Saturday, January 31, 2009

Voting in Iraq

I wonder when Obama will mention the voting in Iraq. So far, only his Press Secretary has commented: Obama is "watching" and "planning a new approach." Nice to know he's aware of it.
Some 6,000 polling stations across the country opened for business at 7am (0400 GMT). More than 14,400 candidates, including nearly 4,000 women, representing 407 parties as well as independent lists and individual challengers, are vying for just 440 seats on the 14 provincial councils.

Initial results are expected in several days. But it could take weeks of backroom bargaining to determine which parties have gained control of pivotal areas such as Baghdad, the Shia-dominated south and volatile provinces like Nineveh to the north, where Kurds and Arabs are battling for control.
Look, Obama, we won the battle of Iraq. It wasn't pretty, but we did it. Everyone is supposed to be hoping you will be successful, can't you acknowledge this success? I realize it would be too much to expect you to acknowledge our military and George Bush, but can't you offer personal congratulations to the Iraqis, at least? Or are you still invested in failure?

Update: 6:34PM Obama got around to it.
Obama said the elections for the provincial council seats were significant, peaceful and important steps toward Iraqis taking responsibility for their future. His statement did not address complaints from local officials that the Shiite-led government attempted to keep the minority Sunnis from full participation.

"Millions of Iraqi citizens from every ethnic and religious group went peacefully to the polls across the country to choose new provincial councils," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "It is important that the councils get seated, select new governors and begin work on behalf of the Iraqi people who elected them."

Obama also noted that the U.S. provided technical assistance to the Iraqi electoral commission, as did the U.N. and other international groups. He didn't, however, mention the U.S. troops that patrolled the country -- away from voting booths -- while the new Obama administration in Washington considers a new strategy for the unpopular war in Iraq.
Emphasis mine.

"...new strategy for the unpopular war in Iraq"? We won. The unpopular war is now nation building and police action, what would a new "war" strategy be?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Teachings of The Egg of Power

Barack Obama has an Egg of Power in the Oval Office, a carving made by African artisans from the Monkey Pod tree. It is associated with a proverb, the origins of which are shrouded in marketing hype. Rumor indicates the proverb to derive either from ancient African wisdom, or to have been made up from whole cloth by some failed Black Panther in the 60's. The short version is: Wield Power With Care. Not quite Machiavelli, but given the possible sources multiplied by the marketing opportunity, what did you expect?

The lesser known Chicken Of Egg Power Laying amulet (carved in butter by Minnesotan County Fair contestants), is said to have replied "Duh!", to this sentiment. The origin of these talismans is obscure, but as the sage Iowahawk has noted: It Takes a Proverb to Run a Village.

A lesser known saying associated with the Egg of Power is: "When looting, let your minions go secretly in the dead space of bill markup. When they are discovered, remind the marks that it is for the children. That is, it will be their children and their children's children who will suffer beggary. The marks will happily accept it as if it were a gift without strings. Do not doubt fool, after all, you paid $100 for me!"

So, more on Stealth Care from the Wall Street Journal.

Tom Daschle is still waiting to be confirmed as secretary of health and human services, not that he's in any rush. Democrats are already enacting his and Barack Obama's agenda of government-run health care -- entirely on the QT.

This was the real accomplishment of this week's House vote for the $819 billion "stimulus," and is the overriding theme of Congress's first month. With the nation occupied with the financial crisis, and with that crisis providing cover, Democrats have been passing provision after provision to nationalize health care.

If Democrats learned anything from the HillaryCare defeat, it was the danger of admitting to their wish to federalize the health market. Since returning to power, they've pursued a new strategy: to stealthily and incrementally expand government control. "What no one is paying attention to in the [stimulus]," says Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, "is that Democrats are making a big grab at the health-care sector."
RTWT

This is frightening...

Can you say Smoot-Hawley?

"US-EU Trade War Looms"

Just part of the stimulus bill, folks, nothing to see here but some payback to unions.

