Date ►►► June 29, 2009

The Nuclear Winter of Conservative Discontent

Hatched by Dafydd

I have finally identified the greatest bane of conservatives, their bugaboo, their bête noire -- the great barrier that retards them from winning many of the most vital political arguments of today. But let me sneak up on it a bit: What do all these contemporary issues hold in common?

  • Cap and Trade -- rather, Cripple and Tax
  • The expansion of nuclear power generation
  • The EPA's attempt to outlaw CO2 (and now NO2 as well; hat tip to Hugh Hewitt)

  • Missile defense, both theater and strategic
  • Nationalization of major industries
  • Nationalization of health care to a single-payer, government-controlled system
  • The promiscuous proliferation of "endangered species" that are, in fact, not endangered

First, each of these controversies is a wedge issue by which Republicans and conservatives can oust Democrats and liberals from Congress -- and potentially from la Casa Blanca, as well.

Second, each is fundamentally a scientific question, from climate science, to nuclear physics, to aeronautics and cybernetics, to the optimal pursuit of medical research, to economic science, to the biological sciences.

And most important, for each of these wedge issues, the Right can only win if it is more credible when speaking about scientific matters.

It's not good enough merely to be no less credible than, on a par with the Left -- in this case, a "tie" in rationalism goes to whoever is best at slinging emotional arguments; and in that arena, the Left always has the home-field advantage.

All of which leads me, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, back to the hubris-flaw of conservatives; and that is, of course, the squirrely refusal of so many prominent conservatives to accept the findings of a century and a half of evolutionary biology.

That intellectual blind spot torpedoes conservative credibilty on a host of other scientific issues:

  • Sure, the Right argues that so-called anthropogenic climate change is a myth; but they don't even believe in evolution! How can we trust anything they say about global warming?
  • Conservatives believe in missile defense for America; but they also believe that no species has ever naturally evolved into another, that humans were here for the entire existence of life on this planet, that the Earth is only a few thousand years old, and that each and every species had to be individually designed and assembled by God -- that natural selection had nothing to do with it. Do they also believe in the Tooth Fairy?
  • Republicans say that if we're worried about burning too much fossil fuels, we should switch to using more nuclear power; they say that new reactors, such as Pebble Bed Modular Technology and Integral Fast reactors, are safe. But can we really trust the judgment of people who think that dinosaurs and humans co-existed -- like in the Flintstones?

This one bizarre religious belief -- based ulimately upon the foolish misunderstanding that accepting evolution means you must reject God -- is the single greatest cause of conservative's loss of credibility in scientific debates... a fact driven home to me every other week, when I'm accused of the same mental myopia (and also accused of being a conservative).

Worse, I'm convinced that the only reason so many conservatives think only atheists can support evolution -- is that they believe certain well-known atheists who say so! Good heavens, why would so many conservatives believe that socialist atheists like Richard (the God Delusion) Dawkins, Christopher (God Is Not Great) Hitchens, and Phillip (the His Dark Materials (Golden Compass) trilogy) Pullman have conservatives' best interests at heart?

Here's a newsflash: Those atheists are radical leftists -- and consummate propagandists. They will tell you that all evolutionary scientists are atheists; but that is a patent falsehood, as Professor Francis Collins -- an evangelical Christian who headed the Human Genome Project -- ably argues in his magnificant book, the Language of God.

The scientific evidence for evolution by variation/mutation and natural selection is overwhelming; and no respected, peer-review-published scientist in the field of biology disputes the fundamentals of the discipline. (Everyone disputes the details; that's the very nature of science.) The unanimity is so stark that the nutters at the creationist Discovery Institute are reduced to babbling about conspiracy theories to "silence dissent," a facile and convenient claim most recently pushed by noted actor, conservative columnist, and evolutionary biologist (I made up that last one) Ben Stein.

But for purely religious reasons, conservatives who are also believing Christians -- which is a huge subset -- plus some politically conservative Jews, have an irreducible simplicity as a core axiom: That evolutionary theory, which they call "Darwinism," is false. They reason backwards from this axiom to declare invalid any experiment, observation, or conclusion that supports it. And in the process, they fatally damage their own credibility to argue any case that depends upon the ability to reason logically or to understand basic scientific principles. Or even the scientific method itself.

How can they maintain that a conspiracy of silence exists to silence dissenters to the fatally discredited Globaloney thesis (which is true) if they become objects of ridicule by arguing that the same sort of conspiracy silences mythical armies of scientists who would otherwise reject evolution? They make themselves sound like Agent Fox Mulder; they make themselves laughingstocks.

Worse, they even damage my credibility, due to guilt by association; and I'm bloody sick of it. Every time I argue science with a liberal, I must spend the first 500 words defending myself from the false charge of rejecting evolution -- and the next 2,000 words mitigating the damage from the same charge -- but more true this time -- leveled against the Right in general.

Such anti-evolutionarians have become the anchor holding us back from overturning the nonsensical, bogus psdueoscience of the Left, from the banning of silicone breast implants, to the criminal idiocy of parents who refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated, to the phobic fear of nuclear power plants by liberals who had already worn out their videotapes of the China Syndrome before it even came out on DVD.

Evolution is the great counterexample cited to prove that the Right is no more rational than the Left. Thanks; the rest of us really appreciate being lumped together with Ben Stein and Michael Medved.

(This post was, of course, driven by my annoyance at Medved presenting yet another knucklehead railing against "Darwinism," citing the Discovery Institute's all-purpose catechism of "irreducible complexity"... that mutable charge that shifts from biological system to biological system, always one step ahead of the very reduction of complexity it claims cannot occur.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 29, 2009, at the time of 6:11 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

Old Shoes and Barackends

Hatched by Dafydd

Isn't it amazing how long it took Barack H. Obama to finally, grudgingly support the Iranian protestors in their opposition to the patently stolen "reelection" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- and how tepidly he supported them when he finally moved away voting "present"... yet how swiftly he has moved to condemn the Honduran supreme court's removal of the president?

Notice that he jumps immediately to the most extreme solution -- reinstating corrupt lefty, anti-American, and Venezuelan ally Manuel Zelaya as President of Honduras. None of this namby pamby nonsense about finding some intermediate solution, as he proposes for the Iranian crisis. And notice that Obama doesn't even condemn Oogo Chavez's threat to send Venezuelan troops to invade Honduras to reinstall Zelaya -- regardless of the Honduran constitution, democracy, or the people. No, this is a crisis. Zelaya must be reinstalled by any means necessary... not now, man, yesterday!

What do these two positions, on Iran and Honduras, have in common? Three major similarities I can see:

  1. Both Obamic positions support the status quo against real "hope and change" for the people of those two countries;
  2. Both take the side of the bully against his victims;
  3. And both put President "Lucky Lefty" Obama on the same side as his best bud, Oogo Chavez.

Democrats, especially the president, bristle when they are compared to Soviet apparatchiks; they like to think of themselves as "progressives" who want to "move America into the future," rather than socialists who intend to mire us in the cloying stasis of yesteryear's authoritarianism.

Well I say, if the shoe fits, sleep in it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 29, 2009, at the time of 3:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 28, 2009

Mother, May I?

Hatched by Dafydd

Yesterday, we learned that President Barack H. Obama will not "forcibly inspect" the North Korean ship that we suspect is carrying nuclear technology to Burma, which some people call Myanmar:

An American destroyer has been shadowing the North Korean freighter sailing off China's coast, possibly on its way to Myanmar.

Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy met with South Korean officials in Seoul on Friday as the U.S. sought international support for aggressively enforcing a U.N. sanctions resolution aimed at punishing Pyongyang for its second nuclear test last month. The North Korean-flagged ship, Kang Nam 1, is the first to be tracked under the U.N. resolution.

Naturally, North Korea calls the allegation that they are trying to build a nuclear arsenal a slanderous lie. In completely unrelated news, they have threatened to launch a nuclear strike against the United States if we attempt to board the ship without the permission of North Korea's hereditary king, Kim Jong-Il:

North Korea has in response escalated threats of war, with a slew of harsh rhetoric including warnings that it would unleash a "fire shower of nuclear retaliation" and "wipe out the [U.S.] aggressors" in the event of a conflict.

Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy explains why we can only inspect the ship if the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, suspected of smuggling nuclear materials, gives us permission to board the ship and search for smuggled nuclear materials:

"The U.N. resolution lays out a regime that has a very clear set of steps," Ms. Flournoy said, according to the Yonhap news agency. "I want to be very clear. ... This is not a resolution that sponsors, that authorizes use of force for interdiction." [Well that's certainly useful!]

Ms. Flournoy said the U.S. still has "incentives and disincentives that will get North Korea to change course."

Aha. That certainly closes that case. Barring using any of our vastly superior military muscle, we can still, she notes, use "incentives," such as bribery, and "disincentives": very strong language, followed by very strong language; and if necessary, downright caustic and scornful language -- with perhaps a finger-wag, if the Secretary of State gets involved (her spouse can explain to her the ins and outs of one-digit diplomacy).

Rough language -- fierce -- imperious! I often find that the Obama administration reminds me of one of my favorite poets:

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

I speak severely to my boy,
I beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when he pleases!

So now we know that we can only interdict Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty scoffers -- the DPRK is not actually a signatory, so technically it cannot be a "violator" -- if they graciously allow us to do. Thus I think I more clearly understand the Obamic stance on the upcoming missile launch by North Korea against Hawaii: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is absolutely correct that we can shoot that missile down... but we only may blow it out of the sky if we first ask permission of King Jong-Il.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 28, 2009, at the time of 10:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 25, 2009

"Argue" Post: Gays Serving Openly in the Military

Hatched by Dafydd
Resolved: (i) We should allow gays to serve openly in the military; (ii) we should allow them to serve in any capacity for which they are qualified in all aspects other than sexual preference; (iii) we should treat them and house them exactly as we do straights in the military.

Feel free to present any argument pro or con in the comments section. All normal commenting rules still apply, so remain civil. Unlike normal comments on normal posts, I'll respond to arguments here (not every line in every comment, but those that raise a new argument or counterargument).

Have at ye!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 25, 2009, at the time of 11:04 PM | Comments (50) | TrackBack

Straight Eye for the Queer Guy

Hatched by Dafydd

An American officer in Iraq offers a plan -- "under protest!" -- for mitigating problems of gays serving openly in the military

As readers know, I strongly support allowing gays to serve openly in military service in any capacity, and also allowing women to serve in combat. The two policy questions are very different, so I will split them into two different posts.

Please do not post arguments here for or against the policy of allowing gays to serve openly; I opened an "argue" post for that purpose in this post here. Please only put comments in this post about the efficacy of the training regime discussed below, and put any comments for or against the policy itself in the post linked in this paragraph. Thanks!

I recently argued the first in a blogpost titled Martial Arts and Marital Darts -- wherein I took the Obamacle and his Bestial Virgins to task for pushing so hard for same-sex marriage (yes, even Barack "Lucky Lefty" Obama himself, when he denounced California's Proposition 8)... while doing absolutely nothing to allow gays to serve openly: I argued that the favored policy was an attack on traditional marriage and could gravely damage Western civilization, if it leads to further changes in marriage, such as acceptance of polygamy; while the disfavored policy was actually an exercise of liberty and every person's fundamental right to defend his nation and society.

I was naturally aware that many, particularly in the military, rejected the policy of gays serving openly in military service; so when I heard from one such -- an officer in Iraq, a "Transition Team Leader" who blogs under the name Boss Mongo -- I responded, and we had a friendly and fascinating discussion.

Please make no mistake: Boss Mongo very much opposes the policy change I support. He is an upper mid-level commissioned officer who served two tours in Iraq and now commands a training team. He believes that such a policy change would be "prejudicial to good order and discipline," and would damage our warfighting capability.

But I was much more interested in Boss Mongo's expertise than his opinion; I've heard opinions on all sides from officers and enlisted, many with similar combat experience. But this was the first time I was able to speak, one on one, with a training officer who could move the discussion forward beyond the hand-waving stage (on both sides!)

I urged Boss Mongo to tell me what he would do to mitigate the damage -- what training he would have to institute (were the policy ordered) to preserve "good order and discipline." The thought experiment I gave him specified that Congress, the Commander in Chief, and and Pentagon had all agreed -- and no branch of government had consulted Boss Mongo before making its decision (amazing!) So now, the orders have come down the chain (in this hypothetical), and he is ordered to take charge of the training program to prepare current and incoming soldiers, gay and straight, for the New Way.

What, I asked him, would you do? He agreed that he would not resign his commission; he's a career guy, and he would stay in the military and obey orders. So with those caveats, here is Boss Mongo's plan -- including how he arrived at it, which is amazing in itself... I think I spawned a series of high-level meetings that may have set-off a policy prairie fire; what power these blog-things have! Here is what we would need to do in order to make such a policy change work, if the government decides to do so:

~

Okay, under great protest and not ceding to the premise that the open service of homosexuals would not be prejudicial to good order and discipline, I'll proffer a mitigation strategy for incorporating the policy.

While thinking of the answer, I used the topic, and our e-mail discussions, to conduct a couple round-table discussions with various members of my team and some of my subordinate teams. The demographics of the participants were pretty varied. Tallying it up later, I talked in small groups to: two O4s (one Asian, one Puerto Rican), three O3s (two white, one black), two E8s (both black), five E7s (two black, two white, one hispanic), and one Warrant Officer (hispanic). When I initiated the discussions, the universal first reaction was "Eww."

So it took a while to get the guys to focus on the discussion point; the first X number of minutes were spent getting them off of decrying the policy itself. Most of the senior (ie, ~20 years) guys said that it would be time to drop retirement paperwork (my crew consists of mostly senior guys; my youngest team member is 28 with six years in). Anyway, once we established the constraints of the conversation (and tabled the HIV factor for a later discussion), most of the guys came up with the same concept of response that I had:

  1. First, tangentially, commissioned officers thought that problems would manifest mostly on the battlefield, NCOs [non-commissioned officers -- the Mgt.] thought that the most serious problems would arise in the barracks environment.
  2. The service already has a chain training mechanism in place; it is used for annual, biennial, and quarterly training on EO [Equal Opportunity, I presume -- the Mgt.], Family Advocacy, prevention of sexual harassment, suicide prevention, DUI/Drug prevention, etc. This would be the venue for most training. Officers, NCOs, and junior enlisted would probably have different training evolutions, with unit training at the end, conducted by said officers and NCOs.
  3. The training would have to be tailored to present homosexual service as consistent with the military values -- loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage -- and the military values would have to be the foundation of the training/instruction.
  4. The service-member support networks, from the Chaplains to the headshrinkers, would have to be a part of it and be consistently available to help members with problems arising from the new strategy.
  5. Orders would go out giving the officer and NCO corps instructions on how the chain of command wanted adverse or serious incidents handled.
  6. One thing we all agreed on was that a significant chunk of time and effort would have to be expended on retention, keeping good service members in who are determined to vote with their feet -- or rather, their discharge paperwork -- because of the policy.

That's about it. Everything after that would be adapting to the situations arising and always being ready to call an audible when things go awry, and they will.

~

Two points that struck me immediately; the first is the disparity between what the commissioned officers think would be the most serious problem versus what the NCOs think (point 1 above); I wonder why they didn't agree? I hope that Boss Mongo will send another e-mail clarifying that disconnect.

The officers thought the battlefield would be the focal point of conflicts, but the NCOs were more worried about problems in the barracks -- I suppose that showers and sleeping arrangements would top that list of concerns, though that's only my opinion. But if the NCOs don't see the battlefield as a serious problem, and officers seem less concerned about controlling problems on bases stateside and abroad, then perhaps between the two, both concerns can be adequately addressed.

