Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Some Cigs are more equal than others


The province of Manitoba, Canada, has passed a comprehensive anti-smoking law. Not different than California, you might think. You'd be incorrect.

In Manitoba the law has specific exemptions based on ethnicity. The law requires that bar owners be treated differently based on whether they are white or aborginal.

It does remind one of the University of Michigan Law School admissions process. (More on Michigan's Proposal 2 tomorrow.)
Smoke fight to resume

A looming court battle over Manitoba's anti-smoking law will hinge on whether the province must treat white bar owners the same as their aboriginal counterparts, an issue that could have implications across the country.

The section of the law that exempted aboriginal reserves from the smoking ban was struck down in August by Justice Albert Clearwater of Court of Queen's Bench, who ruled it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Manitoba government is trying to appeal the decision by arguing, in part, that the charter guarantee was not designed to provide a level playing field for white males.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is what passes for a Bill of Rights in Canada. It is a living document, and obviously Manitoba's government believes it to be misnamed.

Should Manitoba be in the market for a new provincial slogan, I'd suggest: "Manitoba, where treating everyone equally under the law is a pipe dream."

H/T SDA

What happens after you start posting at DailyKos

...Or read it it too often.

John Kerry yesterday indicated that the troops he "supports" are lazy dopes:
You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.
Video here.

Kerry today leapt to his own defense, demonstrating he understands the word defense in at least that narrrow context. Perhaps he should have left bad enough alone. Reporting for duty at his web site, the Senator made the following attempt to restore civility:
Statement of John Kerry
Responding to Republican Distortions, Pathetic Tony Snow Diversions and Distractions

Washington--Senator John Kerry issued the following statement in response to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, assorted right wing nut-jobs, and right wing talk show hosts desperately distorting Kerry's comments about President Bush to divert attention from their disastrous record:

"If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they're afraid to debate real men. And this time it won't work because we're going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq."
Other leading Democrats have been silent on these comments from the 2008 Presidential aspirant, and those who voted for Kerry in 2004 are no longer calling for a do-over.

If Purple Hearts were awarded for self-inflicted political wounds, Kerry would have more than he received in his brief tour in Vietnam: about which he testified to Congress that US troops were Gengis Khan. He's toned down the rhetoric about the troops, at least. Now, they're just stupid underacheivers who could not get any job aside from defending the United States.

John McCain is not on my favorites list, but he does a nice job of returning the issue to what Kerry said about the United States military:
Senator Kerry owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country's call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education. Americans from all backgrounds, well off and less fortunate, with high school diplomas and graduate degrees, take seriously their duty to our country, and risk their lives today to defend the rest of us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

They all deserve our respect and deepest gratitude for their service. The suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq, is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk so that the rest of us can sleep more comfortably at night. Without them, we wouldn't live in a country where people securely possess all their God-given rights, including the right to express insensitive, ill-considered and uninformed remarks.
If he keeps that up, and recants on Campaign Finance Reform, I might even vote for him.

Update: 8:36PM KERRY APOLOGIZES! [posted by The Colossus] ;)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Boots on the Ground


You can watch it here or download it here.

Download could be a smoother viewing experience depending on your bandwidth. It's about 27MB.

Donor of tens of millions to Statist causes

Campaign Finance Reform notwithstanding.

George Soros, interviewed on 60 Minutes regarding his experiences as a 14 year old Jew escaping the holocaust.
KROFT: (Voiceover) And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.

Mr. SOROS: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made.

KROFT: ...[I]n fact, ...[you] helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

Mr. SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes.

KROFT: I mean, that's--that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

Mr. SOROS: Not--not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't--you don't see the connection. But it was--it created no--no problem at all...

Mr. SOROS: Well,... it's just like in markets--that if I weren't there--of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would--would--would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the--whether I was there or not, I was only a speculator spectator, the property was being taken away. So the--I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.
I think Soros is right about the making of his character.

H/T Atlas Shrugs

Profiling


Dress Code (video).

I reach a slightly different conclusion than "the parents, teachers and administrators" in this community about the utility of a dress code in preventing school shootings. Profile instead.

Kids with baggy clothes, or who walk like they have a "load" in their pants, are to be searched, especially if they gain 20 or 30 pounds overnight. Or if they clank when they move. Or smell like they're wearing Hoppe's #9 as cologne.

You don't need a metal detector (a dress code alternative already in use to detect weapons), you could detect this kid on an industrial scale. He would have gained over 30 pounds because of the armory he was carrying. Not counting ammo. An extra 5 rounds for each weapon would add another 10 pounds.

It is also difficult to believe he could walk normally. Or that without a belt (which he's not wearing), his pants could possibly stay up.

The parents, teachers and administrators in that community appear to be reaching quite a bit to justify a dress code. Better to say, "Because we said so, that's why.", like some schools have been doing for a hundred years.

H/T EL

Friday, October 27, 2006

The difference


I recently read a book titled "The Difference Engine." As you might expect, it is about Charles Babbage's attempts, starting circa 1825, to build a mechanical computer.

Babbage was a classic engineer at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and I can recommend the book to those who are interested in such things. You know who you are.

The book details Babbage's struggle to complete a machine that pushed the very edges of custom manufacturing technology - there were no manufactories in the mid-19th century able to reproduce tens of thousands of identical parts at extremely high precision. Each piece was fashioned by hand.

The attempt is amazing, and it turned out to be very expensive. So expensive that it was never completed. Working from the original plans, a replica was built in the late 1980s/early 1990s demonstrating that Babbage's design was sound and, incidentally, that elegance can evoke beauty. That adventure is also recounted, though the struggle to fund the replica involved private companies rather than the British Exchequer.

The author is Doron Swade and the ISBN is 0-14-200144-9, but urging you to read it is not my point.

Contained in the book is one of the better illustrations of the engineering psyche I have ever read. It is a portion of a letter from Babbage to Alfred, Lord Tennyson on the occasion of the publication of the latter's poem "The Vision of Sin."
Sir:

In your otherwise beautiful poem, 'The Vision of Sin', there is a verse which reads - "Every moment dies a man, Every moment one is born." It must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill... I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read - "Every moment dies a man, Every moment 1-1/16 is born.'...The actual figure is so long I cannot get it onto a line, but I believe the figure 1-1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.
;)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Buyback has no effect on murder rate

..."Homicide patterns (firearm and non-firearm) were not influenced by the NFA [compensated confiscation], the conclusion being that the gun buyback and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia," the study says.

...Politicians had assumed tighter gun laws would cut off the supply of guns to would-be criminals and that homicide rates would fall as a result, the study said. But more than 90 per cent of firearms used to commit homicide were not registered, their users were not licensed and they had been unaffected by the firearms agreement.

