Friday, April 29, 2005

Go figure

Canadian Liberals are now leading in this Globe and Mail poll.

It will be useful to remember this the next time you hear any sanctimonious pronouncements about ethics from Canadian sources.

I'm looking forward to Mark Steyn's (registration required) next piece on this.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Rent a Socialist


CP reports on what it took to bribe Jack Layton, leader of Canada's socialist New Democratic Party.

The Liberals are desperate for a few more months in power, so what's a few billion in taxpayer money?
Prime Minister Paul Martin has bought himself what he hopes will be a $4.6-billion [30 pieces of silver $US] political lifeline.

Martin's Liberals reached "agreement in principle" Tuesday with the NDP that would see the New Democrats support the fragile minority government against efforts by the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois to bring it down.

Details of the agreement were still being worked out, but NDP Leader Jack Layton said it involves a guarantee of $4.6 billion in new investment in "people and the environment," plus an increase in foreign aid.
The money is in exchange for the support of 19 NDP MPs in a confidence vote likely to take place soon. Mr. Layton is looking ahead to an election where he may be able to increase the number of NDP seats sufficiently to hold a possible Liberal minority government hostage.

Make that "further hostage."

Now I know you wouldn't think blatant logrolling and greedy pork projects for one section of the country at the expense of the rest would endear the NDP to Canadian voters, but most of the money is earmarked for the "people and environment" of the eastern provinces.

It is naked theft, but it is remarkable in the sordid history of Canadian transfer payments only because the contempt for voters is so thoroughly unveiled.

Layton will benefit in the east - "He may be an opportunistic jackal, but he's our opportunistic jackal" - and will probably pick up votes
elsewhere from those who just can't bear to vote Tory.

The good news is that the Tories will have to make common cause with the Bloc Quebecois to bring down the government.

This can only help Alberta's chances for independence, and Jack Layton is already blaming the Tories for the specter of provincial secession - as if he didn't cause it by selling his 19 votes to a man who is arguably the most corrupt politician this side of Turtle Bay.

What kind of country is being preserved with him and Martin running it anyway?

It's Spring. Is Canada melting?


Austin Bay, who hangs out at Strategy Page, ponders the future of Canada, if any, through the lens of Adscam.

Previous comments on Canada from The Other Club, 20-Mar, 03-Apr, 04-Apr, 04-Apr, 21-Apr, 22-Apr, 27-Apr.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Free States are where you find them


If you have not been following the Canadian campaign finance scandal, I'm not going to repeat it here. I've written on it several times and Captain Ed has been heroic in exposing it (latest).

In short,
highly placed members of the ruling ("governing" would be quite imprecise) Liberal party have been caught taking very large bribes. And lying about it. And trying to cover it up.

On April 21st I wrote:
Nonetheless, I have to admit that I would like the Liberals to be re-elected in Canada. I have friends there that I would like to have exempted from the effects but, all in all, Canadians have the government they deserve.

Canadian voters let the Liberals buy them “lock, stock and barrel.” Or rather, since the Liberals have confiscated most firearms; we must say bought “scrotum, testicles and”… well “barrel” obviously doesn’t much figure anymore.

Liberal re-election is necessary because otherwise Canadians won’t be REALLY fed up enough not to re-elect the bastards 3 or 4 years down the road. They’ve done it many times before.

They need another few years of this before they’ll actually get pissed.
I'm sorry that I might have been right. Today, Reuters reports:
Polls show the Conservatives have a narrow lead over the Liberals, who have been in power since November 1993.
A narrow lead?! If this happened
in any other Western democracy, loosely enough defined to include France, the tar and feathers would be at the ready. (You'll have to read up to appreciate the full extent of the slipshod corruption of a government that has been in power, for all intents and purposes, since Trudeau's 1968 election.)

But, watch the Grits squeak through because of voters in Quebec and Ontario.

If they do win re-election, it may help with the cause of Alberta separatism (and here), an interesting alternative to Republicrat single party rule in this country. Maybe the next election will help Albertans along the path to independence.

Alberta has more oil than New Hampshire (see the Freestate Project) and the weather's no worse. We could do worse than a returned Liberal government in Canada.

C'mon, make up your mind!


Not long ago, the Supreme Court banned capital punishment for juveniles. In so doing it cited the laws of other countries as guides to interpretation of the US Constitution.

On April 26th, SCOTUS had another opportunity to deal with foreign law. In this case it reached an opposite conclusion: i.e., foreign legal decisions don’t count in interpreting US law.

The latter case involved a federal law that forbids felons to own guns. SCOTUS said that it isn’t applicable to those felons whose convictions were in foreign courts.

Adding to the irony is the fact that the man involved was charged in the US with illegal possession of a firearm, and his felony conviction in Japan was for smuggling guns into that country.

The court said, 5-3, that it did not believe that Congress intended the words "convicted in any court" to apply to foreign convictions. That is, foreign courts aren’t “any court”.

This is true in the trivial sense that a court in Japan is not just “any court”; it is a court in Japan. SCOTUS did not go so far as to claim that that is what Congress meant, they were more subtle:
"Congress ordinarily intends its statutes to have domestic, not extraterritorial, application," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote. He was joined by John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor, who is at the court's political center and sometimes votes with the more liberal justices.

Breyer said there can be variations among nations in determining crimes and punishments. He said some nations punish conduct that U.S. law permits, or even encourages. He cited the former Soviet Union's ban on private entrepreneurial activity. "These ... considerations, suggesting significant differences between foreign and domestic convictions, do not dictate our ultimate conclusion," he wrote. "They simply convince us that we should apply an ordinary assumption about the reach of domestically oriented statutes here."
Maybe it’s just me, but I think that intent of Congress was that felons convicted in the court of a democracy do not get to own guns.

I also think it was the intent of some states that juveniles convicted of sufficiently heinous crimes be executed. I.e., “variations among nations in determining crimes and punishments.” are to be expected.