The other point that jumped out at me, which I knew but hadn't thought through the implications of, is that within all branches of the military, training is ongoing, constant, and universal; and a great deal of "civilian" values training is already incorporated into that regime. That is, we don't only train our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen to be warriors; we don't restrict training to the martial virtues that Boss Mongo enumerates; we also train them to be "good people" and "good citizens," according to the virtues currently accepted within the nation.

We train our service members not to discriminate on the basis of race, not to engage in sexual harassment, to eschew excessive drinking, and to avoid illegal drugs entirely. We train them to notice early warning signs of suicidal tendencies in themselves and their fellow servicemen, to seek counseling for serious family "issues" (that's a word my sister the MFCC loves), and so forth.

And we already train them in a certain level of tolerance towards gays: I'm sure that Boss Mongo and every member of his team would agree that a response as extreme as actual gay-bashing -- physically assaulting a person because he or she is thought to be homosexual -- is inconsistent with the military virtues they all strive to achieve.

This gives me great expectations that if such a policy is ever enacted -- I hope it is, Boss Mongo hopes it isn't -- it would not be too hard to train the very, very vast majority of servicemen and servicewomen to go beyond mere avoidance of gay-bashing to judging their fellow service members by how well they do their jobs and by their adherence to those same military virtues, rather than by whether they are attracted to the opposite or the same sex.

Please note that I am not arguing that homosexual activity is not a "sin." In many religions it is, and self-proclaimed members of those religions should probably abjure and forswear.

But in those same religions, having any sex outside of marriage is also a sin, even for the unmarried; yet we don't ban sexually active singles from military service, it's no violation of the UCMJ, and it needn't disrupt good order and discipline. (Of course, anything can be a problem if misused or abused; we do condemn adultery in our military, and we disallow certain types of fraternization.) Tolerance is not the same as approval or applause: Under the policy I advocate, straight service members don't have to cheer homosexual squadmates... just tolerate them.

It should be an easy sell for most servicemen to say, "What the other guy likes to do with his naughty bits is none of your business, unless he shoves it in your face -- figuratively or (especially) literally!"

Whether we should make this policy change is a subject for another time; but I hope this post -- especially including Boss Mongo's reluctant contribution, spelling out what can be done and what would need to be done -- advances the topic to the point where we can ask the critical question: Do the positives of allowing gays to serve openly in the military outweigh the negatives?

The better we can quantify each side of the equation, the easier to see which way the scales tilt.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 25, 2009, at the time of 6:23 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 24, 2009

No Time for Sergeants - the First Post-Penultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A.

Hatched by Dafydd

I know I said the last post was the penultimate one on the subject of the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany; but something so Kafkaesque has just happened in the New York State Senate that I cannot silently wait for the ultimate post... which will be the one where everybody's hash is finally settled. I am optimistic about much mirth and hijinks to ensue; I'm calling this the first post-penultimate word.

Our previous posts on this titillating topic are:

The current hilarity writes itself:

In Albany, Separate Senate Sessions for Each Party

Republicans and Democrats attempted to hold separate Senate sessions at the same time on Tuesday, leaving the Capitol in confusion and bickering as members of both parties shouted over each other on the Senate floor, and each party claimed it was in control.

Though Democrats had entered the Senate chamber through a back hallway just before 12:30 p.m. and locked the doors -- much to the surprise of Republicans -- Republicans moved ahead with plans for their own session and began calling for votes on bills as Democrats sat silent in protest.

Exactly who was in control of the Senate -- or whether any of the procedural action the Republicans had taken was legally valid -- was unclear. Democrats were successful in blocking Republicans from taking control of the Senate gavel, which remained firmly in the hands of Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester County, who was guarded by sergeants-at-arms on both sides.

The first point of puzzlement is why the sergeants-at-arms have sided with the Democrats... aren't they supposed to be neutral? How do they know which party legally controls the body? Are they lawyers? Have they even consulted with lawyers -- upon whose authority?

UPDATE, une 24th, 2000: Heh... that was how the story read yesterday; but today, the Times pulled another fast one: They jacked up the URL and ran a whole new story under it -- headline, body, page count, pocket change, blood chemicals, and all. Gone are the paragraphs quoted above, to be replaced by this:

Come to Order! Not a Chance, if It’s Albany

New York did not have one State Senate on Tuesday. It had two.

Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room. Republicans were finally allowed to enter about 2:30 p.m., but when they tried to station one of their own members on the dais they were blocked by the sergeants-at-arms.

So then something extraordinary -- and rather embarrassing -- happened.

The two sides, like feuding junior high schoolers refusing to acknowledge each other, began holding separate legislative sessions at the same time. Side by side, the parties, each asserting that it rightfully controls the Senate, talked and sometimes shouted over one another, gaveling through votes that are certain to be disputed. There were two Senate presidents, two gavels, two sets of bills being voted on.

What is the point of such stealth-rewrites? They didn't make it any better for Democrats or harsher on Republicans... they just didn't like the first version (which can still be seen here), so they substituted a different one, with the same URL. Yeesh.

To serious-up for a moment, what I consider the most significant bill caught up in the maelstrom of madness -- a bill to legalize same-sex marriage throughout New York, the third-largest state in the United States -- might be doomed for this term. From a subsequent article in the Times:

Senators defied Gov. David A. Paterson on Wednesday and refused to take up any of the 10 issues he put on the schedule for a legislative session, indefinitely postponing votes on same-sex marriage and other signature items of the governor’s agenda....

Though gay rights supporters were initially pleased that the governor had placed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on the agenda, many gay rights advocates were saying on Wednesday morning that they did not believe a vote would accomplish anything. There are myriad legal questions clouding any piece of legislation that the Senate takes up, and supporters of same-sex marriage are wary of seeing their issue turned into a political football.

“Nobody wants it to pass under a cloud, so it will be immediately subject to legal challenge,” said Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, a Democrat from the Upper West Side who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill that passed the Assembly last month. Even if the Senate did pass the bill the governor put on his agenda for Wednesday, and the legal issues were not so complicated, Mr. O’Donnell said same-sex marriage would still not be legal because the governor’s bill would have to be passed again by the Assembly.

The normal session expired in the middle of this month; depending on the outcome of the stalemate (I'm tempted to call it "Fool's Mate" instead), there may be insufficient time to bring up the same-sex marriage (SSM) bill before the expiration of the current "extraordinary session," called by N.Y. Gov. David Paterson. If it expires, and if Paterson does not call another, then I think the Senate is in recess until January... at least so the New York State Senate's own website seems to say.

Will there still be such impetus next year for jamming through such a fundamental change to a foundational insitution as marriage -- without any referendum of New Yorkers? I don't know; but at this point, those of us averse to monkeying with one of the foundations of Western civilization should be grateful for any delay we can get. Perhaps legislators will have an opportunity to think a second time, as Dennis Prager likes to say.

But back to whipping the cat in Albany! Let's run with both versions of the Times story; maybe by tomorrow, yesterday will have never happened at all.

We still have the same problem with the sergeants-at-arms siding with the Democrats -- the default-to-the-liberals favoritism found in Democratic states like New York. First the guards defended the "Democrats' gavel" against the rampaging Republicans, notwithstanding a 32 to 30 vote to oust former Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D). The same majority then elected Sen. Dean Skelos (R) majority leader and Sen. Pedro Espada (D) as president of the Senate; how can the sergeants unilaterally decide to abrogate that vote, "blocking Republicans from taking control of the Senate gavel?"

But then they did something even worse, discussed in detail in the first version of the story but only sketched in the second: When Majority Leader Skelos called Sen. George H. Winner, jr. to the podium... oh, but let the Times tell it in its original words, before editors decided to merely hint around the bush:

Shortly after Republicans walked onto the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon, their leader, Dean G. Skelos, called the chamber to order and asked one of the Senate Republicans’ deputy leaders, George H. Winner Jr., to “take the podium.” Mr. Winner, who was standing at the front of the chamber, attempted to climb the stairs that lead to the podium where the presiding officer stands but was stopped by a Senate guard.

“Senator Skelos,” Mr. Winner responded, “I have been instructed by the sergeant-at-arms not to take the podium.” Mr. Winner then walked to a desk in front of the podium, called the Senate to order from there and began calling votes on a list of bills. Since Democrats sat silent and did not voice any objections, Mr. Winner claimed that each bill passed by a vote of 62 to 0.

So in addition to defending the Democrats' presumably inherent right to hold the gavel at all times, regardless of any organizing votes to the contrary, the sergeants also forcibly prevented a Republican senator from even approaching the podium -- because the Democrats didn't want him to be allowed to speak.

One final example deserves note of the sergeants abandoning their traditional role as neutral defenders of the peace -- in order to concentrate on their other traditional role as New York civil servants, that of being liberal Democratic partisans. In the original version:

Republicans seemed just as caught off guard as the rest of the Capitol when the Democrats came in at 12:30 p.m. As news of the Democrats’ move spread, some Republican staff members rushed to the Senate chamber and peered in through the windows to watch the Democrats congregating inside.

Senator Winner, a Republican from central New York, described the Democrats’ move as unnecessary and possibly against the law.

“It seems to me somewhat petulant and or illegal to lock the doors,” Mr. Winner said.

The outer doors to the chamber were kept locked by the sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, but some reporters were able to gain access through a back door.

The new version of the story makes clear that the Democrats snuck in alone -- and locked the doors against the Republicans. Thus, the sergeants-at-arms must have been holding the door against duly elected Republican state senators entering the state Senate chambers:

Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room....

Early Tuesday, Republicans seemed as surprised as the rest of the Capitol when Democrats took over the chamber. Some Republican staff members rushed to the chamber to peek through small windows to watch the Democrats congregating. Some reporters were able to gain access to the locked chamber through the office of Mr. Espada, hurrying through a side room where Mr. Espada’s grandson was parked in front of a television, watching the Cartoon Network.

Note the curious omission of the fact that it was the sergeants who prevented Republican senators from entering the chamber (replaced by the reference to the Cartoon Network -- product placement, or do the Times editors simply have a "thing" for cartoons?) This fits in with the new version omitting the tidbit about sergeants jealously guarding the "Democrats'" gavel and brushing past the same sergeants preventing Sen. Winner from speaking from the podium. Could that be the reason for the rewrite -- to whitewash the complicity of the supposedly neutral guardians of the Senate in a partisan dispute against the GOP?

If so, what a sad and petty reason to engage in such an Orwellian rewrite of history. Times publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger should busy himself reading his Shelly; it may tell him some inconvenient truths about his own future and that of his family's media legacy:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 24, 2009, at the time of 5:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Just Out of Idle Hot-Dogish Curiosity...

Hatched by Dafydd

The administration of President Barack H. Obama has already sent out numerous invitations to various Iranian "diplomats" -- would that include top officials of the Qods Force who have entered this country under a false flag? -- invitations that appear to have been completely ignored by their recipients.

Pondering this turn of events, I have to ask: What kind of hot dogs were the Obamas planning to serve? Would they be all-beef dogs? Or would they be ordinary weenies, which include among their ingredients a large component of pork?

Let's suppose the staff of the One was sufficiently on the ball to specify all-beef. Then my next question is which brand... Hebrew National?

There may be other reasons for the pocket-veto by Iranian agents than simple anti-American animosity.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 24, 2009, at the time of 2:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 23, 2009

Obama Confuses Corruption with Competition. So What Else Is New?

Hatched by Dafydd

Another question that answers itself:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday squared off with the insurance lobby over industry charges that a government health plan he backs would dismantle the employer coverage Americans have relied on for a half-century and overtake the system....

"If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care ... then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business?" Obama said in response to a question at a White House news conference.

"That's not logical," he scoffed, responding to an industry warning that government competition would destabilize the employer system that now covers more than 160 million people.

Wow, that's a toughie: If the free market provides the best quality health care -- then how can feckless, inefficient, corrupt federal government drive them out of business? Here are a few possible answers:

  • By jacking up taxes, administrative fees, and punishing profit on private insurance -- but not government-run health care.
  • By running the government health care at a loss, forcing taxpayers to pick up the difference.
  • By regulating private insurers out of the market.
  • By adding so much red tape to private insurance plans that medical-care approval takes too long.
  • By extorting employers to dump their private plans in favor of the government plan, upon threat of fines, audits, and denial of necessary licenses.
  • By forcing doctors to charge private insurance a premium, under threat of the feds cutting off or reducing Medicare payments if they don't.
  • By seizing control of companies (surely the federal government would never do that!), dumping the private plan, and signing aboard the government plan.
  • By enacting legislation giving unions veto power to block any private health-care plan.
  • By removing a corporate CEO and installing an Obama crony in his place.

Whew! That exercise took all of two and a half minutes.

Next question?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 23, 2009, at the time of 7:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

New Addition to the Encyclopaedia of "Argumentum ad Defatigationem"

Hatched by Dafydd

I have a new one for you.

"Argumentum ad Defatigationem" is Latin for argument by exhaustion -- arguing in so fatiguing a manner that one's opponent just gives up and stomps off -- after which the arguer jumps up and down and shouts "I won!" It's a favorite trick of liberals (and too many libertarians); but liberals especially bring a tasty flavor to the proceedings with a number of rhetorical stunts that appear paralogical, but are actual diabolical.

The first one I identified, many years ago, was Argument by Tendentious Redefinition; this occurs when proponent secretly redefines a common and usually deplorable word -- but he relies upon listeners clinging to the original definition in order to tar his opponent with inuendo and subconscious slander. The classic example is a radical feminist who secretly redefines "rape" to include all heterosexual sex -- then repeatedly accuses ordinary heterosexual males of being "rapists."

Today's entry is a very different antic; I'm dubbing it Argument by Promiscuous Propinquity: One conducts it by taking two or more utterly disparate incidents and smooshing them together, one right after the other, to create the illusion that they are all the same incident.

If that seems a little vague, let me offer this clean example. Submitted for your approval, here are the first three grafs of the New York Times story linked above, titled "Tapes Reveal Nixon’s View of Abortion":

On Jan. 23, 1973, when the Supreme Court struck down state criminal abortion laws in Roe v. Wade, President Richard M. Nixon made no public statement. But privately, newly released tapes reveal, he expressed ambivalence.

Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.” But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies.

“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding: “Or a rape.”

And here are the fourth and fifth grafs -- the immediate successors to the above:

Nine months later, after Nixon precipitated the resignations of two top Justice Department officials and forced the firing of the special prosecutor looking into the Watergate affair, Ronald Reagan, who was then the governor of California and would later be president, told the White House that he heartily approved.

Reagan told the White House that the action -- which would become known as the “Saturday Night Massacre” -- was “probably the best thing that ever happened -- none of them belong where they were,” according to a Nixon aide’s notes of the private conversation.

What do those two statements have in common? Nothing at all... except that both were recorded by the same device in the White House.

But what are readers to infer they have in common, this vile expression of racism and eugenics attributed to Richard Nixon, followed by Reagan's hearty approval? Clearly, the intent is that inattentive readers (that would be most of them) should mistakenly believe that Ronald Reagan approved of aborting biracial babies.

There is no transitional language between the two excerpts to alert readers that the reporter, the aptly named Charlie Savage, is making an abrupt, right-angle turn to a completely different subject. And in particular, note the phrase "nine months later;" if you simply sidle up and whisper "nine months," the first thing most Americans would think of was pregnancy -- further fostering the illusion that Ronald Reagan "heartily approved" of racial eugenics.