Next: gutting NAFTA?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stealth Care

George Will, writing at RealClearPolitics, notes one intended consequence of the Democrat Favorite Causes Special Funding Bill of 2009 you may not have appreciated.
The stimulus legislation would create a council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. This is about medicine but not about healing the economy. The CER would identify (this is language from the draft report on the legislation) medical "items, procedures, and interventions" that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They "will no longer be prescribed" by federal health programs. The next secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, has advocated a "Federal Health Board" similar to the CER, whose recommendations "would have teeth": Congress could restrict the tax exclusion for private health insurance to "insurance that complies with the Board's recommendation." The CER, which would dramatically advance government control -- and rationing -- of health care, should be thoroughly debated, not stealthily created in the name of "stimulus."
It's worth noting that the difference between this and the nationalization of pharmaceuticals in Canada courtesy of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board is not worth a pitcher of warm spit. TOC has commented on Canadian health care many times, but this one is most directly drug related.

On the same (left) hand, we have this note from the New York Times:

The stimulus bill working its way through Congress is not just a package of spending increases and tax cuts intended to jolt the nation out of recession. For Democrats, it is also a tool for rewriting the social contract with the poor, the uninsured and the unemployed, in ways they have long yearned to do.

With little notice and no public hearings, House Democrats would create a temporary new entitlement allowing workers getting unemployment checks to qualify for Medicaid, the health program for low-income people. Spouses and children could also receive benefits, no matter how much money the family had.

...Altogether, the economic recovery bill would speed $127 billion over the next two and a half years to individuals and states for health care alone, a fact that has Republicans fuming that the stimulus package is a back door to universal health coverage.

...The legislation would allow states to provide Medicaid to an entirely new group: those who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits, their spouses and children under 19.

...The economic stimulus bill prevents states from enforcing a means test, saying, “No income or resources test shall be applied with respect to any category of individuals” who become eligible for Medicaid because they are receiving unemployment benefits. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the costs for people enrolled under this option through December 2010.

Republicans said this proposal would take a big step toward federalizing Medicaid. For their part, Democrats said the changes took a major step toward their goal of coverage for all Americans.

...If states wanted the federal government to pay a larger share of Medicaid, they would have to maintain current eligibility levels and could not adopt more restrictive criteria. But states could reduce benefits or payments to health care providers.

Representative Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, said he feared that such cuts would make it more difficult for Medicaid recipients to find doctors in some parts of the country.
Well, yes, doctors won't much like this so we'll just have to put them on the government payroll, too, and then tell them where they have to practice. We can hire people to run this program from Canada.

The Times titled their report Relief Seen for Jobless and States in Health Care Plan. A better title would have been Belief Keen for Excess in Statist's Stealth-fare Plan.

We desperately need a principled opposition to this outbreak of looting. I hope the GOP and those few House Democrat's who voted no have shown the way. We will hear, from the likes of Mort Kondrake, that the Republicans are toast if they keep "batting away Obama's outreach." No opposition to Obama's far left ideas is allowed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm certainly stimulated

I'm so stimulated I've doubled my blood pressure medication and scotch intake. I'm considering hoarding gold and getting more ammunition while the transport systems still work.

I would say it's unbelievable, but the sad part is that it is not. Morally and methodologically it's business as usual. The only difference in this case is that there's a messiah positioned to take advantage of a major crisis. We might expect extraordinary things in these times, and, as in the Chinese curse, we're getting them.

This is taxation without representation: If, for no other reason (and there are many) than making our distant progeny into wage slaves of the Federal government. And for what? Hoover Dam? The interstate highway system? The TVA? Whatever valid criticism may be leveled against these things, they are still standing. Most of the bill Nancy Pelosi says the Democrats wrote has nothing similar to offer.

Let's lead off with a headline from the Wall Street Journal and follow with some specifics about what Democrats consider stimulative, "shovel-ready," infrastructure projects:

A 40-Year Wish List
Subtitled, You won't believe what's in that stimulus bill.
Wanna bet?

Republicans Object to Stimulus Dollars for ACORN
As well they might, why not just give the billions directly to the people they're "organizing" into socialist voting blocs?

Stimulus Plan: Non-Existent Unemployed Climate Modelers Get $140 Million
Maybe it's not because they're unemployed, but because their product is similar to sub-prime mortgage bundles?