What I am certain about is that Congress didn’t intend for the Court to simply pick from a laundry list of alien legal precedent to support its wandering opinions.

As Justice Clarence Thomas noted, the decision means those convicted of murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, and terrorism can “possess firearms freely” in the USA. But if you've been convicted of Income Tax fraud, you can't.

I wonder if this also means the guy gets to vote? Maybe the Justices should check on how they handle that in France.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Airamerica Huffington


Modeled after Air America and Al Franken

Arianna Huffington invests in the Internet 10 years too late, and in Liberalism 40 years too late.

Tip of the Hat for that story to SV, who writes:
Ask yourself this question. Has anyone of these people ever been to fly-over country? Or, if California quietly disappeared tomorrow, would life go on?
Or ask yourself even more rhetorical questions like;
Is Huffington the idiot she appears?
Do we
really need another outlet for the vast left-wing conspoofery?

Walter Cronkite has been invited to participate.

No, not another person by the same name as the "most trusted man in America" in 1968, the very same one.

The same Cronkite person who entirely missed the significance of North Vietnam's Tet offensive, in which the communists were handed one of the huge defeats in modern arms.

The same Cronkite who today proposes that Osama bin Laden was making contributions in kind to George Bush's re-election campaign.

Crazy Walter-in-the-attic, for &^%# sake?

In his dotage he's become a conspiracy theorist of the first water - only the MoveOn types care what he says. And they only care because it feeds their fevered visions of bats attacking the moon.
"People are always drawn to any conversation that is passionate and authentic and unfiltered," Huffington said...

"It will be people's voices, including people's spelling mistakes and idiosyncratic punctuation," Huffington said. "Authenticity always draws people."
Right. Authenticity from:
"Seinfeld" creator Larry David, Viacom Inc. co-president Tom Freston, former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen, director Rob Reiner, cable talk show host Bill Maher and actor John Cusack.
Arianna, you've spent too much time in Hollywood. Apparently you think
"authenticity" trumps common sense and are simultaneously unable to define authentic.

Passionate, certainly.

Unfiltered? Thanks, but no.

Filtered exposure to these people has been more than enough already. I am not interested in correcting their spelling any more than I am interested in their idiosyncratic (I read narcissistic) worldview.

Maybe a reasoned, intelligent conversation would be interesting, Arianna, but you don't bother with those words because you probably think that's the same as "authentic", don't you?

Monday, April 25, 2005

A Study in Contrasts

Oh, THAT Liberal media.

Draw your own conclusions.

Editor and Publisher reports on the firing of 2 newspaper reporters in Kalamazoo, Michigan:
[R]eporter Craig McCool and photographer Mairin Chapman of The Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette went to a local party to research a series on drinking among young adults, they saw nothing wrong with partaking of the libations themselves.

But editors did. The result: The two were dismissed, and the paper ran an editor's note this weekend explaining the incident.

"Their conduct is unacceptable and violates the standards that we uphold every day as journalists," Editor Rebecca Pierce said in the note, published Saturday. "We don't condone it and we can't ignore it."

Pierce, who could not be reached for comment Monday, seemed to indicate that the pair's transgression took on more severity because it involved their reporting on how heavy alcohol consumption can be dangerous. "It's a sad statement to our readers that our behavior in any way would obscure this serious and pervasive problem in our community," the editor added in the note.
In Britain there's an election on, and The Sunday Times reports that the BBC is busily defending having supplied hecklers with microphones. This was noticed because the BBC camera crew were focused on the hecklers rather than the speech by Conservative party leader Michael Howard:
[Th]e party discovered three people in the crowd had been equipped with radio microphones to record the meeting. He [Guy Black, the party’s director of communications] said they had been “recruited by the corporation [BBC]” to heckle Howard.

The three had been provided with the equipment by a BBC crew that had been admitted to the rally.

The hecklers, two men and a woman, reportedly shouted “Michael Howard is a liar”, “You can’t trust the Tories” and “You can only trust Tony Blair”.

“It was deliberately arranged to generate a false news story and dramatise coverage,” wrote Black. “I do not believe that the BBC should be in the business of creating news.”

Last night the BBC said: “This is a completely legitimate programme about the history and art of political heckling. The programme observes hecklers at other parties’ campaign meetings and not just the Conservatives’.

[However,] A spokesman was unable to confirm if any meetings involving Tony Blair or Charles Kennedy had been disrupted during the election campaign, or whether they would be.
As heckling goes, this is pretty tame stuff. The BBC can do better.

My suggestion to the Beeb is this; get some Iraqi "insurgents" wired up.

You’ll do even better Pulitzer-wise than that AP photog who just happened, just happened,
(hat tip, Powerline) upon a street execution of election workers in Baghdad.

If anyone complains you can point to the Kalamazoo firings. You can say it's clear reporters who hang out with militant Muslims weren't drinking, so what's the problem?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Baghdad Bard


In celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday on 23-April, the incomparable Mark Steyn republishes his 2003 review of two British productions of Henry V.

It’s long - since it’s Steyn that’s a bonus.

In Henry V, the Bard gave us the phrases “Once more into the breach” and “Band of brothers”.

During the siege of Harfleur in 1415, Shakespeare has Henry urging his soldiers forward:
...Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect.
Before Agincourt, hugely outnumbered and seeming to face annihilation, Shakespeare’s Henry says:
...This [day’s] story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
The entire speech is here. It ranks among the best inspirational speeches ever written.

In 1989 Kenneth Branagh produced and starred in what is probably the best film version. Rent it.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

New on the Blogroll


Cafe Hayek.
Where orders emerge.

If you don't know who Friedrich Hayek is than you've missed a very important book on economics, The Road to Serfdom.

Along with O'Rourke's Eat the Rich, Sowell's Basic Economics (nice review here), and Freidman's Free to Choose, it should be required reading for high school graduation.