(Ronald Reagan is only mentioned once more in the article, in an almost parenthetical aside.)

Now, I have no idea whether the Times correctly quotes Nixon in context; but that's not relevant to this point. And it's utterly unpersuasive to object that the story does not explicitly state that Reagan's hearty approval was for Nixon's alleged eugenicism (nor does it explicitly say that the approval was for the firings and forced resignations). This gives Mr. Savage "plausible deniability," speaking of Nixon.

But really, words are my business; in a court proceeding, I would be a qualified expert on the subject. I know when someone is using language not to edify or enlighten but to obscure and mislead.

This series of five paragraphs is no accident: In the realm of serious, written, edited, and published prose or journalism, the Lizardian Rule of Intent reads, Never attribute to mere stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice; particularly when the object of the malice is, in fact, viscerally hated by the maligner. (If the same sort of appalling elite-media juxtaposition had befallen Barack H. Obama, I would more readily extend the benefit of doubt. Also, a mistake like calling the 2008 Republican VP nominee "Sarah Pallin" cannot be explained by malice and is clearly just a tyop to be shrugged off.)

Anyway, that is the new entry. I've thought about it for a while; I was going to discuss it right after the One's Apologia to the Moslems, when Paul Mirengoff at Power Line was defending the president by noting, with courtroom precision that bespeaks well of his talent as an attorney but not so well of his appreciation of political voice and tone, that Obama had not explicitly equated Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to the Holocaust.

Understanding Argument by Promiscuous Propinquity allows us to note the strangely inappropriate closeness, within the speech -- adjacency, in fact -- of the two incidents: Jews under the Nazis and Palestinians under the Israelis... a propinquity that defies benign explanation. But in that case, the transitional rhetoric made it kristall clear that he was comparing them: After describing the Nazi extermination of Jews, and before introducing Israel's entirely reasonable responses to Palestinian terrorism, Obama connected them by saying "on the other hand." That makes clear he is comparing one to the other... and context made clear he was equating, not contrasting.

So I abjured, awaiting a cleaner example; and here I have found it!

Argument by Promiscuous Propinquity... keep an eye out for it in future.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 23, 2009, at the time of 5:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 22, 2009

L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa Drops Out of California Gubernatorial Race

Hatched by Dafydd

In a stunning turn of events (well it stunned me, at least), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who I had thought the odds-on favorite to be the Democratic nominee for governor of California in the 2010 election, just announced today that he will not run for the office. He says that Los Angeles residents are in crappy enough financial shape that he doesn't want to abandon them.

I always thought former "MEChAnista" Villaraigosa was likely to beat out Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 100%) for several reasons, not least of which that he would be the first elected Latino governor since we became a state in 1850, and the first Latino governor to serve since Romualdo Pacheco, who succeeded in 1875 to the office after the previous governor was elected to the United States Senate. (Pacheco served for a few months until a new governor was elected.)

As the Hispanic population of California has become significantly larger, and as Hispanic voters tend to coalesce around Hispanic candidates regardless of whether the two groups actually agree on many issues, I was more worried about a Villaraigosa candidacy than any other Democratic candidate, from Feinstein, to former Gov. Jerry Brown, to San Francisco Mayor and lawless radical Gavin Newsom, to any of the also-rans.

So who will take Villaraigosa's place on the ballot?

  • With Villaraigosa out, Feinstein becomes the default front runner. She certainly has the most extensive political experience as mayor of San Francisco, state senator, and United States senator. She also came close to beating then-Sen. Pete Wilson in the 1990 governor's race.
  • If anybody has a shot at displacing her on the ballot, I would guess it would be the ultra-ultra-liberal Newsom... who burst on the scene in 2004 when he unilaterally, without any legal authority, ordered San Francisco to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (Newsom is himself heterosexual). The State Supreme Court later nullified all those "marriages"... though of course it subsequently ordered the state to start doing what it had just slapped Newsom for doing... for which the voters slapped back with Proposition 8.
  • Jerry Brown is a spent force, in my opinion; the only reason he can even run is that the term limits law doesn't count gubernatorial terms served before 1990.
  • There is always the faint possibility that former Lt.Gov. Cruz Bustamante will run; but he has been virtually invisible on the momentus political and economic issues facing this state recently, focusing instead on a much more urgent project: "Lose weight now -- ask me how!"

On the Republican side, I'm placing my bets on Meg Whitman, former President and CEO of eBay from 1998 to 2008. I think she would be especially strong against Sen. Feinstein:

  • Feinstein will be 77 years old on election day (today is her 76th birthday); Whitman will be 54.
  • To be perfectly blunt, Whitman beats out Feinstein for the pulchritude prize walking away. If you don't think that can make a difference in an election, ask President John S. McCain. All right, there were some other issues; but the visual chasm between the virile, young Obamacle and the Methuseloid McCain surely played a major role, especially with younger voters.

    Anyway, judge for yourselves -- from these two admittedly tendentious photos, which I deliberately chose to make Feinstein look awfuler than she really does, and Whitman look better than she really does:



DiFi - the horror, the horror!    Meg Whitman

Dianne "DiFi" Feinstein vs. Meg "Megawatt" Whitman -- choose your poison

  • Feinstein has never done anything in her life other than politics. Whitman has never before done politics. I believe this is a positive, not a negative, because she is extremely well known in [stealth correction] "Silicon Valley," the high-tech sector of California. I see young people, conservatives, techies, women, and anybody who actually works a real job for a living finding Whitman's biography compelling... and Feinstein's biography dull as dishwater.
  • Related to the above, Feinstein has many decades of corrupt and compromising baggage she must explain away. It has hurt her in past elections.
  • Meg Whitman earned her own personal fortune by building eBay up from a handful of employees to the juggernaut it is today; Dianne Feinstein married money for her third husband, Richard Blum.
  • Whitman totally neutralizes the gender issue, as both are, you know, women.
  • She also neutralizes the personal-fortune issue, as she is ten times as rich as Feinstein... but unlike the latter, Whitman earned her own wealth.
  • Whitman also has a better shot at winning the "I can fix the California economy" sweepstakes... though this could cut the other way, too, if voters decide Schwarzenegger's failure was due to his inexperience with stroking the Democrat-dominated legislature. In reality, he failed because the Democratic legislative majority is too busy sticking its head in an ostrich to actually help ordinary Californios crushed by the insanity of the state budgets the majority has enacted for years and years.

    But of course, any GOP nominee would have to define this issue in favor of truth, and not allow the Democrats to define it self-servingly. Again, I like Whitman better than any other Republican candidate.

  • Whitman is simply a more galvanizing speaker than snoozy Feinstein.

I have to like our chances in the California governor's race a lot better today than I did yesterday. I can see the light at the end of our rope.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 22, 2009, at the time of 6:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Civil War in the Infertile Crescent

Hatched by Dafydd

Most folks see the rioting throughout Iran as a revolution brewing, as if 1979 met 1776. But I'm very skeptical... mainly because in my opinion, and despite the take of most commentators, the two major players are not actually current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh, the other major candidate in the election: Rather, the two players in this game are in fact Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's wealthiest man, the moneybags behind Mousavi, and the man that Ahmadinejad "defeated" in 2005 in an election that was likely just as dirty, corrupt, and stolen as the one this year.

We've tracked the increasingly bellicose and violent schism between Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani for a number of years now:

It appears to me that what is unfolding in Iran is not a revolution... it's really a civil war by proxy.

Ahmadinejad is not himself a politically powerful cleric, like Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, or his successor and current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad has a "guardian angel" among the mullahs: Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi of Qom. Mesbah-Yazdi is a member of the Assembly of Experts, the group that elects the Supreme Leader -- perhaps the foremost proponent of the so-called Qom school of Shiism, which preaches absolute rule by the mullahs.

He is also Ahmadinejad's spiritual guru, preaching that the return of the Twelfth (or Hidden) Imam and the dawn of the Islamic era is imminent and can be triggered by a military conflagration, even one started by Iran itself.

Wolf Howling reports that there is a split within the clerics of Qom, with some following the Najaf school of Shiism, as personified by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq, and in Iran by former Khomeinist Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. These clerics, both tremendously more respected throughout Iran as spiritual leaders than current Supreme Leader Khamenei, teach that clerics should only set the religious rules, but not control the government. I don't think this "faultline," as GW calls it, enters into the present distress; we all know where Ahmadinejad stands on the question of whether mullahs or the people should rule Iran; and I don't recall Rafsanjani ever calling for Montazeri-style freedom, civil rights, human rights, and women's rights.

By contrast with Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani needs no "guardian angel;" he is himself the leader of the Assembly of Experts, and a strong candidate to eventually succeed Khamenei. In the last elections, Rafsanjani received more votes than any other Ayatollah for the Assembly -- 1,564,197; Mesbah-Yazdi received less than half that total at 726,498 votes.

Rafsanjani appears to have greater backing from Khamenei; but it's probably more a strategic chess move to keep Ahmadinejad in check than any deep affection between Khamenei and Rafsanjani: I suspect Ahmadinejad just scares the bejesus out of Khamenei; the president is (or was, before the current troubles) consolidating power among the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Barring a major political shakeup, it mightn't be long before Ahmadinejad decides he needs a promotion... say, to Supreme Leader. Alternatively, if Khamenei should die (due to natural causes: "It's only natural he would die after such causes"), Ahmadinejad could engineer the elevation of Mesbah-Yazdi to Supreme Leader. It would be an open question then which would be the other's puppet.

Ahmadinejad has religious fanaticism on his side, but Rafsanjani's strength is more in the line of old-fashioned corruption, the lifeblood of the Islamic world -- think Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, the PA, and so forth. It's Millenarianism vs. Kleptocracy, even more exciting than Alien vs. Predator!

But the irony is that Iran, Persia, is a dying land. It may end, not with a bang, but with the silent lack of enough whimpers.

In a Steynian twist, Iran has the lowest fertility rate of any Moslem majority country, and I believe any country in the Middle east, including Israel (compiled from CIA World Factbook).

Fertility rate is the mean number of children born per female in her lifetime. Bare population replacement rate is about 2.1 children per mother (the extra .1 accounts for children who die before they can have children of their own). A country with a fertility rate far above 2.1, such as Somalia, is growing rapidly; a country with just about 2.1 is holding steady (the United States, for example); and a country with a fertility rate significantly below 2.1... is dying... think of Europe, Australia, Thailand, Cuba, and Canada.

Here are the countries of the Arab League, plus Israel and Iran, in order of fertility rate:

Fertility rate of Arab League, Israel, and Iran
Country Fertility rate/strong>
Somalia 6.60
Yemen 6.41
Mauritania 5.69
Oman 5.62
Gaza 5.19
Djibouti 5.14
Comoros 4.90
Sudan 4.58
Iraq 3.97
Saudi Arabia 3.89
West Bank 3.31
Syria 3.21
Libya 3.15
Kuwait 2.81
Israel 2.77
Egypt 2.72
Morocco 2.57
Bahrain 2.53
Qatar 2.43
Jordan 2.47
UAE 2.47
Lebanon 1.87
Algeria 1.82
Tunisia 1.73
Iran 1.71

No Moslem-majority country has a lower fertility rate than Iran. To put their dire dilemma into perspective, Iran has a lower fertility rate than...

Iran losing the baby war to these countries
Country Fertility rate/strong>
Afghanistan 6.58
Pakistan 3.73
United States 2.10
France 1.98
Turkey 1.87
Ireland 1.85
Norway 1.78
Luxembourg 1.78
Denmark 1.74
Finland 1.73

Iran is about as infertile as...

Iran is on a par with these dying countries
Country Fertility rate/strong>
Sweden 1.67
Netherlands 1.66
United Kingdom 1.66
Belgium 1.66

So what's happening in Iran, right as we're sitting here now? First, a huge number of Iranians -- Persians -- are desperate for freedom and sick and tired of thirty years of theocracy, madness, and horror. Alas, they have fixed their wagon to a supposed "reformer," who is actually a stalking horse for Ayatollah Rafsanjani. Mousavi's only good quality, compared to the current lunatic president, is that he is probably not a "Twelver."

But the underlying reality belies the combination of superficial reporting by the antique media, wishful thinking by those of us who long for the mullahs to be overturned by a 1776-style revolution, and manipulation by Iranians desperate to move the mugwump leader of the free world off his fence and into helping true democracy spread to our bitterest enemy in the world. This "underlying reality" comprises a pair of despicable despots, a madman and a thief, neither with a clue how to defeat the fate decreed by demography, fighting a proxy civil war in the streets of Iran over who will preside over the dying earth.

Persia has a long and great (though I would not say "honorable") history, and its people deserve better; sadly, they need extraordinary outside aid, which the One They Will Continue to Wait For has no intention of ever offering, since he is on the side of the "established order" in Teheran.

I don't think the Persian people will get the "better" they deserve. They may get different; they may trade back King Stork for King Log. And perhaps they'll be satisfied with that.

Meanwhile, the American Hamlet sends out press releases and, like the Bellman in Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark, furiously tinkles his bell. Is this one of those tests that Joe Biden warned us to expect -- and warned us that Barack "Lucky Lefty" Obama would be seen to flunk?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 22, 2009, at the time of 2:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 19, 2009

An Immodest Disposal

Hatched by Dafydd

The state of California -- the most populous by far at 36.8 million -- is staring down the barrel of a $24 billion deficit; there is a very strong likelihood that barring any unforseen windfall, California will have to declare bankruptcy within the next few months.

Now mind, $24 billion is chickenfeed by federal standards -- even the federal standards preceding the One Who Will Spend Us Into Oblivion. However, despite pleas from all factions in the factious state government (some sincere, others perhaps not so), the feds flatly refuse to bail California out.

Now I happen to agree with this position; states should not be "bailed out" when their financial messes are entirely self-generated... which describes California to a tea party. During the boom times, the state -- well, the Democratic legislature, which has run the state more or less continuously, in despite of Republican governors, for decades -- the Democrats enacted enough new "entitlement" programs and other new and frivolous spending to fill the Yosemite Valley. Now times aren't so flushed; and my libertarian response is, "You buttered your bread, now sleep in it."

But you have to admit, refusing to bail out one of the most liberal, pro-Obama, leftist-socialist states in the United States is awfully out of character for the Barack H. Obama administration and the Congress of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%).

Great leaping horny toads, Obama has already pledged more than twice as much to bail out a single company: GM. GM employed 243,000 people in 2008, probably less now; California employs 242,939 total people as of May, 2009 -- not to mention having the largest economy, again by far, of any state: $1.812 trillion gross state product. One would think it a no-brainer for the Democrat president and Democrat Congress to offer "fiscal amnesty" to the Democratic state with the largest number of electoral votes, the largest economy, and the largest population.

So why aren't they?

I really don't think it's because the Oogo-istas running the federal government, who are throwing money at every problem the pops up and nationalizing one major industry after another, have got a sudden attack of fiscal restraint. Rather, I think there are two other major reasons for the denial:

  1. California has a (nominally) Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election in 2010.

It will be an open contest; but if Schwarzenegger has actually solved the state's long-running fiscal crisis, Republican candidates for the legislature and the governorship will receive a major electoral boost... which they sorely need; on its own merits, the California Republican Party is possibly the most inept and dimwitted in the Union.

But if Schwarzenegger is seen to fail -- even if it's due to the Democratic legislature's refusal to enact any meaningful spending cuts -- Republicans will nevetheless get the blame; and the Democratic nominee (probably Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) will be elected by a landslide.

