Monday, December 31, 2007

Jay Grodner, giving lawyers a bad name (Updated and Bumped)

Sometimes you are lucky just because you live in a certain place. In this case it is people in the Chicago area. They can avoid using the services of (the link is down, probably due to traffic):
Jay R. Grodner
Law Offices of Jay R. Grodner
Principal Office-Deerfield
625 Deerfield Road –Suite 406
Deerfield, IL 60015
Phone: (847) 444-1500
Fax: (847) 444-0663

Downtown Chicago
30 N. LaSalle St. - Suite 1210
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: (312) 236-1142
Fax: (312) 236-6036

I have 30 years experience in handling paternity cases in Illinois in Public & Private Practice starting as a prosecutor prior to the admissibility of parental blood testing.
You can find out why Mr. Grodner is despicable, here and here.

H/T Flopping Aces

Update: 8:29 AM

Mr. Grodner also appears to be "lead attorney in the Automobile Dealership Representation. Jay has over twenty-five years experience representing motor vehicle dealerships ..." (This link also is not working presently.)

Perhaps these clients should be made keenly aware of Mr. Grodner's proclivities. We just need to find out who they are. Since Mr. Grodner's site is down, the only thing I find so far is a reference to The Cobalt Group, who have supplied an image Mr. Grodner uses on his site. They may have no other connection, of course.

Update: 12:06 PM

Mr. Grodner was censured by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, an agency of the Illinois Supreme Court, in 1983 for forging voter signatures. Here is a comment by Justice Simon, who thought the punishment should have been more severe:
SIMON, Justice, concurring in part and dissenting in part:

The majority acknowledges that the conduct of the respondents was flagrant, and since it involved acts of forgery, their conduct constituted dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation. I concur in those observations. I dissent, however, because I do not believe the sanctions imposed were sufficient in view of the serious nature of the misconduct. Tampering by members of the bar with any aspect of our voting process deserves neither leniency nor indulgence.

The respondents' conduct was planned and designed to mislead the officials in charge of voting procedures. They knowingly submitted fictitious names with the purpose of having them accepted by election officials as valid signatures of registered voters. The issue here is not, as the respondents would have us believe, whether the tax referendum in connection with which the fictitious names were submitted was important. Neither is it whether any one was hurt by their mischief, as the respondents contend should be asked. Rather the issue is whether the respondents intended to and did subvert the voting process, and whether they intended to and did mislead election officials into believing that signatures the respondents knew were fictitious were genuine.

...With respect to Mr. Grodner, I disagree with the majority that the fact that he had been admitted to practice for only three months when the roundtabling took place should serve as a mitigating factor. It must be apparent to all who examine this situation that one does not require a legal education or admission to the bar to know that what the respondents were doing was improper. The majority points out also in mitigation that Grodner was complying with the request of his superiors, but I am under the impression that the defense that "I was only following orders" was discredited both at the Nuremberg and the Watergate trials. I do not think it is asking too much of licensed attorneys to exhibit the good judgment to say "No" when they are importuned to engage in dishonest pursuits. Instead, Grodner and his co-respondents appeared to treat the activity in which they engaged as a joke. Grodner, too, occupied public office, and even if only for a short time, it was long enough to know that as a prosecutor he was expected to uphold the law, not violate it. The sanction of censure recommended for him by the Administrator is inappropriate, for it overlooks the obligation he undertook when he assumed the prosecutor's office. I believe the Review Board's recommendation that he be suspended for six months was a proper disposition.
It is reasonable to conclude that Mr. Grodner did not benefit from his censure. He still believes he is above the law.

H/T (from his comment at BLACKFIVE) michaelinmi at AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

Viability watch

NRO links to a Fred Thompson video. 17 minutes, but worth watching.

Don't take my word for it, check NRO's comment here.

First, take your blood pressure meds

Quotes of the year from the MSM. Here.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Open letter to Michigan's Governor

Dear Governor Granholm,

Please read Taxation and the right of exit. Don't miss the comments.

It describes a "social experiment" in Denmark, and how language differences with the rest of Europe make it somewhat more difficult for "well-educated, cosmopolitan Danes" to emigrate in response to punitive taxation. A problem well-educated Michigan residents do not face vis-à-vis Indiana, for example.

That part of federalism still operates, despite the best efforts of your philosophical brethren in Washington, Democrats in the State legislature and RINOs like Senator Ron Jelinek, who proposed extending a 5% sales tax to all services on WJIM radio last January.

In response to the interviewer's comment that such a services tax would hurt businesses in border communities, Jelinek noted (I paraphrase) "that most Michiganders don't live close enough to a border to be able to avoid such a tax."

Hold your citizens in contempt long enough, and they will solve that border problem.

Denmark has tried to address its problem by taxing emigration, but your new MBT goes them one better, by continuing to tax investors if they dare set foot back in Michigan for one day a year.
A taxpayer, other than an insurance company, has nexus with Michigan and is subject to the tax imposed under the MBT if (a) the taxpayer has a physical presence in this state for more than one day in a tax year, or (b) the taxpayer actively solicits sales in this state and has unapportioned gross receipts of $350,000 or more sourced to this state. MCL 208.1200(1).
"Gross receipts," unfortunately, include interest and dividends from investment, whether or not you have a "business" in any commonly understood sense. How many potential investors, who are already being encouraged to move out of Michigan, will continue to invest here - given the fact that they would then be liable to MBT taxation if they come back to see their grandchildren for one day a year?

Sincerely,
Duane Hershberger

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Corporatis Blatantensis

Subspecies: Congressionalus Autocharitus

TOC provided a definition of corporatism here.

Democracy Project points out another a fine example. RTWT for several links and excerpts from the WaPo story.

Both through shoddy products and overpriced ones that may nudge out more valuable defense spending, earmarks place our troops and our national security at risk.

...Today’s Washington Post runs a front-pager on Congressman John Murtha’s favorite charity, his reelection via earmarks to his district, “Millions in Earmarks Purchase Little of Use.” The focus is The National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence, in Murtha’s Johnstown, PA, affiliated with Murtha’s other creation Concurrent Technologies. Read the article for details, and read the Wall Street Journal’s more detailed expose, “MURTHA INC.: How Lawmaker Rebuilt Hometown on Earmarks.”
John Murtha is a character straight out of an Ayn Rand novel. He is hardly alone among elected officials.

Non-interventionists in the State Department

We've been running clandestine experiments in non-intervention for some time. John Bolton comments on how that's worked in Iran:
...Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice initially had planned to provide significant aid to the pro-democracy movement in Iran, as a means of giving the president more policy options, Bolton said. But resistance by the State Department bureaucracy crippled the programs and rendered them ineffective.

“[T]he outcome has been no overt program of support for democracy and no clandestine program to overthrow the regime,” Bolton said.

“This is a classic case study why diplomacy is not cost-free. If we had been working on regime change effectively over the last four or more years, we would be in a lot different position today,” he added.

The State Department emphasis on European-led negotiations has allowed Iran to buy time and to perfect the technology it needs to make nuclear weapons, Bolton argued.

Even if President Bush decided to reinvigorate the pro-democracy programs tomorrow, Bolton believes we probably don’t have enough time for them to be effective before the Iranians get the bomb.

“I think we are very close to a decision point,” Bolton told Newsmax. “And if the choice is between nuclear Iran and use of force, I think we have to look at the use of force.”

...Bolton worries that bad intelligence, coupled to wishful thinking by bureaucrats who tend to downplay the threat, could lead to strategic surprise by Iran or North Korea.