Hollow Men


Relativism is fundamentally a belief in nothing; the modern equivalent of the conceit of those who live “without blame, and without praise," on the shore of Acheron, where "above them mourn the choir of angels who neither rebelled nor were faithful to God, and who were chased from Heaven but refused by Hell."

Cultural relativism is therefore aptly named and so should be its modern proponents. Hollow Men.

T. S. Eliot did not specify any external threat that could be appeased by embracing it in the following poem. He was describing the loss of values of any sort; harbingers and practical examples of which we will examine momentarily. The point is, if everything is relative it does not matter what you embrace.

First, Eliot:
THE HOLLOW MEN (1927)
Mistah Kurtz-he dead.
...........A penny for the Old Guy

I
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rat's feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without color,
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other kingdom
Remember us - if at all - not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.
Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer -
Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III
This is the dead land
This is the cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they recieve
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV
The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V
Here we go 'round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go 'round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the shadow
Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existance
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
Here is some evidence from current events that Eliot was merely before his time:

From Victor Davis Hanson: Traitors to the Enlightenment
...Europe boldly produces films about assassinating an American president, and routinely disparages the Church that gave the world the Sermon of the Mount, but it simply won’t stand up for an artist, a well-meaning Pope, or a ranting filmmaker when the mob closes in. The Europe that believes in everything turns out to believe in nothing.

...And what have we learned in the last five years from its boutique socialism, utopian pacifism, moral equivalence, and cultural relativism? That it was logical that Europe most readily would abandon the artist and give up the renegade in fear of religious extremists.

Those in an auto parts store in Fresno, or at a NASCAR race in southern Ohio, might appear to Europeans as primordials with their guns, “fundamentalist” religion, and flag-waving chauvinism. But it is they, and increasingly their kind alone, who prove the bulwarks of the West. Ultimately what keeps even the pope safe and the continent confident in its vain dialogues with Iranian lunatics is the United States military and the very un-Europeans who fight in it.
From Thomas Lifson, The Dark View of Islam and the American Street.
...But the other more complex tragedy lies closer to home, with the enforcers of PC orthodoxy. Their own hubris blinds them to the dangers of Islamism affecting them. For them, there can be no life and death struggle to the end, despite explicit Islamist rhetoric to the contrary. That is simply unthinkable. They take for granted their own power to manage the struggle. There is no war with a victory or a defeat. There is only a conflict resolution process to be managed. It is unhelpful, therefore, for us to aggravate matters by fighting the enemy. Bush's War is the problem.

Political correctness has cut off a vital source of feedback to both the Islamists and the so-called progressives of the West. They are blind to the realities of the American Street. Gradually, more and more Americans are beginning to entertain the concept that drastic measures may well be necessary to ensure our survival. It is only a half-thought position, outside of the circle of passionate advocates who write on the web or occasionally break into media notice on talk radio or a cable news channel. But it is part of a growing acceptance that we might need to go a bit Roman, or at least contemplate the exact mechanisms which brought an end to World War II, our most recent war fought against an existential threat.

America is generally slow to awaken to danger, but once roused it is a fierce fighter. A few voices are warning our potential foes. But they are not listening.
Mark Steyn (TCS Daily Spotlight Interview with Mark Steyn (Audio)
...this whole awful, ghastly, cultural relativism... makes even having a discussion impossible...

...nothing has any more weight than anything else, and it basically strips you of the tools even to discuss these situations honestly...

... I think there is a real open question about whether that kind of society can survive in the long term...
And Steyn again: Doomsday Scenario: 'America Alone', interview with Paul Gigot:
GIGOT: In your book, you write that much of what we loosely call the "Western World will not survive the 21st Century. And much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many, if not most, European countries", end quote. That sounds like a doomsday scenario.

MARK STEYN, COLUMNIST AND AUTHOR OF "AMERICA ALONE":
It is. I tried to be cheerful. But it is hard to be cheerful about apocalyptic-type stuff. And this is what it is.

17 European countries have what demographers call lowest-load fertility, from which no society ever recovered. That means they are basically not having enough babies.

And the way Europe is set up, they have these unsustainable social programs and welfare. And they imported the babies that they didn't have. They imported them essentially from the North Africa and the Middle East.
So we're seeing one of the fastest population transformations in history, whereby an aging ethnic European population is being replaced by a Muslim population. And the Muslims understand that, in fact, Europe, as they see it, is the colony now.

GIGOT: Is the problem only demographics or is it somehow broader, a kind of lack of intellectual confidence, cultural confidence, in what we used to call, at least, the West?

STEYN: Yes, I think so. Basically, the lack of babies is only a symptom of the real problem. You know, American exceptionalism is a very practical term. We celebrated the birth the other day of the 300 millionth American. And God bless him.

That is great news. Because the most indispensable resource of all is human capital. And that's what Europe is running out of. And even as they are in that situation, the newspapers, reacting to the birth of this 300 millionth American, regarded him as some sort of abomination who is simply going to add to the appalling U.S. consumption of the world's resources. They said it is an unsustainable level of population.

In fact, the problem they have in Europe is they got an unsustainable lack of population. It is the complete opposite.

GIGOT:
I remember during the Cold War, there was a strain of pessimism about whether the West would prevail in that conflict. James Burnham, the great strategist, wrote about the suicide of the West.

And some people, as late as the late 1980s, were still saying we're going to lose the Cold War. Yet we won that because the West had a great — demonstrated a lot of resilience, democratic resilience.

Why is this conflict, in your view, different?

STEYN:
Well, I think we understood then, anyone who meet Czech or Hungarians or Poles or any of these people on the other side of the Iran Curtain during the Cold War, understood that they actually had no dog in the fight. They weren't interested. They weren't interested in conquering the world.

And I think it is different now. I think the average Muslim does, in some basic sense, when he immigrates to the Netherlands, when he immigrates to the United Kingdom, when he immigrates to Canada or Michigan, wants eventually to live in a Muslim society in those places. And he expects effectively — I am not saying he wants to fly planes into buildings or any of that nonsense — but his expectation is that the host society will assimilate with him rather than the other way around.

And that's a profound challenge in a way that communism wasn't.
Cultural statism has nearly destroyed Europe and cultural self-hatred has its sights on the United States. Steyn has the protaganist right only so long as someone with will, someone not hollow, is in charge. We are well beyond Eliot's internal intellectual crisis, there is an existential threat. And the hollow men would rather not be bothered.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Crescent News Network


At Return of the Conservatives
CNN won't show the WTC towers being hit by terrorists, but they are delighted to show terrorists killing American soldiers in Iraq.

H/T Bizzyblog

Government Unlimited


Canada’s John Galt comments that The corrosive nature of politics
...is chlorinated by persons who tend to become involved in it for personal gain.