Simply put, the Democrats see a fantastic chance to grab the governor's mansion to go along with the state legislature, thus enjoying a limitless free pass to enact any socialist measure, no matter how unpopular, no matter how insane. Democrats may be calling for a federal bailout of California in public, but I strongly suspect they're privately sending a very different message to the Obamacle and his bestial virgins... one that says, "Hold off on any bailout until Antonio, not Arnold, demands it."

Certainly Democrats are not acting like they want to solve the crisis (at least not until 2011); with a state budget of $131 billion, they would only need to cut 18% across the board to have a balanced budget again. From 1998 to 2008, the budget grew from $73 billion (in 2008 dollars) to $131 billion, an 80% spending increase -- what a spree! Reducing the budget by $24 billion would only mean returning to 2006's budget. Yet the legislature "cannot find" even 5% in cuts!

I don't think any serious person could argue that the legislature is honestly or sincerely trying to solve the crisis. And I don't believe they will try -- until a Democrat is in place to take all the credit.

  1. I suspect the second main reason for no Obamic bailout of California is lingering anger and resentment over the citizen's constitutional amendment that overturned California's State Supreme Court on the issue of same-sex marriage (SSM).

Proposition 8 was passed by a strong majority; it amended the state constitution to declare marriage to be only between one man and one woman; no other form of union would be legal or recognized in the state as a "marriage." (The 18,000 same-sex couples who married during the brief interval in which it was legal are "grandfathered" in.) I suspect that a great many Democrats in Congress -- and the One Himself -- still seethe that the people of the state took back their own government from the elites... and still fear that such resistance might set an example to citizens in many other states, on many other issues. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people has never been very popular in "people's republics."

Yes, I know; President Obama says that he agrees with the voters of California that marriage should be restricted to mixed-sex couples. Color me skeptical; I find it much more likely that, like many other Democrats, he sincerely wants to revolutionize marriage, along with every other bedrock principle upon which Western Civilization is built. I believe he would not only be fine with same-sex marriage but polygamy as well -- that strokes two special-interest groups at once!

But he doesn't want his fingerprints on such a radical, drastic change in social culture. The president would much prefer others to do the dirty work (preferably federal judges, who are more reliably liberal and don't have to worry about re-election), while he stands above the fray and votes "present." He thought he had nabbed the biggest prize of them all when the California Supreme Court issued its ruling last year; the state is home to the largest population of gays, of Hollywood celebrities, and of liberals (with, of course, a gigantic overlap), and it routinely gives Democratic candidates the largest amount of campaign cash.

But then along came the traditional-marriage amendment, chopping the legs out from under the court's ruling. Injury became insult when that selfsame court -- ignoring the blatant "hints" from the Left -- actually held that Proposition 8 was valid and legitimate, and would be enforced.

And then immediately afterwards, along comes Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, cap in hand, begging for money from the federal coffers. Hah!

Sure, Schwarzenegger himself pretty much supports SSM, and he's hardly what anyone would call a conservative. Ne'ertheless, he still has that scarlet R stitched onto his 52-inch chest; and that was sufficient to evoke all the rage, hatred, and fury: You don't expect the Democratic Congress to give money to a state full of homophobes, do you? (Especially not a state whose citizens had also voted in recent years to end state subsidies to illegal aliens and to terminate all racial-preference programs statewide. Good heavens, they must be Nazis!)

So take my thoughts for what they're worth; I'm glad we weren't bailed out, no matter how disreputable the reason why not. But I'm apprehensive how this will all play out in next year's gubernatorial and legislative elections. It's hard to imagine that the liberal monopoly here could get any worse; but no matter how deep you already are, you can always dig another sub-basement.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 19, 2009, at the time of 6:57 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 18, 2009

How to Succeed in Politics Without Really Trying

Hatched by Dafydd

As the Tribune Company reports (in nearly identical articles by the same reporters in the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times), and as noted by my old blogboss Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, President Barack H. Obama's firing of Gerald Walpin, Inspector General of AmeriCorps -- without the required notification of Congress 30 days prior and without giving any specific reason -- was not an aberration:

  • Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has just effectively neutered the department's Special Inspector General, Neil Barofsky -- the "watchdog" of Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a $700 billon program -- by denying him access to documents critical to an investigation he is conducting.
  • The International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency -- four of the six commissioners are career Washington bureaucrats or Senate staffers -- has refused to renew the contract of its inspector general, Judith Gwynne; earlier, according to the Tribune articles, the Commission allowed one of their staffers to forcibly interfere with Gwynne's duties.

Both these other incidents allow some "plausible deniability" for the Obama administration: The ITC is an independent commission, and the White House now claims that Barofsky answers only to Treasury and disclaims any responsibility for his being handcuffed. But it's a bit thick to assume that the President of the United States has nothing to do with two incidents strikingly similar not only to his actions anent Walpin, but also Barack Obama's own electoral history prior to his presidential run.

(Amusingly, the law that Obama appears to have violated by abruptly firing Walpin, after giving him one hour to decide whether to do the decent thing and resign, was sponsored in the Senate by, among others, the junior senator from Illinois -- Barack H. Obama.)

ABC News has more details about how Secretary Geithner tightened the leash around the neck of Neil Barofsky, the once independent, now dependent Inspector General:

As part of his duties performing audits and keeping tracking TARP dollars, Barofsky asked the Treasury Department for some documents about a financial institution receiving tens of billions in taxpayer bailout dollars. The Treasury Department refused to hand them over, “on a specious claim of attorney-client privilege,” Grassley wrote. “It is my further understanding that this disagreement then escalated into broader questions about whether SIGTARP is subject to your direct supervision and direction, which may have been referred outside Treasury for an independent legal opinion.”

“The ability of Inspectors General to secure agency records subject to audit or investigation is essential to ensure the integrity and reliability of their work on behalf of Congress and the American People,” Grassley wrote. “The Inspectors General were created by Congress as a means to combat waste, fraud, and abuse and to be independent watchdogs ensuring that federal agencies are held accountable for their actions.”

Having been thwarted by the Treasury Secretary in trying to obtain the information necessary to investigate a particular financial institution -- on the risible grounds that allowing the Treasury Department's Inspector General to look at documents controlled by the Treasury Department somehow violates somebody's attorney-client privilege (the financial institution's privilege? the Department's privilege?) -- Barofsky complained to Secretary Geithner:

In a memo dated April 7, Barofsky -- referring to his office under the name SIGTARP, Special Inspector General for TARP -- clearly felt compelled to defend the independence of his office.

“SIGTARP believes that the Emergency Economic Stability Act of 2008…provides that SIGTARP is an independent entity within Treasury, that SIGTARP is not subject to the Secretary’s supervision, and that attorney-client privilege is not a bar to SIGTARP’s access to Treasury’s records or information,” Barofsky wrote to Geithner at the time.

But Treasury does not appear to be backing down: For the sin of investigating an unnamed "financial agency" that received "tens of billions in taxpayer bailout dollars," Barofsky's penance is to be told in no uncertain terms that he has no independent authority, and is simply to do what he is told... and to refrain from insubordinate and ill-mannered investigations of certain (unnamed) TARP recipients, whenever such probes make it hot for the political appointees. (Treasury jealously protects the anonymity of the institution; mayhap disclosure might make the real reason for short-circuiting the SIG too obvious.)

The precipitating incident involving Ms. Gwynne at the ITC is even more bizarre:

Separately, this week, the International Trade Commission told its acting inspector general that her contract would not be renewed. The trade agency is not subject to White House authority.

Grassley had become concerned about Judith Gwynn's independence because of a report this year that an agency employee had forcibly taken documents away from her as she tried to conduct an audit.

"It is difficult to understand why the ITC would not have taken action to ensure that the ITC inspector general had the information necessary to do the job," Grassley wrote on Tuesday.

Less than three hours after Grassley's letter was e-mailed to the agency, Gwynn was told that her contract would not be renewed. The contract is due to expire next month.

Presumably the next appointees to the job of Inspector General at both TARP and the ITC will be a bit more cooperative, or pliant, as it were, towards the very people he or she is expected to oversee. One of the Big Lizards axioms of life is that it's easy to win a political debate when you get to script both sides. The obvious corollary is that it's likewise easy to ensure you will never be embarassed by an investigation if you appoint one of your own to run it.

This is hardly unique to the Obamacle; but in the last century, the tactic does seem to be quite specific to liberals:

  • Democrat Woodrow Wilson, thought by many to be the founder of modern liberalism, kicked off the tactic with a bang. In the midst of his second term, with the U.S. embroiled in World War I -- by the way, Wilson's 1916 campaign slogan was "He kept us out of the war!" -- he pushed Congress to enact the Secition Act of 1918... which made it a federal crime for foreign nationals or even American citizens to engage in "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" directed against the United States, the American flag, American troops -- or any branch of the United States government, including against President Wilson himself. Under Wilson's Sedition Act, people actually went to prison merely for dissenting against the war (including labor leader Eugene Debs). [That prohibition of "profane" language might well have tripped up the current president's former pastor...]
  • Liberal Democrat and demagogue Franklin Roosevelt made an infamous attempt to pack the Supreme Court with enough new justices to allow him to beat every constitutional challenge to his New Deal socialist programs. He failed; but hey, at least he gave it the old Harvard try!
  • And liberal Republican Richard Nixon just as memorably ordered Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who had just demanded the White House hand over its secret tapes. After Richardson refused and resigned in protest, Nixon ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to do the dirt; when Ruckelshaus also refused and resigned, Nixon ordered Soliciter General Robert Bork to axe Cox; Bork complied. (For those who believe Nixon cannot have been a liberal because he was anti-Communist, please see the political careers of, e.g., Vice President Hubert Humphrey, President Harry Truman, and Sen. Estes Kefauver; for those who believe Nixon cannot have been a liberal because he was a Republican, please see the political career of Lincoln Chafee.)

The lesson was well learnt by the Obamacle. In his earlier elections, B.O. did a magnificent job of forcing off of the ballot every other candidate, leaving himself the only viable candidate:

  • In his 1996 run for the Illinois State Senate, Obama sent supporter Ron Davis to disqualify signatures on the nominating petitions of the other three candidates in the race, including incumbent Democratic state Sen. Alice Palmer. Obama ran unopposed; surprisingly, he won the nomination, and subsequently the general election (the seat was safely Democratic).
  • In 2004, he decided he needed a promotion, so he ran for the United States Senate. His opponent was Jack Ryan, a retired Goldman Sachs multi hundred-millionaire and Chicago parochial school teacher. Ryan had been married to Jeri Ryan ("Seven of Nine" in Star Trek: Voyager), and they had divorced five years earlier. After a subterranean e-mail campaign by Obama supporters to the elite Chicago and national media, the Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV (ABC) sued to get their hands not only on the divorce file but the custody file as well, hoping to find some dirt on Ryan. Either Ryan. Or maybe on the kid.

    A referee appointed by the court decided to release specific allegations Jeri Ryan had made during the custody hearing that her husband twice took her to a sex club where he wanted them (she said) to have sex in a room with other couples. Both Jack and Jeri Ryan had urged that the custody files not be released; but the Obamadroids and their media allies urged they be made public, presumably on the legal grounds that hurting the chances of Republican candidates is a constitutional imperative in Illinois.

    In the wake of the "scandal" -- imagine, a politician who might be an exhibitionist! -- Ryan was forced by the party to resign and was replaced by joke candidate Alan Keyes. Obama went on to win in a 43-point landslide.

  • And of course, even Obama's primary campaign in 2008 was tainted by the contretemps involving the Florida and Michigan delegations; and he only beat Hillary Clinton because the early states were mosly winner-take-all, while the delegates of the later states (when Hillary was ascendent) were proportially allocated.

Thus when the One We Have Been Writhing Under fires inspectors general -- or they are fired by his cronies, or even by independent commissioners who share the same quasi-religious belief in their own anointment by the gods to do whatever they see fit and proper -- he operates under a long, though not very honorable tradition of thinking himself above the law... even above a law that He, Himself, sponsored when he was a lowly junior senator from Illinois.

It's a liberal thing; you wouldn't understand.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 18, 2009, at the time of 5:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 16, 2009

Penultimate Word on on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany

Hatched by Dafydd

Today, as expected, Justice Thomas J. McNamara of the New York State Supreme Court essentially said "you kids better work this out yourselves." He didn't use those exact words (pretty close though!), but that's what his ruling amounts to. (Please note that what New York calls the "Supreme Court" is what most states call Superior Court, the ordinary state-wide trial courts. What the rest of us call the State Supreme Court, New Yorkers call the Court of Appeals.)

A state judge on Tuesday refused to overturn last week’s takeover of the State Senate by the Republicans, essentially leaving it to the Legislature to decide which party is in charge....

The Senate’s operations have been at a standstill since last Monday, when Republicans joined with two renegade Democrats to seize control of the chamber.

The judge’s decision, issued by Justice Thomas J. McNamara of State Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon, effectively puts the Senate at a 31-to-31 deadlock, but it also leaves Senator Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat who crossed party lines last week, as the president of the Senate....

“A judicially imposed resolution would be an improvident intrusion into the internal workings of a co-equal branch of government,” Justice McNamara said, adding, “Go across the street and resolve this for the people of New York.”

But the most interesting part of the story hides behind the second elipsis above:

The judge denied the Democrats’ case and their motion for a stay, and the Democrats indicated that they would appeal. But by late afternoon, Democrats said they would not appeal.

Huh.

Saying the Democrats have foregone the judicial-tyranny option begs the fascinating question of "why" -- why won't they pursue it to the bitter end? It can't merely be that they are persuaded by Justice McNamara's decision that they were wrong; nor even that they're convinced that right or wrong, such an approach is doomed to failure. The first is unthinkable: Democrats always believe, to paraphrase Shaw, that the customs and traditions of their tribe are laws of nature; and the second is improvident: Even if the chance of court victory is tiny, why foreclose that option? What have they got to lose?

To me, there is only one explanation for dropping the appeal: The Democrats have decided that trying to sue their way back into power is counterproductive to regaining that power. And that means (again in my reading of the political tea leaves) that New York Democrats now believe they are on the brink of regaining that power legitimately; they don't want that "reconquista" tainted by the ugliness of trying to overturn democracy via the most undemocratic branch of state government, the courts.

And there is reason for their optimism:

Republicans wrested power in the State Senate away from Democrats last Monday, but their thin majority collapsed a week later, leaving the chamber at 31 to 31 and its leadership picture more confused than ever.

The move came when Senator Hiram Monserrate, one of two Democrats who had sided with Republicans to give them a 32-to-30 majority, said he was switching his allegiance again and reaffirmed himself as a member of the Democratic caucus.

This redefection leaves but a single Democrat, Pedro Espada, jr., thwarting the caucus's return to primacy. Espada is currently President of the Senate, just one slot below Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican; if Espada returns, and then the Democrats restore the leadership of the former majority leader, Democrat Malcolm Smith, Espada can look forward to nothing but endless penance for his apostasy.

But in the meanwhile, the Democrats (as we predicted) have wisely elected a new "caucus leader," Sen. John L. Sampson of Brooklyn:

Mr. Monserrate said at the news conference that he was returning to the Democratic fold because he was satisfied that a new leader chosen by Democrats, Senator John L. Sampson of Brooklyn, would unify party members and bring about action on important legislation....