Pelosi: Contraception is Good Stimulus for the Economy
I'm not sure from this if Nancy Pelosi thinks "stimulus" is battery powered, but don't you think this provision was deleted because she sounded so stupid when she defended it?

$850 Billion, 1588 pages, and counting... somebody needs to read it!
It could be you. Click the link. There's even a spreadsheet you can download.

Stimulus Package Includes Millions For The Arts
$50 million, to be exact. Art can certainly be stimulating, but in a economic sense I think this falls into the category of Piss Christ, a previous artistic effort partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

And, while contraceptive services may have been eliminated, there's still, on p 147 of the bill:
(4) not less than $335,000,000 shall be used as

2 an additional amount to carry out domestic HIV/

3 AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually-transmitted diseases,

4 and tuberculosis prevention programs, as jointly de-

5 termined by the Secretary and the Director;
We don't need to argue the merits here. Simply, none of this is anything Keynes remotely imagined as stimulative. It's the Democrat Favorite Causes Special Funding Bill of 2009. The less statist ones even say so:
Conservative Democrats have said the bill is simply a laundry list of longstanding Democratic spending wishes that will not stimulate the economy.
And, let's not forget education unions as a major "stimulus" area. According to the Wall Street Journal (first link in this post) the Democrats didn't:
Oh, and don't forget education, which would get $66 billion more. That's more than the entire Education Department spent a mere 10 years ago and is on top of the doubling under President Bush. Some $6 billion of this will subsidize university building projects. If you think the intention here is to help kids learn, the House declares on page 257 that "No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools." Horrors: Some money might go to nonunion teachers.
And just to round out our partial survey, here's more:
-$6 billion to weatherize "modest income homes."
-$6 billion to provide internet in "underserved" areas
-$6 billion for "higher education modernization."
-$20 billion in health information technology to "prevent medial [sic] mistakes."
-$20 billion to increase food stamp funding
-$87 billion to provide a "temporary" increase in Medicaid funding
-$300 million to provide rebates for people who purchase Energy Star products
-$600 million for the federal government to buy brand new energy efficient cars
-$400 million for state and local governments to buy brand new energy efficient cars
There are 21 more items in that list at the link directly above. That's still partial.

I am proud of the House GOP and the smattering of Democrats who voted against this today. It won't stop the carnage, but they didn't participate in it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Roadmap to Serfdom


That's essentially a picture of the activity of the high-speed rotary intaglio printing presses at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing spitting out 32 notes to the sheet around the clock. The outlook is bullish for employment in specialized printing press repair. You can see a tiny sideways blip there just past the 1,000 billion mark where a press must have broken down.

Now, if productivity was generally increasing at the same rate we might be justified in feeling good about all this new money. That would reflect an increase in wealth. However, that's not what's happening. What is happening is that the Feds are simply printing money at a rate suggestive of 1930's Weimar and present day Zimbabwe. AND, that chart does not reflect the trillion dollars these idiots are getting ready to dump into potholes, mob museums, more special bank bailouts, pregnancy prevention/termination and all other manner of corrupt, vote buying swill. The promoters are elected officials who can't be depended upon to pay their own taxes or reject bribes. These guys would have embarrassed Nero, even while he fiddled. They're writing the "stimulus" bill.

Despite evidence that such stimulus, especially when combined with anti-competitive labor regulations (denying a secret organizing ballot, for example) actually extends economic downturns, the Feds are preparing for a "public works" funding extravaganza never before witnessed. This is uncharted territory. We can be certain only that the grandchildren of our grandchildren will be beggared. But there's an always an election coming, so the money they're magically creating is calculated to increase dependence on government, not help the economy. Unaffordable handouts now, leading to decreasing individual economic choice, are just the thing.

Any other country would have had to devalue its currency and severely reduce spending. We've been lucky because our markets have been freer, and our people less burdened by taxes and regulation than the rest of the world - and the Chinese have lent us a lot despite our governments' profligacy. Our special status in that regard is about to end.

Update, 8:04PM See also Stimulus Bill HR 1 at Michigan Taxes Too Much.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another "rehabilitated" detainee

So, can we use this as evidence if we catch these guys again?
Two men released from the US "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist website, the SITE monitoring service reported.