Cafe Hayek is a nice intersection of economics with the real world.

This post, on rules for children watching television, is a good example.

One Nation Under... whatever


A small story about an extemporaneous modification to the Pledge of Allegiance caught my eye in this morning’s paper.

Counselor Margo Lucero, leading the Pledge of Allegiance over the public address system at Everitt Middle School in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, substituted "one nation under your belief system" for "one nation under God."

I am not going to go off on a rant here about deconstructionism and relativism as threats to the Republic - though they are - and I am not going to stoop to defending the United States from the charge that we have not always lived up to the principles implied by the words “liberty and justice for all.”

I am not even going to assay the question of whether “God” should be included. I’ll just say that the intent and symbolism of the Pledge does not contemplate “your belief system” if that includes, for example, ritual child sacrifice. A pledge to nothing in particular is a waste of breath.

Ranting aside then, the story reminded me of Tony Hendra’s excellent 1972 National Lampoon parody of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata (if ever a poem begged for parody, that is it).

I include a link to Desiderata since some may be unaware of it and appreciation of parody improves if you know what’s being parodized.
Desiderata is here in its full, treacly glory.

The bit from Hendra's spoof, Deteriorata, that connected to Ms. Lucero’s inadvertant parody of the Pledge is this:
Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you conceive him to be---
Hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
Here is Tony Hendra’s Deteriorata.
Listen to the whole thing, it is funny,

Friday, April 22, 2005

Premature Congratulation


It seems I was premature in my comment yesterday: "It’s a good thing Canada didn’t have any involvement in the UN oil-for-food program. If they had, Saddam would have long since annexed Quebec in exchange for political contributions."

The Canada Free Press picks up on a Claudia Rosett story in the New York Sun, indicating that a Canadian and a Korean will be indicted next as a result of oil-for-food investigations, and that Canada's Prime Minister, Paul Martin, was owner of a company in which Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in seed money.

It is good to see that "Canada Free Press" is not yet an oxymoron. From their article:
The Canadian company that Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in belonged to the Prime Minister of Canada, canadafreepress.com has discovered.

Cordex Petroleum Inc., launched with Saddam’s million by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s mentor Maurice Strong’s son Fred Strong, is listed among Martin’s assets to the Federal Ethics committee on November 4, 2003.
Perhaps Saddam was merely hedging his oil bets by trying to get into the Alberta tar sands project. Perhaps not.

Perhaps the Ethics committee was "packed". Perhaps they were so anti-American they thought Saddam's investment in their PM's business was a good thing. Who can tell in a country where ruling party Members of Parliament stomp on dolls of the leader of a powerful ally at the direction of television producers?

If the Liberal corruption stories had come out while Carolyn Parrish was running against Paul Martin for Leader of the Liberal Party, she could now be Prime Minister. Go figure.

The story does not mention whether Saddam contributed a million $US or
a million $CDN.

This matters only to the extent that when Mr. Martin calls for another delay in having an election, this time while he investigates his own finances, he would cite it as a mitigating factor if Saddam's investment were only a million $CDN.

To the recent Soap Opera flavor of Canadian politics Claudia Rosett adds that Maurice Strong, a long time Martin mentor, is connected in several interesting ways. He is a:
...longtime United Nations undersecretary general, ... special adviser to the secretary-general since 1999 and currently Mr. Annan's personal envoy to the Korean Peninsula...
There is a strong Korean connection in this boondoggle as well, but you'll have to read the articles for that bit.

Rosett continues:
Mr. Strong is a Canadian tycoon with extensive experience at the United Nations, where he has served as secretary-general of the 1992 Earth Summit, as chief architect of the Kyoto Treaty, and as the world body's guru of governance in the 1990s.
Emphasis mine. This might explain a very great deal about the Governance of both the UN and of Canada.

Rosett:
Mr. Strong could not be reached for comment on the indictment, but the Sun spoke with his U.N. assistant, who said Mr. Strong plans to issue a statement today, saying he had no involvement with the oil-for-food program.

In that event, it might also be useful for Mr. Strong to address publicly his former business association with the son of the secretary-general, Kojo Annan. The younger Annan has figured prominently in the oil-for-food investigations because over the period between 1999 and 2004 he received large payments from a Switzerland-based company, Cotecna Inspections S.A., hired by the United Nations to monitor oil-for-food relief imports into Iraq between 1999 and 2003.

During part of that period, Kojo Annan and Mr. Strong both held seats on the board of another company, the now defunct Air Harbour Technologies, registered at the Isle of Man. Air Harbour's corporate registry documents list both the younger Annan and Mr. Strong as having joined the board of directors on the same day, December 28, 1999. Mr. Strong resigned just over half a year later, on July 5, 2000. Registry documents also show that Kojo Annan remained on the board for another year, resigning on July 5, 2001.
Mr. Strong's avid interest in the environment is obvious from his Kyoto involvement, but there is no word on whether he will recycle parts of Benon Sevan's encyclopedic denials of oil-for-food entanglement, or come up with his own version.

Mr. Martin could not be reached for comment. He is said to be either planning for an early election or checking on the state of extradition treaties world-wide.

Where is Lester Pearson when he's needed? He knew how to deal with Banana Republics.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Another Moral Lesson from Canada

The Captain’s Quarters reports further on the stench in Canadian politics and the ruling Liberal party’s (members range from left of Ted Kennedy to just slightly right of Mao) pathetic response to it.

One thing is clear. It’s a good thing Canada didn’t have any involvement in the UN oil-for-food program. If they had, Saddam would have long since annexed Quebec in exchange for political contributions.

See my post of 3-April, if you’re just tuning in to this corruption story.

The late breaking news is that the Liberals: “handed out positions on the judicial bench in exchange for political favors.”