“I personally do not believe in just-in-time non-proliferation,” he said.
RTWT

The difference between this practice and Ron Paul's version is that he'd make it official policy AND eliminate American military power outside our borders.

H/T JR

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It the politics stupid!

An admission of faith in "science" by consensus. The true meaning of Global Warming™.

Global Warming Will Save America from the Right...Eventually
...the future political map of America is likely to look as different as the much shrunken geographical map, with much of the so-called “red” state region either gone or depopulated.

There is a poetic justice to this of course. It is conservatives who are giving us the candidates who steadfastly refuse to have the nation take steps that could slow the pace of climate change, so it is appropriate that they should bear the brunt of its impact.

The important thing is that we, on the higher ground both actually and figuratively, need to remember that, when they begin their historic migration from their doomed regions, we not give them the keys to the city. They certainly should be offered assistance in their time of need, but we need to keep a firm grip on our political systems, making sure that these guilty throngs who allowed the world to go to hell are gerrymandered into political impotence in their new homes.
OTOH, when AGW doesn't produce the apocalypse, the statist environmental hypocrites will simply alter their theology.

H/T Drudge

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The paradox of non-interventionism in a nuclear world

...Or, The giant sucking sound of American power standing down in a matter of months.

Presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul was interviewed this past weekend by Tim Russert on MSNBC. The interview demonstrated two things, 1) the MSM do not like Ron Paul and, 2) Paul should never be President. Russert asked a question about what he (Paul) would do if Iran invaded Israel. I'm not exactly sure what that means, and Paul probably wasn't either. Rather than ask for clarification, Paul gets in two sentences, one coherent and one almost coherent, before he goes off the rails:
REP. PAUL: “Well, they are not going to. That is like saying that Iran is about to invade Mars. They have nothing, they don’t have an army or a navy or an air force. Israelis have 300 nuclear weapons, nobody would touch them... It is an impossible situation.”
The second sentence is “almost coherent” because “about to invade” wasn't in the question. If Paul can contemplate this invasion at some future date, after he's withdrawn all American power elsewhere in the world, he should answer this question: “What will you do when an alliance of Islamists, some armed with nuclear weapons, does attack Israel?” The follow-up would be, “Would your opinion be different if Israel did not have nuclear weapons? If so, why?”

The third sentence is simply ignorant. Here’s the army, navy and air force Iran doesn’t have.

From MILNET
The Iranian military consists of the army, air force, navy, and a Revolutionary Guard force. Officially about 8% of the country's GDP accounts for defense. This number does not include several arms purchases made in the early 90s. Most recently it is believed that the rising national debt is curtailing some arms acquisitions. Total active duty armed forces numbers 513,000, while reserves add another 350,000.

MILNET Brief
The Iranian Conventional Forces - 2/18/2005

"Iran is now the only regional military power that poses a significant conventional military threat to Gulf stability. Iran has significant capabilities for asymmetric warfare, and poses the additional threat of proliferation. There is considerable evidence that it is developing both a long-range missile force and a range of weapons of mass destruction. It has never properly declared its holdings of chemical weapons, and the status of its biological weapons programs is unknown. The discoveries made by the IAEA since 2002 indicate that it is likely Iran will continue to covertly seek nuclear weapons."
- Iran's Developing Conventional Military Capabilities, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 12/8/2004
Even though Paul is wrong about Iranian armed forces, he holds a narrowly legitimate position that Iran is not about to invade Israel - narrowly as in parsing the meaning of “is.” It is quite another position to say Iran does not threaten Israel, which is where Paul went with his answer. The Congressman should therefore be sure to explain why he is certain that Amahdinejad isn't willing to commit a nuclear suicide bombing of Israel, and provide a list of Middle East wars to obliterate Israel in which only one Islamist country was the aggressor. The Iranians would have help from Syria, probably Egypt and certainly Hamas & Hizballah, whom they fund. Armed forces are somewhat fungible.

Maybe Ron Paul is right. It’s just too scary for Iran to attack Israel. If so, they might be looking for proxies to physically invade Israel. No need for Iranian boots on Israeli soil. Egypt, Hamas, Hezballah and Syria are already in position, and if Iran were going to hit Israel with a nuke (rocket propelled or otherwise) those entities could depend on getting a heads up. Perhaps Iran will not have a nuclear weapon for three years, perhaps for ten, but when they get one we know who the first target is.

Still, maybe Amahdinejad does realize an attack on Israel would be the end of Iran. Maybe he also cares. Maybe the little wanker is just blowing off steam when he repeatedly threatens to kill all the Jews. We do have an estimate that Iran would suffer very badly should any conventional attack appear to be succeeding, or if an attack was nuclear.

If a nuclear war between Israel and Iran were to break out 16-20 million Iranians would lose their lives - as opposed to 200,000-800,000 Israelis, according to a report recently published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is headed by Anthony H. Cordesman, formerly an analyst for the US Department of Defense.


The report cites Israel's Arrow missile defense system as an obstacle facing a possible Iranian strike and says that it could shoot down most of the missiles. Israel, on the other hand, would be capable of hitting most of the Iranian cities with pinpoint accuracy due to the high resolution satellite imagery systems at its disposal.
The Arrow missile defense, by the way, is jointly funded by Israel and the US. Given its defensive purpose it seems like a non-interventionist might actually approve. And what about that satellite imagery from the Israeli satellite launched by those pesky interventionists, the Russians? Maybe Israel is also asking Russia for details on the Iranian air defenses and nuclear development, also Russian interventions. I suppose Russia wouldn't keep intervening if we stopped, though, would they?
Another scenario presented by the report includes Syria joining the bandwagon in case of a war and lobbing missiles with chemical and biological warheads into Israeli cities. According to the report, up to 800,000 Israelis would be killed if that were to happen. Syria, however, would be forced to grapple with the deaths of approximately 18 million of its citizens were Israel to respond with its nuclear arsenal.

Israel, the report says, would launch a nuclear attack on Cairo and additional Egyptian cities, and would destroy the Aswan Dam if Egypt joined the fray.
But, back to the interview (emphasis mine). Russert brought up something Paul said on CNN:
MR. RUSSERT: This is what you said about Israel. "Israel's dependent on us, you know, for economic means. We send them" "billions of dollars and they," then they "depend on us. They say, `Well, you know, we don't like Iran. You go fight our battles. You bomb Iran for us.' And they become dependent on us."

Who in Israel is saying "Go bomb Iran for us"?

REP. PAUL: Well, I don't know the individuals, but we know that their leaderships--you read it in the papers on a daily--a daily, you know, about Israel, the government of Israel encourages Americans to go into Iran, and the people--I don't think that's a--I don't think that's top secret that the government of Israel...

MR. RUSSERT: That the government of Israel wants us to bomb Iran?

REP. PAUL: I, I don't think there's a doubt about that, that they've encouraged us to do that. And of course the neoconservatives have been anxious to do that for a long time.
If that's true, and if we were convinced Iran was getting an A-Bomb, (Note, you should be very skeptical about that recent NIE that Iran is not working on a nuke – start here) why would we wait for Israel to ask us? We're more likely to ask them to do it.

Remember Osirak? Remember the Israelis took out a Syrian nuclear site in September? (Emphasis mine.)

