Thursday, May 31, 2007

It takes a pillage

Hillary Clinton has been telling her plans for us in no uncertain terms. Either that, or she's been channeling Karl Marx.
One - 2004
Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

Two - 2006
The day after Exxon Mobil's announcement that it earned $39.5 billion in 2006, Hillary Clinton said: "I want to take those profits, and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy, alternatives and technologies that will begin to actually move us toward the direction of independence.''

Three - 2007
Today I want to focus on how we ensure both strong economic growth and economic fairness.

Now, we have seen for more than a century that fairness doesn't just happen. It requires the right government policies. [Hers.] And no one should be surprised, human nature being what it is, people will go as far as they possibly can get away with. [I can think of at least one.]

...It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few and for the few, time to reject the idea of an "on your own" society and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity. I prefer a "we're all in it together" society.

Now, there is no greater force for economic growth than free markets, but markets work best with rules that promote our values, protect our workers and give all people a chance to succeed.
Emphasis mine.

You'd think she was running in Venezuela. She'd like to be. In Venezuela, if you perceive a "vast right wing conspiracy," you just shut down free speech. After you've nationalized the oil companies, of course.



BTW, she's been having a contest for her campaign song. I have many unsubmitted good ideas. Here are a few:

-Medley, Stand by Your Man, I Caught You With Your Pants Down and Devil in a Blue Dress.

-Me 'n Bobbie McGee
Freedom's just another word for nuthin' left to lose.

-Гимн Советского Союза, Gimn Sovetskogo Soyuza (Russian National Anthem).
Since you may be unfamiliar with those lyrics, I include them below.

-Material Girl

-Go with Goldwater
I don't remember the lyrics, and I'm disappointed they seem to be unavailable on the Web. Maybe Hillary has a memorabilia copy.




Gimn Sovetskogo Soyuza lyrics

1. Unbreakable Union of freeborn Republics,
Great Russia has welded forever to stand.
Created in struggle by will of the people,
United and mighty, our Soviet land!

CHORUS:

Sing to the Motherland, home of the free,
Bulwark of peoples in brotherhood strong.
O Party of Lenin, the strength of the people,
To Communism's triumph lead us on!

2. Through tempests the sunrays of freedom have cheered us,
Along the new path where great Lenin did lead.
To a righteous cause he raised up the peoples,
Inspired them to labour and valourous deed.

CHORUS

3. In the victory of Communism's deathless ideal,
We see the future of our dear land.
And to her fluttering scarlet banner,
Selflessly true we always shall stand!

CHORUS

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pedal extremism

I think Debbie Schlussel knows that "separation of church and state" is not Constitutionally mandated the way the UofM administratskiiy think it is. This decision actually does violate the establishment clause, as well as liberals own flawed interpretation of it. So how do they justify it? I'm quite sure the word "diversity" appears somewhere in their explanation.

And, BTW, we have a budget crisis in this state. The next time you hear the University of Michigan complain about funding, you will want to remember how they spend your money.

EXCLUSIVE: So Long Church/State Separation: University of Michigan to Fund Muslim Footbaths

Forget about the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state ... at least when it comes to mosque and state.

When students return in the fall, the University of Michigan-Dearbornistan is set to have Muslim footbaths in at least two locations.

And your tax funds are paying for it.
Schlussel supplies several links to assist you in protesting this dhimmitude. Read the rest, she deserves the traffic.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"The Dan Mulhern Show"

Updated and Bumped

I guess that's WJIM's official title. They just use "A Dose of Dan" as the tag line to describe "what the daily commuter needs."

Today, Dan celebrated Memorial Day in a discussion about Iraq with a couple of National Guardsmen. He opened the show with a vague reference to misleading reasons for invading Iraq, followed by a rundown of the body count - dead Americans, that is.

May is better than April (he gives the numbers), but there are still lots of Americans being killed. Contractors are being killed, too. He wonders if we've ever privatized war like this before. I don't know Dan, but I'm not taken aback by it. I can spell Hessians. And, unlike the Hessians, most of these people were there to help rebuild infrastructure.

Mulhern notes there are nearly 2 million Iraqi refugees. He mentions the monetary cost of the war in Iraq several times.
In fact, his opening question to the guardsmen includes asking how they feel about the money being spent. I don't get it, I thought Memorial day was about blood, not treasure. Are they supposed to feel guilty? Maybe double up on body armor?