...A coconservative [sic] argument would be if government was more limited, the lure of such power would be less, and would shift the nature of politicians from the power-hungry to the more public service oriented. The problem with this solution, that of returning the role of government to a limited role and maximizing the liberty of the citizenry, runs opposite to those of the left, who see government as the talismanic solution to all problems real and perceived.
In the statist view: Governments are instituted among Men and devolve, deriving their license to peddle influence and deny natural rights from the consent of the governed who temporarily benefit thereby.

Statists are forced to argue that we need campaign finance reform to correct the abuses of extra-Constitutional spending by the people who are being corrupted by the power to spend. We cannot limit government, so government must limit speech. A poor trade, even if it worked.

I am often heard to criticize the Incumbent Protection Act, aka McCain-Feingold, and I am often challenged with "Well, how do you propose to control influence peddling and bribery?"

I respond that removing from elected officials the ability to spend billions of dollars on non-Constitutional items would considerably reduce lobbyists' interest in them. This would include education, medical care, and pensions, for example.

If preventing lobbyists from leveraging $100,000 contributions into multi-million dollar contracts, regulatory favors, or "get out of jail free" cards is the objective, we do not need to violate the First Amendment to achieve it. Without the ability to spend, bribes would not be forthcoming. Combine this with strict requirements for full public disclosure of all contributions and you have a simple and effective solution. This latter point is already in progress due to the Internet.

Federal, state, and local governments control the redistribution of nearly 40 percent of the Gross National Product. Politics in money is the problem, not money in politics.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Imams travel to Mecca to express support for 1st Commandment

Iraq the Model points out some "mixed-message behavior" (aka hypocrisy):
Shia and Sunni Iraqi clerics were in Mecca last night [20-Oct] to sign a document...

What the clerics agreed upon in that paper was no more than the fundamental fact and the first (or second) commandment in all religions; that is "murder is wrong".

How absurd and demeaning is that! As if they had to go to Holy Mecca to realize that murder is a crime. And as if they were admitting that until last night each sect's clerics didn't consider it a crime to murder someone from a different sect. Frankly I suspect there was never a time when they considered it a crime and I don't think signing that paper changed a thing.

...They want to satisfy their dead conscience and convince themselves that they had done their part of the job by signing that paper and that it's up to the people now to stop killing each other! As if it wasn't the militias they run and tensions they create that are causing the sectarian violence.

There's one other important point about the meeting that makes it rather impossible to expect it to make a difference on the ground; the two most vicious murderous factions that are responsible for most of the sectarian violence, i.e. al-Qaeda and Sadr's militia will not drop their weapons or stop their crimes just because some clerics signed a decree.

However, the document can possibly be of practical value only if it gets used in the right way; that is since the document alienates anyone who violates the points stated within, the MNF and the reluctant PM Maliki can take advantage of it and do what they have to do with people like Sadr who had long enjoyed unwritten immunity.

I mean if Sadr or certain Sunni groups refuse to abide by the articles of the decree and continue doing their daily dirty job then clerics and religious parties that signed the decree will have the pretext to stop the government or the MNF from taking action against them.
Still, this is just in theory.
I think this posits several excellent questions.:

1) Do we have a government in Iraq, or not?

2) If we do have a government, when can we expect that it will protect infidels of religious persuasion other than "apostate Muslim" from fractional Islamist lunatics?

3) Failing realization of that fundamental reason to tolerate government, can anything be done by outsiders so that the aforementioned apostate Muslims might summon the gumption to join the resistance to
Islamist fanaticism?

The unspoken question is obvious, and should be troubling to Iraqis.

Friday, October 20, 2006

How many people do you know who pay entirely for their own health care?

Such people represent the entirety of free market health care in the United States.

David Hogberg, responding to Blake Fleetwood's confused scribbling at the Huffington Post, demonstrates that Fleetwood's criticisms of free market health care in the United States are silly because we do not have free market health care in the United States.
...we don't really have a free market system in U.S. health care. About 50% of health care costs are paid for by either federal or state governments. The private sector is dominated by a third-party payer system, where patients (consumers) do not pay the provider directly (as they do in a true free market); instead, providers are paid by insurance companies, thereby insulating patients from the cost of health care. This confusion leads Fleetwood to his next mistake.
[Fleetwood:] "...buyers don't shop for health care. Sick people don't negotiate with doctors or hospitals or drug companies. They don't care what it costs; insurance or the government will pay."
It's obvious that Fleetwood either already knows it isn't the market that causes the problem or he does not understand the meaning of the word "market." He's having his socialist cake and eating yours, too. He is, after all, advocating Federal command-and-control health care on behalf of people who "don't care what it costs; ... the government will pay."

Hogberg:
That patients don't act as consumers with regard to health care is not the "natural order" of things. It is due to a fluke born of myopic public policy in the 1930s. During that time, FDR's Administration imposed wage controls on the economy, so employers [GM a major one] had to find another way to attract employees. They ended up giving pre-tax health insurance benefits to attract employees.
The government directly subverts market pricing while providing
tax incentives to encourage others to do the same. The amazing part is the resilience of the market after 70 years of this. Blake Fleetwood's "cure" is to hand absolute control to the very institutions that caused the problem. Since "buyers don't shop for health care," he wants your government to do it for you. He neglects to mention that they get to decide whether to shop on your behalf at all.

Yesterday, I wondered if Fleetwood's qualifications in economic theory were based on a degree in Pre-Columbian Literary Theory. I now consider that tongue-in-cheek speculation to have been far too grandiose, economics-understanding-wise.

Update: 8:36. These Other Club posts are related.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Socialist health care

Friday, May 05, 2006
Free health care

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The cost of free health care

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Universal Health Care Update

Thursday, April 20, 2006
Universal Health Care

Friday, January 13, 2006
Things we can learn from Canada

Thursday, August 18, 2005
Ob-Gyns with 10 Month Waiting Lists

Thursday, July 14, 2005
You don't always get what you pay for

Monday, July 11, 2005
Brave New World meets Animal Farm

Friday, June 17, 2005
45 Million Myths Continued

Thursday, June 16, 2005
45 Million Myths

Monday, April 04, 2005
Canadian Health Care. You'll Get Old Just Waiting.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Walter Duranty reborn


Amy Ridenour posts a neat dissection by David Hogberg of a Huffington Post piece by journalist (?) Blake Fleetwood. It is worth reading in its entirety, but I was actually taken aback by this particular Fleetwood assertion:
[Markets ration health care]...by price, which means that who gets what goods and services depends not only on how much those goods and services are valued by people, but on who has the means to buy them. Priorities are not set by anyone but emerge from the play of the market. As indicated, this is almost the worst possible way to determine who gets which health services.
So now I'm wondering if Fleetwood has a Masters degree in Pre-Columbian Literary Theory, and if he hasn't heard that Walter Duranty is dead and disgraced, or would be if anybody remembered
Duranty's fawning apologies for Stalin. Then again, Duranty did win a Pulitzer for his lies. Maybe Fleetwood thinks that is still a ticket.