Israel's decision to attack Syria on Sept. 6, bombing a suspected nuclear site set up in apparent collaboration with North Korea, came after Israel shared intelligence with President Bush this summer indicating that North Korean nuclear personnel were in Syria, U.S. government sources said.
Can you say "Axis of Evil, JG" (Did the Israelis have Syrian air defense secrets in aid of this raid? If so, I'll bet they came from those intervening Russians.) In any case, Israel is perfectly capable of bombing Iran themselves.

But, let's say Israel would ask us to bomb Iran as a practical humanitarian gesture, because Israel doesn't have “conventional” bunker busters, and they don't want to use a nuke. Do we refuse to lend them an experimental “Divine Strake” (not operational) or three?

Those are some practical questions about instantaneous non-interventionism Congressman Paul did not have time to address. What he did have time for, though, was to broadly hint that he agrees with Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s recent book, “The Israel Lobby.” Here is a starting point for critiques.

In itself, this would be disturbing, but if you combine it with some of Paul's other activities, it is more worrisome yet.

Dallying with white-supremacists, anti-semites and "truthers" is only circumstantially related to Paul's qualifications, and apparently only tangentially related to his beliefs. But the question is reasonable nonetheless, “Is this cluelessness, pandering or evidence of phraseological osmosis - Perhaps the result of breathing too much of the air in the same room with Alex Jones, or of writing too many articles for the American Free Press over the years, a journal founded by Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic Willis Carto?"

Non-interventionism as a principle does not require one to hint broadly about Zionist conspiracies when asked about an attack by fanatics intended to destroy an ally. It does require some thoughtful discussion of how the vacuum of a precipitous (or otherwise) American withdrawal from the world stage could be realistically managed. It requires a clear explanation of how the United States can avoid preemptive military action in a world where Iran has nuclear weapons, while still cleaving to the libertarian principle that one legitimate power of government is defense of its citizens.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

cold civil war

This sentence is perhaps the best summary of what is so very peculiar about the statist mind.
It seems a mite inconsistent to entrust government to manage your health care and education and to dictate what you can and can't toss in the trash, but then to fret over them waging war on your behalf.
That's from Mark Steyn, currently under attack in Canada based on laws intended to protect human rights - so long as freedom of speech is not counted among them.

Read the whole thing here.

H/T JR

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, or not, from your next President

I was putting together a montage (miasma?), of candidates' Christmas/ Holiday/ Seasonal (sorry, it is what it is) messages and I came across Mark Steyn's commentary on same.

You are the beneficiary of both efforts. Here's Mark on the ads. For the record, he mentions Ron Paul, but not Fred Thompson. Paul must therefore be at least as viable as Thompson. :/'

Here are links to videos of the various candidates' Christmas messages I could easily find - alphabetically, by party. An asterisk means there was no mention of Christmas in the ad. I take mentioning Chrismas not as a religious litmus test, but as evidence of rejecting relativist disparagement of Western liberal values.

Dems

Clinton*

Edwards*

Kucinich
Can't find an ad, but the anti-capitalist prig is into the materialism.


Obama

Richardson
Can't find an ad.


*******************************************

GOP

Giuliani

Huckabee

McCain

Paul

Romney.
Can't find anything current.


Thompson^
(The theme music has "Christmas" in it. The word could easily have been put in at the close, and was not. But, he's clearly not a deconstructionist.)

Finally, The Other Club wishes you a very

Merry Christmas!

whether your candidate did or not.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The viablity of Ron Paul

TOC recently commented upon, and linked to, an analysis of GOP Presidential candidates. That analysis ended by endorsing Fred Thompson. I concluded my post with, "There's no endorsement from TOC, but I hope Thompson remains viable yet awhile. Assuming he still is in the first place, of course."

This elicited a question from Paladin:
I'd like to see your justification for considering Thompson "viable", but not Paul.

The media hates Paul and loves Thompson. Is that it?
Given TOCs history, the implication that my opinion on this matter is driven by the MSM seems overwrought, and I did not claim Thompson was viable - I hoped he was and I wondered about it.

The actual question would seem to be why I do not see Ron Paul in a better light. Unfortunately, this is not difficult to answer. I'd like to like Ron Paul, he favors quite a few policies with which I am in complete agreement. There is, however, a deal breaker for me.

1- Paul advocates withdrawal from NATO and the United nations. This is good.

However, he also proposes immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and a ban on supplying any more foreign or domestic aid to rebuild the country. Since he opposed invading Iraq from the beginning this position can be said to be principled. It can also be called naive. Worse, he can't stop at criticizing the Battle of Iraq as a waste of blood and treasure.

In Paul's view, expressed during a presidential debate; "They [9-11 terrorists] attack us because we've been over there, we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East. I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics."

In other words, some foreigners don't like us because we shoot back at an international pariah under international sanction, in the aftermath of a war initiated by said pariah that threatened US national interests - a situation continuing for 10 years only because of the unfortunate irresolution of Bush I. Because of those factors, we should do more to appreciate the irrationality of Middle Eastern fanatics who felt it necessary to fly airliners into the WTC and Pentagon?

It is one thing to oppose going to war, it is entirely another to propose to abandon a war while victory can be achieved. It was politicians who lost Vietnam after our huge victory during the Tet offensive. Paul would surrender to the opinion of Islamists in the same fashion. He is even able to downplay the threat of an Iranian nuke:
The threat of Iran developing a nuclear weapon has been overblown, and their chances of using one are "slim to none," he said.

"We either subsidize people or we bomb them. Why not try another option?" Paul asked. "We shouldn't get hysterical that in 10 years or more they might have a nuclear weapon."
Paul's foreign policy positions make me unable ever to vote for him. I think a vast majority of those not into "cut and run" agree.

If Dennis Kucinich would be comfortable as SecDef under a Ron Paul administration, I would not. Why vote for Paul for President when you can have Edwards, Obama or Clinton to get the troops out? Because his domestic policies are anathema to you as a Liberal? Paul's foreign policy produces results identical to that of the fringe left, who will never vote for him. Paul nicely alienates both ends of the political spectrum and his iconoclasm will never be appreciated by the middle.

Withdrawal at any cost is a sufficient negative for me, but since it is viability which is at issue, there are ancillary items which will matter to others. Things upon which Democrats will certainly seize...

2- Paul would like us to think his opposition to wasteful federal spending is as important to him as his non-interventionism. To me, this would mean complete eschewal of pork and earmarks in any form.

Granted, none of the other candidates can claim superiority here. However, they do not make it a moral absolute. Ron Paul should meet his own higher standard, and he does not. Here is a list of Paul Pork.

His defense of his participation in earmark fiascos is that he does not think the feds should take your money in the first place, but since they do it's only right to try and get some back. Paul supporters point out that he consistently votes against pork laden bills, including the pork he's requested. This is an unsatisfactory answer on principle. Paul knows full well his vote is inconsequential. His earmarks get passed over his "objection."

Ron Paul isn't returning stolen money. He's participating in the theft. He gets no points for ritually objecting to it. He would get some questions about it in any debate with a Democrat Presidential nominee.

As the Club for Growth 2007 RePORK Card points out, Paul's anti-pork voting percentage is 29.
Some of the outrageous pork projects Paul voted to keep include $231,000 for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association's Urban Center; $129,000 for the "perfect Christmas tree project;" $300,000 for the On Location Entertainment Industry Craft Technician Training Project in California; $150,000 for the South Carolina Aquarium; and $500,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in California.[30] This year, Ron Paul requested more than sixty earmarks "worth tens of millions of dollars for causes as diverse as rebuilding a Texas theater, funding a local trolley, and helping his state's shrimp industry."[31]

...This is a contradiction of Paul's self-proclaimed "opposition to appropriations not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution."[33]
3- Paul flirts with fringe paranoids.