I'm just guessing, but courtesy of Captain's Quarters, I think Jules Crittendon might be onto what informed Mulhern's interview.

...I’m beginning to get the impression there is nothing more important to the Associated Press in its Iraq reportage than the number of “American soldiers killed in this unpopular war.” That phrase, with a number, is typically trotted out no later than graph three in AP stories on Iraq. It’s as though the body count is the sole measure upon which all decisions and action must turn. There certainly has been no effort by the Associated Press, or other major news organizations on the ground in Iraq, to examine progress in anything but the most dismissive manner, with a quick revert to body count.

...There will be more death before it is over, in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably other places. It may well pick up over the summer, and there will be other terrible days for American families, and more wartime Memorial Days. The blood of our soldiers is part of the price a few pay for the freedom and security of us all. Their sacrifice is meant to be honored on Memorial Day, not used for for scoring cheap political points.
Mulhern indicated that one of the rights our soldiers die to preserve is the right to have a conversation criticizing the government. He is correct. However, that does not mean it is appropriate to celebrate Memorial Day by emphasizing the treasure or questioning the blood in an active war. Tomorrow and yesterday, fine. Today is for gratitude - not politics. One suspects Mulhern would find some common ground with John Edwards campaign to support the troops by surrendering, but less of it with General John A. Logan.

TOC noted earlier today the words of General Logan when establishing the first Memorial Day in 1868:

We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
Amen.

PS Bruce Kesler has similar thoughts at Democracy Project.

Update: 7:30PM 29-May-07

Since I originally assembled this post, John Edwards' site "supporthetroopsendthewar" has changed its message. I linked to it above without expectation of change. Silly me.

The new message is nothing to cheer over, but its earlier incarnation, at the identical link, was much worse. It encouraged people to come out and protest at Memorial Day parades.

Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards has been urging supporters to demonstrate against the war at Memorial Day parades. The Hill reported a week ago that Edward's anti-war Web site, supporthetroopsendthewar.com, suggested that people make signs that say: "SUPPORT THE TROOPS -- END THE WAR." The paper quoted the Edwards site as saying:
Bring them to your local Memorial Day parade. Then take a digital photo of yourself and your family or friends holding up the poster and tell us about it. We'll include it in a 'Democracy Photo Album' on our site."
But the Web site is a little different now. After much criticism of the call for Memorial Day protests, Edwards' site now says Monday should be off limits for such demonstrations.
One might say John Edwards has not the courage of his convictions, but one would then be wrong twice.

John Edwards is prettier than Jimmy Carter, but he would make an even worse President. He may already be the worst ex-Vice Presidential candidate, if you keep track of such things.

Monday, May 28, 2007

From laughingstock to pariah

Even assuming it to be true of the United States, the latter of which is Dhimmi Carter's view, I'll take the latter thank you. It is certainly true of Carter.

Christopher Hitchens skewers Dhimmi Carter.

The latest absurdities to emerge from Jimmy Carter's big, smug mouth.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, May 21, 2007, at 11:35 AM ET

Almost always, when former President Jimmy Carter opens his big, smug mouth, he has already made the psychological mistake that is going to reduce his words to absurdity. When he told the press last week that the Bush administration had aroused antipathy around the world, he might have been uttering no more than a banality. But no, he had to try to invest it with a special signature flourish.
Read it all at the link above. Highly recommended.

Any of those longing for surrender in the mid-East and price controls on gasoline, who were ten years old or more during Carter's putative presidency, should be required to read this before they next vote.

OTOH, they shouldn't vote even then. Not because they are doomed to repeat a past they can't remember, but because they're ignorant of current events.

I would like to nominate Mr. Carter for a new category of Nobel Prize: "Most evil committed in the name of smug good intentions." Extra credit for vacuous preening.

H/T CM

Update: 6:43PM

Alice the Camel reminds me of a great passage from Paul Johnson's Intellectuals. It serves as a partial explanation for Mr. Carter.