It is obvious he's never had an course in economics, unless it was taught at UC Berkeley.

First, there's his assumption that the market sets the price for health care in the United States. This is wrong. Both our own Government and General Motors have been meddling with that market for a long time. It has almost bankrupted GM, and it is going to bankrupt the US if we don't change how the Feds intervene.

Second, there's the idea that rich people want to pay more for health care, so they bid the price up beyond the value - exactly the opposite of what market pricing implies. Priorities for health care are set by the government in Canada and the UK, where you may wait six months for an MRI to tell you your cancer has become incurable during the wait.

Central planning has been demonstrated to be inferior to the market by the collapse of the Soviet Union, an event Fleetwood apparently missed. Check out these links from the blogroll: What's Wrong with Healthcare? (Canada) and SOCIALIZED MEDICINE (Australia/UK) for some insight into how much "better" central planning is than the market.

Markets, where they are left alone, do control demand for goods and services through pricing mechanisms. Governments can only control demand for goods and services by arbitrary fiat, because the information provided by freely determined prices does not exist. Priorities set by bureaucrats spread the suffering equally to everyone - everyone who is not a bureaucrat.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Berlin wall = US border security fence


It is one thing when a lightweight dilettante in the matter, like former Mexican weak-man Vicente Fox, pretends that a wall intended to slow the flood of illegal immigrants into a country is similar to a wall intended to prevent exit of legal citizens from a country. It is quite another thing when the man who actually ordered the Berlin wall torn down makes a similar comment: Mikhail Gorbachev compares proposed U.S. border wall to Berlin Wall.

Apparently, Mr. Gorbachev (the last, as in “the end”, head of the Soviet Union), agrees with Mr. Fox (the last, as in presently penultimate, head of Mexico) on this point: Masses of Americans in the Southwest are clamoring to cross into Mexico to relieve the horrible burden of tyranny they face here. Possibly Mexico’s strict immigration laws are the real problem.

But, surprise, they don’t mean that. They are equating a wall that may be built to keep people out with one built to keep people in. Machine gun towers optional, it's only a matter of which way they face.

For this analogy to recover from being tortured, either the NATO guards on the free side of the Berlin wall were the ones shooting East Germans as they tried to escape from East Germany, or Mexican guards will soon be shooting their own citizens when the latter try to escape from Mexico into the United States.

One suspects Mr. Gorbachev has been waiting since June 12, 1987 to use this line. That’s when Ronald Reagan delivered a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. The speech deserves repetition, so here’s a noteworthy extract:
In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: 'We will bury you.' But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind--too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
In Mr. Fox’s case, it is barely possible that some deranged naïf (think Cindy Sheehan) might imagine that Mexico could soon find itself in a position to have to shoot Americans illegally migrating into Mexico.

In the instance of Mr. Gorbachev, perhaps the greater language barrier is at fault. Some Soviet translator at some point may have confused the expression “turnabout is fair play” with the spoonerism “180 degrees out of phrase,” or maybe Gorbachev simply figured this was his last, best chance before he dies.

However, The Other Club is nothing if not willing to assist our former communist adversaries along their dvenádtsat-step program to capitalist sobriety. So first, some encouragement; the word “wall” does indeed appear in both Reagan’s speech and Gorbachev’s comment.

Secondly, I suspect the man who presided over the demise of the Soviet Union knows the matter’s heart and has simply left it to the student to discover the one part of the analogy that is both non-trivial and actually analogous. To wit, the communists used the Berlin wall to suppress any uprising of an oppressed people, and Mexico uses the United States as a pressure relief valve to avoid an uprising of oppressed people. In both cases, this benefits the ruling elite. Mr. Gorbachev, meet Mr. Fox.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jimmy Carter's intentionally-evil twin also deserves our understanding


Yesterday, the Lansing State Journal published a story on the recent demi-detonation of a nuclear bomb by the Democratic People's Republic of [North] Korea under this AP headline: Analysis: A call for help from N. Korea?

This is the actual URL in that link. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/nkorea_misunderstood

I include it so you can see that the AP (and/or Yahoo) considers it at least possible that North Korea is simply the victim of a misunderstanding. Kim Jong Il only set off the bomb to get aid for his people.

The LSJ is not responsible for the story, but they did let the headline stand; telling their readership that we're supposed to feel the pain of a Stalinist dictator whose cognac bills run $500,000 a year, while the citizens can be shot for reading a foreign newspaper and are starving to death in droves?

One supposes the headline writer intended pity for the people of the DPRK. But, who is it that caused this problem by putting all his resources into nuclear technology development? Who is it that would benefit from our pity?

The aid doesn't go to the downtrodden. In Korea's Nightmare: Horrors of Life in the North, at Real Clear Politics, Peter Brookes notes that:
...as many as 2.5 million people (out of a population of 22 million) have died due to starvation/disease over the last decade. While accurate numbers are near impossible to come by, today, 7 percent are believed to be starving, and 37 percent chronically malnourished, reports Freedom House.

...while North Korea has received massive influxes of international food aid, relief groups say Pyongyang uses food as a weapon, directing aid to the most loyal segments of society, while withholding it from others. People have subsisted on twigs, bark and grass for years. Local cooperatives mix grass with grain to produce horrid, drab olive "Franken-food."

...North Korea spends one-third of its gross domestic product on a million-man army, ballistic missiles and an expensive nuclear-weapons program, while the country's hospitals , desperately short of supplies, are little more than hospices.
The AP and the LSJ should be ashamed,
respectively, of writing and publishing such a transparently stupid appeal on behalf of Jimmy Carter's intentionally-evil twin.

The headline would have been more accurate as: North Korean madman is desperate. Subtitled: Carter calls for understanding, blames Bush for NK Nuke.

Suggested epitaph for Mr. Carter: "Monitor spent fuel rods? What spent fuel rods?"

Monday, October 16, 2006

P. J. O'Rourke


...from whom we hear not often enough.

What's That Smell?
The GOP is stinking up the joint.

Daniel Pipes update on MN Islamo-cabbies


No Islamic Law in Minnesota, for Now

Amphioxus


Or lancet, from the Greek for "both [ends] pointed..."

A website named "Iraq Body Count" puts the civilian death toll for the battle of Iraq at 48,783, which they argue is more than sufficient to condemn the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

IBC is absolutely opposed to the US presence in Iraq, but they display an intellectual honesty in short supply among most others of the same opinion: For example, the British medical journal The Lancet.