Ron Paul receives significant support from "Truthers," those who believe that 9/11 was a US government conspiracy. This has nothing necessarily to do with Ron Paul. He cannot choose his supporters, and that such people are attracted to his campaign does not even suggest he agrees with them. Paul claims he knows little about such ideas, but does not exactly go out of his way to reject this particular conspiracy theory. He has appeared four times on the Alex Jones radio show. For Paul to profess ignorance about 9/11 conspiracy theories, while repeatedly chatting with a conspiracy promoter is too cute by half.

When informed that his candidacy had received $500 from a white supremacist, (and this is the only item I've seen the MSM pounce on) he did not see any problem with accepting it. I am not saying this in any way reflects Paul's personal beliefs. Again, he doesn't get to choose his supporters. However, viability in the general election requires somewhat more than a "What's your problem?" response.

He has refused to return the money, as is his right. He could defuse the issue entirely by giving it to a charity, especially one opposed to white supremacists. That he has not taken this suggestion indicates a certain tone deafness unlikely to be beneficial to a presidential nominee. He's turning lemons into battery acid over $500.

The viability question does not turn on whether I believe Ron Paul solicits support from kooks, it is whether other voters will believe it when he does not actively reject such support.

I acknowledge that Fred Thompson's viablity is an extremely thin reed. Ron Paul, however, is dead meat to the GOP base and that's the nomination he is seeking.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Free speech vs Islamism update

I provide some excerpts from several sources. Please RTWTs at the links provided.

First, by the Editors at National Review Online, Free Steyn:
On December 4, the Canadian Islamic Congress announced that it had filed a complaint with three of Canada’s “human rights commissions” over an October 2006 article that Steyn had published in Maclean’s, Canada’s leading news weekly. “This article completely misrepresents Canadian Muslims’ values, their community, and their religion,” said Faisal Joseph, an attorney representing the complainants, in a press release. “We feel that it is imperative to challenge Maclean’s biased portrayal of Muslims in order to protect Canadian multiculturalism and tolerance.”

The article in question was adapted from Steyn’s recent book America Alone, which argues that Western society may be irrevocably altered — and not for the better — by unassimilated Muslim immigration. It’s no surprise that this thesis is controversial, probably in part because Steyn makes his points so well. But the real threat to tolerance here is the CIC, which would have the state impose penalties on those whose writings it disagrees with.
If you haven't yet purchased your autographed copy of America Alone, you can do so here. The least you should do is read the MacLeans' article that has the Canadian Islamic Congress' panties in a knot. Titled The future belongs to Islam, it makes such hateful statements as this:
On the Continent and elsewhere in the West, native populations are aging and fading and being supplanted remorselessly by a young Muslim demographic. Time for the obligatory "of courses": of course, not all Muslims are terrorists -- though enough are hot for jihad to provide an impressive support network of mosques from Vienna to Stockholm to Toronto to Seattle. Of course, not all Muslims support terrorists -- though enough of them share their basic objectives (the wish to live under Islamic law in Europe and North America) to function wittingly or otherwise as the "good cop" end of an Islamic good cop/bad cop routine. But, at the very minimum, this fast-moving demographic transformation provides a huge comfort zone for the jihad to move around in. And in a more profound way it rationalizes what would otherwise be the nuttiness of the terrorists' demands. An IRA man blows up a pub in defiance of democratic reality -- because he knows that at the ballot box the Ulster Loyalists win the elections and the Irish Republicans lose. When a European jihadist blows something up, that's not in defiance of democratic reality but merely a portent of democratic reality to come. He's jumping the gun, but in every respect things are moving his way.

You may vaguely remember seeing some flaming cars on the evening news toward the end of 2005. Something going on in France, apparently. Something to do with -- what's the word? -- "youths." When I pointed out the media's strange reluctance to use the M-word vis-à-vis the rioting "youths," I received a ton of emails arguing there's no Islamist component, they're not the madrasa crowd, they may be Muslim but they're secular and Westernized and into drugs and rap and meaningless sex with no emotional commitment, and rioting and looting and torching and trashing, just like any normal healthy Western teenagers. These guys have economic concerns, it's the lack of jobs, it's conditions peculiar to France, etc. As one correspondent wrote, "You right-wing shit-for-brains think everything's about jihad."

Actually, I don't think everything's about jihad. But I do think, as I said, that a good 90 per cent of everything's about demography. Take that media characterization of those French rioters: "youths." What's the salient point about youths? They're youthful. Very few octogenarians want to go torching Renaults every night. It's not easy lobbing a Molotov cocktail into a police station and then hobbling back with your walker across the street before the searing heat of the explosion melts your hip replacement. Civil disobedience is a young man's game.
There's much more in the article and you should read it. I said that already, but it definitely bears repeating. Steyn's book, from which it is adapted, is even more worth reading.

Meanwhile, Michael Savage, for whose self-absorbed ranting I have little use, at least operates under a legal system better suited to self-defense - and to free speech. He does have a right to say what he has said. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has a perfect right to mount a boycott of his radio show. This kerfuffle is described sympathetically, amazingly, in the San Francisco Gate.

Savage vs. CAIR: The battle over free speech

Savage's controversial commentary tends to elicit a censorious response. It wasn't long ago that Savage's remarks on illegal immigrants drew the ire of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which, it seems, is always on the lookout for avenues of politically-correct behavior control. Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval introduced a resolution twice this year condemning Savage for "hate speech," a meaningless yet ominous gesture which disregards the concept of free speech. The resolution failed the first time around thanks to the lone dissent of the now-ousted Supervisor Ed Jew, who, in contrast to Sandoval's identity-politics-steeped perspective, stuck with upholding the First Amendment. But in October, the resolution passed, providing a menacing example of government interference, albeit symbolically, in the free speech rights of its citizenry.

Economic punishment is another weapon in the hands of those opposed to Savage's provocative methodology and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is the latest to jump on the boycott bandwagon. CAIR is a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization that touts itself as "America's largest Islamic civil liberties group." As such, CAIR expressed concern over a number of statements made by Savage on his Oct. 29 program that the group felt were anti-Muslim in nature. In response, CAIR, along with the newly formed Hate Hurts America Community and Interfaith Coalition, has attempted to mount a boycott aimed at advertisers on Savage's show. According to a Dec. 3 CAIR press release, a growing list of companies, including AutoZone, Citrix, TrustedID, JC Penney, OfficeMax, Wal-Mart, and AT&T, have joined the boycott.

But rather than taking CAIR's boycott lying down, Savage is fighting back, in court. Represented by his lawyer, Daniel A. Horowitz, Savage is suing CAIR primarily for copyright infringement. According to the text of the lawsuit, which is posted at Savage's Web site, CAIR "misappropriated" his work by posting the four-minute segment in question at its Web site and including it in outreach and fundraising efforts. Taking it a step further, the lawsuit accuses CAIR of misrepresenting itself as a "civil rights organization" and of "advocating a specific political agenda that is directly opposed to the existence of a free society." While the copyright infringement charges against CAIR may or may not pan out, the broader implications could end up holding the most weight.
Please note the companies who have joined the boycott against Savage. You may mount your own, if you wish. Perhaps against them.

I admit I was briefly conflicted about WalMart, because they are often the target of "hateful" propaganda from union socialists, and I've gone out of my way to patronize them because of it. However, as long as they're against free speech, they might as well suffer from it.