Adding to the confusion, Democrats chose Senator Sampson as the leader of their caucus, in a move that was a concession to Mr. Monserrate, who had insisted on the ouster of Malcolm A. Smith as majority leader. But because they no longer had the 32 votes needed to install Mr. Sampson as president of the Senate and majority leader, Democrats named Mr. Sampson “caucus leader” and left Mr. Smith as their titular leader.

Smith continues to try to save his face by insisting that he is the real majority leader -- and Sampson is merely his "CEO." But I think it's inevitable that the moment the Democrats recapture Espada, giving them a majority once more, they will take a quick vote and name Sampson, not Smith, the new majority leader of the state Senate.

(I wonder -- when they do this, will Malcolm Smith continue to argue that you can't change majority leaders in mid stream, that he is still the one and only champeen? Perhaps he can declare himself the People's majority leader!)

The majority leadership of Dean Skelos now hangs by a Gordian thread of Damocles: All the Democrats need do is offer both amnesty and a promotion to Espada (and possibly the squelching of the various ethics charges against him), and they can reel him back in. If Espada has a pact with Monserrate, the two can easily enforce the caucus's capitulation by threatening to re-bolt and start the nightmare all over again if the caucus doesn't deliver.

I suspect the Democratic caucus sees the "mene mene tekel upharsin" writ on the wall of the Senate's executive washroom, and they will do exactly this; Smith will be cast down, the terms agreed upon, and Espada will return to the fold, probably within a week from today.

We stand by our previous prediction:

  • Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  • And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

This is sad, because I believe that even in the ultraliberal state of New York, a referrendum of the voters would find that they oppose SSM by a significant margin. But when has that ever stopped Democrats and liberals? The irreducible core of leftism is the belief that the Dear Leader knows best and must tell the rabble where to get off.

We await but the passage of a few days to write our ultimate post on this ticklish travesty of anti-democratic Democraticism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 16, 2009, at the time of 2:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 15, 2009

The "Big Try" Country

Hatched by Dafydd

The state of Montana is trying something very interesting. It will fail... but by igniting the debate, it may ultimately lay the groundwork for a successful pruneback -- one can hope for a chainsaw slashback -- of federal intrusion into state affairs. From the Washington Times:

In May, Montana became the first state to approve the Firearms Freedom Act, which declares that guns manufactured and sold in the Big Sky State to buyers who plan to keep the weapons within the state are exempt from federal gun regulations.

According to the act's supporters, if guns bearing a "Made in Montana" stamp remain in Montana, then federal rules such as background checks, registration and dealer licensing no longer apply. But court cases have interpreted the U.S. Constitution's Interstate Commerce Clause as covering anything that might affect interstate commerce -- which in practice means just about anything.

So if this law sounds ripe for a court challenge, well, that's the idea, said Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Sports Shooting Association, the state's largest pro-gun group.

Well I'm glad that somebody at least is trying to correct the Great Misinterpretation of the New Deal era, where anything and everything was declared to impact interstate commerce (including growing your own vegetables in your own garden) -- and therefore could be regulated by Congress under the enumerated power called the "Commerce clause." That misinterpretation gives the federal government virtually limitless power to trample state authority underfoot.

The Big Sky Country state is not alone; it's joined by the Lone Star state and the Seward's Folly state:

Two other states -- Alaska and Texas -- have had favorable votes on laws similar to Montana's, declaring that guns that stay within the state are none of the feds' business. More than a dozen others are considering such laws, and more-general declarations of state sovereignty have been introduced this year in more than 30 legislatures.

The federal courts may not respond well to these laws in the short term, but backers who acknowledge this say that regardless, they intend for the laws to change the political landscape in the long term. They hope these state laws will undercut the legitimacy of contrary federal law -- as has happened with medicinal marijuana -- and even push federal courts to bend with the popular wind.

As with every politically controversial issue that splits along partisan lines, if the Supreme Court eventually accepts cert from an expected Ninth Circus affirmation of the probable decision by the United States District Court for the District of Montana to strike down the Firearms Freedom Act sometime in the future, the SCOTUS decision will be easily predictable for eight of the justices: Justices Stephens, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Clinton will vote to strike down the FFA as infringing on federal authority; Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Chief Justice Roberts will (I hope!) vote to uphold it, trimming back the insane expansion of the authority of the federales to the point that they can enact anything, anywhere, any time they want, without regard to the "limitations" of their enumerated powers.

And as usual, it will all come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court swinger. I remain skeptical that Kennedy will buy into the cockamamie argument that "interstate commerce" means commerce that is inter-state; but I hope he will at least try one of his "split the baby" balancing acts... and we may get a partial movement in the right direction.

Then with some more laws, more cases, and more judgments -- and perhaps in 2014, when Kennedy retires and is replaced by a judicial conservative -- we can actually make the point that activities entirely within a state should be entirely the business of that state, unless they conflict with the fundamental rights self-evidently immanent among all lawful American residents.

Hm...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 15, 2009, at the time of 6:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 14, 2009

Let's Beat Something with Something Better! - UPDATED

Hatched by Dafydd

Even though everybody says it, it's still true: You can't beat something with nothing.

So how do Republicans and moderate Democrats beat back Barack H. Obama's plan for the federal government to seize control of all health care -- essentially extending Medicare to the entire country by force of law? By not simply attacking that Socialist Ponzi scheme, but by also offering something better in its place.

What can we possibly offer to solve the health-insurance "crisis?" There are an estimated 45.7 million uninsured. There's nothing, nothing we can do other than hand it all over to the same people who run the TARP bailout program (and the State Department -- they have such a good record of success).

But wait; let's think a second time about this vital issue.

The only driving force behind President Obama's scheme to "reform" (nationalize) American health insurance -- switching to a government-run system à la Great Britain and Canada -- is the problem of the "uninsured." After all, the vast majority of Americans who do have health insurance are fairly satisfied with it and certainly don't want a revolutionary reboot of the entire system.

But by large margins, Americans believe that we have a "crisis" of uninsured. (I believe it's but a minor problem; but in politics, perception is king.)

So what can we do about that Census Bureau number of 45.7 million uninsured in 2007? First of all, we should realize that number includes a very large number of people whose income is far above the poverty line. Appendix B of the linked Census document (p. 53 of the pdf) defines "poverty" based upon total number in the household and the number of children; for a family of 4 including two kids, the poverty line in 2007 was $21,027 per year; you must be a pretty large family (at least five with no more than two kids) for the poverty line to exceed $25,000.

Yet according to Table 6 (pdf page 30) of the same Census document, of the 45.7 million uninsured in the United States in 2007, only 13.5 million (30% of the total uninsured) had less than $25,000 annual income. Amazingly, 17.6 million had more than $50,000 per year -- 38.6% of the total uninsured. In other words, significantly more uninsured have upper-middle incomes or better than live in poverty.

So why the heck don't they have insurance? The "crisis" of the uninsured is not primarily driven by poverty. In most cases, they can afford to buy insurance; they simply choose not to.

With this in mind, the lizards have a modest proposal; we urge the GOP to offer a bill very like this one in place of ObamaCare, forcing the Democrats to brutally suppress it, in full view of the whole country:

  • First, let's start with an indirect federal mandate that every person have medical insurance of some kind.

UPDATE June 14th: Commenter Snochasr makes the point that there is no enumerated power allowing the feds to directly mandate insurance; therefore, I've changed this point from a direct federal mandate to a federalist version: The federal government should make various health-related revenues to the states contingent upon them enacting some form of insurance mandate that meets certain minumum standards.

In the GOP plan, those standards absolutely should not include a laundry list of coverage... that can sink such a mandate quickly. Rather, the federal standard should be very light, allowing each state to create its own plan. That way, some states will do better than others; and the states with overly determined plans will have to face voters eventually. Conservatives can run against those bad plans by pointing to the much less determined -- and more successful -- plans in neighboring states.

Even for a libertarian, which I still consider myself, this isn't too odious a change; a patient who doesn't have insurance at all forces the State (i.e., some other taxpayer) to pay for his medical care anyway... since we're not the kind of society to let people die in the streets from easily treatable injuries, diseases, or conditions. Forcing me to pay for somebody else's stupidity is patently unfair.

(It's especially unfair when the patient with no insurance is also an illegal alien; but that is a subject for another post. We already pay for the health care of illegals, and in the most expensive possible way -- all medical care delivered through trauma centers. We must stop doing so; but again, the American people will not stand for allowing them to bleed to death or die of the flu. It's a complicated enough issue that it deserves its own series of posts on immigration reform in general.)

  • So the feds will bully the states into requiring every resident to have some form of insurance. But what kind? I think the Republican answer should be -- whatever kind each resident wants, from whatever company he wants, so long as it's a qualified, licensed insurance provider that won't just take the money and run. But at bare minimum, a catastrophic health-care policy coupled with a fully tax deductable medical savings account (MSA).

(Again, the feds should not overly determine these state plans; but by setting a very light federal standard, catastrophic plus an MSA, we encourage the states to do the same.)

Therein lies our plan: catastrophic care plus an MSA. Such plans are very, very cheap; but what about people so impoverished, they cannot afford even that? Here's the only major government expenditure in the lizardian policy proposal:

  • For patients who live in poverty as defined by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive 14, the government pays a significant part, but not 100%, of health-insurance costs, including premiums and/or keeping MSAs "topped off." The requirement that even the poor pay something gives them a greater stake in society.

Note that the government would not offer insurance itself -- no "public option." It would simply pay welfare to the poor, a defined contribution to mostly (not totally) cover the insurance each individual chooses to buy. I believe this would actually result in reduced spending, since with health insurance, the poor could get less expensive treatment than going to the emergency room for every problem.

So the plan comprises an indirect federal mandate; insuring the impoverished by working through the market, not by trying to dynamite it; and the use of catastrophic care and MSAs to insure the uninsured (and the uninsurable).

And that's it. That is all that the feds pay; the rest is mandated by state law, but up to each individual to pay for himself.

So how much would this run? We assume that about 14 million of the 46 million uninsured live in poverty. It's hard to figure an "average" premium cost for catastrophic care, because quotes depend upon each individual. But I have read that catastrophic care in 2004 averaged around $3,000 per year per household (compared to $9,000 for regular insurance). Assuming this is still the same, then in 2008 dollars, that would be $3392.78, according to the Inflation Calculator. So let's make calculation easier by saying $3,500 per year per household.

If we again pick a four-person household as the average, that works out to approximately $875 per (uninsured, impoverished) person per year.

Thus the total premium value would be $875 times 14 million, or about $12.25 billion per year. That's a hefty chunk of change, but it's less than an eighth of the $1 trillion over ten years ($100 billion per year) that Obama estimates his own government-run health care would cost.

(And about Obama's estimates, well, um, I don't exactly trust them. I strongly suspect, as does everybody else -- including ObamaCare supporters -- that such a program would cost considerably more than $100 billion each year.)

But wait, there's more: Somebody must also fill up those MSAs and keep them topped off. If you want, say, $10,000 per household in them, that would be an additional $35 billion; but that's a one-time cost, and you can amortize that over, say, ten years, for an additional $3.5 billion per year.

Then you must keep the MSAs filled. Assuming a continuing cost of perhaps 20% ($500) per year per uninsured, that would be $7 billion per year. The grand total works out to $12.25 plus $3.5 plus $7, or in round figures, a little less than $25 billion per year.

But wait, there's less! Part of the plan is that the feds only pay "a significant part (but not 100%) of health-insurance costs." Even those with incomes less than $25,000 should expect to pay some of the cost themselves; if it's even 15% average, that would reduce the total annual payout to about $20 billion... a tiny fraction of the cost of ObamaCare, even using Obama's own figures.

And the best part is -- the federales would not have to take over America's health care.

Obviously my figures are just estimates, guesstimates even; but they're not out of line. The Republicans can easily rope in some actual insurance experts to find out what premiums insurance companies would charge for such a massive buy (any government purchase should be distributed evenly among all carriers, like "assigned risk" in auto insurance, to avoid even the appearance of corruption).

Then GOP representatives and senators could craft a plan with a completely realistic and accurate price tag that is certainly dramatically lower than socialized medicine. And when combined with allowing all of the insured, above and below the poverty line, to maintain individual control of their insurance and medical care, the plan would be a huge winner with the American voter.

We could sweeten the pot by adding a number of free-market features designed to appeal to the great majority of us who do have health insurance:

  • Making insurance policies portable when we change jobs or move;
  • Creating incentives for insurance carriers and consumers to switch to low-premium, high-deductable insurance coupled with expanded MSAs for anyone who wants that option. Medical savings accounts lower costs, because patients pay for their own minor medical charges out of their MSA, which they must then replentish: When the patient himself is the primary payer, he tends to be a more careful shopper.
  • Creating a national query-friendly database registry of insurance carriers, coupled with software to allow consumers to quickly and easily find their best insurance deal over the web;
  • Allowing Medicare and Medicaid recipients the same range of plans that ordinary insurance consumers have -- "the GOP is pro-choice on health insurance!"

If we did this, then instead of simply being "the party of NO," we'd be the party of options, choices, freedom, and Capitalism. I believe that nearly every single Republican, from a Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) conservative to a Rep. Peter King (R-NY, 50%) moderate, would get behind such a proposal.

In fact, the lizardian proposal is so clean and inexpensive (compared to the Obamic alternative), we would probably pick up a number of blue dogs. Imagine the fun of more than half the Senate lining up behind the GOP bill, forcing the humiliated Democrats to filibuster their own Congress. Oh, the humanity!

In any event, we would no longer be trying to beat something wicked with a fistful of nays. Instead, we could go head to head with the Democrats, substance for substance. It is from exactly such principled but unifying proposals that we can build the nucleus of another Contract with America.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 14, 2009, at the time of 2:38 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 12, 2009

More on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany

Hatched by Dafydd

The follies and frolics continue in the New York State Senate. Here is the latest...

First, erstwhile Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (he still believes himself to be the once and future Majority Leader) released a statement Wednesday through his spokesman, Austin Shafran; here it is in its entirety:

“The Temporary President and Majority Leader, Senator Malcolm A. Smith, was elected to a two year term pursuant to a resolution passed by a majority of Senators in January 2009."

"The purported coup was an unlawful violation of New York State law and the Senate rules and we do not accept it. The Senate Majority is fully prepared to go back to the people’s work, but will not enter the chamber to be governed by unlawful rules." [Well! That's mighty high-minded of them; I was afraid they were simply squabbling about who had the power.]

"We plan to file an action for a temporary injunction to enjoin the Republicans from illegitimately usurping authority from the people of New York."

This is amusing on several levels, not least of which is the casual conflation of a slim Democratic majority losing its leadership position because of a vote in the State Senate -- the same way it gained that leadership position in the first place -- with "usurping authority from the people of New York" (!)

Then on Thursday, the melodrama deepened, as some wag -- likely Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, one of the two defecting Democrats -- got hold of the keys to the joint:

A defiant Mr. Espada said he would enter the chamber for a session on Thursday even if the Democrats kept the doors bolted shut. As he was being trailed by a large group of reporters down a corridor in the Capitol, Mr. Espada pulled a gold key out of his pocket, grinned and said: “I’ve got the key. I’ve got the key.”

This rise of no-confidence in Smith continues today, as the New York Daily News makes it clear that Smith will probably be ousted by his Democratic conference:

It seems all-but inevitable at this point that Smith will be asked to step aside, despite the fact that he continues to fight in court to retain his hold on the leadership. The leading candidate to replace him as head of the Democratic conference is Sen. John Sampson.

