Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is sharia a hate crime?

TOC has pointed out why We need hate crime legislation in the past, and I've mentioned on many occasions that we can learn from Canada. Here's a Canadian example where bottoming out on the slippery slope of "hate crime" begins tipping into the bottomless pit of sharia. Keep this in mind while considering the following:

You can burn a Bible anywhere in the United States. If it belongs to someone else you'll probably be charged with vandalism. You can win an award for dunking a diety in urine. On the campus of Pace University you can swash Swastikas on bathroom walls, or mangle a Menorah. These are not "hate" crimes.

Giving the Suras a swirly, however, will get you charged with a couple of felonies.

Hate-crime arrests in Quran desecrations at Pace University

NEW YORK (AP) _ A 23-year-old man was arrested Friday on hate-crime charges after he threw a Quran in a toilet at Pace University on two separate occasions, police said.

Stanislav Shmulevich of Brooklyn was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and aggravated harassment, both hate crimes, police said. It was unclear if he was a student at the school. A message left at the Shmulevich home was not immediately returned.

The Islamic holy book was found in a toilet at Pace's lower Manhattan campus by a teacher on Oct. 13. A student discovered another book in a toilet on Nov. 21, police said.

Muslim activists had called on Pace University to crack down on hate crimes after the incidents. As a result, the university said it would offer sensitivity training to its students.

The school was accused by Muslim students of not taking the incident seriously enough at first. Pace classified the first desecration of the holy book as an act of vandalism, but university officials later reversed themselves and referred the incident to the New York Police Department's hate crimes unit.

The incidents came amid a spate of vandalism cases with religious or racial overtones at the school. In an earlier incident on Sept. 21, the school reported another copy of the Quran was found in a library toilet, and in October someone scrawled racial slurs on a student's car at the Westchester County satellite campus and on a bathroom wall at the campus in lower Manhattan. Police did not connect Shmulevich to those incidents.
There appear to be quite good reasons for the police not to connect Shmulevich to "those incidents," even if the Associated Press leaves you thinking they were "Islamophobic," too. They weren't - nor were they classified as "hate crimes." Some "religio-cultural paradigms" are more equal than others.

Hate Crime Arrest for Desecration of a Koran

The other incidents “with racial or religious overtones” at Pace University were swastikas painted on a bathroom wall and on a Holocaust memorial event poster, the desecration of a Menorah on campus and other vicious antisemitic attacks which never rose to the level of hate crime, nor should they so along as burning the American flag is free speech and the photograph Piss Christ was the winner of “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Meanwhile, in what might be described as an attempt to flummox those seeking oneness with PC sensibility, we're informed of a similar Islamophobic incident: Gay Artist Burns Rare $60,000.00 Koran as a protest against Islamic hate crime. Which phrase, applied to Islam in this context, does not require scare quotes since the median Imam's scholarly education on the matter of sexual preference tends to focus on whether homosexuals should be liquidated by being thrown off a tall building or by burial under a collapsing wall (beheading is apparently too "honorable").

Premeditated murder is indeed a hate crime, especially if it is sanctioned by state religious doctrine. To be sure, state religious doctrine includes such belief systems as secular humanism, which can be hard to distinguish from other religious fundamentalism.

In civilized societies, murder of post-fetal cell-clumps is sufficiently well circumscribed already, but a legal system (sharia) that may single out cartoonists for purposes of state murder is not distinguishable in principle from one that calls speech a felony because some specific religion comes whining that they've been offended by an act other religions routinely tolerate. Even if the tolerance of other religions was at issue - aside from demonstrating the hypocrisy of those who call for genocide for Jews.

Make no mistake, in Charles Merrill's case Islamists would have him buried under a collapsing wall after having pushed him head-first off a 3 story building.

NEW YORK, July 26, 2007 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/

Charles Merrill, the artist who recently edited the Holy Bible with a black marker and pair of scissors, has lately burned a rare Islamic Holy Book, The Koran, valued at $60,000.00, in an undisclosed Chicago location. "The purpose of editing and burning Abrahamic Holy Books is to eliminate homophobic hate," Merrill stated. "Both ancient books are terrorist manuals."

He continues, "I inherited the rare Islamic book from my late wife, Evangeline Johnson Merrill. As the daughter of the founder of the international pharmaceutical giant, Johnson and Johnson, Inc., doors of kings and queens opened to her around the world. Evangeline was given the rare manuscript by the late King of Jordan when she was on a mission for the United Nations in the 1950's."

"Airplanes are flown into buildings because of words, and hate crimes against gays," Merrill said.
If that last quote is accurate, Merrill seems to be saying that Mohamed Atta steered a Boeing 767 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center either to protest mistreatment of gays, or as a crime directed at gays. The first is ludicrous, and the second supposes Atta was motivated by the idea that the WTC was filled with gays in need of termination. Neither interpretation seems likely. Atta might well have wished death to homosexuals generally, but he wasn't flying an airplane into the WTC because of them. I think what Merrill meant was that the Koran, the Bible and the Torah cause hatred against gays. That's why he thinks they should be defaced.

Merrill is not asking for all the CAIR leadership to be prosecuted, though it must have occurred to him. This is to his credit.

The very least you can say about Merrill is that he is more philosophically consistent than Pace University. On the relative moral weight of Merrill's position vs. PaceU's - even assuming you are muddle headed enough to accept "hate crimes" as a valid legal concept - the persistent denial, under sharia, that homosexuals are human would certainly outweigh an occasional soggy or flaming Koran, don't you think?

Merrill should be on Pace University's Board. He could lead a debate on the definition of "hate crime" without cringing in front of CAIR, he could patiently read the First Amendment out loud, and he could call the question on which hate crimes are more hate-filled than others. Reductio ad absurdum might produce multiple epiphanies.

CBC and CTV

Report: Canadian TV less anti-American then we figured

Less anti-American than NBC, anyway.

Obamarama III Oops?

Well, I found another person who's seen the Choice Hotels ad and I'm told it isn't Barack Obama. Pity, the speculation was fun. It is a lookalike, though. When I told my wife it probably wasn't Obama she said, "Really, it sure looks like him."

As I said in the first post on the topic "If it is not Mr. Obama, and just really superior animatronics, a product of Pixar, a clone or John Edwards in black-face - there's a lawsuit in the offing." We'll see.

It does seem to be appearing on Fox News Channel, so I hope to get another look at it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Clinton War Chest

There's been some sort of flap over a display of cleavage by Hillary Clinton. Hillary? Cleavage? Never thought I'd use those two words in the same sentence.

But here's the Washington Post on Hillary's "package:"

Hillary Clinton's Tentative Dip Into New Neckline Territory

By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 20, 2007; C01

There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.
Now, I'll be the last to admit any interest in this astounding coming out revelation, but Hillary's campaign has taken the criticism of Her sartorial choices seriously enough to mount a fund-raising effort comment on the implicit "body-part fetishism" of the Washington Post. If Hillary's campaign had been similarly shrill when MSNBC's Joe Scarborough wondered if Fred Thompson's wife was a pole dancer, their credibility surrounding this tempest in a C-cup would be far higher.

As an aside, there is probably at least a Master's thesis in this for some doughty Womyn's Studies program detainee - "Compare and contrast, a) the media treatment of Al Gore's "package" shot, b) the reaction of his campaign compared to Hillary's." I'm sure the words "phallic," "earth goddess" and "patriarchy" can be worked into the title somewhere. After all, If you're standing on the glass ceiling you can look right down her blouse.

Back to the main issue. Let's consider it established that if the Liberal media see fit to compare Fred Thompson's wife to a pole dancer, then the fact that Hillary Clinton actually has mammary glands is not off limits. Neither line of journalistic inquiry rises to the level of sophomoric, of course, but hey, it's the "mainstream" media. They do the heavy lifting and separating.