God speed, Mark Steyn. Good luck, Michael Savage.


Update: 7:45PM. Forgot this one.

Censorship In The Name Of 'Human Rights'
...human rights commissions are the perfect instrument for the CIC. The CIC doesn't even have to hire a lawyer: Once the complaint has been accepted by the commissions, taxpayers' dollars and government lawyers are used to pursue the matter. Maclean's, on the other hand, will have to hire its own lawyers with its own money. Rules of court don't apply. Normal rules of evidence don't apply. The commissions are not neutral; they're filled with activists, many of whom aren't even lawyers and do not understand the free-speech safeguards contained in our constitution.

And the punishments that these commissions can order are bizarre. Besides fines to the government and payments to complainants, defendants can be forced to "apologize" for having unacceptable political or religious opinions.

An apology might not sound onerous, yet it is far more troubling than a fine. Ordering a person -- or a magazine -- to say or publish words that they don't believe is an Orwellian act of thought control. The editor of Maclean's, Ken Whyte, maintains his magazine is fair. But human rights commissions have the power to order him to publish a confession that he's a bigot -- or, as in one Ontario case, even order someone to study Islam. Even convicted murderers cannot be "ordered" to apologize.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Earmark Air Force runs another successful mission

That spending bill the Feds passed last night? The one the Democrats caved on? Well, not entirely. Their greed once again got the better of their "principles."

3500 pages in the bill. 9000 earmarks. 300 of them airdropped.

More here, from the Republican Study Committee.

I'm sure some of this was from, and for, GOP members. However, they aren't the ones who've voted 40 or 50 times to tie funding to Iraq withdrawal, only to back down under cover of an avalanche of pork. The GOP porkers didn't cave. They did business as usual, enabled by the Democrat majority.

Interesting analysis

I reserve the right to change my mind, since it is still very early in a compressed primary cycle, but this analysis of GOP presidential wannabes mirrors my thinking almost precisely.

The Envelope Please . . .
By Pejman Yousefzadeh at Redstate
So I have taken my time in deciding which candidate I will endorse for President of the United States, but with the Iowa Caucuses coming up, it is indeed time for me to put up or shut up. Before I get to the candidate of my choice, it behooves me to discuss briefly a few of the other contenders.
...
Read the whole thing at the above link. It is a nice piece.

There's no endorsement from TOC, but I hope Thompson remains viable yet awhile. Assuming he still is in the first place, of course.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Murdering teenage girls and free speech

More on the demise of liberal Western culture in Canada from David Warren. RTWT Then they came for Mark Steyn...
In the olden days, in this country, people who were hurtin' sang a
country song. I remember my little sister, when she was eight years of
age, singing one in the kitchen, while affecting to wash some dishes.
The lyrics were, as I recall: "My daddy hates me. / My mommy hates me.
/ My brubber hates me. / Everybody hates me and I'm / not very happy."
It needed at least a banjo.

These days in Canada, if you're feeling down and blue, and you think
somebody hates you, you bring your case to a Human Rights Tribunal. And
the people you think hate you get that knock on the door, celebrated in
the literature of the Soviet Gulag, and wherever else ideology triumphed
over humanity in the 20th century's painful course. Your daddy, your
mommy, your brubber, or more likely some newspaper pundit gets dragged
before a committee of smug, leftwing, humourless, jargon-blathering
adjudicators. After long delays that are costly only to the defendant
and the taxpayer (and justice delayed is justice denied), you will have
the satisfaction of making your enemy squirm, in a kangaroo court where
he is stripped of the right to due process, in which there are no fixed
rules of evidence, in which the ridiculously biased "judges" make up
the law as they go along, and impose penalties restricted only by their
grimly limited imaginations -- such as ruinous fines, and lifetime
"cease and desist" orders, such that, if you ever open your mouth again
on a given topic, you stand to go to prison.
Before you get to feeling smug about Canada's multi-culti moral-relativist lunacy, don't forget East Lansing's very own Nazra Quraishi who told us in a letter to the Lansing State Journal, "Islam is a guide for humanity, for all times, until the day of judgment. It is forbidden in Islam to convert to any other religion. The penalty is death. There is no disagreement about it."

Quraishi is, or was in 2006, a kindergarten teacher. I do not know her view on "honor killings" involving headscarves, but I suspect she's much closer to agreeing with the practice than am I.

While we're on the topic of Canadian Islamist sympathizers attempting to suppress free speech, and to turn the religion motivated strangulation of Aqsa Parvez into a domestic violence story, you would profit from reading Michelle Malkin's post Whitewashing the murder of Aqsa Parvez…and remembering the murder of Tina Isa. This post contains a transcript of part of an FBI recording of the filicide of Tina Isa by her father ably assisted by her mother.

It is not easy to read. It begins with Tina’s father saying: “Here, listen, my dear daughter, do you know that this is the last day. Tonight, you’re going to die?” Then her mother helps hold her while he stabs her many times.

The FBI was recording goings on in the Isa household because her father was suspected of being a Palestinian terrorist. Catching him murdering his daughter was an accident.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's your money

Check out OMB Watch and USASpending.gov. They've been addded to the blogroll.
OMB Watch is a nonprofit government watchdog organization located in Washington, DC.

Our mission is to promote open government, accountability and citizen participation.

****

Have you ever wanted to find more information on government spending? Have you ever wondered where federal contracting dollars and grant awards go? Or perhaps you would just like to know, as a citizen, what the government is really doing with your money. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act) requires a single searchable website, accessible by the public for free that includes for each Federal award:

1. The name of the entity receiving the award;
2. The amount of the award;
3. Information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, etc;
4. The location of the entity receiving the award;
5. A unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Mark Steyn Free Enterprise Defense Fund

Mohamed Elmasry, President of the Canadian Islamic Congress, and Professor at Kitchener's University of Waterloo [my wife's alma mater], was defending his turf today, "I don't want the public to think that this is really an Islamic issue or an immigrant issue," he said, "it is a teenager issue."

Mr. Elmasry was referring to this story out of Mississauga, Ontario:

A 16-year-old girl is in critical condition after being choked by a man believed to be her father, apparently after a dispute with her family over her refusal to wear the hijab, the Islamic headscarf worn by some Muslim women.
Mr. Elmasry has at last explained the huge increase in dress-code related North American filicide committed across ethno-religious boundaries. Teenage females are maddening and a good few more of them should be strangled if they don't wear headscarves. What is Western civilization coming to?

Well, it may be coming to the conclusion that Mr. Elmasry is full of it. This murder undeniably originated in the odious, and all too frequent misogyny of a certain segment of Muslim "manhood."

Aqsa Parvez died today in Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. Her father has now been charged with murder, and his son with obstruction. These "men" did this in the name of honor and Islam. Most North Americans will wonder where the honor lies in killing a daughter because she would not wear a scarf.

Admittedly, there is a stark simplicity to this philosophy. If females don't do what males tell them to do they should be severely punished. They've made you look bad. Your daughter gets gang raped? 200 lashes: On her back. She won't wear what you tell her to? She should be strangled. She might someday enjoy fornication? Clitorectomy. She dared to teach gradeschools? Execution in a Kabul soccer stadium.