Almost all intellectuals profess to love humanity and to be working for its improvement and happiness. But it is the idea of humanity they love, rather than the actual individuals who compose it. They love humanity in general rather than men and women in particular. Loving humanity as an idea, they can then produce solutions as ideas. Therein lies the danger, for when people conflict with the solution as idea, they are first ignored or dismissed as unrepresentative; and then, when they continue to obstruct the idea, they are treated with growing hostility and categorized as enemies of humanity in general.
Update: 7:45PM

Hitchen's article and an email from me prompted Paladin to supply a list of the worst Presidents of the 20th century:

Here's my list of the 10 worst in the 20 century only (Sorry, Andy Jackson):

1. Carter
2. Johnson
3. Nixon
4. Wilson
5. FDR (would be higher but for WWII)
6. GHW Bush
7. Hoover
8. Truman
9. Teddy
10. Harding
Which connects a question being asked by Amy Ridenour...
An Ode to FDR?
After this, what next for the libertarians? An ode to FDR?
...to a conversation Paladin and I had about Libertarians this afternoon.

I suggested one might look to the Reason Foundation and/or Reason Magazine as a source for viable Libertarian congressional candidates.

Lynn Scarlett, the Rachel Carson apologist who elicited Ridenour's question, is a former president of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian nonprofit based in Los Angeles.

The problem might be that the libertarian tent, by definition, is too big. Lynn Scarlett must be considered a libertarian spokesperson, and she's praising the junk scientist responsible for big government decisions resulting in millions of deaths from malaria? Amy Ridenour might better have asked about an Ode to Pol Pot. Or Carson's natural heir, Al Gore.

How do I know Carson's science is junk? Well, it's only fair to give Reason Magazine a chance to rebut. It is a big tent.

Never forget those who have sworn this oath:

"I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC; THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; AND THAT I WILL OBEY THE ORDERS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE ORDERS OF THE OFFICERS APPOINTED OVER ME, ACCORDING TO REGULATIONS AND THE UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE. SO HELP ME GOD."

If we do not honor the memory of those who gave their lives to preserve us, we are likely to lose our way of life by the worst possible means - the accident of thinking things had to be the way they are and not some other way.

Some of us understand that things are the way they are because some soldiers were - and are - so committed to liberty as to give their own lives in its defense. Too many of us do not seem committed to remember this debt.

There is encouragement for this amnesia. We have many enemies, and putative friends - foreign and domestic - who desire that we forget past courage and honor. They desire that the remembrance of the justice of the causes of the past should slip away. They view even their own immediate ancestors - who rose to meet challenges of personal and cultural annihilation - as quaint throwbacks to an unenlightened age.

They are wrong. We must reject their idea that our enemies are simply people we haven't yet had the intelligence to recognize as our moral equivalents.

Remember Ypres, Belleau Wood and Dieppe. Do not forget Arnhem, Iwo Jima or The Bulge, or the Chosen Reservoir or Khe Sanh.

And Khe Sanh is a good example of how an agenda of defeat twists logic: At Khe Sanh 205 Americans were killed, while the North Vietnamese lost between ten and fifteen thousand. The Western press portrayed Khe San as a defeat. Like Tet. Do not forget Tet, where Walter Cronkite surrendered, on our behalf, following our resounding victory.

Our enemies had these "victories" because, while our soldiers were annihilating them, we lost heart. We should certainly remember that.

If Memorial Day is not an event that counters this defeatism, where will we find the will to win the war against Islamofascism? Respect for those who gave their lives on our behalf LAST WEEK is as necessary as respect for those who died in the Civil War and WWI and WWII and Korea and Viet Nam.

Without our continuing consciousness of their effort, those who have died and those who die tomorrow on behalf of our present freedom, are literally dust. You must not let that happen. They died for their homes and families and friends, and for a rule of law and traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for you.

This truth was not in question until latter half of the 20th Century. This is how the first Memorial Day came to be:


HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

i. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

ii. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

iii. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of

JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commander-in-Chief

N.P. CHIPMAN,
Adjutant General

Official:
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Questioning the Goracle

Check it out.
Welcome to Ponder the Maunder, an extra credit assignment for Honors Earth Science, Portland High School, by Kristen Byrnes of Portland Maine.

This report is a comprehensive look at the global warming issue without financial or political bias. It uses the most updated information provided by scientists and researchers and interjects common sense, an important component missing from the global warming debate.
I especially enjoyed this Al-eGorey.

H/T Small Dead Animals

Thursday, May 24, 2007

On the other hand

The Pew Research Center just published a poll measuring the attitudes of American Muslims.

A question addressed by only one report I’ve seen is how these attitudes compare to the general population or other identifiable subgroups. Muslim thinking on extremism seems to me to compare very favorably with some other ideologically-bonded groups.
For example, Liberals.

A)
According to Pew, one percent of American Muslims overall said suicide bombings are "often" justifiable and an additional seven percent said they are "sometimes" justifiable.