In any case, Hillary IS well advised to be on the lookout for people calling Her "manly," "geeky," "policy wonk" or the "Empty Pink Pantsuit." This is the first time someon
e's complained about Her breasts, though, and it does illustrate a problem. It's bad enough that She has to contend, in physical charisma, with Barack Obama - but John Edwards is a real challenge. John's wife, Elizabeth, has gone to some trouble to assure us that John is more tuned into women than is Hillary. Maybe Elizabeth Edwards has a point, tuning into women was always Bill's job. Besides, John Edwards IS prettier than Hillary Clinton. Maybe it's the $1,400 haircuts.

The good news for Democrats is that, if Hillary runs against Fred Thompson, She will be the pretty one.


From adversity comes opportunity, and TOC is happy to help show where the Clinton/Obama "dream ticket," may profit from Hillary's chest AND from Barack Obama's experience shilling for Choice
Hotels. From advertising comes importunity: Maybe Barack Obama can get Hillary a gig in a Maidenform commercial. This would recycle an ad campaign from the sixties.

In the example at right, just change the copy to: I dreamed I tamed the Elephants in my Maidenform bra (and the bottom half of a hot-pink pantsuit.)

Handling the objection that this is undignified can be left to Obama's campaign staff. They must have already worked it
out.

One suggestion would be to work in the phrase "They're for the children."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Obamarama Update

More searching - of Advertising Age, Google and YouTube - has yet to reveal information about Barack Obama's "I've Been Everywhere" hotel chain commercial, mentioned here on Friday.

I’ve also checked HGTV and Fox News sites hoping to find advertising playlists. No luck. I checked those two sites because I watch very little TV – Fox News for about 20 minutes on weekdays at 6:40PM EST and HGTV because, since my wife is a devotee, it is often on when I wander through the room. It seems likely the commercial appeared on one of the two.

Abandoning precision and the high-tech approach momentarily, I asked my wife what entity this commercial was for and she said "a hotel chain... more than one name." For circumstantial reasons to be revealed, I’m fairly certain this is Choice Hotels International.

I’ve looked at the Choice Hotels website and can find no mention of the ad there, either. It is conspicuous by its absence, even on their media page. If it's theirs you'd think they'd be proud of it. The evidence for thinking it is a Choice Hotels spot may be circumstantial, but as Henry David Thoreau said, "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk." Following are the trout.

All this searching did turn up the fact that one Stewart W. Bainum, Jr, Chairman of the Board of Choice Hotels, appears to have donated $2,300 to Barack Obama’s primary campaign fund on February 8th and on June 11th this year.

Note there are other Stewart Bainums listed at that link, pay attention to Manor Care and Choice Hotels as indicators regarding this particular Stewart Bainum. He has been as about as personally generous to Democrats as the law allows for a long time. He was a member of Business Leaders for Kerry-Edwards in 2004.
Mr. Bainum 's credentials are well established.

Here are other connect-the-dots tidbits:

Top Clinton-Era FCC Officials Backing Obama

This evening [date not given, post appeared on June 27, 2007], former FCC Chairman William Kennard will be co-hosting (along with BET President Debra Lee and others) a fundraising soiree for Democratic presidential contender Barrack Obama at the National Music Center, the old Carnegie Library, at Eighth and K in Northwest Washington.

From there, Obama will take the short ride to the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Choice Hotels Chairman Stewart Bainum Jr. for another fundraiser that Julius Genachowski helped organized. Genachowski is former chief counsel to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and legal aide to Kennard when Kennard was general counsel.
White House for Sale
This Web site allows you to follow the money trail of campaign "bundlers" – or people who funnel money to campaigns – as they collect thousands, and sometimes even millions, of dollars from other people for the 2008 presidential candidates.
Note that someone named Sandy Bainum is identified in addition to Stewart as having raised “more than” $50,000 for Barack Obama. A relation? Perhaps not, but Mr, Bainum’s relations have assisted in financing his favored candidates in the past.

Political Donations Become a Family Affair

[FEC spokesman Bob] Biersack said the FEC investigates when it gets a complaint that contributions from family members are used to skirt limits on individuals.

He said there have been at least six cases where the FEC has found violations that involved excessive giving through children. The most recent example was a case involving Stewart Bainum, [same one] a former Maryland state senator and who was fined $4,000 in 1996 for contributions made through his infant son, Biersack said.
In the previous post on this topic I wondered, half in jest, how the FEC would deal with the campaign contribution value of a TV commercial featuring a Presidential candidate. We may get a chance to find out.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Come on Down to Obamarama!

Having seen it a second time, I'm sure I'm not imagining it. The strange part is that I have seen no comment about it and it resists Googling. This could be Google bias, I guess. It could be buried in the thousands of references to actual commercials involving this person. It could be Google intent; they may like the guy.

Maybe it's just a test market concept in the Michigan backwoods, but it seems to be a national cable spot. What is incontrovertible is that - I've seen it twice! My wife can vouch for this, because I've commented on the reflective national humiliation both times.

I wasn't someone who said of Ronald Reagan, as did the Liberal intelligentsia, that he should be dissed because he starred in Bedtime for Bonzo. Reagan wasn't an active Presidential candidate when he made it - it was a career he had in the distant past. Still, I didn't find it enhanced his Presidential prospects and it became a left-wing trope. This is commercial made by a person running for his party's 2008 nomination, most likely after he decided to run. It is running at the same time he is. If he had no control over ultimate release timing, then he is too foolish to be President.

I'm talking about Barack Obama lip syncing "I've Been Everywhere" in a commercial for a hotel chain. Now the fact that I do not name the chain indicates I'm not sure that it isn't actually a rental car company, or an airline, or a bus company or an Internet discount site. Hell, maybe it's a Women's Shelter. My lack of recall here only indicates that commercial isn't all that effective - for the sponsor. I DO remember Mr. Obama.

It doesn't much matter, however, who he's shilling for; it is difficult to imagine a Presidential candidate doing something so demeaning. Now, maybe it'll turn out he's donating what he got paid (if anything) to charity. Maybe he wasn't paid and just looks at it as free advertising for his campaign. I am demonstrating this works by writing this post.

It does suggest a couple of very interesting questions to put to the Federal Election Commission: "What is the value of the donation for a Presidential candidate doing either a for profit or not-for-profit commercial within 60 days of an election?" A followup: "Since Obama counts as donors to his campaign those who buy T-shirts and coffee-mugs from his Website, will those amounts be included should he decide to take matching federal funds?"

Anyway, if it is really Barack Obama in this 30 second spot, it indicates the utter lack of seriousness he keeps hinting at in his more "substantial" appearances. He's going everywhere, including Damacus for an intimate little tête à tête with Bashar al-Assad.

If it is not Mr. Obama, and just really superior animatronics, a product of Pixar, a clone or John Edwards in black-face - there's a lawsuit in the offing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Toronto the Feel-good

Toronto's mayor is calling on the Canadian Feds to institute a ban on hand-guns, though for all practical purposes, Canada already has one:
Yesterday, a spokesperson for federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said that effectively, there is a ban on handguns in Canada. "They are already extremely tightly controlled and are only available to those requiring them for employment purposes, legitimate target shooters and approved collectors," said Melissa Leclerc.
What, you may wonder, has prompted Mayor Miller's latest assault on the tiny minority of a minuscule group of Canadians who possess guns legally? Answer: an eleven year-old Toronto boy was shot to death on hizzoner's watch in spite of draconian gun control laws.
...Like the shooting of Cadougan [Shaquan Cadougan, then four] two years ago, [eleven year-old Ephraim] Brown's murder has sparked an outcry, with calls by Attorney General Michael Bryant and Mayor David Miller to push Ottawa to ban handguns.

Bryant said yesterday Ottawa should heed the outcry. "We've got 215,000 (registered) handguns in Ontario alone and each one of them is a target for theft."
Ontario parents can rest easier knowing that AG Bryant did not mention the number of small Ontarian children and the potential for kidnapping in the same breath. We have laws, you know.

Miller and Bryant's hackish whining in favor of redundant feel-goodism reveals their faux-cluelessness. According to a Toronto Star story, there are two men charged in the death of Ephraim Brown:

...One man, Akiel Eubank, 20, has had numerous run-ins with the law and wears his gang affiliation razored into his haircut. Police describe him as a gang member with a history of violence and weapons offences. He was on probation and prohibited from owning weapons.