When he's not blaming the victim, Mr. Elmasry is busy claiming to be one. Not long ago he sued The Western Standard magazine over the publication of some Danish cartoons. Now his Canadian Islamic Congress is suing McLean's magazine over an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book America Alone (order a copy here, and have Mark sign it). These suits result from a simpering grievance culture fostered by the bureaucratization of speech under the aegis of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The London Free Press describes this suit and the kangaroo wallaby court that is the CHRC (emphasis mine):
The problem can be traced to the overweening powers of Canada's human rights tribunals. Alan Borovoy, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, underlined the danger last year after the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada filed a human rights complaint against the Western Standard for republishing a set of Danish cartoons that many Muslims found offensive. In an article in the Calgary Herald, Borovoy wrote: "During the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create (human rights) commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech."
Quite a failure of the imagination, that.
Borovoy recalled that the restrictions on speech in the codes were intended to apply only to communications that fostered discrimination on such bases as employment or housing. Instead, human rights tribunals have adopted such expansive interpretations of these speech restrictions that a newspaper or magazine could get into trouble for publishing even a truthful article about conflict in the Middle East, Bosnia, Rwanda or elsewhere that is likely to expose at least one of the parties to contempt.

Canada's power-grabbing human rights commissioners evidently have scant regard for the freedoms they suppress or for the original understanding of the codes they are supposed to uphold. Otherwise, the British Columbia tribunal and the Canadian and Ontario human rights commissions would have promptly dismissed the CIC's complaints against Maclean's as entirely without merit.
Mark Steyn is one of the best cultural and political writers in the world today. I guess it is not too surprising that he has run afoul of Canada's toned down rage boy. Here are some other reactions to the suit:
Suing for silence
We, in the West, do not legislate for the Dar al-Islam (the Muslim realm). On the contrary, we endure the fallout from countries in which, because the right to free speech is not secure, opposition to authority must be expressed through violence.

I make this hard point because it is necessary to understand. “Freedom of expression” did not develop in the West from purely idealistic motives. Nor is it necessarily a pretty thing. Like so much in civil society, we put up with it because the alternative is worse, and we'd rather cope with free speech, than with the free intimidation that results from its suppression.

And I make this point in light of the case that has been brought against Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine, before Human Rights Commissions for Canada, British Columbia, and Ontario, by the Canadian Islamic Congress, led by Mohamed Elmasry. The first two commissions have already agreed to hear the case, and thus rule on whether Mark Steyn had the right to express the opinions and beliefs in his bestselling book, America Alone, and specifically in the excerpt entitled, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” which ran in Maclean's last year. According to the complaint, by expressing his opinions and beliefs, Mark Steyn “subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and Islamophobia.”


So who's fuelling the prejudice?
For grievance-mongers such as these, no insult is too small to whip up into a hate crime. This week's example is supplied by the Canadian Islamic Congress, a grandly named lobby group that, for all I know, consists of six people and a website. They're mad about a Mark Steyn piece called The Future Belongs to Islam that ran a year ago in Maclean's. This week, they launched a bunch of human-rights complaints against the magazine for promoting hatred against Muslims. "This article completely misrepresents Canadian Muslims' values, their community, and their religion," said Faisal Joseph, a lawyer for the CIC. "I felt personally offended," said complainant Naseem Mithoowani.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm no fan of the CIC. Its chair, Mohamed Elmasry, once let slip that he thinks all Israeli adults are legitimate targets for terrorists. Nor is the CIC a fan of mine. It tracked my sins for years, and concluded The Globe and Mail scores high on the Islamophobia meter.
Where was the HCRC on Elmasry's terrorist encouragement, EH?
Steynophobia
The complaints against Maclean’s for publishing an excerpt from America Alone have been filed by several Canadian law students and by Faisal Joseph, a former crown attorney. Maclean’s published a total of 27 letters over two issues in response to Steyn’s piece–more responses than any Maclean’s cover story received over the past year. Yet when the law students demanded a longer response, Maclean’s was willing to consider it. The students then insisted that Maclean’s run a five-page article, written by an author of their choice, with no editing by the magazine. They also demanded that the reply to Steyn be a cover story, with art controlled by them, rather than the magazine. At this point, Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Whyte showed them the door, saying he would rather let Maclean’s go bankrupt than permit someone outside of operations dictate the magazine’s content.
...

Ugly as this affair may be, can we assume that Steyn and Maclean’s will ultimately emerge unscathed–and that America, at least, is safe from this sort of crazy Canadian multiculturalism? No we cannot. However they’re resolved, these high profile cases take a toll on all concerned. More important, they send a chill over smaller fish.

Americans need to recognize the pattern here, and we also need to realize that it has already invaded the United States. American readers depend on international outlets. We often read our Steyn in Canadian publications. So an attack on Steyn in Canada is an attack on America. And recall the ongoing battle over "libel tourism," which resulted in attempts to use British law to pull Alms for Jihad from American library shelves. (Here’s the latest update on the libel tourism battle, and how it threatens free speech in America.) And take a look at this list of Muslim libel cases in America. (Be sure to read the end of that account for an understanding of how enervating and intimidating these cases can be–especially for targets less well-placed than Steyn or Maclean’s.)


Dead man writing

One of the critical differences between America and the rest of the west is that America has a First Amendment and the rest don't. And a lot of them are far too comfortable with the notion that in free societies it is right and proper for the state to regulate speech. The response of the EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security to the Danish cartoons was to propose a press charter that would oblige newspapers to exercise "prudence" on, ah, certain controversial subjects. The response of Tony Blair's ministry to the problems of "Londonistan" was to propose a sweeping law dramatically constraining free discussion of religion. At the end of her life, Oriana Fallaci was being sued in France, Italy, Switzerland and sundry other jurisdictions by groups who believed her opinions were not merely disagreeable but criminal. In France, Michel Houellebecq was sued by Muslim and other "anti-racist" groups who believed opinions held by a fictional character in one of his novels were not merely disagreeable but criminal.

Up north, the Canadian Islamic Congress announced the other day that at least two of Canada’s “Human Rights Commissions” – one federal, one provincial – had agreed to hear their complaints that their “human rights” had been breached by this “flagrantly Islamophobic” excerpt from my book, as published in the country’s bestselling news magazine, Maclean’s. Several readers and various Canadian media outlets have enquired what my defense to the charges is. Here’s my answer:

I can defend myself if I have to. But I shouldn’t have to.
If you have a copy of Steyn's book, buy another one. If you don't have one, get it. And one to give away.

You can get a signed copy here. It is a highly entertaining and deadly serious book. Let's give Mark a case of writer's cramp, and Mr. Elmasry a hearty (right hand) middle finger.


**Update: 10:12AM 15-December

Mr. Elmasry isn't the only Canadian who is giving evidence proving the theme of Mark Steyn's America Alone is correct. Courtesy of the Detroit Examiner (emphasis mine):
Canadian Charged With Killing Daughter

Selma Djukic, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, called it a case of domestic abuse.

"This is a tragedy. This another woman that has succumbed to domestic violence and we need to look at what kind of services are available to families who are immigrants and who are trying to make it in the Canadian framework," Djukic said.

Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Services Association, also called it a domestic violence issue.

"To say it was about her not wearing the hijab, I think that's an oversimplification. All we've heard is from her peers saying that," Siddiqui said. "Many of us who have teenagers or had teenagers know this is a very difficult time. Their hormones and emotions are raging and they are trying to assert their independence."
OK, lets agree that it wasn't about wearing the hijab and see where that takes us...

What do you know? We still find a teenage girl murdered by her father in the name of his "honor." That's the point, and no amount of prattle about "domestic abuse" alters the fact.