Twenty-eight percent of Muslims surveyed don't believe Arabs were responsible for 9/11. Seven percent believe that a U.S. government conspiracy is the reason for 9/11.

On the other hand, thirty-five percent of Democrats believe the president possessed prior knowledge of the 9/11 terror attacks that killed over 3,000 Americans. Another 26 percent of Democrats said that they are "not sure."

B)
According to Pew, 5% of US Muslims have a favorable view of al Qaeda and 10% have an only somewhat unfavorable view. 27% refused to answer or didn't know.

On the other hand, what’s the percentage of college professors, radical feminists, far left documentary makers and billionaire currency speculators who have a favorable view of the United States?

C)
“…fewer than half (36%) of native-born African American Muslims express a very unfavorable view of al Qaeda. By contrast, roughly two-thirds of other native-born Muslims (69%), as well as foreign-born Muslims (63%), hold very unfavorable views of al Qaeda."

On the other hand, al-Qaeda affirmative action policies have not been adequately explained.

Oh, yes, the one report
on a similar poll of an identifiable religious group: Midwest Lutherans Largely Reject Violence

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"A Dose of Dan"

No really, that's what it's called.

I was coming home tonight a bit later than usual, so I was exposed to a small bit of Dan Mulhern's show on Lansing's WJIM. For those not aware, Mulhern is Governor Jennifer Granholm's husband. He is notable, more than somewhat, compared to your standard local radio host.

Mulhern is really big on "leadership." His show promo uses some form of the word 3 times, he has written a book on leadership and "lead" is in the sub-head of his blog. That's background. He's a leadership trainer.

Tonight his "question of the day" was - I paraphrase - "Today we're talking about whether CEOs should continue to be paid exorbitant salaries while workers are making sacrifices." The words "exorbitant" and "sacrifices" are literal.

Now, it's OK to salt the mine like that on a radio talk show, but given his position as the husband of the Governor, and his preoccupation with the qualities and execution of leadership, I'd call that an odd way to initiate discussion on the question of leaders' pay. It betrays a bias, don't you think? Sort of rhetorical, maybe?

So, I won't be calling Dan up to arrange for a speaking engagement anytime soon. I can see how well he's doing with his wife: On a leadership per dollar basis there is no one more overpaid in this state than Jennifer Granholm.

Update: 9:08PM Forgot to include these 2 links re: Mulhern's abilities as an interviewer and as an interviewee.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Loyal opposition?

The Democrats tell us "This war is lost." If I believed as they do, I would think it evil not to hew to the principle that no more American soldiers should be inconvenienced, much less wounded or killed, in Iraq. Not for for one more second. If I had the Democrat conviction, I would insist on immediate withdrawal. I would not debate a timeline. I would want the troops home now.

If, in addition, I claimed that my party’s election to control of Congress was a mandate by the American people to withdraw the troops, I would make it my duty to see that they be withdrawn. I would not back down, and I would not expect enforcing this people’s mandate to require any mincing about… if I believed in the “mandate.”

I would consider that such a buffoonish and vapid gesture as holding up a bill funding the troops in order to propose a date-certain for withdrawal an indication that my leaders did not, in fact, believe in this “mandate.” Such a course would be morally repugnant to me, because the troops should be out right now, and by waffling on this I leave them there while increasing their risk. I would call it a sell out of principle. Many far left Democrat supporters believe exactly that. About this, they are correct.

So, were I continually yammering about "the will of the people," and a “lost war,” I could not possibly explain this reversal Dems Set War Bill Without Iraq Timeline without using the phrase "I am a venal hypocrite.” I could not dare speak the words “I support the troops.” I would choke on them.

All in all, if I believed what Democrats believe these days, I could not even console myself with billions of dollars of pork in the replacement bill to fund the troops.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Z-1 Bomb Project