Showing his respect for the moral capacity of the average Canadian voter, Prime Minister Paul Martin then asked for 8 months to clean up his party.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that I would like the Liberals to be re-elected in Canada. I have friends there that I would like to have exempted from the effects but, all in all, Canadians have the government they deserve.

Canadian voters let the Liberals buy them “lock, stock and barrel.” Or rather, since the Liberals have confiscated most firearms; we must say bought “scrotum, testicles and”… well “barrel” obviously doesn’t much figure anymore.

Liberal re-election is necessary because, otherwise Canadians won’t be REALLY fed up enough not to re-elect the bastards 3 or 4 years down the road. They’ve done it many times before.

They need another few years of this before they’ll actually get pissed.

Bonobo Watch

The Democracy Project has more interesting commentary on the topic of Bonobo chimpanzees as human mentors: Simian Sensibilities.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Monkey business


Powerline links to an AP story about the work of Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, an experimental psychologist.

She has developed some theories based on her studies of Bonobo pygmy chimpanzees, whose behavior has made them a favorite of anthropomorphizing Feminists for many years.

Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh is quoted:

"If the apes are able to learn language, music and art, once thought to be distinct to humans, then "it strongly suggests that those things are not innate in us," she said."
Actually, it suggests no such thing.

What is the scientific case that these qualities are not innate to us and also to Bonobos? Nothing in the premise suggests the conclusion that these are not innate human qualities. Perhaps she meant unique.

Maybe we could get Dr. Nancy Hopkins, of Larry Summers outrage fame (see my post of 26-Feb), to translate for us.

It’s clear Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh doesn’t understand syllogism, and that may be why she is in psychology instead of physics, but her comment stands as an excellent setup for the Feminist mantra that 99.9% of human behavior is determined by patriarchal socialization… err, nurture.

Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh:

"Those are things [language, etc.] that we have created, and create anew and build upon from one generation to the next ..." she said. "Then we have the power to change it and make it any other way. We could have an ideal world, if we but learn how to do it."
I don’t know about you, but I find the idea that we recreate language, art and music with each new human generation an exaggeration.

However, if we’re going to redesign our culture by forcing boys to play with baby-dolls and girls to play with chemistry sets, or raise a generation of children who speak Klingon, it’s an exaggeration we’ll need to accept.

I would like some demonstration, from non-Feminist researchers, that the Bonobo learning is passed on from generation to generation (aka “culture”) – minus any further human intervention. If it requires humans to teach them, then her proposal is incorrect even if we substitute "unique" for "innate".

Moreover, it seems as if evolution would have had Bonobos using language prior to human intervention if they were capable of passing on language; or art or music appreciation.

Isn’t “Look out for Leopard in grass! or, “Watch out for snake in tree!”, better than “EEKEEEKKEEEEEK!” as a survival characteristic? At least you know whether to look up or down.

And where are the Bonobo paintings and sculptures? Even if their facial anatomy does not lend itself to human-style language, they do have opposable thumbs.

Another evolutionary distortion seems to creep in: Bonobos share 98% of our DNA so they can provide a model for human culture if we would only return to our roots.

Unfortunately for this argument, DNA sharing does not mean we evolved from Bonobos. We would seem to share a common ancestor, but the fact that we took different evolutionary paths thereafter may only explain why they are Bonobos and we - are not.

The major point Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh seems to accept as given is that socialization is mainly about environment. This is, at best, an overoptimistic assumption of those Feminists who think the MIT Physics Department should be 51% composed of female professors.

A faint patina of science arises through association with the 17th and early 18th century ideas of John Locke and Jacques Rousseau. Locke’s tabula rasa and Rousseau’s noble savage are the archetypes for malleable man.

Steven Pinker did a pretty good job of presenting the case against these ideas in The Blank Slate.

But even if you don’t buy Pinker’s arguments, Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh wants you to accept Locke and Rousseau based on indefensible syllogisms that originate with the acceptance of a species of chimpanzee as human analogs.

I remain skeptical.

Been there. Done that.


George Soros keeps on rolling. The Hill reports on a meeting in Scottsdale, AZ last weekend:
George Soros told a carefully vetted gathering of 70 likeminded millionaires and billionaires last weekend that they must be patient if they want to realize long-term political and ideological yields from an expected massive investment in “startup” progressive think tanks...

One source at the DNC with direct knowledge of the agenda said that the Phoenix Group had three specific goals at the outset. It wants to create liberal think tanks, training camps for young progressives and media centers.
In the real world, liberal think tanks, training camps for young progressives and media centers are known as "Universities" and "Public Broadcasting".

The fact that the Phoenix Group is talking about "creating" them tells you something.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Con Con 2020, Update

More from John Hinderaker on The Constitution in 2020:
The left makes no secret of its intentions where the Constitution is concerned. It wants to change it, in ways that have nothing to do with what the document actually says. It wants the Constitution to enshrine its own policy preferences--thus freeing it from the tiresome necessity of winning elections. And how will the Constitution be changed? Through a constitutional convention, or a vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures? Of course not. The whole problem, from the liberal perspective, is that they can't get democratically elected bodies to enact their agenda. As one of the Yale conference participants said: "We don't have much choice other than to believe deeply in the courts--where else do we turn?" The new, improved Constitution will come about through judicial re-interpretation. It only awaits, perhaps, the election of the next Democratic president.

IF THE IDEA OF A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to government-funded child care, "adequate" recreation, and $80,000 in cash seems outlandish, remember that these concepts are no more eccentric than the idea of a right to abortion was, prior to Roe v. Wade. As a law school exercise in 1972, my class was charged with trying to formulate an argument for a constitutional right to abortion. We were stumped. None of us could think of one. A few months later, the "right" to abortion was born.

The Other Club noted this conference on 13-April because of Hinderaker's Powerline post of 9-April.

I'm glad to see a followup.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Howard Ghoul - The Quality of Mercy is more than Strained


The Other Club noted on 27-March that Terri Schaivo's plight had given many Americans many reasons to contemplate many things:
If Terri Schiavo’s imminent death inspires any long term benefit, it will certainly not be the heightened awareness of living wills the MSM is chattering about at the moment.