IBC have commented on last week's Lancet study that alleges 655,000 deaths. The summary:
A new study has been released by the Lancet medical journal estimating over 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq. The Iraqi mortality estimates published in the Lancet in October 2006 imply, among other things, that:

1. On average, a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every single day in the first half of 2006, with less than a tenth of them being noticed by any public surveillance mechanisms;

2. Some 800,000 or more Iraqis suffered blast wounds and other serious conflict-related injuries in the past two years, but less than a tenth of them received any kind of hospital treatment;

3. Over 7% of the entire adult male population of Iraq has already been killed in violence, with no less than 10% in the worst affected areas covering most of central Iraq;

4. Half a million death certificates were received by families which were never officially recorded as having been issued;

5. The Coalition has killed far more Iraqis in the last year than in earlier years containing the initial massive "Shock and Awe" invasion and the major assaults on Falluja.

If these assertions are true, they further imply:

* incompetence and/or fraud on a truly massive scale by Iraqi officials in hospitals and ministries, on a local, regional and national level, perfectly coordinated from the moment the occupation began;

* bizarre and self-destructive behaviour on the part of all but a small minority of 800,000 injured, mostly non-combatant, Iraqis;

* the utter failure of local or external agencies to notice and respond to a decimation of the adult male population in key urban areas;

* an abject failure of the media, Iraqi as well as international, to observe that Coalition-caused events of the scale they reported during the three-week invasion in 2003 have been occurring every month for over a year.

In the light of such extreme and improbable implications, a rational alternative conclusion to be considered is that the authors have drawn conclusions from unrepresentative data.
The mistake IBC makes here is accepting the idea that The Lancet cared about the science even 10% as much as they cared about trading their reputation for a headline.

H/T LGF

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Jane Galt on the 655,000

You may have noted that the far-left British medical journal, The Lancet, speculated-as-fact last week that 655,000 Iraqis have died who would not have if Saddam Hussein had not been overthrown.

This seems to require the minimal assumption that Saddam would not have had any mental instability issues that would have caused a ramp-up in the feeding of Iraqis through his plastic shredders. Actually, The Lancet's assumptions are far less tenable than that.

Jane Galt has three posts on the topic.

The numbers are too big

Daniel Davies throws down.

Yes, I've read the damn study. Have you, oh critic?


All worth reading.

You should also check Tim Blair on the methodology used in the Lancet study.
The actual number of Iraqi deaths recorded in Lancet’s latest study is just 547. Extrapolating from that figure, the study’s authors estimate:

... that as of July, 2006, there have been 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war.

Let’s put Lancet’s number in perspective:

* It is larger than the total number of Americans killed during combat in every major conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the first Gulf War.

* It is more than double the combined number of civilians killed in the bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

* It is a larger number than were killed in Germany during five years (and 955,044 tons) of WWII bombing.

Remember: Lancet came up with this via a survey that identified precisely 547 deaths (as reported by the New York Times). Interestingly, that information doesn’t appear here, or here, or here ...
Lots more info in links in Blair's post.

If I'm driving, you can't drink


Or wear a yarmulke, or go without a veil, or have an "unclean" seeing-eye dog, or carry a pound of bacon, or possess any depiction of the prophet, or... well you get the idea.
No booze in my cab, infidel

Gregory Peck, in 1947, starred in “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” where he played a reporter who assumed a Jewish identity while covering a story on anti-Semitism. Seventeen years later the passage of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 addressed many forms of discrimination in employment, public accommodations and government services that were so vividly portrayed in this classic film. While the Act created specific protected classes from discrimination, it is safe to say that the spirit of the law, the intent of the Congress, was to curtail discrimination in the populace at large and not to create classes of potential litigants for future plaintiff’s attorneys as has since happened.

Recently, a new class has been asserting its “rights” under the law. To comply with Sharia law, Muslim cab drivers who work the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport are refusing to accommodate paying passengers who may have alcoholic beverages in their possession. In doing so, they are violating the spirit of the 1964 Act by denying a public accommodation. Additionally, taxi services and other commercial enterprises at the airport are regulated by the Metropolitan Airports Commission, a quasi-governmental organization. The approximately 675 Muslim cab drivers petitioned for a two-color beacon to indicate their (un)willingness to transport alcohol, but the commission wisely rejected the idea. We at The Patriot have a simpler solution: Arrest them for violating the law. If they don’t want to risk the eternal wrath of Allah for transporting a business executive with a bottle of champagne, perhaps they can pursue another line of work more suitable to their beliefs.

Ultimately, we’re left to ponder two other questions. First, where is Danny Glover? In November, 1999 he filed suit in New York City after several empty cabs ignored his request for service. Second, where’s the ACLU? If these cab drivers were Korean and refused service to Japanese tourists, would that spark the ACLU’s interest? Whose ox must be gored before the guardians of civil rights leap into action? After all, somewhere in Minneapolis, a businessman with a bottle of 18-year-old Macallan is just trying to get home after a long flight.
Three comments:

1) The idea that you cannot refuse to provide a "public accomodation" would seem to apply to pharmacists and hospitals regarding morning after pills and abortions respectively, issues of which we have also heard and which have free market implications as well as those of conscience.

2) The original solution to this problem obviates point 1 and seemed reasonable to me: If you won't take the fare go to the back of the queue and wait three hours for another chance. Your own conscience can be exercised, but you pay any consequences determined by the consciences of others practicing their legal rights.

3) This was a "camel's nose under the tent" (I eschew "thin edge of the wedge" as overly Western) attempt to regularize Sharia law in the United States. Our culture of victimization granted it the undue respect it needed to be seriously considered.

H/T Patriot Post via JR

Thursday, October 12, 2006

How Chavez has changed his tune


Oil is one thread running parallel with totalitarianism. This excellent article explores how oil shapes politics in the third world.
What Makes a Revolutionary?
How oil made Venezuela a graveyard of change

...In her groundbreaking book The Paradox of Plenty, Stanford political scientist Terry Lynn Karl studied the effects of the 1970’s oil booms on oil exporting countries the world over. Paying special attention to Venezuela, but also touching on the development strategies of other nations such as Iran and Algeria, Lynn Karl noted that even though these countries had been the recipients of the largest recorded transfer of wealth not to involve a war, decades later they were still plagued by poverty and antiquated infrastructure.

She eventually concluded that the reliance of petro-states such as Venezuela on a single export influences and shapes various aspects of the state, from regime type to the course of public policy, and often warps them in damaging ways. During the 1970’s, with Venezuela awash in oil money, then President Carlos Andres Perez engaged the country in an ambitious populist program, nationalizing the oil industry and condemning the agents of international finance and globalization as "genocide workers in the pay of totalitarianism." When the 70’s boom came to an end, the massive social welfare programs that Andres Perez had implemented proved largely untenable, and Venezuela experienced two decades of economic stagnation and political frustration that were capped by Chávez’s election in ’98.