..."By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for," al-Shihri was quoted as saying.

Al-Shiri was transferred from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in 2007, the US counter-terrorism official said.
Or, will they avoid trial because we won't be able to find a jury untainted by the publicity they just generated?

If we catch them we should just quietly turn them over to the Iraqis, assuming Obama doesn't define that as extraordinary rendition.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Now what?

Our new President has moved to fulfill one of his campaign promises: Getting the prisoners, no few of them hard-core terrorists, out of our detention center at Guantánamo. This he did in the absence of any plan as to where the displaced guests might be transferred, as if their Guantánamo location was in and of itself the problem. We have no word, either, on what might be done with any newly captured enemy combatants after they have been requested to give their name, rank and serial number according to the rules of the Army Field Manual. I suspect this is not actually good news for any of them, since the obvious choice is to turn them over to such authorities as may be readily at hand in the country where they are captured.

Since the President has had a lot of time to ponder the Executive Order's justification, content and timing, and is revered for his judgment above just about everything except his rhetorical flourishes and buff pectorals, announcing this decision without knowing how to implement it seems more base pleasing expedience than part of a plan designed to maintain national security, "restore US dignity," "return to Constitutional principles" (which, in any case do not apply) or make other countries like us again. Furthermore, the President is well aware, even if his most avid supporters claim not to be, that George Bush wanted to close the Gitmo detention center, but was variously stymied by Congress, our own justice system, and the refusal (or deadly intent) of other countries to accept those detainees who already qualify for release. Bush was rightly wary of bringing terrorists into the US criminal justice system.

Gitmo's detainees probably will be "released," in some sense, on Obama's timetable. Whether this will prove to have been a good idea is an open question. Take two examples from recent headlines:

Freed by the U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief

By ROBERT F. WORTH

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.
Al-Shihri is one of more than 60 persons (of a total of over 500) already released from Gitmo who have returned to trying to kill Americans. Those people were released on the presumption, by the military, that they did not pose further threat. This proves, if anything, that our military justice system has applied high standards to justify continued incarceration. They erred on the side of presumed innocence far too often for this to be otherwise.

Sleeper Agent

What will Obama do with the only enemy combatant held on U.S. soil?
by Thomas Joscelyn

AS ONE OF HIS FIRST acts as president, Barack Obama ordered his new cabinet to review the case of Ali Saleh Khalah al Marri, the only "enemy combatant" held in the continental United States. On Thursday, January 22, President Obama ordered his executive branch to undertake "a prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal basis for al Marri's continued detention, and identify and thoroughly evaluate alternative dispositions."

Al Marri's case has long been a source of controversy. Human rights groups and critics of the Bush administration charge that he is held illegally, and that he should be prosecuted in a federal court. The Bush administration countered that al Marri was a plotting al Qaeda operative who could be held indefinitely until the end of the "war on terror." Al Marri's status has been repeatedly challenged in the U.S. courts, with the critics winning some rounds and the Bush administration others. Obama's order means that his cabinet members and their attending departments will now have to determine what, if anything, to do with al Marri, who is currently being held at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina.

Beyond the legal wrangling, however, there are some important angles to al Marri's story that Obama's cabinet should explore. First, and foremost, al Marri's case underscores the gravity of the terrorist threat, including the depth of deception al Qaeda employs in its attempts to kill Americans. Second, al Marri's story sheds light on how the Bush administration utilized "enhanced" interrogation techniques to uncover the details of al Qaeda's plotting.
It is reasonable for a new president to review a long standing and sensitive case like Al Marri's before making any decisions about the continuing disposition of it. Especially where it represents an area of major disagreement with the outgoing administration, sober second thoughts must apply. However, since it precisely illustrates one of the well-known potential problems of moving detainees out of Gitmo - what happens when enemy combatants are brought to US soil - one might expect the results of the review to inform any decision about moving them rather than, as seems likely now, the other way around. If Obama already had a solution for this problem, his embarrassing question to his White House counsel about what exactly his own executive order contained could have been avoided:
By Michael P. Tremoglie, The Bulletin

...The Obama administration is unsure of much of the details of their own policies regarding the capture, interrogation and imprisonment of terrorist suspects.