Keep in mind: Even if the Democrats dump Smith and get Monserrate back, the Senate will still be deadlocked, and the question about the legality of Monday's vote that restored Sen. Dean Skelos to the majority leader's post and made Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. temporary president of the Senate still stands.

But today, the state judge hearing the case, Thomas J. McNamara, not only warned the warring parties that they should settle this politically, not judicially, he also made clear he would sign a GOP motion to dismiss the Democrats' case... though without prejudice. This would require the Democrats to start all over again, dragging the impasse out further -- and likely further eroding Smith's tenure as Majority Leader, perhaps even causing more Democrats to jump ship to Republican Dean Skelos.

I'm not a New Yorker; nevertheless, I have some thoughts on this standoff based entirely on what I have read:

  1. I believe the original vote and the continued turmoil has nothing to do with Democrats rethinking the policies of Malcolm Smith, shifting in a more conservative direction; rather, it has everything to do with an insurrection against Smith himself, personally.
  2. Therefore, I believe the efforts to oust him from his leadership position within the Democratic Party will ultimately be successful. A new party leader will be elected.
  3. Once this happens, the defections of Espada and Monserrate (both of whom appear to be crass and unethical opportunists) will boil down to what deal they can cut for leadership positions and possibly the dropping of various ethics complaints against them.

Both have serious legal issues pending: Espada "has been fined tens of thousands of dollars over several years for flouting state law by not disclosing political contributions," and he is also under investigation by the state attorney general for a healthcare network he used to run; and Monserrate is currently under felony indictment for slashing his female "companion's" face with a broken bottle during an argument.

The companion, Karla Giraldo, initially cooperated with the investigation; but in December, she changed her story to match Monserrate's: that he "tripped while holding a glass of water and Giraldo was injured by the shattered glass." There is, however, other physical evidence, possibly including surveillance video, that supports her original charge that Monserrate, a former police officer, assaulted her in a jealous rage over another man.

  1. Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  2. And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

So it goes, so it will go; but's titillating to watch the train wreck in the meanwhile.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 12, 2009, at the time of 3:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 10, 2009

"You Have the Right to Keep Your Terrorist Secrets Safe..."

Hatched by Dafydd

I don't know how much to believe this Weekly Standard story by Stephen F. Hayes -- I enjoyed his book the Connection, but I'm not sure how careful he is with the facts -- but he claims that the Barack H. Obama administration has actually begun instructing FBI agents that they must begin Mirandizing terrorists captured on the battlefield:

"I believe none of these [intelligence] successes would have happened if we had had to treat KSM like a white-collar criminal – read him his Miranda rights and get him a lawyer who surely would have insisted that his client simply shut up,” Tenet wrote in his memoirs.

If Tenet is right, it’s a good thing KSM was captured before Barack Obama became president. For, the Obama Justice Department has quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high value detainees captured and held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, according a senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

If this is true -- and I'm not yet sure it is -- the consequences would be dire. I joked about this earlier, saying that if we were to accept that all terrorist detainees should be treated as civilian criminal defendants, then we would have to let them all go... as none was read his Miranda rights; none was arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant issued by an American court; none was allowed to have his "attorney" (or minder) present during his interrogation; and in fact, soldiers don't even have legal grounds to enter mosques or safehouses or caves in the first place, since no American judge issued them search warrants. Let freedom ring! Release all the terrorists immediately on grounds that their constitutional rights were violated!

And if, after releasing all terrorists captured on George W. Bush's watch -- see how incompetent and irresponsible Bush was? He didn't even properly arrest Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah -- we are to begin informing future captures that they have the right to remain silent and lawyer-up, does anybody believe we will ever again get any significant, valuable intel out of them?

As Tenet noted, would KSM have talked if we'd told him he didn't have to, that he could demand the interrogation cease any time he wanted, and that his terrorist attorney of choice had to be present during any interrogation that did continue? It's absolute madness... if true.

The tip comes from Rep. Mike J. Rogers (R-MI, 84%) -- and a perfect example of Hayes' sloppiness is that he doesn't identify whether he means that Mike Rogers (which he does) or Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-AL, 50%); I had to figure it out myself by Hayes' statement that the Mike Rogers he means is the one on the House Intelligence Committee.

I do believe Hayes is telling the truth that Rogers said what Hayes claims he said; but I'm not sure how thoroughly Hayes vetted Rogers' claim. I worry that since Rogers' accusation agrees so completely with Hayes' take on the administraiton, that the latter simply accepted it as "solid evidence," on the well-known logical principle that "It must be true, because it would be so wonderful for my argument if it were true."

That said, a claim of ideology-driven intelligence frivolity by this administration, made by a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence -- especially as Rogers is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism/HUMINT, Analysis and Counterintelligence and a former FBI Special Agent as well -- is serious enough to warrant investigation: Did President Obama actually order high-level detainees to be Mirandized on the battlefield (or elsewhere, but still before they can be interrogated)? Or is it possible that the Mirandizing only applies to lower-tier terrorists who are not thought to have significant intelligence, and who are intended all along simply to be prosecuted in civilian courts?

Before flying off all four handles, I want to see better verification of this story, along with more details about which and what kind of terrorist captures it applies to, and whether the president can override the policy in important cases.

But unless Rogers has simply fabricated this charge out of whole cloth (unlikely), even if we're now applying American constitutional rights only to low-tier, foreign national terrorists captured in a foreign country by our military, it would still severely undermine our legal position anent top-tier terrorists as well: A court could easily conclude that if the Executive agrees Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights and protections apply to Osama bin Laden's chauffeur, then what is the legal argument why they wouldn't apply equally to bin Laden himself?

It's time for someone with a bit more credibility than Stephen Hayes to seriously dig into the Rogers claim; if accurate, this is the most dire Obamic threat to intelligence gathering yet unveiled as part of the One's almost pathological need to throw a stumbling wrench into the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 10, 2009, at the time of 1:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 9, 2009

New York Democracy + Chicago Rules... Hijinks Ensue

Hatched by Dafydd

The Democrats in Albany, New York, call it a "coup."

The rest of us call it an election. (Perhaps Democrats are simply unfamiliar with the concept.)

How I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the New York State Senate from yesterday at 3:00 pm through today. For months, Republicans and even some Democrats had grown increasingly frustrated under the leadership of the majority leader, Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith. But only two Democrats had any inkling what was about to happen.

In the midst of a boring, routine day of Senate debate, Republican Sen. Tom Libous from Binghamton rose to offer a resolution to "reorganize the Senate leadership." The Democrats were caught completely off their guard. Stunned, they watched as two of their number -- Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens -- defected to support the Republican majority leader, Dean Skelos, against the then-current majority leader, Democrat Malcolm Smith. (In fact, Espada and Monserrate had been coordinating this move with the Republican minority for several weeks.)

Democrats tried every trick in the book to prevent the leadership election from occurring: They fled the state Senate to try to prevent a quorum, cut off the lights and power to the Senate chambers, and sabotaged the internet connection. But the Republicans stuck to their attack; and before the Democrats could stop the proceedings, the GOP had won the vote. With dizzying speed, the minority plus the two defectors had mustered a bare majority of those voting to replace Smith with Skelos.

And now Smith is left wailing like a banshee that there has to be some "legal recourse" by which a judge (any judge, anywhere!) can reverse the election results:

Still reeling from a sudden revolt a day earlier that shifted control of the New York State Senate to Republicans, Democrats huddled behind closed doors in the Capitol on Tuesday morning, seeking a legal path to help them block the power grab.

But it was far from clear whether they would be able to keep Republicans from assuming control of the Senate, or even whether they would be able to keep more members from defecting and further cementing the new Republican majority.

The Democrats' whiny petulance and outraged feelings of entitlement practically stifle the atmosphere. In their latest anti-democratic lunge for lost leadership, they have locked the Senate doors and won't let the Republicans inside:

Throughout Tuesday morning, stunned Democrats continued to insist that they were still the party in control of the Senate, and that Malcolm A. Smith -- only five months into his role as head of the Senate majority -- was still their leader. The standoff had grown so tense that the secretary of the Senate -- a position appointed by the Democratic conference -- was refusing to hand over the keys to the Senate chamber to the Republicans. The Republican leadership called for the secretary’s resignation, and vowed to hold Wednesday’s session, whether in another room or in a park.

Democrats in New York more and more resemble prepubescent brats pitching a tantrum. Perhaps next, the Democrats will demand a new vote... and somehow strip Skelos from the ballot.

Here is a simple syllogism to bear in mind: Democrats have about as much respect for democracy and rule of law as do Kim Jong-Il of North Korea and Oogo Chavez of Venezuela... scratch a pack of liberal Democrats and you'll find the bestial mob of feral children in William Golding's Lord of the Flies, running naked through the underbrush screaming "Kill the pig, kill the pig!"

I'm starting to think it possible that enough of a backlash will build that angry New York voters will help return Republicans to power in the United States Congress. I even begin to ponder whether the Republican nominee in 2012 might stand a reasonable chance of beating Barack H. Obama in the Empire State, three years and some loose change hence.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 9, 2009, at the time of 10:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 8, 2009

His Master's Voice

Hatched by Dafydd

When speaketh the man to whom Barack H. Obama prostrated himself the first time they met, does the president listen? Worse -- does he obey?

In the most recent demonstration of the respect and deference the rest of the world displays for the One They Have Been Laughing At, the King of Saudi Arabia has laid down the law to BO:

King Abdullah told Obama during his visit to Riyadh last week that Arab patience was wearing thin and that a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be the "magic key" to all issues in the region, al-Hayat said, quoting what it called informed sources.

"We want from you a serious participation to solve the Palestinian issue and impose the solution if necessary," the Saudi monarch told Obama, according to the paper, which is owned by a nephew of the monarch. It did not elaborate.

It didn't need to; it's patently obvious that Abdullah refers to the "peace plan" enunciated by Saudi Arabia seven years ago, when Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was king, and half-brother Abdullah (bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud) a mere princeling.

The plan is brutally simple: The Palestinians get everything they (and the Arab states) want -- a return to the pre-1967 border, full recognition of a contiguous Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (necessitating cutting Israel in twain, of course), complete control of East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount), the retreat of Israel's capital from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv, and of course the right of "return" for millions of radicalized Moslems -- who have lived their entire lives in so-called "refugee" camps outside Israel, as did their fathers and grandfathers before them.

In fair exchange, Israel gets grudging recognition as a state, though not a Jewish state -- for ten full years, if Fatah can be believed. Which they can't.

King Abdullah explained exactly why Obama should stick a shiv into our most reliable ally in the Middle East, one of only two democracies in the region (the other is the one we created in Iraq): "We (Arabs) want to devote our time... to build a generation capable of confronting the future with science and work."

Well! Who can argue with that? Clearly, Israel deleda est.

This is yet another test for a president who hasn't a very good track record on such examinations: After Abdullah witnessed -- to his evident startlement -- Barack Obama bowing deeply at the waist upon meeting the real-sounding but fabricated monarch of a manufactured country of nomadic goat herders, whose chief export after petroleum products is probably animal hides, the king could be excused for thinking we had a patsy for president. The question is whether Mr. Abdullah is right.

So far there has been no response from the White House to the abrupt order issued to our president by the "king" of Saudi Arabia. If the administration means to snub the man (and they should), it needs to do so explicitly, publicly -- and posthaste. The longer it and Obama himself hesitate, the more uncertain, nervous, rattled, and agitated they appear... so much the worse for the country.

Well?

Tick tick tick tick...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 8, 2009, at the time of 12:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 5, 2009

Trolling for Polling

Hatched by Dafydd

With Rasmussen showing a recent significant decline in Barack H. Obama's job approval (down to 54% approval, 46% disapproval), and a very sharp decline in his "approval index" down to zero (meaning just as many strongly disapprove as strongly approve of the brash, inexperienced president), more and more lefties appear ready to dismiss Rasmussen Reports altogether, on the well-founded theory that "it can't be true because it would be so terrible if it were!"

They mock Rasmussen as being a "far-right" pollster more akin to a GOP poll -- or perhaps an American Nazi Party poll -- than an independent, scientific survey. Instead, the Left seems to dote on Gallup... which consistently shows Obama with a much healthier approval rating of 62% to 31% disapproval -- why, the public approves of Obama's job by two to one!

This is fascinating... because in the real world, Rasmussen beat Gallup hands down in predicting the results of the 2008 presidential election. Unsurprisingly to anyone but a diehard liberal, Gallup very significantly overestimated Obama's victory by more than 50%. From RealClearPolitics, here are the final polls just before the election:

Final poll results November 2008, compared to actual vote
Pollster Obama McCain Spread
(Actual vote results) 52.9 45.6 Obama +7.3
Marist 52 43 Obama +9
Rasmussen Reports 52 46 Obama +6
Zogby 54 43 Obama +11
IBD/TIPP 52 44 Obama +8
Fox News 50 43 Obama +7
NBC/WSJ 51 43 Obama +8
Gallup 55 44 Obama +11
Hotline 50 45 Obama +5
CBS News 51 42 Obama +9
ABC/Washington Post 53 44 Obama +9
Ipsos 53 46 Obama +7
CNN 53 46 Obama +7
Pew Research 52 46 Obama +6

So Rasmussen was off by one point in McCain's favor; but Gallup was off by four points in Obama's favor. No pollster had a worse error than Gallup; only one, Zogby, equalled Gallup's error. Gallup was so far off in the Democrat's favor that it would have been considered an "outlier" even before the election was held.

But George Gallup's their man, and they're sticking to him. As the old expression goes, believing is seeing. Meanwhile, they're missing out by ignoring Rasmussen, which has become a real dime in the rough: They consistently release surprising and unexpected results that end up being verified by the eventual vote.

By all means, let the Democrats cling to their Gallup and their myth of Obama as the most beloved president since FDR. I love to see their overconfident heads swell like deer ticks who've tapped into an artery; because then the narcissistic, arrogant, overly confident demagogues will make even more and even worse gaffes than they already do.

And in 2012, or even in 2010, the fall to Earth will be all the more catastrophic. And a joy to behold.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 5, 2009, at the time of 5:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sonia "Banana Peel" Sotomayor Slips Again - and Again - and Again...

Hatched by Dafydd

When the text was leaked of a 2001 speech by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, tabbed by President Barack H. Obama to be his first Supreme Court pick, and it was found to contain a passage that reeked of classic "reverse racism" the explanation by the White House was that it was simply a "poor choice of words," almost a slip of the tongue; she had said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Now the Congressional Quarterly discovers that Ms. Sotomayor "slips" so often, she could star in a Mack Sennett comedy:

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 in which she suggested "a wise Latina woman" or "wise woman" judge might "reach a better conclusion" than a male judge.

Those speeches, released Thursday as part of Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire, (to see Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee click here and here) suggest her widely quoted 2001 speech in which she indicated a "wise Latina" judge might make a better decision was far from a single isolated instance.

I thought from the beginning that the defense was preposterous. The conclusion to her 2001 lecture wasn't a slip of the tongue or even just a "poor choice of words;" it was a long, extended rhetorical climax identifying the central thesis of her entire argument: that the gender and race of judge and litigants play, and should play, a huge role in how a judge decides a case. Her ancillary thesis was even worse: that whites and males are simply not as good at the job as people of "color" and females.

Here is the context surrounding the "wise Latina" passage of her 2001 Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture at UC Berkeley Law School, titled "a Latina Judge's Voice" (page 5 at the link):

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life....