"It’s certainly happening all over again, isn’t it?" Lynn Karl told me in a recent interview. "The way Venezuela is set up, the way most petro-states are set up, is that oil revenue goes directly to the executive branch, thus falling under the power of the President."

And when the price of oil is high, petro-state presidents are able to spend freely and without oversight. The entire process lends itself to the centralization of power and the undermining of the liberal institutions that are necessary in a stable democracy. In moments of astronomically high oil prices, a president is able to exercise power without building consensus amongst the state’s various actors.

"...When Chávez came into power, he had to negotiate because the price of oil was low; he came in speaking as a much more moderate politician."
Explains a lot, doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Potpourri


A number of topics, all of which have links that are worth reading.

Allow 45 minutes if you dare the whole sequence.

Don't miss Mark Steyn.

DPRKooks
N Korea: sanctions would start war

"If the US keeps pestering us and increases pressure, we will regard it as a declaration of war and will take a series of physical corresponding measures," the ... [North Korean] Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Pestering"? "[P]hysical corresponding measures"? What's the "physical measure" corresponding to "pestering", taunting with extreme prejudice? Waterboarding?

We're in this position, of course, thanks to Kim's sponsors Bill, Madeline and especially Jimmy. According to a liberal think tank.
A Brookings Review Of The Clinton Effort On North Korea

[The Liberal] Brookings [Institution] clearly shows that the Kim regime had started its violations well before Bush took office, and that Clinton's appeasement policy gave Kim the head start he needed to build nuclear weapons. Pyongyang went nuclear before Bush had a chance to take the oath of office, and the lack of American resolve allowed it to happen.
***
It's a start.

‘Azzam the American’ charged with treason

A 28-year-old Californian who joined al-Qaida and appeared in propaganda videos for the terrorist organization was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of treason and aiding terrorists, a U.S. Justice Department official said.
Next, Cindy Sheehan - our domestic equivalent of Tokyo Rose..

***
Baby "Boomers."

How to Raise Your Son to Be a Terrorist

On Sunday, October 8, 2006, an Islamic website posted a series of images produced by the Izz al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, titled "How to make his [sic] son terrorist."
***
Decadence

Concluding with an interview of Mark Steyn wherein he discusses his recent visit to Gitmo and the decline of the West.
TCS Daily Spotlight Interview with Mark Steyn (Audio)

...the more you have [militarily] the less you use...

...this whole awful, ghastly, cultural relativism... makes even having a discussion impossible...

...nothing has any more weight than anything else, and it basically strips you of the tools even to discuss these situations honestly...

... I think there is a real open question about whether that kind of society can survive in the long term...
None of this is any surprise to anyone who has played CivII against aggressive, cheating AIs beyond the point where your political system (Republic?) requires a Senate. After that, the chatterers have a focused forum for their efforts to derail any idea of self-defense and the citizens are more concerned about cheap gas than they are about existential threats.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association - 3 Cheers


Memo to: Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover and Cindy Sheehan.
cc: UN General Assembly, Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez.
From: George Soros

Subject: Soft treason and aiding and abetting oppression.

Some severely disadvantaged people are apparently able to make the connection between taking handouts from Hugo Chavez and bribery. How can we score cheap political points against the United States and promote the starvation in Venezuela if this continues? You advantaged types need to hold a rally supporting Chavez in Nelson Lagoon, St. Paul, and St. George right away. Autograph some walruses and give away some refrigerators. Get a photo-op eating some blubber. Sabotage the local power grid... Whatever it takes.

We all knew the United States was evil before Chavez declared it, but the opportunity to get our names in the paper by supporting a totalitarian buffoon may slip away if we don't counter this.
Three Cheers for the Eskimos: Native Alaskans a Lesson in Patriotism

...the Native Alaskans of Nelson Lagoon, St. Paul, and St. George, Alaska rejected free oil they desperately need for heat because the oil was offered by Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez's Citgo.
Yours in privilege,
GS

P.S.
Kim, the test appears to have been a bust, but the threat of launching a nuke at the Running Dogs -tm was inspired. Somehow, you've got to get the counterfeiting operation back in full gear. My plan to short the dollar depends on it.

*********************
H/T Debbie Schlussel

Click the link. You can help these Americans out with a small contribution. Virtue need not be solely its own reward. You know Jesse, Danny, Cindy and George won't be donating.

Update: 7:14PM It isn't as easy as I had assumed to contribute. You can't donate online. Here is their site.

The nearest bank at which you can help is here:

Brighton Towne Square
8199 Challis Rd
Brighton, MI 48116
810-494-4888

...Or, mail your contribution to:

Unangan Energy Assistance Fund
c/o Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association
201 East Third Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

or

Unangan Energy Assistance Fund
c/o Key Bank
P.O. Box 110420
Anchorage, AK 99510

Sunday, October 08, 2006

OPEC to reduce production


They are apparently deciding that $60 is the right price. I do not know why $54.81 wouldn't be the right price. See this graph at Forbes.com.

What has changed since last year that causes OPEC to raise the floor price?

Hugo Chavez is in front here, having already cut production. He's trying to help poor people in the United States. The grifters rulers in Nigeria have lowered output in concert with Chavez. Such is OPEC's leadership.

Watch what you say


An example of what life is like without a First Amendment: Three Years in Prison for Posting Hatespeak

CAIR and BAMN would like this to be how things operate here.

In the United States, so far, we only sentence people to sensitivity training (a recent example from Michigan State University), or prevent them from funding campign ads.

Bumped and updated to provide more visibility for this comment.
Terror-Free said...

CAIR - 1, FREE SPEECH - 0
Islamonazi CAIR Intimidates Yet Another American Business In Dhimmitude

http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/videos/MS092506.php - MSNBC video

Free Patriotic Corner Banners: http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/cb/

A bribe by any other name


The Other Club suggested here that Hugo Chavez is standing on the backs of poor people in Venezuela by using oil for bribery elsewhere in the world. Manuel Rosales, the main opposition candidate in December's election, is more polite::
Mr Rosales condemned what he called the cheque book diplomacy of Mr Chavez, accusing him of giving away Venezuela's oil wealth to foreign powers.
Then again, Mr Rozales has to survive the campaign.

The effect of tax cuts

...what has happened in the past three fiscal years:

* Tax receipts have soared by over 35% (with 5.5%, 14.5%, and 11.7% increases in fiscal 2004, 2005, and 2006, respectively) from $1.78 trillion to $2.41 trillion...
Much more at BizzyBlog.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Orthodoxy prevails


Cathy Young notes a report that proposes to settle the debate about gender and science.
It is notable for failing to prove its own conclusions, and in some cases proving the opposite.
The debate over gender and science, which helped bring down Harvard President Lawrence Summers this year, has been revived by a new report from the National Academies, "Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering."