If her death can make a contribution to posterity, we could hope for a re-examination of ethics and the law.

Many of us have a nagging feeling there is something wrong with this result; this legal and ethical process.

Almost everyone will agree that the political point scoring, by all sides, is grotesque.

We all feel the clammy hand of the state caressing our own secret dignity.
Emphasis added.

Yesterday, we witnessed
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean making the worst of Terri's death in order to score some political points.

Not only that, but he assures us he intends to score some more in the future. Speaking in West Hollywood, California, Dean said:

"We're going to use Terri Schiavo later on,"...

"This is going to be an issue in 2006, and it's going to be an issue in 2008, because we're going to have an ad with a picture of Tom DeLay saying, 'Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?' "
Emphasis added again.

Thanks, Howard, but the chance that you and I might be related in some obscure, 4th-cousin twice-removed-for-tracking-mud-on-the-rug way makes me think I'll go with Tom.

At least he isn't trying to make tawdry political points while dancing on this poor woman's grave.

Shame
Howard, shame! Keep your sick, clammy thoughts to yourself.

I'm only surprised we weren't treated an EAAAAGGGHHH! announcing the imminent closing of your sorry pie-hole.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The living dead


There is a change needed in how the law treats legal guardianship in cases like those of Ora Mae Magouirk.

The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (requires soul sucking registration - I include the article below) that she has a living will specifying that food and water may be withheld if she is in a coma or a persistent vegetative state.

She is in neither.

Nonetheless, her grandaughter/guardian has decided it's "time for her to go."
Illness splits woman's kin
Charles Yoo - Staff
Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Doctors say 81-year-old Ora Mae Magouirk of LaGrange suffers from aortic dissection, but her vessel is not the only thing that's torn.

For nearly a month, her extended family had undergone a Terry Schiavo-like ordeal, split over whether she should die without nourishment or be kept alive.

A granddaughter who has been deemed her legal guardian placed her in a hospice, without food. Other family members disagreed, saying the woman is not beyond recovery and has not lost her ability to think.

Now a panel of three medical specialists, commissioned by a Troup County probate judge, has ruled that the woman's heart ailment is treatable.

On Saturday, the widowed cancer clinic retiree was airlifted to UAB Medical Center in Birmingham after a week without food.

Unlike Schiavo, who died last month, Magouirk was neither comatose nor in a vegetative state, say the relatives who want her alive. She was simply drugged with morphine, they said.

Magouirk's will dictates that a feeding tube be removed if she is in a coma, said nephew Kenneth Mullinax of Birmingham.

The hospital declined to release information, citing federal privacy law.

Magouirk got sick March 13 and was subsequently moved to a LaGrange hospice, which began preparing for her death. The order had come from her physician and grandchildren Beth Gaddy and Michael Shane Magouirk, Mullinax said. He is against letting his aunt die without treatment.

"This is a little old lady who hasn't had a single drink of whiskey, but she was on morphine, and she was loopy," Mullinax said.

After Magouirk fell ill, Gaddy the granddaughter --- a middle school teacher --- told relatives that she prayed about the hospice decision, according to Mullinax. He said she told her family, "I think Jesus wants her to go home. She's suffered enough."

"When my Aunt Mae becomes lucid again, she's going to be very saddened," said Mullinax, a speechwriter and former congressional aide.

Gaddy could not be reached for comment Monday. Messages left for her and her brother at their mother's home were not returned.

Mullinax's mother Lonnie Ruth, who is Magouirk's 74-year-old sister, also has an aortic dissection, Mullinax said. She is being treated at the Birmingham hospital.
Where one's existence may be ended by others despite one's express wishes, one might hope for rigorous legal oversight. This hope appears to be a cruel one.

Ora Mae certainly may have been non-responsive because she was drugged to the gills, not because of a coma or PVS, and she has a clear living will. She was saved by a court order after 10 days of starvation. How could it get that far?

If a living will that would even have kept Terri Schiavo alive is ignored, what's the point?

I'm sure disabled people are asking that exact question: Who decides when my life isn't worth continuation; when I've suffered enough?

I wonder when we'll hear Stephen Hawking's
opinion on this? He occupies the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, a position previously held by Isaac Newton, and is one of the most brilliant physicists in the world.

Hawking suffers from ALS (Ameliotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He is entirely confined to wheelchair and speaks only with the aid a of a computer synthesizer.

Without feeding assistance he'd have been dead before he could have even written A Brief History of Time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

When the far-left says “rule of law” they don’t mean it the way most people do.


On April 9th, Powerline apprised us of The Constitution in 2020, a conference that took place at Yale on April 8th through 10th. The intent was to determine how to rewrite the US Constitution as a “progressive” document.

Some of you will say, “Why bother, isn’t the Constitution already being re-written with assistance from the Federal Courts?” The answer to the second half of that question is “yes”, the answer to the first half is that the conferees consider the courts to be quite right-wing. In their view, judicial assistance in implementation of a “progressive” agenda is definitely lackluster.

You may have already been aware of this conference, but since it does tell us quite a bit about far-left ideas; I think it worth revisiting. If you were unaware, you should take your blood pressure meds before proceeding.

A blog was established prior to the conference wherein much of the conference content was anticipated. Reading this is slow going due to the tendentious academia-speak. However, it does shine a light on far-left statism - insofar as illumination of these nooks and crannies is feasible.