During the signing ceremony, Mr. Obama was unsure of what was specifically contained in his own Executive Order. He had to ask White House Counsel Greg Craig if there would be a separate order for disposing of the inmates.
We all do hope President Obama is successful in his resolution of the problems represented by terrorists captured on the battlefield; problems compounded by his rush to accomodate those suffering residual Bush Derangement Syndrome. We also hope he is resolute in preventing any remaining Al-Shihri's from being freed because they weren't read their Miranda rights.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dog bites man

Only a news story if a former French leader is mauled by his own psychotic poodle. The poodle apparently became increasingly psychotic over a long while.

Well, the dog had been living with Mr. Chirac.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thank you Mr. President

Any regular reader of this blog will know that many of George W. Bush's policies, practices and programs have been pointedly excoriated here. His instincts were usually right, but he so often failed to hone them against principle as to blunt the advantage. As a result, even when he did reflect, had Right on his side, and was confronting raging lunacy; he typically managed to mount only the meekest of defenses.

Nonetheless, as I watched him leave the White House, I felt pangs of regret far beyond those caused by fear of the cipher who has replaced him. I have no doubt that George W. Bush will be treated far more kindly by history than he has been during his Presidency. George W. Bush was, and is, a decent man. His optimism and determination deserve praise. America is far better off than it could have been, even perhaps better off than it deserves to be.

I am grateful to George Bush for his service on my behalf.

I had been starting to assemble a montage of links and comment to demonstrate this is a reasonable attitude. I found many useful links. I would have started with this one from a left-wing Brit. It shows how Dubya was mistreated and reminds us that he could make fun of himself.

In the midst of my searches, however, I found this montage. It's done well and with more time than I could devote. I quite like the video. I recommend you check it and all the links found there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Safety valve endangered

Canadians don't get health care when they need it. Note the wait times for treatment in their public system.

Therefore, there's an industry helping Canadians to opt out of their government plan at their own private expense.

Most of those "private pay" wait times involve getting the procedures in the United States. Canadian health care is only free if you don't count the taxes that pay for it and the excess suffering waiting for treatment - or maybe dying while you're waiting.

Timely Medical's FAQ page is interesting, too.

For Canadians, US universal health care will be as much a disaster as it will be for us. So, when Tom Daschle, Obama's pick to head up the socialization of health care in this country, starts telling us how good it's going to be, remember why Canada needs our health care system to remain "private" and maybe even become actually private.


H/T Carpe Diem

Aphthovirus Picornaviridae

It's long been known that foot and mouth disease is contagious.

A strict quarantine is advisable.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Disappointing

William Ayers turned back at Canadian border
Dr. William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a leader in educational reform, was scheduled to speak at the Centre for Urban Schooling at University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. But that appearance has now been temporarily cancelled.

"I don't know why I was turned back," Ayers said in an interview this morning from Chicago. "I got off the plane like everyone else and I was asked to come over to the other side. The border guards reviewed some stuff and said I wasn't going to be allowed into Canada. To me it seems quite bureaucratic and not at all interesting ... If it were me I would have let me in. I couldn't possibly be a threat to Canada."
Well, I know why he was turned back, but really, wouldn't he have been a good NDP leadership candidate? That's a threat to Canada.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Abraham, Martin and John

I've listened, in passing, to only about 10 minutes of pre-inauguration coverage, but that includes exposure to about 8 different "stories." Every one of them compared Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln. Here's a good example of the parallels being drawn: Skinny, tall and from Illinois. Lawyers. Cool temperaments. Good debaters? [Not so much in Obama's case] Wonderful senses of humor. Yadda, yadda lots of speculation about Obama's psyche being the same as Lincoln's. Fiscal crisis, health pandemics, specter of nuclear war and terrorism are equated with the challenge of the Civil War. Obama's being presented as a combination of Lincoln, King and Kennedy.

Please. STOP. Can we wait until Obama has actually DONE SOMETHING even remotely PRESIDENTIAL?