...Chaired by University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala, who is known for her commitment to feminist causes, the panel included a number of strong proponents of the belief that women in science are held back primarily by sexism and that aggressive remedies to these biases are needed.

Noticeably absent were proponents of other viewpoints—including such female scientists as Vanderbilt University psychologist Camilla Persson Benbow or Canadian neuroscientist Doreen Kimura, who argue that biological sex differences influence cognitive skills in some areas.
And what about Steven Pinker? I quote myself from a Lansing State Journal OpEd on the Summers controversy:
In "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature", Massachusetts Institute of Technology psychology professor Dr. Steven Pinker writes: "Though men, on average, are better at mentally rotating objects and maps, women are better at remembering landmarks and the positions of objects. ... Men are better at solving mathematical word problems, women at mathematical calculation. Women are more sensitive to sounds and smells, have better depth perception, match shapes faster, and are much better at reading facial expressions and body language."

The question isn't whether women and men have, on average, equivalent mathematical ability - they do - but the distribution of these abilities differs. Women tend toward the middle of the Bell curve; men are more likely to occupy the extremes. In other words, males are more likely to be either Forrest Gump or Albert Einstein.

Among mathematically talented students (scores of 700 or above on the SAT's math exam) boys outnumber girls 13 to 1. If you recruit at the higher end of such a distribution and end up with a higher number of males, only a feminist ideologue would be surprised.
Donna Shalala, for example.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Desensitivity training

... is what is needed.

E-mail to MSA spurs diversity training

Farhan Abdul Azeez, former MSA president and current MSA liaison to the university:
"We're trying to get more to the root of the problem, which is a misunderstanding of Islam and Muslims. This isn't just for the Muslim community, but it's for all minorities."

Apparently, Mr. Azeez has already gotten to the root of the problem, so I must have missed all the other minorities rioting over cartoons, shooting nuns because the Pope quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor and the video-taped beheadings on YouTube.

Indrek Wichman may have been intemperate, but that would be the worst you could say. "[D]issatisfied, aggressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems" is a fair description of the Jihadis; to which I would add child killers, since they encourage their young to become suicide bombers - even dressing toddlers in bomb-belts. We're not hearing much criticism of this behavior from MSA or CAIR while their membership is demonstrating for Hamas in Dearborn. So just who is it that misunderstands Muslims? Or is promoting a specific misunderstanding?
The MSA and MSU administrators worked together to organize diversity training for MSU faculty, staff and students. The meetings won't be mandatory for anyone, but both organizing parties are hoping the topics discussed will attract a wide range of people, said Paulette Granberry Russell, senior adviser to the president for diversity and director of the Office for Affirmative Action Compliance and Monitoring for MSU.
This is one more good reason to vote "Yes" on Proposition 2. We'll save all the money now going to the "Office for Affirmative Action Compliance and Monitoring."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Win Win


I would be quite interested in hearing the moral principle upon which Danny Glover and "the crowd at Mount Olivet Baptist Church" (explanation here) base their cheers for Hugo Chavez' statement that the United States should "elect a better president." Given that as a guest in our country he is allowed to disparage our president, and given that he is eliminating free speech in Venezuela, one hopes it isn't because they admire his approach to liberty; though this is not certain.

It would also be intriguing to learn how these Chavez supporters could be so eager to accept a subsidy that results in harm to many other less fortunate persons.

That subsidy, of course, is cheap fuel for American poor people. Hugo Chavez has magnanimously offered to help his "American friends" by giving us cut-rate heating oil.

As a man of the cloth, and Hugo's front-man in this oil-for-ethics venture, it would perhaps be left to Jesse Jackson to reconcile Venezuelan starvation with the needs of the richest poor people in the world for heating oil. He should be able to come up with a parable or two, don't you think? "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle if he/she is well oiled.", for example.

Maybe Jackson could work the suffering of the people in Venezuela into it. Here's the theme:
Charity does not begin at home for Hugo Chavez. "50 percent of the county's 26 million inhabitants earn less than $2 a day." "Eighty-percent of Venezuelans cannot meet the cost of a basic daily diet."

Chavez is killing people in Venezuela with bullets and by starvation. He is systematically destroying his people's freedoms even as he forms alliances with our worst enemies. Yet, he is cheered by Americans in a church in Harlem for calling George Bush names and giving us some cut-rate oil.

High oil prices, of course, are a much heavier burden for the poor countries of the world than for the United States, so one may be puzzled by the bribe charity offered to a country many of whose poor might otherwise be on the horns of the classic "pay the cable bill or pay the heating bill" dilemma; and whose
heating bills are already subsidized by local governments.

Other poor people have it much tougher, so why is Chavez adamant that the price of oil not fall below $60 a barrel. He has cut Venezuela's production by 50,000 barrels per day to support this price, while people in the Sudan and North Korea are starving.

In North Korea, Chavez' charity takes on a slightly different flavor: Venezuela's Chavez planning arms-for-oil trip to N. Korea
...Chavez, who has promised a socialist revolution to end poverty in his country, is forging alliances with such U.S. foes as Cuba, Iran, North Korea and some African countries.

...Chavez claimed in September 2005 that the United States was preparing to attack North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. He has aggressively supported Iran's efforts to develop nuclear technology and has helped undermine the U.S. embargo of Cuba by increasing trade and providing oil to the communist island on favorable terms.
I guess oil below $60 would result in fewer North Korean missles in Venezuela.

When he was lobbying the Reverend Jackson to assist with his oil donation to the United States during
Jackson's 2005 visit to Venezuela, Chavez had this to say:
“There is a lot of poverty in the U.S. and don’t believe that everything reflects the American Way of Life. Many people die of cold in the winter. Many die of heat in the summer,” said Chavez in explaining why Venezuela was interested in providing discounted heating oil to the U.S. poor. “We could have an impact on seven to eight million persons,” he added.
Maybe charity should start at home. It sounds as if Chavez could double the income of 13 million Venezuelans by keeping the money with which he subsidizes the US. Maybe he could quadruple it if he went without North Korean military technology.

Despite the opinions of the congregation of the Mount Olive Baptist Church and the UN General Assembly, it is obvious that it is Venezuela needing a better president. It's also quite possible that it's the United States that needs better citizens. Perhaps we could arrange to swap Venezuela's poor for Mount Olive's congregation, Danny Glover, Jesse Jackson and a second round draft pick for the UN Committee on Human Rights.