The other, Gregory Sappleton, 21, two years ago faced numerous charges after a home in the city's north end was sprayed with bullets, injuring four people including Shaquan Cadougan, then 4, believed then to be Toronto's youngest shooting victim.

These two are the suspects charged yesterday with first-degree murder in the death of 11-year-old Ephraim Brown, believed to be Toronto's youngest fatal-shooting victim.
So. One guy, a known gang thug, was banned (more banned than before, I guess) from owning weapons and was on parole. The other guy has an extensive criminal record, and was charged in the shooting of a four year-old two years ago. (It would be interesting to know why those charges were withdrawn.) So why aren't the Mayor and the Minister talking about banning criminals, since banning criminals from owning guns is demonstrably and tragically ineffective? It's because gangsta gun-violence on the streets of Toronto can't be the result of Toronto's mayor's feckless support of law enforcement: It must be the fault of the United States. Without a Second Amendment in the US, Canada's gun-related criminal problems would disappear.
[Mayor] Miller called on Ottawa to press Washington to toughen U.S. gun laws.

"I really believe it's time for the Canadian government at the national level to say to the United States of America, we're good friends, but your gun laws are exporting a problem to our country."
On the other hand, Canada is following the US in some gun related areas:
Canada's first armed border guards are to graduate from firearms training this week, ready to go to the border with their new weapons, a union leader says.

"The next time each of the officers who complete their training report to work, they will be doing so with their firearms," said Ron Moran, national president of the Customs Excise Union, representing 4,800 guards who are to be trained during the next nine years.

In the past, the RCMP were called to the border to deal with threats that might have required firearms.

Twenty-four officers in Chilliwack and 28 in Ottawa have gone through three-week training programs. Both groups are being trained by the RCMP, who are also offering instruction on the use-of-force continuum - the responses to threats allowed under the law.

...Mr. Moran called the arrival of firearms "the most fundamental cultural change" ever for his organization. Their U.S. counterparts have carried weapons for decades.

In the past, some Canadian guards had abandoned their posts upon hearing reports that armed suspects were headed their way. [Who could blame them?]

Mr. Moran said there was an uncomfortable irony in the fact that Canadian border guards had been equipped, for years, with bulletproof vests so they were protected from being shot, but that they did not have weapons with which to defend themselves in such situations.
These customs agents, of course, are the ones charged with keeping guns out of Canada. We can only hope their guns won't be stolen in Ontario.

If the United States of America didn't exist, some socialist Canadian politician would have to invent it. TOC has commented a number of times on Canada's gun laws and anti-American political artful dodging. On rereading these particular posts on that theme, I think they're worth a recommendation:

Friday, August 26, 2005
Criminals, by Definition, Don't Respect the Law

Monday, August 29, 2005
Department of Departments Department

Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Bah-nanada

Monday, January 02, 2006
the void in their lives

Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Causality

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Confabulation of Dan Mulhern

WJIM, here in Lansing, has been kind enough to start providing stored audio of some of its programs. This is good, because it allows me to pick among some interviews from The Dan Mulhern Show without actually having to listen to it all. And, you’ve got to figure you’ll get the pieces they think are most worthy. Someday, they’ll probably even get around to providing the dates on which these snippets aired. For now we’ll take an undated example from the last few weeks: an interview with Senator John Kerry.

The piece begins to the fading strains of Joanie Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” Mulhern takes that cue into:

…fears about the environment… those fears are still with us. They’ve taken on different forms. But we know we have to shepherd this universe that we’re in…
No job is too big for a dedicated statist.
...I was talking to some of the astronauts and some of the scientific people and I thought ,“What a coincidence that these issues of climate change are arising in the very, very same epoch, the very same period of time [for those of you in Ingham County] that we have these incredible pictures from the space station … that show us, hey, [Earth is] just one ball … " [it] gives us a great perspective we otherwise never would have had. Speaking of perspective, we’ve got a great guest on the line, Senator John Kerry.
First, it is not at all remarkable that the science allowing us to take pictures of our planet from space would be cotemporaneous with the science allowing us to measure various gases in our atmosphere. We wouldn't have the former if we hadn't already got minimal expertise in the latter.

But, back to the perspective John Kerry brings. Here's my view: He's a Eurabiaphilic, elitist, gold-digger - who, by the way, served in Vietnam and has still not released the records of those four months. Mulhern tells us that Kerry “brings a lot of perspective to issues of the environment.” I thought that was Al Gore. Go figure.

But, Aha! John and Theresa have a new book out. It may be said in their favor that, aside from Dan Mulhern, nobody’s ever heard of it.

We're informed that one hero of the book is Rachel Carson, notable primarily for an even larger contribution to human death and suffering (from malaria) than John Kerry denies happened in Southeast Asia after Democrats pulled funding in 1975. Kerry has this to say about the fact that 2 million people died in Cambodia and Vietnam as a direct result of that Congressional decision:

"We heard that argument over and over again about the bloodbath that would engulf the entire Southeast Asia, and it didn't happen," Kerry said.
He is apparently not up on the research:
Millions of lives changed forever with Saigon's fall
Hung Huy Nguyen, 71, along with an estimated 1 million South Vietnamese, is a man who came to know death and torture in the years following a war that tore apart families, countries, generations.

Lessons from killing fields of Cambodia - 30 years on
During the nearly four years following that day - April 17, 1975 - Cambodia was radically transformed. Economic production and consumption were collectivized, as Pol Pot and his circle mobilized the entire population to launch a "super great leap forward." The labor demanded was backbreaking, monotonous, and unceasing.

Everyday freedoms were abolished. Buddhism and other forms of religious worship were banned. Money, markets, and media disappeared. Travel, public gatherings, and communication were restricted. Contact with the outside world vanished. And the state set out to control what people ate and did each day, whom they married, how they spoke, what they thought, and who would live and die. "To keep you is no gain," the Khmer Rouge warned, "To destroy you is no loss."

In the end, more than 1.7 million of Cambodia's 8 million inhabitants perished from disease, starvation, overwork, or outright execution in a notorious genocide.
This is important in fully appreciating the levitas of Jengis Khan John Kerry's "perspective."

Following the paean to Rachel Carson's "leadership," Mulhern pursues a local ecological angle - the danger of "invasive species" to the Great Lakes, but neglects to ask Kerry how he voted on enforcing US border security in the recent amnesty debate. (Kerry voted against.) OK, this would be asking too much of a book promotion interview, but the analogy is far from strained.

About 9 minutes into the interview Kerry mentions a list of things we’ve “gone backward” on environmental-wise. One of those is federally mandated gas mileage standards. This is a very big question for the auto-manufacturing jobs Mulhern's wife is currently subsidizing at the expense of knowledge workers. Does Mulhern ask any kind of follow-up on this topic? Not exactly. The Mulhern-Granholms are conflicted in this regard.
Mulhern: We’ve talked on the show about how Exxon had, I believe, it was 45 billion dollars in profits last year …our gas prices today are up 25 cents as we head into the 4th of July… How do you explain the fact that the Senate voted down a tax last week on oil company profits to fund renewables? …Let’s take a piece of those profits and not have them go solely to shareholders …but have them go toward renewable fuel …How are voters supposed to understand how that got voted down, is big oil just [sic] got that big a grip on the Senate?
Well, if they did, we’d be drilling in ANWR, don’t you think? And maybe building a refinery or two?
Kerry: When the average American; when we’ve reached enough people who understand the oil companies, since 2005, have earned $255 billion dollars of profit - that we were asking them to satisfied with maybe $220 billion in profit … and this would have gone to helping America … I think people will be furious and they’ll hold those Senators accountable for those votes. At least I hope they do.
Me, too, but for different reasons. That many of those shareholders are depending on investments in Exxon, or GM, for their retirement does not seem to matter to Mulhern. That government definition of “excess profits” won’t stop with oil companies isn’t considered. That Mulhern’s question is a shameless promotion of his wife’s shameless grandstanding is not acknowledged:
Jennifer Granholm is a fool
State taxes in the U.S. average about 21 cents a gallon, while federal excise taxes are 18.4 cents a gallon. In Michigan the tax, if gasoline were given away by the oil companies, would about 40.5 cents a gallon (19.874 cents state excise tax + 18.4 cents federal excise tax, plus 6% sales Michigan sales tax on tax). Michigan also receives sales tax revenue on the actual product price which, of course, increases with that price. Talk about windfalls.