I suppose there is a comparison to Clinton here: Obama has sold the TV networks exclusive access to inaugural events for $5 million. Bill, the piker, only sold access to the Lincoln bedroom.

I also recall that the $40 million dollar cost of George Bush's inaugural in 2005 was roundly criticized as inappropriate in Time Of War.

Well, we're still at war and we're in the middle of a financial Armageddon according to statists of every partisan stripe. Where, then, is the outrage at the $150+ million dollars being spent on Obama's inaugural party?

Not hearing any, I guess I'll just have to go with the flow. So, I'm offering signed copies of this historic special inauguration post for the low price of 99 cents, plus $16.95 shipping and handling.

Own a hand signed piece of history more portable and less fragile than a plate.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mohammed al-Kahtani

In August 2001, Mohammed al-Kahtani flew from Dubai to Orlando, Florida. On the same day Mohammed Atta drove to the Orlando International Airport. Atta is alleged to have intended to pick up al-Kahtani, but al-Kahtani was otherwise occupied. Immigration officials had already arrested him for stupidity: He had little money, did not speak English, and had arrived via a one-way ticket. His stories about his visit were inconsistent. Kahtani was deported to Dubai. From there he made his way to Afghanistan and was arrested again after 9/11. He became captive 625 at Guantanamo Bay.

Susan Crawford, the person in charge of determining whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial, refused to refer the case for prosecution. In doing so, she did say this about him:
"There's no doubt in my mind he would've been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001," Crawford said of Qahtani, who remains detained at Guantanamo. "He's a muscle hijacker. . . . He's a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don't charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, 'Let him go.'"
I don't get it. She's just kicked it to Obama to figure out how to sentence this guy to life-detainment? He's having enough trouble figuring out how to keep his promise to close Gitmo.

Two observations on Crawford's decision:

Rachel Lucas
So were they pulling out his fingernails while calling his mother a whore?


Paul Mirengoff
Was it or wasn't it; and does it matter?

Worth reading both in full.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quote of the year

Christopher Hitchens comments on Hillary's ascension to SecState and Bill's continuing influence whoring with dictators and other such moneyed rascals.
Why should anyone doubt, then, that in small matters as well as in large ones, the old slogan from the 1992 election still holds true? As Bill so touchingly put it that year, if you voted for him, you got "two for one." What the country—and the world—has since learned is a slight variation on that, which I would crudely phrase as "buy one, get one free."
Read the whole thing.
More Than a Good Feeling
Why are so many oligarchs, royal families, and
special-interest groups giving money to the Clinton Foundation?

Bill, by the way, is allowed to continue his fund raising activities under a special agreement with PEOTUS. Emphasis mine.
Under an agreement with Obama, Bill Clinton recently released the names of donors to his foundation, a nonprofit that has raised at least $492 million — including millions from Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments — to fund his library in Arkansas and charitable efforts worldwide on such issues as AIDS, poverty and climate change. He pledged to release similar information annually. The donor list doesn’t provide exact amounts, background on donors such as their employers, or the dates of donations.
Maybe it's just me, but I think when we're talking multi-million dollar donations to the husband of the Secretary of State, we should be told the exact amounts, the dates of the payments, the employer, the country of residence, donor's religious preference, number of attractive female relatives, speaker's fees to Bill from any source closer than 6 degrees of separation to the donor, details from any CIA files on the donor, and be provided with transcripts of all conversations.

After Mining Deal, Financier Donated to Clinton

Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization [U.N.] that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton’s public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Canada shows some spine

Good for them!

Canada votes alone for Israel

Canada stood alone before a United Nations human rights council yesterday, the only one among 47 nations to oppose a motion condemning the Israeli military offensive in Gaza.

The vote before the Geneva-based body shows the Stephen Harper government has abandoned a more even-handed approach to the Middle East in favour of unalloyed support of Israel, according to some long-time observers.
Long-time observers... Translation: The Usual Suspects. Including the Toronto Star, who imply they agree with the "long-time observers" by leaving the obligatory "according to" to languish at the end of that sentence.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Malthus redux

I am unable to explain how Captain Capitalism got through the whole post without mentioning Ayn Rand. A small excerpt:
However, Malthus is not dead in that his theories will apply to our most recent economic crisis. Not so much in the way of farmers being able to produce enough crops to feed the nation, but rather producers producing enough wealth to feed the parasites.
At TOC they are known as looters, after Rand.