They think they'd be better off under Chavez, and I'm sure the rest of us would be better off having them there. There's no doubt Venezuelan poor people would be better off as American poor people. There really ought to be a different word than poor for one or the other. I don't think "dirt poor" or "abject poverty" convey the difference. There's a previously linked example here. PAIN IN SLUMS OF CHAVEZ

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Western Civ .001


A couple of writers offer further thoughts related to the theme of Lee Harris' Socrates or Muhammad?, about which I commented here and followed up on here. That's recently. Check the archives for a great deal more.

The defense of Western Civilization will succeed or fail because of the will, or lack thereof, of the United States of America. We have fine allies in Britain, Australia, Poland, several Baltic States, some Scandinavians and some now burgeoning remnants of Soviet totalitarianism. However, without our power, and without our will to exercise it, these allies would be stymied now by the Islamofascists outside of their own borders, and eventually perhaps within them, too. Witness France.

I intentionally leave Canada out of this list, despite their sterling military performance in Afghanistan, because the resurgence of Canada's interest in Western Civilization under Stephen Harper may or may not survive an election cycle. I have pointed out how desirable an ally of the West Canada has been and again could be, but the country has looked for too long like what Berkeley, California might be when it terminally metastasizes "grows up."

In any event, we have two of the better writers and thinkers today adding their voices to Lee Harris'. Click the links and read all of both.

From Victor Davis Hanson: Traitors to the Enlightenment
...Europe boldly produces films about assassinating an American president, and routinely disparages the Church that gave the world the Sermon of the Mount, but it simply won’t stand up for an artist, a well-meaning Pope, or a ranting filmmaker when the mob closes in. The Europe that believes in everything turns out to believe in nothing.

...And what have we learned in the last five years from its boutique socialism, utopian pacifism, moral equivalence, and cultural relativism? That it was logical that Europe most readily would abandon the artist and give up the renegade in fear of religious extremists.

Those in an auto parts store in Fresno, or at a NASCAR race in southern Ohio, might appear to Europeans as primordials with their guns, “fundamentalist” religion, and flag-waving chauvinism. But it is they, and increasingly their kind alone, who prove the bulwarks of the West. Ultimately what keeps even the pope safe and the continent confident in its vain dialogues with Iranian lunatics is the United States military and the very un-Europeans who fight in it.
From Thomas Lifson, The Dark View of Islam and the American Street.
..But the other more complex tragedy lies closer to home, with the enforcers of PC orthodoxy. Their own hubris blinds them to the dangers of Islamism affecting them. For them, there can be no life and death struggle to the end, despite explicit Islamist rhetoric to the contrary. That is simply unthinkable. They take for granted their own power to manage the struggle. There is no war with a victory or a defeat. There is only a conflict resolution process to be managed. It is unhelpful, therefore, for us to aggravate matters by fighting the enemy. Bush's War is the problem.

Political correctness has cut off a vital source of feedback to both the Islamists and the so-called progressives of the West. They are blind to the realities of the American Street. Gradually, more and more Americans are beginning to entertain the concept that drastic measures may well be necessary to ensure our survival. It is only a half-thought position, outside of the circle of passionate advocates who write on the web or occasionally break into media notice on talk radio or a cable news channel. But it is part of a growing acceptance that we might need to go a bit Roman, or at least contemplate the exact mechanisms which brought an end to World War II, our most recent war fought against an existential threat.

America is generally slow to awaken to danger, but once roused it is a fierce fighter. A few voices are warning our potential foes. But they are not listening.
Neither are some of our friends.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Things you won't see on CNN


Norwegian TV Channel TV 2 will show Mohammad cartoons.

Good for them.

USA Today poll on Iraq


Iraq the Model comments on a USA Today poll:
The magnitude of pressure and misinformation the people here are subject to from the media is a factor that cannot be ignored. Since April 2003 and till now virtually all the media kept describing the US presence as a force of occupation even when the legal status of the forces ceased to be so long time ago.

For over three years, the media kept focusing on the mistakes and shortcomings of the US military and US administration in what I can only describe as force-feeding hatred...

It's not only the media, there are also our politicians. A good deal of the political class here is guilty of treason; ....

Both types have been trying to convince the people that America is responsible for instability and chaos in Iraq.

The behavior of Iraq's neighbors, Arab league, UN and the anti-war crowds in America and Europe has had a no better influence than the media or our irrational politicians and clerics.
I excised (as noted) about a dozen words that change the point not one wit.

Sounds like he's talking about the United States doesn't it? Well, he isn't.
What do you expect the attitude of the common Iraqi to be when he watches, hears or reads about the fairly wide anti-war movement in the west?

When there are Americans who say America is wrong or say the war isn't for a just cause and when Americans say the US presence in Iraq is bad, and when that is the only side of the image the media focuses on, it becomes an invitation for Iraqis to resist this presence and there's no doubt many will answer the invitation whether with words or violent action since they will get the impression that they're legitimately resisting something bad.
Sounds right to me.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's all relative


Jesse Jackson, along with Danny Glover and "the crowd at Mount Olivet Baptist Church," support the oppression, starvation and murder of Venezuelans by fêting Hugo Chavez, aka "El Loco."
...Chavez received a round of applause from the crowd at [Harlem's] Mount Olivet Baptist Church, which included activists and other supporters as well as actor Danny Glover. Some laughed and applauded when Chavez compared Bush to cowboy movie icon John Wayne.

He called Bush's policies in Iraq criminal, adding he hopes Americans will soon "awaken" and elect a better president. While he opposes Bush, Chavez said the American people "are our friends."
The Resst of the Story, from the Wall Street Journal via Bizzy Blog - "How Bad Have Things Gotten Inside Venezuela?"
...80% of Venezuelans cannot meet the cost of a basic daily diet.

...there have been more homicides in Venezuela during his [Chavez] seven-and-a-half years in office than there have been deaths in any single armed conflict around the world in recent years

...bureaucrats who claim to provide social services ...use funds to pay people to attend rallies or bust up opposition gatherings

...there are no opinion programs on network TV [because of] ...a “gag law” ... making it easy to prosecute journalists

...At OPEC, Chávez fights for increasing prices, making life hard for poor countries that import oil, and then offers those very nations oil subsidies
The average "poor" person in the Unitd States enjoys running hot and cold water, indoor toilets and a more than adequate diet. Many own color television sets and have reliable electricty with which to power them.

In Venezuela "poor" means none of those things and it increasingly means starvation.

American poor have freedom of speech. They are allowed to laugh
with a petty tyrant in an American church while he insults the President. In Venezuela, speaking of Chavez as Chavez spoke of Bush is a ticket to "disappearance." Laughing would be a ticket to prisons so foul that Guantanamo isn't in the same Universe.

The denizens of Mount Olivet Baptist Church are amoral ingrates. That goes triple for Jackson and Glover. They are indeed friends of Hugo Chavez.