At a 9% margin, oil companies receive about 22 cents per gallon. Whose profits are obscene?

Since 1977, the obscene government profits were $1.34 trillion (that's a "T") while industry profits were $643 billion.
So why not just take some of the unconscionable government profits, collected over many years with apparently insufficient attention to funding renewable energy (or else we’d have it, right?), and use that money? It’s gone, you say?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More commentary on the CBC interview with Hirsi Ali

Flaggman’s Canada has two worth-a-read posts on Avi Lewis' disastrous (for him) interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali vs. Avi Lewis: Video & Dennis Prager Analysis

Deconstructing the Avi Lewis/Ayaan Hirsi Ali Clip

Whether or not you visit Flaggman, you should visit the link mentioned in Flaggman's first post - Dennis Prager's fisking of the interview on his radio show. It's 34 minutes, but worth it.

He certainly knows more about hair care products

Edwards: Husband Better Than Hillary
Elizabeth Edwards said Tuesday that her husband, Democrat John Edwards, would be a better advocate for women as president than his rival Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Maybe that's president of Clairol?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Heroine


I am vastly grateful to you, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for many reasons. The most recent is your calm defiance of the left's encompassing moral relativism. I aspire to such serenity in the face of idiots, because, as you demonstrated, it makes manifest their idiocy.

Many Americans do not know who you are. Still, you ably defend us against a morally adrift know nothing who is only in a position to condescend because of his descendance.

Americans who know your name may not even know you are a female. Of those you know your sex, fewer know that you were raised in a Somali family. However, those who know that much probably do know you were subject to the withering misogyny of mainstream Islam.

Your display of intellectual and physical courage is inspiring. You have seen your
friends murdered by fanatic Islamists, over things you've written opposing such hatred of women as the National Organization for Women refuses even to mentally assimilate.

That you were willing and able, without visible effort, to perfectly squelch a far-left Canadian quisling fool is humbling.

TOC has written extensively about the treatment of women by Islamists and the utter silence of American feminists on the topic. Readers may wish to browse some links included at the end of this post. At present we're considering Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and TOC has been impressed by her before:

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
If the West can just match their courage

Monday, March 27, 2006
Doing Della. A favor.

Monday, May 08, 2006
Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Tuesday, March 06, 2007
3 topics - related only via statist intent

Tuesday, March 20, 2007
FemUNazi™

Saturday, May 12, 2007
Muslim Moderates

Thanks to Blazing Cat Fur for some traffic that inspired this followup to yesterday's post. They have a nice collection of links to other comment on the Ayaan Hirsi Ali interview here.

Other TOC posts on Islam and feminists are here:


Feminism's self-inflicted wounds

Iran: Killing the Victim


The Islamofeminist Chronicles

Feminism & Jihad

Women are the issue?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Feminism as if it meant something

Monday, July 16, 2007

US-ophobia

The Canadian Broadcarping Castration's Avi Lewis - a self-parody, wrapped in pretension, inside an enegma - interviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

I excerpt some of the agitprop that seems to substitute for thinking among CBC journalists, but you have to view the whole thing to fully appreciate Lewis' insular, condescending, and historically ignorant moral superiority schtick. I recommend it as a sort of inoculation. You will think more highly of Michael Moore after viewing it, and you'll be hoping Ayaan Hirsi Ali will get a chance to have a little chat with Moore someday, too.

Lewis' intro includes a reference to one fact about the murder,
by an Islamist fanatic, of Theo Van Gogh. Van Gogh directed a short film titled "Submission," a literal translation of the word "Islam." The film was based on a script by Ayaan Hirsi Ali that decried standardized Islamic mysogeny. Lewis says of Van Gogh's grotesque murder in Amsterdam:
"...the note pinned to his body was addressed to Hirsi Ali."
Well, "pinned" is not a term most of those conversant with the English language would use to describe a 5 page "note" being attached to a human body by thrusting a dagger through it and into the stomach. "Pinned" suggests, oh... maybe "lapel". A dagger stuck into the stomach to prevent an Islamist screed from blowing in the wind is another thing entirely.

Lewis would probably call a beheading a "second party shaving accident."

As seconds go, however, the knife serving to keep the "note" close to Theo's gut - the knife "pinning" it to his backbone via his stomach - was the second knife. The first knife, used to slit Van Gogh's throat after he'd been disabled by having been shot twice, was left embedded in his chest. By the way, the attacker was a Muslim who killed Van Gogh as a matter of religious piety. Avi Lewis compares this to the shooting of abortion doctors in the United States. Hirsi Ali tells him why he's missing the point of his own freedom.

The contents of the note can be found here, if you wish to be bothered. I don't recommend reading it unless your name is Avi Lewis.

Here's an excerpt of Avi's questioning:
There are many versions of Christianity, of Judaism, of all major religions. You're presenting it [Islam] as one thing and it's just obviously not.


...OK, Whoa. OK, Whoa. You live in the United States of America. This is a country where evangelical Christianity has ascended to the highest ranks of power, where conservative social values drawn and justified by the Bible, are imposed on people every single day

...They shoot abortion doctors... Homophobia is rampant...
Lewis sholud be a guest for Keith Olbermann. H/T Let Freedom Ring

Update: 6:42 PM
I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but Avi Lewis is the son of Stephen Lewis, former head of the Ontario socialist party, and grandson of the former head of Canada's socialist party, David Lewis. The nut doesn't fall far from the tree.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hijaba party


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Syria



Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Frances Townsend and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes flank White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten as they listen to Shoeless George speak at the re-dedication ceremony of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C.

Maybe they were all just wearing hijabs to cover their iPods.

New Democrat talking point

Iraq PM: Country Can Manage Without U.S. What's left unsaid is that Iraq would have to invite Iran to assist in supplying those weapons and training.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave "any time they want," though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.

The embattled prime minister sought to show confidence at a time when congressional pressure is growing for a withdrawal and the Bush administration reported little progress had been made on the most vital of a series of political benchmarks it wants al-Maliki to carry out.

Al-Maliki said difficulty in enacting the measures was "natural" given Iraq's turmoil.

But one of his top aides, Hassan al-Suneid, rankled at the assessment, saying the U.S. was treating Iraq like "an experiment in an American laboratory." He sharply criticised the U.S. military, saying it was committing human rights violations, embarassing the Iraqi government with its tactics and cooperating with "gangs of killers" in its campaign against al-Qaida in Iraq.

... Thursday's White House assessment of progress on the benchmarks fueled calls among congressional critics of the Iraqi policy for a change in strategy, including a withdrawal of American forces.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warned earlier this week of civil war and the government's collapse if the Americans leave. But al-Maliki told reporters Saturday, "We say in full confidence that we are able, God willing, to take the responsibility completely in running the security file if the international forces withdraw at any time they want."
Al-Maliki's frustration with the American cut and run crowd is understandable, but it is no excuse for giving them aid and comfort. It won't be long before we hear al-Maliki's statement used as justification for giving him the opportunity to conduct his own experiment, God willing. Apparently, he has never heard the expression "Be careful what you wish for."

Pirate SCHIP

Federal looters are preparing another round of pillage. They want to convert the State Children's Health Insurance Program into an entitlement. This SCHIP should be abandoned while the rats are climbing aboard.

Amy Ridenour reports that The American Legislative Exchange Council and The Heritage Foundation jointly sponsored a conference last week to discuss this incremental move toward socialized health care.