Mark Steyn writes about our elected representatives' efforts to build a cultural-Balkanization-of-America accelerator, while they simultaneously explode the myth of border security.
...As for the notion that dumping a population the size of four mid-size European Union nations into the lap of America's arthritic "legal immigration" (please, no tittering; apparently, there is still such a thing) bureaucracy will lead to tougher enforcement and rigorous scrutiny and lots of other butch-sounding stuff, well, if that were the case, there wouldn't be a problem in the first place. You can declare that "illegal" now mean "legal" very easily; to mandate that "incompetent" now means "competent" is a tougher proposition.
Of course, John McCain is in the thick of it:
But, as John McCain declared, "This is what the legislative process is all about" -- and in the sense that it's a sloppily drafted bottomless pit of unintended consequences on a potentially cosmic scale whose sweeping "reforms" will inevitably require even more sweeping reforms of the reforms in a year or two's time, he's quite right. Also, as Senator McCain says, "This is what bipartisanship is all about."
What "bipartisanship" means here is that when George Bush signs this ill-begotten amnesty the Democrats will be able to blame it on Republicans while demanding voting rights for non-citizens. The GOP will richly deserve the consequences.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Budgeting in the only State with a deficit

This is the sort of information one might hope to get from the newspaper in one's state capital.

Conf. Committee Update: They're in recess until TOMORROW! Granholm and Dillon reneg on budget deal!

Granholm scuttles balanced budget

Dillon abandoned negotiations, wouldn't answer cell phone

BREAKING: Granholm tells doctors, 'raise taxes I'll close schools and kill people'


There is more real information about who, what, where and when in these posts than in days of stories from the Lansing State Journal. The commentary is partisan, but no more so, perhaps less so, than silence. The LSJ could write about Dillon's absence at a crucial point, instructions to vote "no," and powered-off cell phone. We'll see if they do.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Loss Leader

The following appeared in Saturday's Lansing State Journal, with minor edits. The most amusing one was the change of "Democrat" to "Democratic" at the end of the 5th paragraph. For some reason, calling a Democrat a Democrat has started to irritate Democrats.

The LSJ titled this Reid's the one who's lost. I called it:

Loss Leader

On April 20th Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, speaking of the Battle of Iraq, told us “this war is lost.” When pressed by CNN reporter Dana Bash about this defeatism, Reid redeployed the words of Multi-National Force/Iraq Commanding General David Petraeus.

Reid: “General Petraeus has said that only 20 percent of the war can be won militarily. He's the man on the ground there now. He said 80 percent of the war has to be won diplomatically, economically and politically. I agree with General Petraeus.

…I stick with General Petraeus. I have no doubt that the war cannot be won militarily, and that's what I said last Thursday and I stick with that.

…Well, I -- as I said, maybe it's a choice of words. I mean General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily.”

Asked four times to distinguish “this war is lost” from “the war cannot be won militarily,” Reid insisted that Petraeus agreed with the choice of the words “this war is lost.” Though Reid took care not to repeat the phrase “this war is lost,” his premeditated misuse of Petraeus’ words in defense of having said it is what passes for “supporting the troops” among Democrat leaders these days.

In order that his contempt for both Petraeus and the English language not be misconstrued, Reid went further. When asked, “Will you believe [Petraeus] when he says [that there is progress going on in Iraq, that the so-called surge is working]?” Reid responded, “No, I don't believe him, because it's not happening. All you have to do is look at the facts.” According to Reid, if Petraeus ever says there is any military progress in Iraq then Petraeus is a liar. This is not so much sticking with General Petraeus as it is sticking it to him …in advance. Figuring out how Reid can believe any of Petraeus’ comments about Iraq is left to the student.

Whatever selective nuance Senator Reid may wish to apply; “Cannot be won militarily” is not the same as “is lost.” “Cannot be won militarily” is especially not the same as “requires withdrawal of the military,” the latter of which is Reid’s policy.

Senator Reid can, however, distinguish losing from winning when it comes to Senate seats. The Majority Leader and Senator Charles Schumer have been observed in premature self-congratulation about the seats they'll pick up in the Senate. Their self-interest is reinforced by a partisan glee so strong as to be immune to common sense. That is, it may well be true that Democrat electoral strategy turns on the idea that the war is lost, but why revel publicly in this cynical calculation?

Because it energizes the base.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Some people's First Amendment rights are more equal than others

This story is generically unexceptional, MoveOn and the Soros crowd have been funding such ads for a long time. What I do find interesting is that it is a consequence of Campaign Finance Reform. The money has found another outlet, arguably more egregious than before CFR, exactly the opposite of the advertised intent. I.e., government as usual.

Democratic-Linked Groups Mount Ad Offensive


WASHINGTON - 501(c)(4) - it's the most potent little algorithm in politics right now.

A 501(c)(4) is the Internal Revenue Service term for a tax-exempt organization "primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the community."

However one might define "the common good," the IRS allows such groups to take part in campaigns opposing or supporting candidates, as long as such electioneering is not the group's primary activity.