Lest you think this was some lofty exploration of constitutional principle in a liberal democracy, it featured concrete collectivist proposals. For example, it was anticipated that every young adult should “inherit” $80,000 from their Uncle Sam. According to Bruce Ackerman, LL.B., Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law School;
Each American citizen should receive a substantial stake (Alstott and I argue for $80,000) when starting out in life as a young adult. Each citizen should be free to use his stake for any project he thinks best. Stakeholding will give renewed meaning to the Declaration's promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" by giving young adults the wherewithall [sic] to shape their lives at a moment when most of them are living from paycheck to paycheck.
Never mind that most young adults who live paycheck to paycheck do so because they don’t know how to handle money and haven’t learned to anticipate the future. I.e., there’s often too much “pursuit of happiness” already.

Never mind that every parent in America knows better, they won’t be paying for it… at least monetarily. Funding for this giveaway is proposed via a 2% tax on income over $450,000.

This is such a bad idea that only an Ivy League intellectual could have come up with it and only a bunch of other ILIs could have listened with straight faces.

The most common sense that could be mustered involved some conferees demurral from specifying this in the new constitution proper. They prefer to have a constitution that strongly implies it, giving you a good glimpse of the frustration a statist faces in grappling with the concept of rule by law and not by men. And the futility of the attempt.

It isn’t surprising, but it is certainly irritating, to see that they plan to do this through taxation. If he had the courage of their convictions, George Soros (a main conference sponsor) could set up a fund for the purpose all by himself, instead of giving multi-millions to the Open Society Institute, MoveOn, ACT, People for the American Way, etc.. He prefers putting tax money where his mouth is when it comes to the real work of the left-statist agenda.

The conferees do speak of this windfall as requiring citizenship, but elsewhere in their musings there is (no surprise) speculation about how to grant non-citizens the same rights as citizens. As Rachel F. Moran points out:
…there are other instances of great significance, not least of which are initiatives to change the electoral process in fundamental ways to allow non-citizens to vote…
Powerline’s summary of other major points is worth reading, but a look at FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” also provides (a somewhat shorter) insight into the “progressive” agenda. It is worth your attention.

Think of the Constitution as a speed-bump on the way to fundamental change in your relationship to the state. The conference attendees admit that they consider the courts open to the same advocacy strategies as legislatures. Someone named Deborah Cantrell points out:
We have had some colloquy about whether it might be best to advocate through the courts, the federal or state legislatures, or in combination… when we push for a particular interpretation of the Constitution that will have to be created through litigation…
This is the same crowd who support restricting your ability to lobby legislatures under McCain-Feingold. But, for their lobbying even judges are fair game.

I detect a pattern.

They obviously also like to do this through the executive, and I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned. As Clinton adviser Paul Begala said of Clinton's 300+ executive orders, "Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kind of cool."

If the conference organizers had asked me about it, I could have saved their time and George Soros’ money. They should have cut to the chase and adopted the draft Constitution of the European Union as their goal.

Its 70,000 words provide all the maneuvering room they’d need to enshrine the judicial amendment process and it would tickle Justices Ginsberg, Kennedy and Breyer pink, so to speak, to see European law officially imported to the US. They’d no longer have to look outside our borders to justify their decisions.

What could be more satisfying for them than saying to Justice Scalia, “Told you so!”?

And what couldn’t a creative judge do with language like this from Chapter VI, Article III-227-10 of the EU Constitution:
The Council of Ministers, on a proposal from the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Commission, shall adopt a European decision suspending application of an agreement and establishing the positions to be adopted on the Union's behalf in a body set up by an agreement, when that body is called upon to adopt acts having legal effects, with the exception of acts supplementing or amending the institutional framework of the agreement.
I remember when Michigan rewrote its Constitution 40 odd years ago. The process of the Constitutional Convention was abbreviated by the press to “Con Con”.

The Yale conference can also be called the con con - without having to abbreviate anything.

Friday, April 08, 2005

There are Presidents and Presidents and Presidents

Reflecting on the main stream media flap over Jimmy Carter's non-attendance at Pope John Paul II's funeral, I noted that ex-President Carter was gracious in telling us that he had declined an invitation from the White House.

This explanation is gracious since, if MSM rumor-mongers are correct, he was not exactly invited.

He could afford to be gracious in his comments on this topic, because the MSM attempt to fan flames of outrage was, well, unsubtle.

Why George Bush even should invite a man who spent over a year dissing Bush in order to set himself up for the Nobel Prize (the Nobel presenter even acknowledged this in his presentation speech); a man responsible for extending the nuclear proliferation window for North Korea's Il family during Clinton's administration; and a man who was arguably the worst President of the 20th century -- is beyond me.

The fact that Carter has retained his supercilious sanctimony is only icing on the irony. All indications are that he thinks he would have made a better Pope.

But, let us ignore Bush's solid reasons not to want to associate with Jimmy Carter, because in being civil, Carter was being wise.

In my musing on this, I glanced at a site that gives the timeline for the papacy since St. Peter. Jimmy Carter's non-attendance at John Paul II's funeral simply completes the trifecta.

During his Presidency, Carter had the opportunity to attend the 1978 funerals of both Paul VI and John Paul I.

President Carter attended neither.

Nonetheless, given Bill Clinton's graceless and self-centered performance, Carter may have been the better choice.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Oink!


The complete 2005 Congressional Pig Book is a searchable database of
13,997 pork projects. Search by keyword, city, state, or appropriations
bill.


Courtesy of
Citizens Against Government Waste.

Congress Seize the Light


AP is reporting (CNN link) that Congress may extend daylight-saving time.

I’ll bet a thrill ran down your spine when you heard this (
Emphasis mine):
Lawmakers crafting energy legislation approved an amendment Wednesday to extend daylight-saving time by two months, having it start on the first Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in November.

"Extending daylight-saving time makes sense, especially with skyrocketing energy costs," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, who along with Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, co-sponsored the measure.

The amendment was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is putting together major parts of energy legislation likely to come up for a vote in the full House in the coming weeks.

"The more daylight we have, the less electricity we use," said Markey, who cited Transportation Department estimates that showed the two-month extension would save the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil a day.

The country uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day
Doesn’t this make you nostalgic for Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech?