...Our Ryan Balis provides a timely report on a conference sponsored by two conservative organizations about SCHIP -- and why spending an additional $35 billion on it funded by a tax on dispropropriately [sic] lower-income people is a bad idea
One clever aspect of this plot is that it will significantly damage private insurance affordability. This will help fuel future propaganda about how our health care system can only be "saved" through ever greater government control.
If SCHIP reauthorized includes expanded coverage, [U.S. Rep. Marsha] Blackburn [R-TN] warned, private health insurance rates would increase. "As more things are made free, somebody else is paying the cost: it is the taxpayer and it those that are buying private health insurance," she said. Expanding SCHIP "walks us closer to socialized medicine."

Maryland Del. Addie Eckardt talked about her state's response to SCHIP. Echoing Rep. Blackburn's warning about costs, Del. Eckardt said, "If we continue to expand the children's health program... you take more of the people that are eligible... in the private market and, thus, we increase the cost."
The Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel noted on June 29th, in Socialized Medicine Showdown, that:
...The new plot is to enact national health care one citizen at a time, slowly expanding the reach of existing government programs until they encompass the population.
Strassel points out that we will have to depend on the GOP recognizing its own interests to stop it. Nervous yet?
...if Republicans know what's good for them--[they will promote] ... a broad new GOP health-care vision, a free-market reform to replace today's faltering employer-based system. The party has circled this for years, throwing out free-market ideas here and there, yet never proved unified (or brave) enough to get behind one bold, top-to-bottom reform. Democrats are now forcing their hand.

...Schip is the first step. The program, with its $25 billion budget, was originally designed to provide insurance to only the poorest children. Democrats want to throw an additional $60 billion at it, expanding Schip's rolls by three million. They would expand eligibility so much that as many as half joining would drop private insurance to do so. Even adults could sign up.

Next: Even as Democrats work to expand Schip to cover older Americans, they'd expand Medicare to cover younger Americans. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell is said to have recently floated the idea of allowing the struggling Big Three auto makers to enroll workers in Medicare at the age of 55, or 10 years early. Consider this a pilot program for dropping Medicare's age limit overall and instantly subjecting tens of millions more Baby Boomers to the government's tender care.

Democrats will meanwhile argue the only way to pay for Schip and other expanded programs is to gut Medicare Advantage and similar free-market reforms. See how clever? Swallow up ever more Americans into federal programs, banish any last vestiges of popular market plans, and voilà! It is Hillarycare! Only nobody ever had to use the dreaded word!

[Opposing the SCHIP entitlement expansion is a group] led by health-care innovators Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint in the Senate, and Paul Ryan and Jim McCrery in the House... [Their] goal: a system that eliminates today's corporate subsidy and gives the money to individuals, cutting costs and reducing the number of uninsured. The political message: Dems want to put a few million more under government control for $60 billion, Republicans want to put 300 million in charge of their own care at zero extra cost.

The good news is that after 10 years of tinkering, Republicans have laid the foundation for bigger reform, from Health Savings Accounts to tort liability reform.

...The challenge then will be to get the rest of the party to overcome its nervelessness on health care. The ringleaders of today's effort admit they may have to do a Sen. Phil Gramm, who in 1993 led by example, singlehandedly tearing into HillaryCare, proving his position a winner with voters, and pulling his colleagues in line.

They'll need to roll up their sleeves. Most Republicans don't understand health care, so don't want to talk about it; many grimace at voting down money for "kids"; quite a few face tough elections and would rather not jump into an unknown debate. Reformers also aren't getting cover from should-be allies. Insurers and lobby groups like PHRMA--who ought to understand that a bigger Schip is a threat to their long-term business--are instead focused on short-term profits and PR images. Republican governors--who'd be huge beneficiaries of an individualized market--seem to only care about keeping federal dollars flowing into state coffers.
Good luck to Coburn, DeMint, Ryan and Jim McCrery. Given the fecklessness of their fellow Republicans, they'll need it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What do the initials “GW” represent?

My first thought would be that “GW” stands for the incumbent US president; my second, “Global Warming™”. But, no, according to some Anglican soul-mates of Jerry “America’s-tolerance-of-gay-people-caused-God-to-visit-the-9/11-attacks-on-us” Falwell, it’s actually “God’s Wrath.”

The question of whether we can actually do something more about that than we can about “Global Warming™” is left unanswered. The sermon was of fire and flood , not redemption. Senior Church of England bishops said Floods are judgment on society:

"The floods that have devastated swathes of the country [UK] are God's judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops.

One diocesan bishop has even claimed that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless.

While those who have been affected by the storms are innocent victims, the bishops argue controversially that the flooding is a result of Western civilisation's decision to ignore biblical teaching."

"..."In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want," he said, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws highlighted its determination to undermine marriage.

"The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God's judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance."

He expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with "environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate"." [I don’t know how the newspaper could have failed to notice that “Environmental Judgment” should have been capitalized.]
One could argue that every punishment visited by the particular G-d to which these gents defer is indiscriminate. Nonetheless, I can still detect the delicate susurration, and meek thump, of sparrows falling. Can’t you?

On a parallel supernaturalist interventionary mind-track with the Bishops, I wondered about the numerological significance of “GW” as an acronym for George W. Bush and Global Warming; not to mention George Washington. I expected the “number of the beast” (666) would show up somewhere, or at least be useful. It was.

Under Pythagorean Numerological convention, G=7 and W=5. Taken positionally, this represents 75. 75 divided into 666 is exactly 8.88. 8.88 is exactly 10% of “Jesus’ number”:

888 is the number of new creation (i.e., 'a new man'). It is Jesus' number since the name Jesus adds up to 888 in Gematria in contrast to fallen man's number of 666 (Rev. 13). Moreover, Jesus received His name when He was eight days old when He was circumcised!
Make what you wish of that. And make what you wish of this; the Bishops do finally get to a convergence of “GWs”:
"Global warming has been caused by people's lack of care for the planet and recent environmental catastrophes are a warning over how we behave, according to the Bishop of Liverpool."
I wonder what the numerological difference is between “Liverpool” and “Pool of Liver.”

Sunday, July 08, 2007

In which I agree with PETA

PETA has pointed out that if "Save the Earth from Global Warming" concerts are going to be taken seriously, there should be no meat served at any venue. Wembley Urged To Take Meat Off Live Earth Menu:
Organisers of the Live Earth concerts should not sell burgers or hot dogs at the high profile gigs, an animal rights group claimed today.

Peta said that selling meat at a concert for the environment would be like selling cigarettes at an anti-cancer fundraiser because of the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by the meat farming industry.

... Peta campaigner Yvonne Taylor said that it would be "hypocritical" if the damage caused by the industry was overlooked at the concert, and said that the group had written to the managing director of Wembley Stadium, Alex Horne, urging him not to sell meat at the event.

She said: "There's no such thing as a meat eating environmentalist.

...It would be hypocritical to be serving meat at an event for the environment, and if you really cared about the environment, you wouldn't be eating meat in the first place."
Ms Taylor is right. If you think "Climate Change" is the biggest threat ever to face humankind - and requires immediate, drastic action - then you should never eat farm produced meat. And no milk or eggs, either, for reasons we shall examine..

The UN has told us:
Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation...
So, ordering a Big Mac is a more serious environmental infraction than buying it at the drive-through window. Cows, you see, are methane emitters. Methane is over 20 times more potent a "climate change" agent than is carbon dioxide. The Wall Street Journal notes here, Cows, Climate Change and Carbon Credits, that:
Methane accounts for 16% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. That is far less than the most prevalent greenhouse gas, CO2, which accounts for 75% of the global total. But methane is an attractive early target because it generates a big environmental bang for the buck. The methane produced by the manure of a typical 1,330-pound cow translates into about five tons of CO2 per year. That is about the same amount generated annually by a typical U.S. car, one getting 20 miles per gallon and traveling 12,000 miles per year.
Another consequence of your carnivorous disregard for the environment is farm-animal defecation. The more meat, eggs and milk you consume the more sh*t happens, and its decomposition produces nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is 296 times more "climate change" potent than carbon dioxide.