Commentary - Meghan Cox Gurdon: Uncommon death in the suburbs

Several Canadian Islamic groups have had the decency to deplore the slaying, which seems to have been carried out with the collusion of Aqsa’s brothers. Yet in an exquisite demonstration of moral equivalence, Shahina Siddiqui, the Canadian-based executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association of the United States and Canada, said:

“The strangulation death of Ms. Parvez was the result of domestic violence, a problem that cuts across Canadian society and is blind to color or creed.”

Oh, no, it doesn’t, Ms. Siddiqui, not this type of domestic violence, nor this particular crime: This was Shariah-based justice meted out to a Muslim girl for defying her fundamentalist father.

In Islamic culture, honor resides in the male, and a woman’s honor is relevant only to the degree that it reflects back on her masculine custodians. A man who can’t control his daughter has been shamed, so the thinking goes. Better her death than his dishonor.
The attempt of Canadian Muslim activists to move the debate away from this central fact is precisely what you would expect to happen in a society which promotes multi-culturalism to the point of moral relativism. A society, that is, that has lost its confidence in Western values.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Carbon offset offsets


You may have heard that Al Gore has listened to criticism about his Godzilla sized carbon footprint.

When he and Tipper arrived at the global warmist convention in Bali, they walked to the train rather than take a limousine.

His luggage didn't get the memo, however. It took a Mercedes van.

"It's not my carbon footprint, it was some inanimate naugahyde staffer acting without my knowledge. We've fired the trunk, a 3 suiter, two travel kits and a garment bag."

I understand that he and Tipper probably couldn't carry 3 days worth of clothing in a couple of wheelies, like the rest of us would, but this bit of street theater should be noted as the hypocritical BS it is.

H/T A Dog Named Kyoto


Update 12:47: Related. RTWT
Contaminated data

Scientists who attribute warming to greenhouse gases argue that their climate models cannot reproduce the surface trends from natural variability alone. They then attribute it to greenhouse gases, since (they assume) all other human influences have been removed from the data by the adjustment models. If that has not happened, however, they cannot claim to be able to identify the role of greenhouse gases. Despite the vast number of studies involved, and the large number of contributors to the IPCC reports, the core message of the IPCC hinges on the assumption that their main surface climate data set is uncontaminated. And by the time they began writing the recent Fourth Assessment Report, they had before them a set of papers proving the data are contaminated.

How did they handle this issue? In the first draft of the IPCC report, they simply claimed that, while city data are distorted by urban warming, this does not affect the global averages. They cited two familiar studies to support their position and ignored the new counter-evidence. I submitted lengthy comments criticizing this section. In the second draft there was still no discussion, so again I put in lengthy comments. This time the IPCC authors wrote a response. They conceded the evidence of contamination, but in a stunning admission, said: "The locations of socioeconomic development happen to have coincided with maximum warming, not for the reason given by McKitrick and Mihaels [sic] (2004), but because of the strengthening of the Arctic Oscillation and the greater sensitivity of land than ocean to greenhouse forcing, owing to the smaller thermal capacity of land." Note the irony: Confronted with published evidence of an anthropogenic (but non-greenhouse) explanation for warming, they dismissed it with an unproven conjecture of natural causes. Who's the "denialist" now?

Furthermore, the claim is preposterous. The comparison of land and ocean is irrelevant since we were only talking about land areas. The Arctic Oscillation is a wind-circulation pattern that affects long-term weather trends in the Arctic. It certainly plays a role in explaining Arctic warming over the past few decades. But for IPCC lead authors to invoke it to explain a worldwide correlation between industrialization and warming patterns is nonsense.

Michigan's legislative taxation policy SNAFUs

... are not over yet.

It's been fashionable lately to blame Michigan's legislative buffoonery on term limits rather than the more obvious cause; overdependence on reptilian brain synapses. The usual explanation is something like this - "They aren't around long enough to develop expertise or trust each other."

Even if they're around as long as our brain stems, evolutionarily speaking, no Republican will ever trust House Speaker Andy Dillon, whose gamesmanship and false "negotiation" tactics should not be forgotten. Worse, while Dillon was performing his duplicitous dance no one seemed to notice the horrendous provisions of the new Michigan Business Tax. The hastily passed 6% tax on a random array of services was so bad (in addition to imposing a $600 million tax it would have carried a $900 million compliance cost) it made some businesspeople see the MBT surcharge as the lesser of two evils. Andy Dillon claims avoiding one horn of the dilemma qualifies as supporting the other horn, but the legislature hasn't yet taken notice of the looming disaster the MBT represents for small business.

This oversight isn't an issue of trust, or even disingenuous Democrat brinkmanship. It is simply government incompetence. They don't even seem to realize what they've done.

Here's an example of the effect on small business: I almost threw up…

Then I called my competitor. I then called another competitor. I made a few calls and started planning my exit from being in business. I started thinking of how to move out of the state I love because some thieves in Lansing haven’t the faintest concept of economics. One of my competitors wondered aloud how insane that kind of tax was. I agreed.
Read the rest at the link above.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Consequential unintendedness

I did some research on this about a year ago, and - Ethanol. Raises food prices. Hurts the environment. Harms the Poor. - is a perfect summary but for one thing: Ethanol market manipulation by governments (through both corporate welfare and regulation) raises fuel prices because of increased demand for feedstock and withering protectionism against Brazilian imports.

Here in Michigan, ethanol is being touted by the Governor and some non-profit development gurus as the future. I guess it's the intent that counts, not the result.

TOC has mentioned the ethanol problem in the past:

Monday, July 31, 2006
I'd rather drink it

Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Environmental rent seeking

Sunday, September 02, 2007
Big Oil, Bigger Government

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Corporatism

I've got four letters for you, and two words.

ANWR. Nuclear power.

The first because it's idiotic not to allow drilling to extract a resource we still need. The second because Nukes cause less environmental damage than windmills or solar panels, and without a lot more electricity we're going to be stymied in producing hydrogen.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Never, or the end of my term, whichever comes first

LSJ 6-Dec-2007
Gov. says she won't raise taxes ever again
Granholm instead will look to cuts, reforms for future

Kathy Barks Hoffman
Associated Press

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, stung by outrage from the business community over a now-repealed tax on services and some discontent with a state income tax increase, says she won't resort to tax increases to cover any future shortfalls.

"The most important thing I learned is I'm not ever going to raise taxes again. It's too hard. It's too impossible," Granholm said.

"Especially in light of our economy and what we've been through, I just don't think that there's anybody who's interested in proceeding down that path again. And I'm first at the head of that line," she added.
Advertisement

The Granholm administration still is asking for fee increases to help fund the state departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality. Lawmakers have agreed to take up the proposed raises in hunting and fishing license fees and DEQ permitting fees next month.

But the Democratic governor made it clear she'll be looking at other ways to deal with the budget during her remaining three years in office.

"It has to be cuts and reforms. And there's got to be some creative partnering with the private sector on some stuff, too," she said.

Granholm pushed a general tax increase this year because she said the state no longer could rely on one-time fixes if it wanted to have enough money to educate its citizens and provide health care for children and the elderly.

In proposing her plan, the governor followed the advice of her bipartisan Emergency Financial Advisory Panel, which called for a mix of tax increases, spending cuts and government restructuring to balance the budget.

Granholm said the budget structure now is on much more stable footing, although she regrets that infighting over a compromise triggered a government shutdown and budget deadline extensions before the work was done.
"[T]oo impossible" is a very unique statement.

She's not not going to raise taxes because it's a seriously bad idea, she's not going to do it because it's too hard.