Read the whole thing. The Return of Malthus

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Several worth reading

Dizzying Intellect has been added to the TOC blogroll today.

Anyone who has Diamond Age in their top 20 novels list deserves attention. TOC mentioned the novel here. I also recommend this DI post wherein the Vatican's consistency is noted.

To fit the post title, I offer the following:

CNN goes Pallywood: Strike five
CNN's use, and defense of, creative Palestinian videographers is thoroughly explored.

Former Clinton Appointee Implies Defamation Lawsuit Against OutsideLansing.
A lawyer, formerly UAW, is testy.

A New Circus Comes to Town
P.J O'Rourke on the failed Obama presidency. Top of his form.

Bench Seats For Illinois Political Theater

NPR. It's funny. Intentionally.
Hold your nose and read it.

What Did Leon Panetta Know About Rendition And When Did He Know It?

Leon Panetta has some 'splainin ahead of him regarding Egyptian renditions of "Please Release Me."

FRAUDULENT "CREDIT CRISIS" PAVES WAY FOR ECONOMIC DISASTER

Doing the kind of investigative reporting we should expect from the major media, a financial research and consulting firm ... concludes that the claims made by Treasury Department Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to justify a socialist takeover of the financial industry were demonstrably false.
Only the major media would be surprised by this.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Nuremberg Offense

Senate Democrats are "hinting" that CIA veterans will not be prosecuted for harsh interrogation conducted on George Bush's watch. The AP reports:
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein [D., CA] told The Associated Press in an interview this week that there is a clear distinction between those who made the policies and those who carried them out.
I don't get it. If waterboarding, for example, is a crime when Bush or the NSA approve it, how is it not a crime to actually carry it out? I thought we settled this at the Nuremberg trials. Feinstein's comments sound like a Nuremberg Offense: "We'll accept in advance that you were just following orders because we don't like George Bush."

The article goes on to talk about Sen. Ron Wyden's attempts to launch a fishing expedition in top secret documents related to interrogation and detention practices. The Oregon Democrat would like to declassify and release these documents. "No one's talking about some witch hunt," he says, but he certainly cannot take himself seriously. If he is successful in making the documents public, it will generate a storm of civil suits against the CIA and its employees on behalf of (at minimum) Guantanamo detainees.

The Center for Constitutional Rights already represents those detainees. What it is likely to do can be predicted from positions it has already taken. The CCR has contended that the Nuremberg war crimes laws should have been applied to Americans involved in the Vietnam War, has filed suits against former head of the Intelligence Branch and former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and sued Caterpillar Inc., on behalf of Rachel Corrie's family.

To suppose CCR will observe "a clear distinction between those who made the policies and those who carried them out" you have to be a Democrat Senator. To suppose that the public interest in the program(s) origins, effectiveness and legal basis can only be satisified from classified details, which necessarily include other information best kept from our enemies, you have to be talking about a witch hunt.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Stimula


U.S. Department of Justice

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives

Assistant Director

Washington, DC 20226

January 6, 2009

Notice to All Federal Firearms Licensees
Regarding ATF Form 4473 Shortage

As a result of an unprecedented increase in demand for ATF Forms 4473 (5300.9) Part I Revised August 2008, inventory of the form at the ATF Distribution Center is running low.

As a temporary measure, ATF is allowing FFLs to photocopy the form 4473 in it’s [sic] entirety until they receive their orders from the ATF Distribution Center.

A notice will be posted at the expiration of this temporary authorized change.
Form 4473 is the form both seller and purchaser must fill out when a firearm is transferred by a Federal Firearm License (FFL) holder. Among other data, it records the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) confirmation number the dealer must obtain to complete the sale of any firearm.

The supply of form 4473 is running low, proving not all retail sales are in the tank.

On a personal note, I notice a rifle I purchased on Black Friday is on offer via the Internet at double my cost on average. This may work out quite well for me.