The UN again:

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.
The byproduct of carnivore necessity - manure production - is a grave "climate change" threat. How you define "manure" and how you view the climate change prophets will determine your response.

To be clear, as an "anthropogenic climate change" believer, your mission, should you decide to accept it, must be to immediately stop eating meat, eggs and milk. And probably rice, too, since rice paddies are a major methane producer.

It's either strict vegetarianism, or picketing McDonald's until they offer methane and nitrous oxide "offset credits" for each burger they sell. This might be accomplished by insisting that for every cow McDonald's serves up, an acre of rice paddy is taken out of production. It's WAGWD.

Friday, July 06, 2007

THC Footprint

Al Gore's son was arrested for driving 100 MPH in a car laden with unprescribed prescription drugs and marijuana. He's going into rehab.

My sympathy to the Gore family, but I can't understand what the fuss is about. After all, Al Gore III was driving a Prius hybrid. Isn't that more important than having a clear mind?

On the bright side, I think there's a new reality show that could come of this, based on Big Brother, but as a rehab house where Courtney Love, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears would join Al Gore III, Pete Doherty, Darryl Strawberry and Robert Downey Jr..

Winner gets two OZs of Maui Wowie. Runner-up get free carbon credits for a lifetime.

C'mon Captain,

...layoff the personal grooming attacks on John Edwards, will ya? Next, Elizabeth will be calling you out.

Who Knew $400 Was A Discount?
...For the record, the issue on this point isn't the cost of the haircuts, but the fact that Edwards paid for them with campaign contributions.

...When the story broke in mid-April, that was the real scandal -- that a rich lawyer and hedge-fund manager would eat up money sent by his contributors to get him elected on Hollywood-level hairdos. He has plenty of his own money for hair stylists and spa days. The Washington Post apparently didn't ask who footed the bill for that $1250 haircut, but I'd suspect that came from campaign coffers as well.

Now it looks like Edwards has an honesty problem as well as questionable use of campaign funds. This wasn't some one-off; Edwards has used Torrenueva for over three years. The Edwards campaign's attempt to spin this as a single case of bad judgment by a staffer shows a less-than-honest approach to errors by Edwards, which should concern people considering his candidacy seriously, a number that appears to drop on a weekly basis anyway."
In the Captain's defense, it must be noted that John Edwards hair is a campaign issue, because he brought it up and the Washington Post devoted over 800 words to it in July 2004. A Hair's-Breadth From the Presidency, "Hair has become a central issue in the race for the presidency."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Even Goldwater Girls Get the Blues

In commenting on Scooter Libby's jail time commutation, I did say I didn't much care about the Clintonian pardon escapades:
I point these things out not because I much care about the Clinton perjury record, or his pardon legacy, but to show that the superheated Demorcrat and MSM commentary on Bush's commutation of Libby is self-serving hyberbole. Yawn.
...and I didn't at the time.

But, Hillary felt compelled to comment on the "immorality" of this commutation, in order to shore-up her far-left credentials with the Moonbat wing of Democrat primary voters. Hillarypocrisy has changed my mind. She actually said: "This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice."

Cronyism? Ideology? Ah, Hillary, have you been dabbling in the propranolol experiments or are you simply the brazen hypocrite the majority of Americans think you are?
You dare comment on a single pardon by George Bush given your husband's record? You have the balls to speak of cronyism and ideology? In the former you set the standard with the Travel Office firings, and in the latter you hadn't any.

You speak this foolish twaddle when it would take the village idiot not to realize that
we must clearly add nepotism to your husband's pardon record? As pointed out here, your husband pardoned:

Roger Clinton, his half-brother.

Marc Rich, ex-husband of a woman who contributed over one-and-a-half million dollars to Clinton causes - including over half a million directly to Bill and to you: $450 thousand to the Clinton library and $100 thousand to your Senate campaign. The other million was given to the Democrat Party. Aren’t you glad we have Campaign Finance Reform?

Carlos A. Vignali and Almon Braswell, a higher level drug dealer and a poor imitation of Ivan Boesky, respectively, who had each paid $200,000 to your brother so that he, Hugh Rodham, would lobby for their pardons.

That I was not initially exercised about your husband's historical record on pardons is evidenced by the fact that I knew about, but did not previously mention, these cronyist and CYA pardons:

Susan McDougal, a four time felony loser in the Whitewater Development scandal - over which President Clinton plea bargained away a perjury trail.

Henry Cisneros, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during your husband's first term in office. He was convicted of lying to FBI agents during a background check. Shades of Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby.

Former CIA Director John Deutch, who faced criminal charges over improper storage of national secrets on a home computer.

Kalmen Stern, David Goldstein, Benjamin Berger and Jacob Elbaum: Four Jewish men convicted of stealing $40 million from taxpayers for a fake school in the Hasidic community of New Square. Hillary, you knew about the request for this set of pardons before they were granted.
Sen. Clinton said that although she attended a White House meeting in which the pardon issue was raised, "I never made any view known."

…she refused to talk about the controversial pardons of the four New York Hasidic Jews by her husband. New Square voted 1359-10 for the first lady – although other nearby Hasidic enclaves voted 3480-152 for Clinton's GOP opponent, former Rep. Rick Lazio.
To review, Mr. Clinton pardoned:
  1. his brother,
  2. the ex-husband of a major financial contributor,
  3. two convicted criminals whose pardon was urged by your brother,
  4. a person whose knowledge of the Whitewater scam could have landed your husband (and maybe you) in jail - against which possibility he plea-bargained away a federal perjury trial,
  5. two members of his own cabinet,
  6. and four individuals from whose clemency you arguably obtained an electoral advantage.
You, Hillary, have accused George Bush of cronyism and ideological corruption.

It is too late for you to become a credible candidate by demonstratimg you comprehend the definition of the word “shame.” Your naked ambition and considered amorality account for the fact that more than half of Americans say they would not vote for you.

Hillary, you were a Goldwater girl. Surely, you remember Barry standing on the floor of the Senate in opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act because he believed it unconstitutional? He was running for President then, but he found principle more important than power.

What happened to you?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth
of
July!


Listen here to the Marine Corps Band playing Stars and Stripes Forever.

Here to the Army Band playing Taps.

Here to Eternal Father, the Navy Hymn, sung by the United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters" chorus

Here to the US Coast Guard Band with America the Beautiful.

And here for the Air Force Band playing The Star Spangled Banner.

And Happy Birthday to Calvin Coolidge and West Point.

Scooter Libby was not pardoned...

...He had his "double the sentencing guidelines" jail time commuted.

Libby was convicted of committing perjury and obstruction of justice regarding the completely legal actions of an, admittedly craven, senior State Department official. President Clinton was impeached
, but not convicted, for perjury and obstruction of justice. He lied to a Grand Jury about adultery, a misdemeanor in Washington DC.

Clinton lied about a crime he committed. Libby lied about a "crime" that was never committed.

Also, in facing another perjury charge, Clinton was disbarred from his Arkansas law license for five years and ordered to pay $25,000 in fines to that state's bar officials. This was done on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue federal perjury charges against him.

That's the extent of Clinton's punishment. Mr. Libby will have to pay a fine of $250,000 and serve two years probation.

"It puts Libby on a par [well, Libby still has to pay 5 times the fine] with Sandy Berger, who stole classified information and destroyed it, and ultimately pled guilty to a felony and paid a $50,000 fine but avoided incarceration." H/T Captain's Quarters

So, that's a short comparison of the treatment of a few high-profile perjurers and felony perpetrators.

On the who pardoned whom question, former President Clinton has an interesting record:

In 1999, Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of FALN, a violent Puerto Rican nationalist group that set off 120 bombs in the United States mostly in New York City and Chicago. They were convicted for conspiracies to commit robbery, bomb-making, and sedition.