IRS guidelines suggest that as long as the group does not target voters in a candidate's state or district with ads shortly before an election, and as long as it has been running a series of "issue ads" outside of election season, then its tax status is safe.

One alluring feature of using these tax-exempt groups is that - unlike campaign committees - the donations to a 501(c)(4) are anonymous and unlimited in amount.

A single donor could, under cover of the 501(c)(4)'s anonymity, give $20 million or $200 million to pay for political ads.
The solution which will be proposed is more restriction on free speech, not less. Once the government starts meddling with the Constitution it is necessary to keep doing so. What should happen, but won't, is a complete repeal of CFR coupled with a requirement for immediate public disclosure of all donations.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Muslim Moderates

Daniel Pipes presents evidence that moderate Muslims are alive and well in Turkey and Pakistan.

A Million Moderate Muslims on the March

In Pakistan, an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated on April 15 in Karachi, the country's largest city, to protest the plans of a powerful mosque in Islamabad, the Lal Masjid, to establish a parallel court system based on Islamic law, the Shari‘a. "No to extremism," roared the crowd. "We will strongly resist religious terrorism and religious extremism," exhorted Altaf Hussain, leader of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement, at the rally.

In Turkey, more than a million moderate Muslims in five marches protested the bid of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to take over the presidency of the republic, giving it control over the two top government offices (the other being the prime ministry, currently filled by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan).
Ayaan Hirsi Ali also has some thoughts on Turkish secularism and Erdoğan's presidential candidacy.

Can secular Turkey survive democracy?

How reformists can stop the Islamists who have chipped away at Turkey's secularism.

SECULAR AND LIBERAL Turks have had a rude awakening from years of deep slumber. Kemal Ataturk's heritage is about to be destroyed — not by an invading power but from within, by fellow Turks who yearn for an Islamic state.

Ever since Ataturk, Turkey has been divided into those who want to run state affairs on Islamic principles and those who want to keep Allah's will from the public space.
Read them both.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wage Gaffe

A letter I wrote to the Lansing State Journal appeared there on May 7th:
Gap claims hollow

It's being reported women are paid less than men because employers discriminate against females. A paper from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation is being used as evidence for this claim. An unreported statement from that study:

"After accounting for all factors known to affect wages, about one-quarter of the gap remains unexplained and may be attributed to discrimination." In other words, three-fourths of the gap does not arise from discrimination, and we have no idea whether discrimination accounts for any part of the remainder. It may be that the AAUW's bias leads it to reach a conclusion for which it has no evidence.

Evidence that a wage gap may not be attributed to discrimination by employers comes from June O'Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and Baruch College economist: "For men and women who never marry and never have children, there is no earnings gap."

Duane Hershberger
Williamston
Today a discerning reader named Paul R. Neirink commented on it:
LSJ, hire reader

After reading Duane Hershberger's May 7 letter, I could not help but think the LSJ really ought to hire Hershberger as a reporter.

His letters to the editor and occasional Viewpoints are consistently better written, more intelligent and better researched than any of the political propaganda regularly presented by the LSJ as legitimate news.

Paul R. Neirink
Grand Ledge
Thanks, Paul. Your letter did lead to two things. One, an OpEd submission to the LSJ I would otherwise have posted, and two, a link on the topic of the "wage gap."

Equal Pay Day
By Ashley Herzog

An excerpt, but read the whole thing.

...First, the belief that employers get away with paying women 77 percent of what men make can only be explained by a lack of understanding of basic economic principles. If it were true, money-grubbing employers would hire only women, since it would lower costs and increase profits. We know that doesn’t happen, so feminists have invented a preposterous explanation: male businessmen care so much about keeping women “in their place” that they’re willing to lose money by hiring men. Is it just me, or do people like Donald Trump seem slightly more concerned with getting rich than maintaining patriarchy? Already, the pay gap theory has serious flaws.

Second, the 77 cents to the dollar figure is calculated by comparing the average salaries of all men to all women. It does not account for occupation, education, the number of hours worked, or the different roles that jobs play in men’s and women’s lives. The average woman earns less because she’s made different choices in life – a fact that feminists, despite all their caterwauling about the importance of “choice,” refuse to accept.