The idea is that we won’t have to turn on our lights when we get home. I guess that means the lights that are on in my office don’t count.

It also means our esteemed Congressmen are not initiates in the mystery of the daily sidereal miracle.

Daylight actually expands and contracts between the Winter and Summer solstices. The sun comes up a little earlier and sets a little later, then reverses that pattern. They could arbitrarily apply “daylight spending time” and achieve the same effect.

To really take advantage of DST we should implement VDST. This could be either “virtual” or “variable” DST. It would mean small time changes take place every day.

Maximal application of the theory would imply a daily 5 minute “spring-ette forward” or "fall-sie back". Consider the cost of people's time spent resetting their alarm clocks every day as just another unfunded federal mandate.

Actually, what we should do is scrap DST altogether, if for no other reason than to keep these people in the dark and out of the “news.”

In any case, it is pretty obvious that any saving such as the Congressmen imagine does not apply to house air conditioners. Last I heard they use a lot more electricity than lights, and they would tend to be powered up more often in the heat of the “earlier” afternoon.

I suppose we’ll also see more use of car air conditioning for the same reasons, further eroding the “lights out” savings.

And, if saving 10,000 barrels of crude oil by not having to turn our lights on so soon (regulation of bedtime is coming at the other end) is a major legislative issue, then why did the Department of Transportation not tell us how much oil could be saved if we all used flashlights, or whale-oil, instead of the grid?

This is just to say that, in typical congressional fashion, the costs of this silliness haven’t been calculated. That would get in the way of petty moral-grandstanding by Republicrats whose objective is to get their name in the paper.

For full realization of the purported, if also minuscule benefits, we have to presume that states where daylight savings time is not observed will have to be forced to comply.

Since Janet Reno has retired, this will probably have to be accomplished by the withholding of federal funds; otherwise we might only save 8,793 barrels a day.

The constitutional basis for withholding the money is a bit hard to figure out quickly, but I'm sure the Commerce Clause can be bent to the task. Electricity does cross state lines.


In any event, we could certainly start by withholding
Punxsutawney Phil’s recent $100,000 grant: That he can’t see his shadow without daylight is sufficient connection.

Finally, if Rep. Markey is correct in supposing his bill will actually result in “more daylight”, then he should go all the way and force everyone to set their clocks to noon – and keep them there. We could call it the Equinox Opportunity Act.

Scottsdale Revisited

There is an update on the Scottsdale, Arizona Unified School District’s trial use of the Islamist slanted 7th grade textbook History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.

The Other Club commented on the problems the text presents on 28-Feb.

The Tucson Citizen reports the good news that the textbook will no longer be used in Scottsdale:
SCOTTSDALE - A world history textbook is no longer being used by seventh-graders at a local school amid criticism of the book's focus and portrayal of Islam.

The book, "History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond," was being used on a trial basis at Scottsdale's Mohave Middle School.

The removal came shortly after angry e-mails to the school district and entries on conservative Web logs.

"I received a significant number of e-mails saying (the book) was Islamic propaganda and we shouldn't use it," said district governing board member Christine Schild.
The bad news is that this book was withdrawn by the publisher while the school board was still considering action. We do not know if the Board would have followed Superintendant Dr. John Baracy’s principle that students should be considered as customers of the District or not. ...

Tip of the hat to Little Green Footballs.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Canadian Health Care. You'll Get Old Just Waiting.

You won't believe what the docs think is acceptable. And Canadian health care doesn't even come close.

No Links, Please. We're Canadian.

The Canadian judiciary and the Liberal party are trying to figure out what to do since the publication ban on the Adscam scandal has been violated - by a link from a Canadian website to The Captain's Quarters.

From a story in the London (Ont.) Free Press, the Captain gives us this delightful bit:
Inquiry official Francois Perreault voiced shock at the publication ban breach... Perreault warned that even if Brault's testimony has been outed by a U.S. website, it doesn't mean it's now public information.
Monsieur Perrault obviously is not working with a full dictionary here. Probably, he has only the French half ; where "publique" appears as slang for Maxwell Smart's "cone du silence."

I find two other excerpts from Captain Ed's post very interesting:

1-The Captain gives mossback incumbent politicians too much credit here, "...one would think that this kind of publication ban would obviously prove futile..."

You don't think so if you're John McCain, because that's exactly what his Demorcrat pals on the FEC are incrementally proposing for US citizens. (In a related story, San Franciso anticipates the far-left effort to regulate blogs.)

2-
Conservative deputy leader Peter MacKay said, "...once somebody has violated the ban there is no purpose in having it there..."

Wrong. Having the ban stay in place increases the chance of prosecution.

And what is this Canadian speech ban about again? It's prevents speaking about testimony on heavy duty goverment corruption. It could allow the government to get an election over before the news gets out.

Just the sort of thing incumbents want from their prosecutors and judges.

Folks, the Canadians are trying to tell us something.


P.S.
I'm adding NealeNews, Captain's Quarters and Patriot Post to the blog roll.
If you can't see the blogroll on the left side of your screen, you are probably using Microsoft Internet Explorer.
To fix: Go to the "View menu", select "Text Size", and then pick "Smallest". You can change it back just as easily.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

Canadian Content Regulations

The country that until the last few months banned Fox News from its cable systems, but allowed Al JaZeera since its inception, is at it again.

Recent events north of the 49th parallel cause me to consider the benefits of having a social experimentation laboratory so near. For example, some Americans look to Canada as a model for health care (socialized) and even foreign policy (peace through wimpiness).

We’ve barely avoided those errors, but Canadian “Campaign Finance Reform” may yet have some lessons for us.

We have not avoided that.

I’ve become suspicious that the free speech suppression conspiracy, so ably represented by the Pew Charitable Trust (see Democracy Project), has covertly (how else?) seized on Canada’s campaign finance regulations as an example for the US.

The benefit to this realization is that we can learn the conspiracy’s long term intent by watching the Canadians.