Overall, Clinton issued an average number of pardons, but the circumstances of some of them tend to be a bit more exciting than Scooter Libby's. Of 140 pardons Clinton issued on his last day in office, here are the lowlights:

Carlos A. Vignali had his sentence for cocaine trafficking commuted, after serving 6 of 15 years in federal prison.

Almon Braswell was pardoned for perjury and mail fraud even though, at the time, a federal investigation was being conducted about additional money laundering and tax evasion charges. Braswell and Carlos Vignali paid approximately $200,000 (each) to Hugh Rodham for representing them. Rodham is Hillary Clinton's brother. He returned the money when caught.

Marc Rich, living high in Europe, was pardoned of tax evasion. His ex-wife, Denise Rich, was a close friend of the Clintons. Denise donated more than $1 million to the Democratic Party, $450,000 to Clinton's Arkansas presidential library and about $100,000 to the Senate campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Roger Clinton, the president's half-brother, was pardoned on drug charges after having served his time more than a decade before.

I point these things out not because I much care about the Clinton perjury record, or his pardon legacy, but to show that the superheated Demorcrat and MSM commentary on Bush's commutation of Libby is self-serving hyberbole. Yawn.

I think Libby should be punished because he did commit perjury and he did obstruct justice. I just think the punishment should be less than that of either Clinton or Berger, because Libby's crime would never have happened but for overzealous prosecution, while both Clinton and Berger actually committed the crimes that spurred the invesigation. Both Berger's and Clinton's crime, moreover, were more serious.

Berger destroyed what were probably (we'll never know) the only copies of classified documents related to terrorist intelligence estimates.

If Clinton would lie to a Grand Jury, could he not have been blackmailed?

And spare me the "Clinton was never convicted" speech. We know he lied to a Grand Jury about Monica under oath. He escaped conviction through a form of jury negation. As for the Whitewater problem, he plea-bargained out of a Federal trial.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Intended consequences

Baleful though it may be, the history of limiting political free speech in the name of equal outcomes controlling corruption, and in direct violation of the Founder’s First Amendment intent, is not the history of unintended consequences. The consequences were, and are, quite intentional: Protection of incumbent privilege.

This is what had some Senators so outraged about talk radio during the Amnesty Bill “debate.” They really thought they could ram through a power-broker negotiated bill, bypass entirely the normal committee procedure, and restrict debate so much that most Senators would not even have time to read, much less consider, the content. The final cloture vote took place while the bill was still being rewritten. No Senator had read it. If it were up to PBS and NPR in the days of the "Fairness" Doctrine, the Kennedy-McCain Bill probably would have succeeded.

These irate pols are lamenting the comfy insulation from real-time public scrutiny they enjoyed when the “Fairness” Doctrine was in vogue. The fact that a broad political spectrum of Senators could foam at the mouth agree about protecting their own privilege is no surprise. The jabbering about reviving the "Fairness" Doctrine is merely a specifically targeted subset of the Campaign Finance “Reform” concept they so deeply respect.

Campaign Finance "Reform" appeals to Senators because it offers to replicate the incumbent protection features of gerrymandering on a more general footing, and to inject as much uncertainty about legal liability as possible in order to discourage uppity citizens from initiating untidy political debate. Politicians calling for speech reform are calling for it in order to secure their vested interests and immutable privileges. Their motivation matters. Take John "Straight-Talk" McCain, for example, the prime mover of the last ruinous round of Constitution-Lite.

How does campaign finance reform help McCain? It allows a very public penance for his own financial pecadillos, and that justifies forcing his moral fierceness onto the rest of us. It assuages McCain's guilt and indulges his totalitarian tendencies in one go. More directly, it allowed him to set up a non-profit campaign reform promotion 501(c)3 which could pay his campaign staff between elections. He eventually acknowledged this impropriety.

Former FEC commissioner Bradley Smith provides some very interesting history regarding this ongoing stealth attack on the First Amendment, and points out some consequences at the state level you probably have not heard. You should. Reading all of the linked articles mentioned below is highly recommended, but Bradley Smith’s is a must, must read.

Bradley A. Smith
Campaign Finance Reforms War on Political Freedom An ongoing danger, despite two recent court victories

...Which sources of influence are regulated and which are not is a choice deeply entangled with tacit assumptions about who benefits from each of those sources. Despite their noble-sounding claims, reformers aren’t really trying to equalize political influence: in fact, they’re doing exactly the opposite, regulating only those sources of influence that they disagree with.

…Another disturbing regulatory trend is to go beyond regulating the money that funds speech to regulating the speech itself. For example, in the Shelmerdine case, the FEC valued the driver’s “contribution” not at the $50 that it cost him to place a decal on his car, but at several thousand dollars—what the FEC determined to be the advertising spot’s monetary value. Similarly, if an executive instructs his secretary to type a fund-raising letter, the FEC values the contribution not at the cost of typing the letter, but at the amount of money that the letter raises. This move dramatically expands the reach of campaign finance laws: not only can the FEC limit funds that can be used for speech, but it can limit speech itself by assigning it a monetary value. And it opens the door to all kinds of mischief: for instance, the FEC could determine that a posting on a popular blog was worth thousands of dollars.
Yet "reformers" whole case in undermining the First Amendment rests on the idea that speech and money are not equivalent!
If that sounds farfetched, consider that in Washington State a trial court ordered that radio disc jockeys John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur report their on-air talk as campaign contributions. The Washington State Supreme Court reversed the case this April, but the court didn’t base its decision on the First Amendment, instead ruling that the statute in question didn’t cover radio talk. In a footnote, the court specifically noted that “nothing in our decision today forecloses the legislature, or the people via the initiative process, from limiting the statutory media exemption.”

Such an intrusive regulatory regime is but a logical step toward the holy grail of campaign finance reform: a fully regulated, taxpayer-funded system of political speech.

...“I have come to doubt that the masses of the people have sense enough to govern themselves,” wrote Ben Tillman, the founder of federal campaign finance reform,” in 1916. Eighty years later, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt famously described the battle over campaign finance reform as two important values in direct conflict: freedom of speech and our desire for healthy campaigns in a healthy democracy. You can’t have both.”
Returning to the “Fairness” Doctrine, per se:
MUZZLE MANIA
By KIRSTEN POWERS

...Liberals claim they just want "fairness" - but if that were so, they wouldn't limit their concern just to talk radio, the one area where they've been shut out (by their own incompetence, mind you - Air America, the liberal talk-radio network, was a complete fiasco). They aren't concerned that Americans "get both sides of the story" on abortion or embryonic-stem-cell research or abstinence training. They weren't concerned about "fairness" when Katie Couric blamed evangelicals for the death of Matthew Shepherd.

They protest that the airwaves belong to the American people. They're right - which is all the more reason to keep grubby government mitts off of them. And if we're going to start dictating media content for the good of the proletariat, then there's no reason to stop with radio. (As Fox's Sean Hannity joked last week, "OK, then we want the 'no sex before marriage' channel to balance out MTV.")

In calling for the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada called conservative talk radio the "generators of simplicity." Presumably this differs from the high-minded debate that occurred over at Air America, where Randi Rhodes liked to say that "Satan is Bush's campaign manager" and routinely claim (why was unclear) that the Bush administration was full of repressed homosexuals.
Finally, let's hear from Brian Anderson, who also sees the connection between CFR and the FD:
The Plot to Shush Rush and O’Reilly
Brian C. Anderson

...It’s not just the blogosphere that’s at risk. The Left has also begun to use campaign-finance reform—not McCain-Feingold but equally onerous state regulations—to try to shush political talk radio. The oldest of the new media—Rush Limbaugh went national around 15 years ago—political talk radio is the Right’s dominion. Not one of the top 20 nationally syndicated political shows features a left-of-center host, and right-leaning radio talkers outnumber liberals three to one. Over 40 percent of Americans tune in at least occasionally to this extremely influential medium, and over 20 percent use it as a primary source of political information. Given the Left’s continuing inability to compete on the dial—its much-ballyhooed Air America doesn’t even register in the Arbitron ratings in some markets—its preferred strategy in the future likely will be to force conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and William Bennett off the air.