Leadership, Jen, it's what your husband consults about. Have you read his book?

Neither have I.

Hopes for "rational appeal" dashed

John Roy Castillo is executive director of Lansing's Cristo Rey Community Center. Today, the Lansing State Journal's John Schneider noted Castillo's defense of the fact that Michigan issues drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Here's the relevant portion of Schneider's column:
John Roy Castillo says that if you're going to deny Michigan driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, they also should be withheld from convicted pedophiles, thieves, rapists, prostitutes and you comfortable citizens caught cheating on your taxes, too.

In other words, all lawbreakers.

Judging from reader feedback in recent weeks regarding this state's disinclination to require proof of citizenship from driver's license applicants, 99.9 percent of you won't agree with Castillo. But give the man credit for his willingness to voice an unpopular view.

Castillo is executive director of Lansing's Cristo Rey Community Center. In a recent letter referring to my recent columns about the driver's license issue, he asked for the chance to "play the devil's advocate and, for the sake of balance, make what I hope is a rational appeal as to why (illegal) immigrants should receive driver's licenses."

'Negative' results

In a subsequent interview, Castillo said:

"People don't stop and think about the negative consequences (of denying licenses to undocumented residents) to all U.S. citizens.

"It's a safety issue. When I'm driving my car, I want to know that the person driving next to me is insured."

Castillo pointed to statistics that show unlicensed drivers are nearly five times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes and are more likely to operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol.

Granting licenses to undocumented aliens, Castillo argued, encourages them to buy insurance, while making them safer drivers. It also makes them more accessible to the authorities.

"They will be taxpayers and productive members of our society," Castillo wrote.
Where to start... Well, maybe with my belief that our immigration system is even more FUBAR than the typical big government bureaucracy, and that it should be streamlined to allow more rapid immigration - either permanently or on a guest worker basis. First, however, we have to solve the problem of people who expect to jump the line. Nobody is talking about the fairness of that. Nonetheless, let's examine Mr. Castillo's points.

Castillo's suggestion that all people who have committed crimes should be denied drivers licenses conflates all criminal behaviour and presumes that that is the reason illegal immigrants should not be granted a picture ID. This is neither the point, nor the case.

His point that he wants "to know that the person driving next to me is insured," is simply ridiculous. Just because someone has a drivers license does not mean they have insurance. Proof of insurance may required to get license plates, but what is it about having a license that prevents anyone from canceling their insurance after they get plates, illegal alien or not?

Castillo's assertion that "unlicensed drivers are nearly five times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes and are more likely to operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol," is laughable. Does he really believe that not having a drivers license causes fatal crashes or DUI? If not, he should have saved his breath. If so, he should take a course in basic causology.

We've already dealt with the "encourages them to buy insurance" issue, but the fact that Castillo is contradicting himself here should be noted. Since Castillo knows any licensed driver automatically has insurance, "encourages" would be a severe, even disingenuous, understatement.

On the idea that having a drivers license makes them safer drivers, I will point out that there's not much that would make me a more cautious driver than being a licenseless illegal alien driving without insurance. Maybe it's different if you're not expecting any enforcement, which brings us to a final point.

If having a drivers license makes illegals "more accessible to authorities," why are any licensed illegals still in the country? Maybe because we're not enforcing the law, unlike what we did to all those other criminals Castillo mentions.

As for a "rational appeal as to why (illegal) immigrants should receive driver's licenses" Mr. Castillo's arguments fail on the merits. The only thing Castillo said with any merit would be, "They will be taxpayers and productive members of our society." That may well be, but it's off topic.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Unbearable offense

Read The Whole Thing. Mark Steyn: 'No offense' is no defense:
...East is east, and west is west, and in both we take offense at anything: Santas saying "Ho ho ho," teddy bears called Mohammed. And yet the difference is very telling: The now-annual Santa lawsuits in the "war on Christmas" and the determination to abolish even such anodyne expressions of faith as the Pledge of Allegiance are assaults on the very possibility of a common culture. By contrast, the teddy bear rubbish is a crude demonstration of cultural muscle intended to cow and intimidate. When east meets west, when offended Muslims find themselves operating in Western nations, they discover that both techniques are useful: Some march in the streets, Khartoum-style, calling for the pope to be beheaded, others use the mechanisms of the West's litigious, perpetual grievance culture to harass opponents into silence.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Is it possible for this woman to feel embarrassment?

Jennifer Granholm, that is. She can't do her job, so at the urging of others she hires someone else to do the most important part of it - at a six figure salary. He'd better be excellently qualified, don't you think?

Since excellent qualifications are not head smackingly obvious in this case, I'm guessing she neglected to consult her Chief Communications Officer. Maybe that's her next hire.

Think about how you might have handled this had it been your decision. Here are some relevant parameters:

You are Michigan's Governor. You are in your second term. Michigan's economic performance, by any measure, is abysmal. Blaming George Bush has become problematic since the rest of the country is enjoying a sustained multi-year economic boom.

Michigan's 2008 budget process is continually deadlocked in the legislature on the issue of raising taxes vs. cutting spending. There is a looming one-point-eight billion dollar shortfall primarily due to your proposed eight-percent increase in spending. You have described this increase as a "cut."

A series of deadlocks and inept brinkmanship caused by both legislative chambers results in tax laws that become objects of national derision. The surreal ineptness of the process, much less the outcome, damages the State's credibility and frightens small businesses. In the end, however, you have presided over a one-point-five billion dollar tax increase.

In the past year, you have been urged by some of Michigan's most powerful CEO's, many female, to appoint a Chief Operating Officer who could make the timely management decisions wherein you continually fail - someone who could streamline state government by applying sound business practices.

Should you follow such an embarrassing course, it's obvious that a key element would be an appointment reassuring to businesspeople.

You are prepared to formally acknowledge your ineptitude. You decide to hire someone else to do the most critical part of your job. Would you:

A- Hire someone with free market credentials known to be sympathetic toward business, keenly aware of the effects of tax policy and having a record of job creation.

B- Hire a leading tax-exempt sector academic whose credentials are heavily weighted toward diversity training - a former fundraiser for Detroit public television, a former head of parks and rec for Mayor Coleman Young and an ordained minister with a reputation as a "peacemaker."

I know what I would do, but let's get another viewpoint. The Detroit Free press has this "conversation starter:"
Lansing gets a peacemaker

Dan Krichbaum is a good guy with a well-deserved reputation as a bridge-builder. Still, he was a surprise pick to be Gov. Jennifer Granholm's new chief operating officer. The business community had been hoping for a bare-knuckles type to force some order on the chaos in Lansing, so evident this week in the failure to strike a deal to replace the reviled new services tax. Krichbaum is a Methodist minister with a long background in nonprofit and human relations agencies, most recently the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. His resume, unfortunately, does not include either lion tamer or reform school headmaster, both of which might be helpful in dealing with legislators and lobbyists. But Krichbaum certainly has been a solid administrator -- and a determined peacemaker.
By all accounts, then, Krichbaum is a conciliatory individual. If, as Governor, you think that conciliation and bridge building is the top priority, Krichbaum is a perfect choice. If making peace between the Democrats and Republicans in our legislative chambers is the major issue facing Michigan, he's your guy. To be sure, there is a diversity issue in the legislature. However, it's more about diversity of thought rather than diverse ethnicity. Unfortunately, as CEO of the tax-exempt Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion, Mr. Krichbaum is without credentials regarding the former.