...no significant study has ever found that women with the same education and experience, who work the same number of hours, earn less than their male colleagues. Both O’Neill and Farrell identified several jobs where women actually out-earn men.
H/T Bizzyblog

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Balkan blowback

A quite interesting read at Political Mavens related to the Al-Qaeda sympathizers of Albanian extraction recently apprehended before they could attack at Fort Dix.
On Monday night the FBI arrested six Muslims who were planning a commando-style attack on Fort Dix in New Jersey, to “kill as many soldiers as possible,” authorities said.

Four of the six men are Albanians, a fact that Fox News — which apparently thinks that “Yugoslavia” and “Albanians” are the same, and isn’t sure what those two things might have to do with “the Balkans”...
Read the whole thing here.

Just another part of the Clinton legacy, here celebrated by Norwegian soldiers singing their original lyrics, "Kosovo", to the tune of the Beach Boys "Kokomo." If you haven't heard it you're missing out.

H/T JRM

Monday, May 07, 2007

tacky, snide, useless, pointless and unfair

The New York Times wonders how George Bush prepares for a state dinner with Queen Elizabeth. Actually, the Times wonders how the parody of George Bush which serves as their mental model prepares for such a dinner. For example -
It will be closely watched by the social elite for its collision of cultures — Texas swagger meets British prim. Dinner attire is white tie and tails, the first and, perhaps, only white-tie affair of the Bush administration. The president was said to be none too keen on that, but bowed to a higher power, his wife.
The Times has more overtly demeaning passages, but I'm going to send you to The Anchoress for more, because she presents a nice example of how a parallel story about President Clinton might have read. Read it here.


H/T Captain's Quarters

Update: 8-May-07 9:51AM At least it's a UK paper.
Blundering Bush makes ANOTHER gaffe as he winks at the Queen

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Why Government is the Problem

...concentrated benefits and diffused costs.

Two recent articles at Tech Central Station reminded me of a pamphlet available from the Hoover Institution. It is titled "Why Government is the Problem," and is based on a speech given by Milton Friedman at The Manhattan Institute in 1991. An unedited transcript of the Wriston Lecture can be found here.

Following are excerpts from all three of these articles. All are worth reading in full. First, Friedman:

One of our major social problems is clearly the deterioration of our educational system. Next to the military, education is the largest socialist industry in the United States. Total government spending on schooling—I call it schooling rather than education because not all schooling is education, and conversely—comes close to total government spending on defense. With the so-called peace dividend, it may already exceed it. The amount spent per pupil in the past thirty years has tripled in real terms after allowing for inflation. Input has tripled and output has been going down. Schools have been deteriorating. That problem is unquestionably produced by government.

...Government has played an increasingly large role in medical care. For decades, total spending on medical care was about 3 to 5 percent of national income. It is now 12 or 13 percent, and the acceleration of spending dates from the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Some of you may have seen an article published in that excellent journal of opinion, the Wall Street Journal, in which I cited figures on hospital cost per patient day, adjusted for inflation. The cost was 26 times as high in 1989 as it had been in 1946; personnel per hospital bed was seven times as high, while the number of hospital beds had been cut in half. Great advances in medical care have certainly occurred, but they did so before 1965 as well as after. Those seven times as many people per hospital bed are clearly not people who are attending to patients; they are mostly people who are filling in forms to satisfy government requirements for payment.

...The people who run our private enterprises have the same incentive as the people who are involved in our government enterprises. In all cases the incentive is the same: to promote their own interest. My old friend Armen Alchian, who is a professor at the University of California in Los Angeles, once put this point in a very straightforward way. There is one thing, he said, that you can depend on everybody to do, and that is to put his interest above yours. The people who run our private enterprises are the same kind of people as those who run our public enterprises, just as the Chinese in Hong Kong are no different from the Chinese in Mainland China, yet the results are vastly different; just as the West Germans and the East Germans were not different people, yet the results were vastly different.

The point is that the actions that serve self-interest are very different in the private sphere than they are in the public sphere. The bottom line is different. If a group of people start an enterprise in the private sphere, it may be a success or it may be a failure. Most new enterprises are failures. If the enterprise were an obvious success, it would probably already be in existence. If the enterprise is a failure, that means it loses money. The people who own it have a very clear bottom line. To keep it going, they would have to dig into their own pockets. They are reluctant to do that, so they have a strong incentive either to make the enterprise work or to shut it down.