They have the art of incumbent protection and political finance fraud down to an art that First Amendment foes like George Soros can only envy.

In Canada, the battle to suppress political speech by prohibiting third parties from spending money to promote or oppose candidates started in earnest in 1974.

In its incrementalist maneuvering the 1974 legislation prohibiting such expenses at first provided for a “good faith defense” –
"Notwithstanding anything in this section, it is a defence to any prosecution of a person for an offence against this Act… if that person establishes that he incurred election expenses…

(a) for the purpose of gaining support for views held by him on an issue of public policy, or for the purpose of advancing the aims of any organization or association, other than a political party or an organization or association of a partisan political character, of which he was a member and on whose behalf the expenses were incurred; and,

(b) in good faith and not for the purpose related to the provisions of this Act limiting the amount of election expenses that may be incurred by any other person on account of or in respect of the conduct or management of an election" (Canada Elections Act, subsection 70.1(4))
Emphasis mine.

Basically, Canada’s Parliament said; “You can speak about issues as long as you are not a member of an organization, such as a political party or advocacy group, that might benefit from such speech. However, we might still let you get away with it if you can demonstrate you’ve never actually held a strong opinion.” (Despite the obvious connection, the term “Canadian Loonie” does not derive from this legislation. It actually originates with the Canadian $1 coin, which features a Loon (the aquatic bird) on the obverse.)

Defendants using this “good faith defense” proved too frequently able to avoid incarceration for the comfort of Members of Parliament. So in 1983, Bill C-169 removed the good faith defense.

Unfortunately for the Incumbency, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench struck down this incremental restriction on free speech. Canadians may have been gagged, but the duct tape wasn’t yet applied.

However, like our own FEC, Parliament was by no means finished. In 1992 the Incumbency created the Lortie Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing.

Among other suggestions, the Commission recommended that “election expenses incurred by any group or individual independently from registered parties and candidates not exceed $1,000;” (Note: the restriction is not on contribution to a party, but on individual expenditure. A fine distinction that Pew has already figured out by funding its anti-First Amendment endeavors “under the radar”.)

After years of litigation, the House of Commons voted (Feb-2000) to accept the Lortie Commission’s recommendations concerning the regulation of third parties during elections. Canada’s Supreme Court has upheld this legislation.

Practically, our friends to the north have gone even further. They’ve eliminated the middle-man for funneling money to the re-election campaigns of incumbents.

One example is the organized corruption of government officials, in what Canadians know as “Adscam” – See the Captain’s Quarters - Canada's Corruption Scandal Breaks Wide Open.

Also, tax deductions for contributions to political parties are a standard part of the campaign finance rules.

As a Canadian, your taxes help fund the political contributions of others. You pays your money whether you wants to take your chances or not.

As Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper points out:
“The central idea proposed is that we replace corporate and union contributions as the basis for financing political parties with forced funding from taxpayers. Our view is that this solution is worse than the problem... If shareholders and union workers do not want their funds to be used to fund particular political parties, why should they be forced to do so as taxpayers?”
Our question is: Why hasn’t John McCain proposed forced taxpayer financing for elections?

Give him time; he isn’t clever enough to see it all at once.

He has, after all, only just realized that his pet legislation wasn’t perfect and that he isn’t instantaneously omniscient. McCain has taken the lesson that he is only incrementally and/or retroactively omniscient: the legislation just needs more tweaking. That the entire idea was a crock in the first place has not entered his mind.

Incrementalism would be necessary notwithstanding this narcissism, because most Americans would otherwise recognize McCain’s Campaign Finance Reform as an illegitimate restriction on their right to free speech. (Many of you reading this probably thought SCOTUS would take care of this for you in reviewing McCain-Feingold. George Bush thought so.)

The Canadian experience, if it affects McCain at all, simply counsels him to patience.

The Canadians have demonstrated that their socialized health care results in rationing. Their foreign policy pronouncements rank in importance with those of Peewee Herman.

We also have their example regarding the dangers of incumbent protection through repression of free speech, even if we pay attention belatedly.

Who can blame our representatives though? Campaign Finance Reform resulted from hundreds of millions of stealth dollars spent by enemies of the First Amendment to influence those very incumbents who most benefit from avoiding criticism. Good thing they can’t call “snap elections”, on top of that willing naiveté.

If we look at Canadian health care, foreign policy and electoral finance we could conclude that it’s been a near thing for us.

If Hillary hadn’t run her health care reform process as she did we might have been saddled with an “advanced” version of Canada’s sad state of affairs. If John Kerry had been elected president, we might even now be eating a daily ration of Canadian bacon equal to our weight in softwood lumber.

Unfortunately, we missed the campaign finance lesson.

It’s too bad Hillary didn’t get a chance to run a campaign finance reform initiative in the same way that she ran the health care reform process. We might have been able to avoid McCain’s folly altogether.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Berger bits

Martha Stewart served 5 months in a Federal prison, is now serving a 5 month term of house arrest and was fined $30,000.

Her crime? Not, as you may think, insider trading of
3,900 shares of ImClone Systems Inc.. No, she was convicted of lying to the Feds about that stock transaction.

Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s top national security aide, removed classified material from the National Archives by means of stuffing it into his socks and skivvies.

When confronted last July, he said he had made an “honest mistake.”

Three of the documents he took disappeared. He said he had either misplaced or unintentionally thrown them away.

Today, in a guilty plea to charges related to this gross violation of national security, Berger admitted he had used scissors to cut the missing documents up.

Ignore the fact that Berger has admitted to illegally, and personally, having destroyed classified documents: He lied to the Feds!

Berger will be sentenced on July 8. If his deal with the prosecutor holds up he will serve no jail time, be fined $10,000 and lose his security clearance for 3 years.

Two questions.

How do you lose your security clearance permanently?

Where are the feminists when they have a justifiable complaint?