Thank you, Mr. President-elect. By the mere fact of your election, you have stimulated the economy and encouraged many Americans, some of whom had not previously done so, to assert their rights under the 2nd Amendment. Well done.

Maybe you could drop a few hints about banning certain canned goods that possess very long shelf life, or applying a 500% tax to any cans that open with those little key thingys? Most of those foodstuffs are unhealthy meat based products that appeal to the same people who are driving up the price of 7.62x39 cartridges.

In the interests of full disclosure: I'm long Hormel, brass and lead.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Outsourcing failure

Couldn't they have outsourced this to India?
Schneider: Letter to state employers not a hoax
John Schneider • January 8, 2009 • From LSJ.com

The letter, supposedly from the State of Michigan, was such a train wreck that I assumed it was a hoax.
...

Sent to 1,400-plus employers, the letter claims to be from the "Michigan Department of Health and Human Services," which doesn't exist, under the direction of Marianne Udow, who hasn't worked for the state since August 2007.

Furthermore, the letter thanks Michigan employers for their assistance in "helping to provide child support to Indiana's children."

"What the heck ... ?" asked Valerie Howell, office manager for H & H Welding/Repair of Mason, who got one of the letters. "I thought for sure it was a scam."

The letter definitely has that look. The logo is cheesy. The letterhead is strictly bush league. The print job looks like something you might get from a Nigerian prince.
...

Kurt Weiss of the state Department of Information Technology explained that the task of composing and mailing the letter was outsourced to Policy Studies Inc. of Denver, Colo., which botched the job royally.
Royally botching-wise, as Paladin points out, this demonstrates 2 things: 1) the State of Michigan judges its own employees incapable of writing its letters, and 2) that it does not even read the letters it outsources before mailing them.

An even sadder possiblity is that they did proofread the letter before mailing. Anybody have a postmark? This could also be evidence that the entire State government has been outsourced to Detroit. It could be evidence that the State IT department hasn't heard of the mail-merge feature in Microsoft Word.

The State will now probably insist on having the letters returned at taxpayer expense so they can be shredded by a company in Ohio at double Michigan companies' rates.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Leon Panetta?

The appointment of Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency appears to be a sop to the MoveOn/Code Pink/Bill Ayers/AmeriKKKa segment of Obama's base.

Ostensibly because he is a good far-leftwing bureaucrat, Panetta can be depended upon to end any aggressive interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding; to stop the extraordinary rendition program, so maligned under President Bush; and to end wiretaps of foreigners, approved by a Senate vote in which Obama concurred.

But expectations of Panetta should be tempered. His record is contradictory. The extraordinary rendition program was started on the Clinton/Panetta watch. That's the same watch on which Osama bin-Laden could have been extradited from Sudan, but was left to plot 9/11 because of insufficient evidence to convict him of anything.

Osama's civil rights were protected. We just never got a chance to read him his rights. If only Leon Panetta and Bill Clinton had applied their extraordinary rendition policy to bin-Laden, or approved water boarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed prior to 9/11.

What are the chances the second time around?

If, as DCIA, Panetta is effective in assigning a JAG to every CIA interrogation, he will have diverted CIA resources to oversight and compliance. If he is ineffective he will have diverted CIA resources to obfuscation and ass-kissing. In either case, it is not exactly a "slam dunk" (the phrase of a Clinton DCIA holdover) that Panetta's appointment will enhance the civil liberties of Americans or improve our physical security. Given his manifest lack of qualifications for this job, it's a bit like expecting a hen to guard the fox-house.

If Obama wanted some partisan, Clinton-retread, intelligence naif to reform the CIA, why not Sandy Berger? Though Berger's trade-craft is less than stellar, he has at least some experience with clandestine ops. Yes, he was caught after stealing classified documents from the National Archives and subsequently destroying them, but he did manage to get away with it. Panetta doesn't even know which end of the undergarment to stuff documents in.

This appointment must be regarded as curious given two wars in progress, a recent terrorist attack in India, and with Iran intent on producing a nuclear weapon. I'd have preferred Obama pay back his far-left supporters in a less critical post.