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

But seven years earlier, in 1994, then District Judge Sotomayor delivered an address containing the following nearly identical passage:

Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that “a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion in dueling cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes the line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, if Prof. Martha Minnow is correct, there can never be a universal definition of ‘wise.’ Second, I would hope that a wise woman with the richness of her experience would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion. [Sotomayor had yet to substitute "Latina" for "woman" to drag in racism as well as sexism.]

In addition, CQ Politics found Sotomayor boasting of the superiority of a "wise woman" judge over a (presumably more foolish) male judge, in at least four other lectures in between the 1994 and 2001 speeches:

  • One in 1999 to the New York State Women's Bar Association;
  • One in 1999 to Yale University;
  • Another to Yale in 2000;
  • And one to the CUNY School of Law (date not mentioned by CQ Politics).

Finally, they found a 2003 speech at Seton Hall University, two years after her Olmos Memorial Lecture, with this version:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.

That makes seven times -- that we know of! -- that Sotomayor suggested women, and Latinas in particular, make better judges than whites and males.

I believe we have here what civil-rights law calls a "continuing pattern and practice" of making racist and sexist comments in major scripted, edited, and rehearsed speeches before august legal bodies. This renders risible the defense that Sotomayor was guilty only of a "poor choice of words." This isn't just a slip of the tongue, it's a window into a profoundly racially and sexually biased judicial mind.

When a person returns again and again over many years to a bizarre and controversial claim -- especially one that must be taken purely on faith, since all the evidence points against it -- then we must take seriously her absolute commitment to that position. And that means we cannot get away from the strong likelihood that her philosophical, ideological commitment to judging legal cases based upon race and gender, rather than purely upon the facts of the case and the relevant law, will recur; and that in some cases at least, it will determine her vote on the Supreme Court.

This also means that Newt Gingrich was premature to withdraw his charge of "racism" against Sotomayor in favor of the more wishy-washy claim that she only made a racist statement. One such statement can be explained away by implying it was out of character, she doesn't really think like that, she had a brain-tongue interchange malfunction, she just slipped.

But you don't slip on the same banana peel seven times unless, as with the Keystone Kops, the slip is entirely intentional: We must face the fact that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is, by any widely accepted definition of the words, both racist and sexist: She believes that one race is superior to another and that one gender is superior to the other.

Were a judicial nominee found to have endorsed pro-white, pro-male bias with similar enthusiastic repetition, his nomination would never make it out of the Senate J-Com. It shames the Democratic Party that in the age of Obama, a cheerfully racist and sexist judicial nominee is still a "slam-dunk" for confirmation... because she's the right kind of racist and sexist.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 5, 2009, at the time of 11:37 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 3, 2009

Serfing Towards Liberty?

Hatched by Dafydd

The title refers, of course, to the immortal work by free-market economist Friedrich Hayek, the Road to Serfdom; but in this case, I'm not referring to the obvious economic servitude into which we seem to be slipping -- or slaloming.

I am instead talking about an even more fundamental shibboleth that determines whether a people are free citizens or merely subjects of the crown: whether their fundamental right to the means of self defense is protected or violated. In other words, whether they are or are not allowed to own a firearm.

Today a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided to uphold Chicago's ban on handguns within the city limits. I believe the case was properly decided -- despite the fact that I believe Americans have a fundamental right to own (and even carry -- "keep and bear") arms, even within the great city of Chicago, a.k.a. Obamastan:

The unanimous three-judge panel ruled today that a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year, which recognized an individual right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, didn’t apply to states and municipalities.

“The Supreme Court has rebuffed requests to apply the second amendment to the states,” U.S. Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote, upholding lower court decisions last year to throw out suits against Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. [Easterbrook was appointed in 1985 by Ronald Reagan.]

Why was it properly decided? Because for more than a century, the Supreme Court has consistently ducked its opportunity to state unequivocally whether the protections of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution apply only against action by the federal government, or whether it also protects our right to keep and bear arms from depredations by the states -- or their subdivisions, including the windy hog butcher to the world.

Even in the recent case of District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ___ (2008), in which the Court for the first time held that the Second Amendment protected an individual's right to own a firearm, this larger issue was not settled. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the razor-thin majority:

In sum, we hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense ... We affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

However, as the title of the case suggests, this ban was enacted by a federal entity: the District of Columbia; therefore, the holding does not necessarily apply to a state or municipality. But that is exactly what the current case will decide.

I cannot imagine the Supreme Court refusing to take it, especially as a Ninth Circuit case, Nordyke v. King, ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. 2009), ruled the opposite way (that the Second Amendment does apply to state legislation). According to Wikipedia -- not the best of sources, considering its provenance, but it will have to do -- the Ninth Circus held:

The Circuit Court ruled that the Second Amendment was incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause and applies against the states and local governments. In coming to that conclusion, the court found the right to keep and bear arms is "deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition", a key factor under Duncan v. Louisiana for incorporation.

Therefore, we desperately need clarity: We need to know that our right to keep and bear arms is fundamental, and that it applies not only against federal bans but state bans as well. I believe the language of the amendment itself favors the side of liberty. Compare the language of the First Amendment to that of the Second:

First: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Second: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

If the Court can "incorporate" the First Amendment to the states, despite the fact that it explicitly mentions acts of Congress, then surely the Second Amendment (which mentions no such possible limitation) must logically be incorporated as well.

But only the United States Supreme Court can do so. If the same majority from Heller holds up under National Rifle Association of America v. City of Chicago, 08-4241, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Chicago) -- and I believe it will -- then we will finally have what the Founding Fathers intended: "that every man be armed."

That may well turn out to be the greatest and most long-lasting achievement of the presidency of George W. Bush: Appointing John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Court. Both joined the Scalia opinion, as did Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy. While Roberts replaced Chief Justice William Rhenquist, who probably would have voted the same way in Heller, Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- who I suspect would have either sided with the liberals, or at least would have demanded a toned down, wishy-washy decision. Alito cast a courageous vote for liberty instead.

So keep watching the skies; the first step is to see whether at least four justices will vote to accept certiorari.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 3, 2009, at the time of 6:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hope for a Change of Name

Hatched by Dafydd

I don't think General Motors should keep its name, now that it has been gobbled up by Barack H. Obama. In the first place, the brand is tarnished. Second, everybody is going to start calling it "Government Motors" (same initials and all), and the mockery would be too rich.

Third, I really think, in due deference to history, that the car company should pay homage to the greatest era of Socialism in all of human history, as well as to the work of fiction that most aptly describes the glorious future that awaits an automobile company run by the federal government and the United Auto Workers union.

Therefore, I would like to suggest that GM change its name to the Twentieth Century Motor Car Company, à la the wonderful (and lengthy) section of Ayn Rand's seminal work Atlas Shrugged. In the subplot, the young (liberal, childish) heirs of the company decide to turn it into a model of Socialism, Marxism, and altruism; they essentially give over control of the company to the workers, allowing them to set their own salaries, vacation time, work schedules, and so forth.

With predictable results.

I'm sure the new name will fit General Motors like O.J.'s glove; GM's future corporate arc is the perfect real-life analog to the events of the novel.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 3, 2009, at the time of 10:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 2, 2009

What We Learn in School

Hatched by Dave Ross
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” -- Ecclesiastes 9:11

As the time approaches for the annual rite of passage known as high school graduation, I find myself thoughtful about some of the lessons that we learn in school.

One thing I have come to appreciate over the years is that many of the things that the schools (all public schools, everywhere) attempt to instill in our children are not necessarily survival skills for the real world, and are certainly not lessons that people who hope to become good citizens should necessarily take to heart.

One thing that we have to accept is that the institution of public education is resentful of, and somewhat afraid of, the truly exceptional child. It is far more comfortable with the mediocre achiever. Public education was created in its present form at the beginning of the last century to turn out good factory workers. Not poets, inventors, dreamers, or revolutionary thinkers.

Again and again we see that many of the people who are paragons of success in today’s society, such as Bill Gates, didn’t even finish school, or at least were not considered good students when they were there. The ultimately successful in life are not always those who won the races or got the best grades, or made friends with their teachers.

Another thing is that the school’s mission of maintaining good order and discipline isn’t always in line with promoting our nation’s freedoms, such as freedom of expression. School districts get in trouble almost every year for trying to censor school publications -- the most recent that I'm aware of was Fallbrook High School District in San Diego County, California -- and trying to tell kids what messages they can or cannot express on their T-shirts.

Respect for authority, remembering who is in charge, and following instructions without question are important to maintain good order; but they don’t do a darn thing to encourage thoughtful citizens to come to their own conclusions, follow their own paths, and carve out their own versions of success.

The next Einstein or Eisenstein will be someone you have never heard of.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, June 2, 2009, at the time of 11:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Double Standard" Watch on the Rind Continues

Hatched by Dafydd

Well, mañana has come ("Aye Caesar, but not gone!") Still haven't seen a single story quoting a single anti-war activist denouncing, condemning, or for that matter even mentioning the assassination of Pvt. William Long and the wounding of Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula.

None of the suspects listed in our previous post has stepped up to the plate and plainly said "Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad does not kill on my behalf." Nor has a single elite news agency even asked anti-war leaders the question, so far as I have seen.

The New York Times continues to have no editorial on the attack, though they quickly editorialized on the murder of Dr. Tiller (blaming it on pro-life conservatives). They finally posted an article on the shootings; but nowhere in it do they trouble to demand whether anti-war protesters and agitators support or condemn the brutal murder and attempted murder.

Andrew Sullivan has at last deigned to note the occurance of the assassination... but only in order to mock Michelle Malkin, whom he dubs a "self-parody" for imagining that it could possibly be considered terrorism -- not like that Tiller killing!

The Washington Post has printed no editorials or opinion pieces on the murder. It has published two articles on the shooting, here and here; neither even so much as raises the question of whether the extremist anti-war, anti-military rhetoric of the American and international Left played any role in persuading native-born American citizen Mr. Muhammad that being a Moslem required him to murder his own country's servicemen. Nor does either article ask any anti-war protester or leader what he or she thinks of Mr. Muhammad's tactics.

None of the usual suspects can any longer claim that they haven't had enough time to prepare such a story; each swiftly published stories, editorials, and opinion pieces savaging the entire pro-life movement (of which I am not a member, by the way) for the murder of Dr. Tiller... and especially lighting on Fox News populist demagogue Bill O'Reilly as the real killer behind the killer. These stories appeared within 24 hours of the Christian domestic terrorist attack.

But the Moslem domestic terrorist attack appears to have elicited a collective "ho hum" from the elite news media. It's quite clear which religious extremism they think is the real threat to America.

I'm too smug and self-satisfied to look at other lefty websites besides the ones I've enumerated here; but I highly encourage readers to do so: Please look through posts from June 1st forward, or search the websites for the victims' names, and post the results in the comments section. Here are the questions before the house:

  • Will any anti-war organization, leader, or even individual protester go on record condemning or denouncing the killings of Long and Ezeagwula?
  • And will any elite-media newspaper, TV news or talking-head show, news magazine, or internet site put the question to any of the usual chanters, protesters, rioters, and puppeteers whether their own virulent and hysterical anti-war rhetoric could have helped push Muhammad over the edge?

It seems that the intense search for the "root cause" of political violence begins and ends with violence from the deranged Right, no matter how tangentially connected to the sane Right (the tangential connection will of course be exaggerated to the point of complete identification).

Inquiring minds still want to know.

Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 2, 2009, at the time of 1:54 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The Double-Standard Gauntlet Is Thrown

Hatched by Dafydd

From yesterday's New York Times unsigned (thus from the editorial board) editorial:

The murder of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot to death as he stood in the foyer of his church in Wichita, Kan., on Sunday morning, was a reprehensible act of domestic terrorism directed toward the dwindling cadre of physicians who risk their safety to perform legal medical procedures....

Responding to Dr. Tiller’s slaying, President Obama expressed shock and outrage and said that profound differences over issues like abortion “cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.” Mr. Obama recently called for Americans to find common ground on reducing the need for abortions. In that spirit, abortion opponents should refrain from the “baby killer” rhetoric that inflames an already heated debate....

There must be a sustained focus by federal and state officials to prevent further acts of violence and intimidation. If it turns out that additional laws are needed, Congress should take action.

So far as I've heard, every single pro-life organization and a great many pro-life individuals denounced and condemned this murder as despicable, cowardly, and a violation of the entire thrust of the pro-life community. And they did so the very day it happened, Sunday, May 31st, 2009.

But I have yet to hear or read a single radical leftist anti-war organization, politician, or blogger condemning the assassination of Private William Long, United States Army, and the attempted assassination of Private Quinton Ezeagwula, United States Army. As of the timestamp of this post, not a word on the website of International ANSWER; nary a peep from the chicks at Code Pink.

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, 95%), "America's most courageous congressman," hasn't the courage to speak out against killing American soldiers in America's heartland -- not even on his Twitter feed. Perhaps if it turns out that additional laws are needed, Congress should take action; Rep. Kucinich could introduce a bill.

Andrew Sullivan -- I've heard he has a blog or something; I think it's called the Daily Dirt; or something -- found occasion to publish 58 blogposts yesterday, including many about the assassination of Dr. Tiller. But Sullivan found no occasion even to mention the assassination of Long and the attempted assassination of Ezeagwula.

But it's early yet. Maybe mañana.

Tick tick tick tick...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 2, 2009, at the time of 2:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Date ►►► June 1, 2009

Attacking the Foundations of Freedom

Hatched by Dave Ross

Society and the status quo are uniting as never before in America to ensure the power of equality over freedom -- and in the process attacking society’s achievers as well as the freedom of expression that defends them and our way of life. This is a form of injustice -- perhaps one of the most pernicious.

Will and Ariel Durant wrote in The Lessons of History (1968), "Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.”

America’s founders were appalled at the idea of democracy and equality; and while they gave lip service to equality in political classes, they didn’t extend that to economic results. They revered the ideal of the individual, free and owing little to his fellow man, and less to his government -- except occasionally serving temporarily in government or the military to preserve those freedoms.

Equality of opportunity, not equality of result, was their goal. While they envisioned individual liberty and private property as the ne plus ultra of a free society, they also enshrined freedom of expression (speech, press, etc.) as a means of defending those rights.

Or as John Adams wrote in “A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law” (1765), “The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.”

Although George Orwell invented the term “thought crime” in his novel Nineteen-Eighty Four, the concept was well known to the founders. James Madison, who proposed the First Amendment, once wrote to Thomas Jefferson on the passage of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom: “We have in this country extinguished forever... making laws for the human mind.”

We have come a long way since those days. At his first commencement speech as president (May 13, 2009), Barack Obama told the graduating class of Arizona State University that they should not seek honors, riches, status or personal gain:

In contrast, the leaders we revere, the businesses and institutions that last -- they are not generally the result of a narrow pursuit of popularity or personal advancement, but of devotion to some bigger purpose -- the preservation of the Union or the determination to lift a country out of a depression; the creation of a quality product, a commitment to your customers, your workers, your shareholders and your community. A commitment to make sure that an institution like ASU is inclusive and diverse and giving opportunity to all. That's a hallmark of real success.

That other stuff -- that other stuff, the trappings of success may be a byproduct of this larger mission, but it can't be the central thing. Just ask Bernie Madoff. That's the first problem with the old attitude.

This is an argument Immanuel Kant -- from whom much of the Western World’s current unhappiness, at least philosophical unhappiness, can be traced -- would appreciate. The idea that we should not pursue what makes us happy, but rather what benefits society most. It “invites” us to put away the pursuit of success, of individual achievement, and seek “some bigger purpose.”

