her sleeve. It is therefore painful to listen to her. She's apparently even still angry about her SAT scores. She didn't test well in school, she explains. Somehow, she has overcome.
If people start paying attention, she's a bigger problem than Jeremiah Wright. How do you explain sleeping with someone for 20 years, but not knowing what she thought?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Dress Code: Admission of Illicit Sex by a Politician

A friend sent this captioned picture. I had some thoughts, an edited version of which appear below:

I think the "blue dress" thing is a mistake. Could be why they were unable to get Bill Clinton as their warm up act.

These "Dress Code" items were missed in the initial analysis:

1- Lapel pins and American flags in the background are required.

2- State flag necessary for the "coming out" press conference.

3- Pursing of lips by the sexual "experimenter" is mandatory (biting one's lower lip is a Presidential prerogative). The optimum degree of pursing should be investigated for any relationship to experience in whatever sexual practices/preferences may be related to, well... pursing one's lips. I think Spitzer is at a disadvantage in this case, and that would seem logical. However, this would have to be researched based on a larger sample. Perhaps some pictures of Senator Larry Craig's press conferences could be obtained to compare with Senator Gary Hart's performances. Other Experimental Subjects easily suggest themselves, and Hillary probably still has their FBI files.

They are all wearing clothes. Upside - not grossing out your former constituents, and it's easy to wear a lapel pin. Downside - wearing a lapel pin while naked conveys greater sincerity. Sincerity may be a non-starter, however.

Wive's hair style appears to have been co-ordinated. Is this important? Maybe not, but can you imagine the conversation if Mrs. Spitzer had actually called Mrs. McGreevey for advice on what to wear?

I'm thinking that the Governor should have been the one wearing pearls. Just one strand, though. We have some dignity to maintain. Same reason for going light on the lip gloss.

The other part of the drill, for the women, appears to be "Scan the audience to see if Ashley Dupre showed up for the presser." vs. "Stare at your husband as if you're imagining where best to stick the knife."

Friday, May 02, 2008

Windfalls are where you find them

Last quarter Exxon Mobil set a new financial record.

It's not the one you already know about; it's not the "windfall" profit Hillary Clinton is going to take away from Big Oil.

No, this is a record amount of income taxes paid: $9.32 billion, the most ever paid in a quarter by a US corporation.

The previous record holder? Exxon Mobil. When was it set? First quarter, last year.

That isn't the whole story either. Emphasis mine.
(millions of dollars, unless noted)
Total revenues and other income 116854
Total costs and other deductions96662
Income before income taxes20192
Income taxes 9302
Net income (U.S. GAAP)10890
Dividends on common stock
Per common share (dollars)0.35

Income taxes9302
Sales-based taxes8432
All other taxes11607
Total taxes29341
You can see Exxon's tax contributions go far beyond income tax. Exxon's total tax burden in Q1 2008 was nearly $30 billion, or three times Exxon's profit in that quarter.

They also paid nearly $2 billion in dividends. Many retirees' mutual funds have benefited. I wonder if Exxon could still pay dividends at that level if Hillary took $5 billion out of their profit? Do you think she'd make better investments than Exxon? Cattle futures sound good, she's done well there in the past, and also with other people's money.

How come we never hear anything about taking away windfall tax revenues? Oh wait, we are hearing McCain and Clinton say they want a 3 month reduction in Federal tax on gasoline. Not to worry, Clinton will get it back from the oil companies who make it possible. McCain will fail to control Federal spending and thus get it back from your grandchildren.

H/T Carpe Diem, where there are some nice charts on this topic.

Update: 9:55 AM 3-May The Wall Street Journal comments:

You may also be wondering how a higher tax on energy will lower gas prices. Normally, when you tax something, you get less of it, but Mr. Obama seems to think he can repeal the laws of economics. We tried this windfall profits scheme in 1980. It backfired. The Congressional Research Service found in a 1990 analysis that the tax reduced domestic oil production by 3% to 6% and increased oil imports from OPEC by 8% to 16%. Mr. Obama nonetheless pledges to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, which he says "costs America $800 million a day." Someone should tell him that oil imports would soar if his tax plan becomes law. The biggest beneficiaries would be OPEC oil ministers.

There's another policy contradiction here. Exxon is now under attack for buying back $2 billion of its own stock rather than adding to the more than $21 billion it is likely to invest in energy research and exploration this year. But hold on. If oil companies believe their earnings from exploring for new oil will be expropriated by government – and an excise tax on profits is pure expropriation – they will surely invest less, not more. A profits tax is a sure formula to keep the future price of gas higher.

Exxon's profits are soaring with the recent oil price spike, but the energy industry's earnings aren't as outsized as the politicians seem to think. Thomson Financial calculates that profits from the oil and natural gas industry over the past year were 8.3% of investment, while the all-industry average is 7.8%. And this was a boom year for oil. An analysis by the Cato Institute's Jerry Taylor finds that between 1970 and 2003 (which includes peak and valley years for earnings) the oil and gas business was "less profitable than the rest of the U.S. economy." These are hardly robber barons.
Update: 9:36 AM 4-May Clinton Video added.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Caption contest

You will probably have to expand the picture (click on it) to be able to read the businesses this Irish establishment is conducting under the same roof. From a diversification standpoint, I think this combination is right up there.

We are looking for the motto, the mission statement, the tag line, the advertising jingle, the franchise name... that most appropriately describes this eclectic business.

Leave your suggestions in the comments. No prizes. No time limit.

I'll start you off with some examples:

Fed, Mass and Beyond

Slake and Wake

Bombed and Embalmed

Those who have previously suggested a "mission statement" are eligible, but new entries are required.