…Perhaps the liberal mainstream media will stop cheering campaign-finance reform when they realize their First Amendment rights are at stake, too.

Though campaign-finance madness is the Number One regulatory threat to the new media, it’s not the only one. The Left is now pushing Congress to restore the Fairness Doctrine, which would kill talk radio and possibly conservative-friendly Fox News, too.
It won't stop there. It'll extend to the traditional "exempt" media, too. TOC has pointed this out many times. The "press exemption" is extra-Constitutional, and when they've gutted the First Amendment what possible justification could it retain?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Canada

Canada has a great deal to celebrate today, though many defining events won't be foremost in Canadian minds. I'm thinking of Vimy Ridge, Dieppe and D-Day, to make a short list.

Today, the concept of "Canada" still inspires idealistic people, many of them very young, to put themselves in harm's way in the defence of each and every person living in a Western Democracy.

Thank you Private Robert Costall, Corporal Matthew Dinning, Bombardier Myles Mansell, Lieutenant William Turner, Sgt. Marc Leger, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Pte. Richard Green, Pte. Nathan Smith, Cpl. Anthony Boneca, Master Cpl. Arron Perry and Captain Nichola Goddard. Your heroism in the defense of Western Civilization should be eternally remembered.

I know I have not listed all the Canadian heroes who deserve a special thanks every day, much less on Canada Day. If you browse, you will find a full dedication at The Torch.

Cynicism and civility


Most TOC readers probably do not watch Chris Matthews MSNBC show "Hardball." Neither does most anyone else, apparently, so there's a good chance you missed this bit of theater the other day. Ann Coulter was on the show and was telephonically accosted by Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate and erstwhile ambulance chaser, John Edwards. Mrs. Edwards has claimed the call was "impulsive" - an odd way to describe arranging it in advance with MSNBC and at odds with the role of "most trusted advisor."

Edwards (Elizabeth, not John) complained about remarks Coulter had made ranging from Edewards' husband's prissyness, to her son's death in an automobile accident. It is worth reading Coulter's account, linked below, for the actual comments and context.

It is also instructive to read this piece from The New York Times. I'll spare you exposure to much of the fawning treacle, but I hope to make three points:

1- I
f newspapers weren't exempt from the free speech restrictions of McCain-Feingold, such a "news" article would probably be illegal to publish within 60 days of an election.

2-
It also reveals seeming contradictions in the claim that the call was "impulsive," and that Mrs. Edwards' influence is exaggerated. The emphasis illustrating that is mine.

3- In line with the Edwards' campaign talking points, it does manage to keep alive the idea of Mrs. Edwards' son's death and her cancer as issues of the campaign, if not actually campaign issues.

July 1, 2007
Perspective on Her Side, Mrs. Edwards Enters Fray
By ADAM NAGOURNEY and PATRICK HEALY

WASHINGTON, June 30 — Three months after Elizabeth Edwards said that her cancer had returned in inoperable form, her role and influence in John Edwards’s presidential campaign is undiminished. She has made a flurry of charged public appearances, become a regular presence advising Mr. Edwards on the campaign trail, and wields behind-the-scenes influence in many internal campaign decisions, aides said.

Mrs. Edwards has also become a free operator on behalf of her husband of 29 years, a development that her friends suggest reflects the clarity and perspective that come from her cancer diagnosis, and her increasingly confident political instincts as she advises Mr. Edwards, a North Carolina Democrat, in his second White House bid.

When Mrs. Edwards called in to a television talk show this week to confront the conservative commentator Ann Coulter who had attacked Mr. Edwards this year, it was a decision that Mrs. Edwards said she made impulsively and on her own. The resulting dramatic four minutes of television created a surge of attention that at least momentarily electrified her husband’s campaign, winning applause from the left and apparently spiking contributions in the critical final days of this second-quarter fund-raising period.

...

Mrs. Edwards, in telephone interviews on Friday, said reports of her influence were exaggerated. A noted lawyer in her own right until she retired in 1996 after the couple’s teenage son died in a car accident, she said the burdens of her life these days made it impossible for her to be as involved as she was in 2004, when by all accounts she was Mr. Edwards’s most influential adviser.

“If you sit down with a list of the details of what I do, you wouldn’t come up with very much,” she said cheerfully. “I have a new house. I have kids. I have boxes to unpack. I have cancer.”

...

“But I like it when somebody expresses their view with clarity and force,” she said. “It was Nietzsche or Kierkegaard who said you have to believe in something so strongly that you don’t acknowledge another’s point of view: That’s what real belief is.”

There was a moment of silence on the telephone. “Now I don’t go that far,” Mrs. Edwards said. [What??]
...

Mrs. Edwards is involved in the high-level decisions that are driving the campaign, including the drafting of major speeches, discussion of debate strategy and reviewing television advertisements. When the Edwards campaign was preparing a Memorial Day weekend plan to highlight Mr. Edwards’s opposition to the war, Mrs. Edwards argued that that the campaign restrict its activities on the Monday holiday to honoring soldiers, warning that anything perceived as an antiwar protest on that day would be politically damaging.

Campaign advisers said Mrs. Edwards was the political strategist Mr. Edwards trusted the most, which added to her authority.
...

Mrs. Edwards played down her public role. “I think that’s really you guys, not me,” she said. “It’s because of the cancer and now, for a few minutes anyway, because of Ann Coulter.”
Having only "a few minutes anyway," the Edwards campaign immediately went to work raising money from Elizabeth's "impulsiveness." Here's the blurb from the campaign website:
The Right Wing Attacks!

Tuesday evening Elizabeth Edwards called Ann Coulter live on Hardball to ask for an end to her personal attacks on John and other candidates. Coulter's response? More personal attacks.

It's up to us to raise the dialogue by taking our message straight to voters. Let's show that Ann Coulter style politics will never carry the day. We have 4 days to reach $9 million. Please donate today:
Of course, this simply continues the Edwards' pattern of using of their son's death for political purposes. As Coulter points out here: That was no lady -- That was my husband
Let me also quote from [Liberal] campaign consultant Bob Shrum's book "No Excuses":

"(Kerry) was even queasier about Edwards after they met. Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he'd never told anyone else -- that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he'd do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade's ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before -- and with the same preface, that he'd never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling, and he decided he couldn't pick Edwards unless he met with him again."

Apparently every time Edwards began a story about his dead son with "I've never told anyone this before," everyone on the campaign could lip-sync the story with him.

As a commentator, I bring facts like these to the attention of the American people in a lively way. Thus, for example, in a column about the Democratic candidates for president written in 2003, I pointed out that the Democrats refused to discuss the economy or the war, but had recently "discovered a surprise campaign issue: It turns out that several of them have had a death in the family."

Among several examples of Democrats talking about a death in the family on the campaign trail was this one:

John Edwards injects his son's fatal car accident into his campaign by demanding that everyone notice how he refuses to inject his son's fatal car accident into his campaign.

Edwards has talked about his son's death in a 1996 car accident on "Good Morning America," in dozens of profiles and in his new book. ("It was and is the most important fact of my life.") His 1998 Senate campaign ads featured film footage of Edwards at a learning lab he founded in honor of his son, titled "The Wade Edwards Learning Lab." He wears his son's Outward Bound pin on his suit lapel. He was going to wear it on his sleeve, until someone suggested that might be a little too "on the nose."

If you want points for not using your son's death politically, don't you have to take down all those "Ask me about my son's death in a horrific car accident" bumper stickers? Edwards is like a politician who keeps announcing that he will not use his opponent's criminal record for partisan political advantage.

Manifestly, I was not making fun of their son's death; I was making fun of John Edwards' incredibly creepy habit of invoking his son's tragic death to advance his political career -- a practice so repellant, it even made John Kerry queasy.
It is hard to be completely convinced that the Edwards' are as crass as they appear, but when you also remember the manner in which they announced the campaign would continue despite Elizabeth's cancer, it is difficult to reach any other conclusion than that they are unindicted co-dependents in cynicism.