For one like the president, who in his early career was a community organizer, this seems a reasonable goal -- for him. But for the now immensely powerful president to deliver it as a goal for graduating seniors, and by extension to the nation, is alarming. Especially since he can back up his preferences for what goals individuals might choose with the full power of the federal government.

The injustice being perpetrated, in my view, is to attack society’s achievers, to attempt to level them, to defame them as being unfair and victimizing society. Going hand in hand with this attack on individual achievement is the attack on the ability of people who oppose such actions to defend themselves using the written word, TV or radio broadcasts, internet communications, and other media.

The president has also advocated limiting salaries of corporate executives, not only of companies that took TARP money, but even of banks and high profile companies that didn’t. The argument most often advanced is that it is unfair to "the poor" to allow “the rich” (a term that often means anyone who makes more than the accuser) to make so much more than they.

In promoting such a philosophy Obama is only carrying forward a tradition that goes back at least as far as President Franklin D. Roosevelt -- who, along with Abraham Lincoln, he greatly admires; Roosevelt's “Four Freedoms” speech (January 6, 1941) listed “freedom of speech and expression,” “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way,” “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear.” Only two of these have a basis in our Bill of Rights, and nowhere is mentioned anything about the freedom of individual achievement or liberty. In fact, during the height of World War II, FDR proposed to Congress that it adopt a 100% tax for all incomes over $25,000.

So in today’s world, when many pundits say that the second Great Depression is upon us, it is not hard to imagine that the government that could tell a CEO of a large company how much money he might make could at some point tell a smaller fish in a smaller company how much money she might make.

In the name of equality, freedom is limited or eliminated.

Karl Marx made the case that people were equal until private property evolved, which created the class system. His philosophical descendent Vladimir Lenin, in his “To the workers, everything; to the toilers, everything!” speech (1918), asserted:

It was life itself, real, actual life, which taught the workers to understand that as long as the landholders had entrenched themselves so well in palaces and magic castles, freedom of assembly would be a mere fiction and would only perhaps be found in the other world. To promise freedom to the workers and at the same time to leave the castles, the land, the factories and all the resources in the hands of the capitalists and landowners -- that this has nothing to do with liberty and equality.

At the other end of the spectrum are President Ronald Reagan and his philosophical twin, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher -- who, when she ran for parliament in 1950 said:

Our policy is not built on envy or hatred but on liberty for the individual man or woman. It is not our policy to suppress success. Our policy is to encourage it, and encourage energy and initiative. In 1940 it was not the cry of nationalization that made this country rise up and fight totalitarianism. It was the cry for freedom and liberty.

Falling somewhere in between would be a political philosopher such as John Rawls, who believes that individual freedom and the capitalist system that derives from it are only moral if the poorest people benefit too. Yet a utilitarian philosopher could argue, as Adam Smith (admittedly an economist, not a philosopher) did, that individual freedom and capitalism produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number, even if it doesn’t always distribute that happiness evenly.

Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand counters that the capitalist system, and the individual who works for his own benefit and not the benefit of others, together create a result that benefits the most people... although she would hasten to add that she sees the morality of individualism and capitalism as divorced from whether they benefit the majority. In her newsletter the Objectivist (1971), Rand writes: “I shall say that I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason.”

Another modern libertarian philosopher, Robert Nozick, opposes what he calls Rawls’s “distributive justice.”

In the opening remarks of Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) Nozick writes, “Individuals have rights.... So strong and far-reaching are these rights that they raise the question of what, if anything, the state and its officials may do,” and argues for a minimalist state that has the powers to protect private property from theft and fraud and not much else.

The president (and his electoral opponent in 2008, Senator John McCain) both would require that all adults devote some years to “community service,” which is, when all high-flown definitions are stripped away, a form of involuntary servitude. This too, can be seen as an assault on the individual’s right to dispose of his time as he sees fit.

Also in the name of equality, to combat “hate speech,” “attacks on other religions,” and to limit money’s influence on politics, freedom of expression is under assault on a variety of fronts.

McCain’s Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002 (aka McCain-Feingold) makes it a crime to take out advertising criticizing a candidate in a federal election within a certain time prior to the election. Some federal election commissioners have tried to apply this to the internet and to commercial films (such a case is currently before the Supreme Court: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission).

Earlier this year the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, about which Colorado defense attorney Robert J. Corry commented that “the state ‘hate crime’ law -- like the newly expanded House of Representatives federal bill -- ‘does not apply equally’ (as the 14th Amendment requires), essentially instead "criminalizing only politically incorrect thoughts directed against politically incorrect victim categories.”

Canadian journalist (now U.S. citizen [I believe he is still a Canadian citizen -- DaH]) Mark Steyn was brought up on charges of “Islamophobia” in 2008 before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Ontario Human Rights Commission for passages in his book America Alone that were published in the magazine Maclean's.

A previous commission case had involved a minister who attacked gays in print and from the pulpit and whose punishment was to be prevented from publishing or uttering disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals for the rest of his life. So the threat to Steyn’s freedom of expression was real, although the commissions eventually found him (and McLean's) not guity of the charges:

The Ontario Human Rights Commission ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the complaint. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal heard the complaint in June 2008 and issued a ruling on October 10, 2008 dismissing the complaint. The Canadian Human Rights Commission dismissed the federal complaint on June 26, 2008 without referring the matter to a tribunal.

One might derive comfort from the fact that there are no “human rights tribunals” in the U.S. -- except that versions do exist on university campuses. Students can face real punishments for crossing swords with them and expressing thoughts that are not tolerated.

What to do? It is problematic at best to come up with an effective set of measures that would set this situation right. Tyrannies tend to accumulate; governments tend to become more authoritarian. Rarely do they surrender power.

Nevertheless, unless we want to surrender to being "tyrannized" by incrementalism, like the proverbial trick of boiling the frog, we must try to roll back attacks on the individual and his ability to defend himself by speech and print.

At some point we must strike back by advocating laws that would remove much of government’s powers to impose “equality,” to limit its ability to “punish” achievement, and perhaps most important, to undo its attack on freedom of expression by eliminating the methods that local and federal governments use to regulate various media for the purpose of shutting down opposing views.

This would include removing the Federal Communication Commission’s authority to regulate the content of broadcast media... or better yet, to completely abolish the FCC.

This would also, by definition, require removing much of the government’s power to reward certain segments of society at others’ expense through the use of confiscatory taxation and social-engineering laws. It would also require abolishing all “hate crimes” and any other laws that take into account any aspect of a crime other than the fact that it has occurred and its severity.

Perfectly rational liberals may take the view that while individual liberty is a fine thing, there should be some compromise between the freedom of the individual, which at its core is a purely rationalist position, and the abuses that free individuals can commit against the feelings of others.

As a journalist who has been in the business for over 30 years, I see the benefits of unfettered expression. Newspapers are somewhat immune from attacks on content, because it is so obvious that the First Amendment was talking about them when it referred to “freedom of press.” So for the most part is “freedom of speech.” But other media, such as television, radio, and the internet are not specifically mentioned; so the government is more apt to try to trim their freedoms.

As a journalist I harbor an absolutist point of view when it comes to these freedoms, maintaining dogmatically that the Constitution means what it says. I’ve had discussions with some people who have argued, quite reasonably, that someone like Steyn should simply not write things that offend other religions; then there won’t be any problem of defending his right to say what he wants.

But at this possible tipping point in our culture’s existence, we cannot afford compromise.

Early on I used the quote by the Durants to note the timeless struggle between freedom and equality, where if one triumphs completely, the other dies. I am not convinced that this is so. As a country that was founded on freedom and equality, I think it can be demonstrated that equality did not die in America when freedom was at its most robust -- although it certainly took a back seat.

I do not believe that the opposite will be true if individual freedom is forced into a secondary position. Individualism can be strangled or at least deprived of enough oxygen that it will take many years to recover its vitality.

That is the danger of attacking the very foundations of freedom.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, June 1, 2009, at the time of 11:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

AP's Brand New, Never Before Tried Approach to Islam: Appeasement

Hatched by Dafydd

The Associated Press lays its own cards on the table anent how President Barack H. Obama should woo the Moslem world to the side of hopey-changitude:

Respect for Islam, a prescription for Palestinian statehood and assurances of a speedy U.S. pullout from Iraq - that's what Muslims from Morocco to Malaysia say they want to hear from President Barack Obama this week when he addresses them from this Arab capital.

His speech Thursday from Cairo University will try to soften the fury toward the United States among so many of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, ignited by the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the hands-off attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Obama's offer of a new beginning is seen as an attempt to stem the growing influence of extremists - particularly Iran, with its regional and nuclear ambitions - and to bolster moderate Muslim allies.

Yeah, I recall that: The Moslem world just loved us until George W. Bush came along and ruined everything!

Although Obama isn't expected to get very specific, AP shows no such shyness or reluctance:

Obama "has to walk the talk [sic]," said social activist Marina Mahathir, daughter of Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.

But with rising hopes come the risk of disappointment. Obama isn't expected to present a detailed vision of a Mideast peace deal - potentially the most effective antidote to anti-Western sentiment - until later.

And there is doubt the U.S. president can change entrenched foreign policy, particularly what is perceived in the Muslim world as Washington's pro-Israeli bias. What Muslims see as America's repeated failure to hold Israel to its international obligations is a sore point. A construction freeze in Israeli West Bank settlements -- Obama wants it, Israel rejects it -- is shaping up as a major test.

To be sure, Obama is doing everything possible, short of endangering his own political future, to tilt America away from Israel and towards our enemies. For example, AP notes that he is headed off to Saudi Arabia to confab with King Abdullah -- where perhaps the president will again bow deeply from the waist to show submission to the king of the land of the two holiest cities; but he plans to snub Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by bypassing that country on his trip.

And President Obama continues to appease the ummah:

The president's initial actions have earned him good will. He's reached out to Muslims in an interview with an Arab satellite TV station, in video message to Iranians on the Persian new year and in a speech to the Turkish parliament. He ordered Guantanamo prison closed within a year and said the U.S. would not engage in torture, reversing two Bush policies seen here as having targeted Muslims.

(I'm not exactly sure who we were supposed to incarcerate in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, if not those who were fighting a war against the United States -- who were, not coincidentally, radical, militant Moslems. And note the casual way that AP tries to slip it past us that it was "Bush policy" to "engage in torture," a deft and subtle touch by reporters Hadeel al-Salchi and Karin Laub.)

AP next employs one of its very favorite techniques... attributing its own opinions to anonymous "experts" or "analysts":

If Obama wants to rally Muslim support to rein in Iran, analysts say, he will have to prove his good intentions elsewhere. In particular, he needs to move to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands the Palestinians want for a state.

Left unsaid is that the only concession that would truly "rally Muslim support" would be for Obama to end Israel's occupation of Israel. I wonder whether that's a part of the president's plan that he hasn't yet shared with us.

It's no surprise that AP advises the president to play the appeasement card, but it's depressing that they appear to imagine it hasn't already been played -- and played and played -- anent the Arab Moslem world... or that this time, it will have a different result than encouraging the latter to demand even more, as appeasement has every other time it's been tried. (Those who cannot remember Santayana are condemned to regurgitate him.)

I cannot resist ending as AP does, with a quotation that I'm certain perfectly encapsulates the entire elite media's jubilation towards the new era of hope, change, and nationalization of American industry, ushered in by the election of the One They Have Been Pining For:

Still Obama gets some credit up front for just being himself. Many were inspired by his victory, emotionally connecting to his African and Muslim roots and his childhood in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

"It's so exciting to have a black man run the entire world," said Awni Shatarat, 45, a clothing store owner in the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa in Jordan.

Does this qualify as "Barack the magic Negro"-ism?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 1, 2009, at the time of 5:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Tale of Two Shootings

Hatched by Dafydd

Just out of curiosity, does anybody believe that the Arkansas shooting of two Army recruiters, one fatally, will get the same kind of political scrutiny as the shooting of a late-term abortion doctor in Kansas?

Will the former be adduced as left-wing extremism against the military, as the latter is already being exploited as right-wing extremism against abortion rights?

We don't yet know why the recruiters were shot; perhaps it's entirely personal. On the other hand, we really don't yet know why Dr. George Tiller was murdered, either; that too could be personal, or it could be that his killer (perhaps in custody) was simply deranged and had no rational motive at all.

But my question is not about the reality of motive but the political reality of spin... and I just don't see the same intensity of speculation among the elites in the Army-recruiter story as the abortion-doctor one.

But maybe it's just I.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 1, 2009, at the time of 2:45 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Democrats to America: Roast or Freeze - We Don't Care!

Hatched by Dafydd

Democrats are now moving swiftly and boldly to jack up the cost of heating oil, gasoline, and natural gas; the plan is to reduce carbon release by forcing low-income and middle-income Americans to live without fuel:

A powerful congressional chairman has joined a growing number of Democrats who want to sharply increase the cost of drilling leases that the government provides on federal lands, a move vigorously opposed by Big Oil and Republicans.

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has proposed a plan to boost royalty rates by 50 percent and to cut the lease periods to five years from the current 10 years or more. His recommendation would be part of a sweeping overhaul of the $22 billion, scandal-tarred oil and gas drilling program that the Interior Department oversees.

The plan also appears in line with the broader energy goals of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is conducting a review of the Interior Department's handling of oil and gas leases and royalties as the House prepares to push through a bill to address climate change and the Senate works on its own energy legislation.

However, think not that this is just random nastiness or bootless monkey-wrenching. The Left actually has a plan -- which strikingly resembles President Barack H. Obama's plan to make American cars "more competitive" against European and Asian imports by forcing GM, Ford, and Chrysler to raise prices while they produce less popular cars. That should do the trick!

In the present instance, Chairman Rahall (D-WV, 89%) and Secretary Salazar intend to make American-generated petroleum products "more competitive" on the world market by making companies pay a much larger bribe to the federal government for the privilege of spending their own money to extract oil and gas:

The bill "would reform the onshore oil and gas leasing program in order to provide a more coordinated, efficient and competitive use of oil and gas resources," according to an outline of the plan provided by the committee.

Mr. Rahall's plan fits neatly into the broader efforts of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats to make a "dramatic shift" in energy production toward green sources, said Sharon Buccino, director of land and wildlife programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

So heck, as soon as we can invent some "green sources" to replace the oil and gas-driven energy economy, we'll get this country going again like gangbangers!

The Rahall bill would also make a number of other changes that only seem petty, but are actually quite incoherent; the most intriguing is to require the (soon to be created) Office of Federal Energy and Mineral Leasing to create and live by "five year plans." Apart from the obvious hat tip to the former worker's paradise -- cruelly crushed by the thuggish President Ronald Reagan (did you know he was a neo-con?) -- this component of the bill raises an intriguing question: Do Democrats believe that the primary impediment to "a more coordinated, efficient and competitive use of oil and gas resources" is... flexibility and a capitalist free market?

Ordinarily, one expects that we need fewer rigid, long-term, smothering plans that react to changing stresses and circumstances with all the rapidity of the Blob spreading across that ice rink; typically, one would prefer instead to let the free market adjust prices to balance supply and demand. But the experts at the liberal table have a more intellectual approach. Their reasoning is very subtle. Resistance is futile.

Funnily enough, even Pravda has noticed (and viewed with alarm) what's happening here:

It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people....

The final collapse has come with the election of Barack [Lucky Lefty] Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.

These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?

I would object to being lectured and ridiculed by the very people that we helped liberate from the clutches of the original Marx buggers, but I'm too busy taking notes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 1, 2009, at the time of 4:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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