Suppose the same group of people have the same idea, start the same enterprise in the government sector, and the initial results are the same. It is a failure; it does not work. They have a very different bottom line. Nobody likes to admit that he has made a mistake, and they do not have to. They can argue that the initial failure was only because the enterprise was not on a large enough scale. More important, they have a much different and deeper pocket to draw on. With the best intentions in the world, they can try to persuade the people who hold the purse strings to finance the enterprise on a larger scale, to dig deeper into the pockets of the taxpayers in order to keep it going. That explains what is a very general rule: if a private enterprise is a failure, it is closed down—unless it can get a government subsidy to keep it going; if a government enterprise is a failure, it is expanded. I challenge you to find exceptions.

...Let me take a very different example in the United States. At the end of World War II, we had wage and price control. Under the inflationary conditions, many employers were finding it difficult to recruit employees. They were trying to find ways to get around the limitations of wage control. They began to offer health care as a fringe benefit to attract workers and succeeded in having it treated as a nontaxable fringe benefit. The excuse disappeared once wage and price controls were eliminated, but the tax exemption of health benefits did not disappear; it continued. Nobody was spending any money on it personally; it was at other taxpayers' expense. It created a medical system in which it came to be taken for granted that employees would get their health benefits through their employers, because that way they could get them in a tax-exempt form. As a result, it has become a major propellant of the drive for socialized medicine. It is why you have a large part of the business community fostering socialized medicine.

...The problem is not that government is spending too little but that it is spending too much. The problem in schooling is that government is spending too much on schooling for the wrong things. The problem in health care is that government is spending too much on health care for the wrong things. The end result has been that government has become a self-generating monstrosity. Abraham Lincoln talked about a government of the people, by the people, for the people. What we now have is a government of the people, by the bureaucrats, including the legislators who have become bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats. That is what we have in fact.

Again, let me emphasize, the problem is not that bureaucrats are bad people. The problem is, as the Marxists would say, with the system not the people. The self-interest of people in government tends to lead them to behave in a way that is against the self-interest of the rest of us.

...Heretical though it may seem, it would be nice to get back to the spoils system instead of the civil service. That would debureaucratize the administration of laws.
What Healthcare and Higher Education Have in Common - Jon Hall
Assured payment results in waste and fraud. It has caused an explosion in medically unnecessary tests and procedures. It is why universities can provide their professors with cushy sinecures for precious little work. (How else could the University of Colorado afford a 6-digit compensation package for the likes of a Ward Churchill?) The hospitals and universities don't have to economize and prioritize; they can have it all. The money will be there for them.
The Real Solution to Poverty - Arnold Kling
The point of this essay is to simply state the obvious. If you look at poverty from the broad perspective of international and historical comparisons, the solution to poverty is decentralized entrepreneurial activity under capitalism.

The capitalist solution to poverty is unsatisfying to many people, because it is not planned or intended. Policymakers and anti-poverty programs per se are not involved.

...How can advocates like the Center for American Progress persist in proposing centralized, planned solutions for poverty? I think that the key to maintaining faith in these ideas is to focus only on intentions. If a program is intended to reduce poverty, then it is an anti-poverty program. Instead, I believe that anyone who sincerely wants to do something about poverty needs to focus on outcomes.

...Sometimes, I wonder if the anti-poverty crusaders even care about the outcomes of the policies that they propose. For example, do food stamps reduce poverty? If so, then one would think that those concerned with poverty would count food stamps when they measure people's income. Instead, they rely for the most part on data on family incomes that exclude government assistance of any kind. That is, the crusaders make policy pronouncements as if poverty reduction depends entirely on government assistance, and yet they measure poverty as if government assistance has no effect whatsoever.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

...leaders will play to people's fears

TOC noted on February 14th that Governor Granholm's husband, Dan Mulhern, would be better off away from radio waves. Generating them, that is.

It is hard to understand why WJIM has given him his own show after this guest host debacle. WJIM is a local source for Limbaugh and Hannity, so perhaps Mulhern's show is a way to fend off re-imposition of the so-called "fairness doctrine." Kudos for the attempt WJIM, but, if Mulhern's show is the price, it is enough to make one reconsider one's opposition to said doctrine.

February was an especially bad month for Mulhern. He also committed an interview, reported on Right Michigan, which cut a little close to home: From the lips of her husband to your ears...

As it is not being reported in the Lansing State Journal, the legislature has come up with $6 billion in cuts - the House and Senate have to hammer out the compromise. Here's where the House and Senate stand: Nearly $600 million in spending cuts... without closing down schools! Granholm apparently missed out on her husband's leadership training program.