Monday, October 27, 2003

Boom Times Coming

While the democrats and your local paper and broadcast network news shows will not admit it, the economy is heating up. I don't know about you, but my industry, Television, is already in a boom, and many of my neighbors are telling of better margins, and the anticipation of a big Christmas season coming up. All of this is obvious to anyone who looks at the signs. No, the real story is the lack of coverage of the improving economy. As John Berlau reports in the latest Insight article,
Brian Wesbury, chief economist of Griffin, Kubik, Stephens and Thompson, a brokerage firm in Chicago's Sears Tower, says that in the year before Bush took office there were a great many signs the boom had ended, all ignored by the mass media. Now, he says, these same media are ignoring what he calls the new Bush boom. "In 2000, the stock market was down, housing was slowing, manufacturing was slowing, we had declining industrial production, job growth was slowing and you could clearly tell that we were going into a slower-growth period. And yet the media missed it," says Wesbury, who was chief economist for the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of Congress in the mid-1990s. "What has happened in this past year is that the economy has been accelerating sharply, and yet story after story after story has been about how somehow there is something wrong with the economy, when in fact it's firing on all cylinders and accelerating sharply. ... What we're seeing here is an incredible turnaround."
It seems that no matter what the democrats do, the economy will be undeniably in full boom by the next election. And, judging by the roster of democrat candidates available, they will not be able to put a serious candidate up.

If you saw any of the democrat debates (the latest one was last night) you know what I mean. With these clowns vying for a place to contend against G.W.Bush, It is hard to see what will happen next November. The democrats will pick a clown to run against a fool. It would be funny if it were not tragic. but one thing seems certain: absent an unforseeable tragedy, Bush will have an economic boom as a running mate next year.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Why Bush Must Go

I have been getting a lot of friction from my friends lately, about my abandonment of George W. Bush. "What's so bad about George?" "Doesn't he have a grand vision that you agree with?" "Isn't he the best friend Israel has had in the White House to date?" "Isn't his foreign policy stance a breath of fresh air from the appeasers who preceded him the last dozen years?"

I can't say that I disagree with any of that; it's all true. And then comes the kicker: "If we dump him, who will take his place?" That's the trump card, isn't it? He is certainly light years better than Dean, Clark, Lieberman, or the Clinton crew. But is that enough? Isn't that blackmail? Because, whatever else the man might be, the fact remains: George W. Bush is incompetent. Great vision is nothing if a man can't realize it. Great policy ideas mean nothing if a man can't stand up to his subordinates. Each cabinet secretary seems to have his own kingdom, accountable to no one. Israel is no better off today than she was under Carter or Clinton or any of the others who would just as soon have had the Jewish State disappear. Colin Powell has more to say about that than his boss does, even though Bush waxes eloquent about the need to protect the Jewish homeland, and her right to defend herself against terrorists like Arafat. Yet Powell defends Arafat. John Ashcroft has less respect for the constitution than Bush has in his little finger. Yet no man in Washington has better job security, or less oversight, than John Ashcroft.

G.W.Bush's Justice Department is pursuing a major initiative to imprison Physicians who prescribe large doses of narcotic pain killers. Ashcroft and his DEA decide how large is too large, the AMA and other physician groups be damned. Is this compassionate conservatism? Bush's EPA is committed to reductions in CO2 emissions, irrespective of the boss's expressed wishes and a 95 to 0 vote of the Senate that the science of climate change in inconclusive. Bush's State Department is so deep into Saudi Arabia's pocket that I half expect Colin Powell to start wearing a djellabba and turban. Bush's Homeland Security Department is about to imprison a college kid who was just trying to point out some of the weaknesses in our defenses, and it has done everything in its power to make it impossible for a pilot to carry a gun regardless of the expressed desire of Bush or the vast majority of the American people to arm our pilots. In the armed forces, Muslim Chaplains were found participating in treasonous activity, so every Presbyterian and Jewish chaplain is about to undergo a fresh security check. Worst of all, we may be about to lose the peace in Iraq. All of these things can be remedied by the stroke of Bush's pen. But he does not have whatever it takes to rein in his subordinates. There is no better example of incompetence in an executive than out-of-control subordinates.

George W. Bush must go. No democrat could be worse. At least a democrat would have the nation's best political thinkers and pundits in opposition, as well as a hostile Congress. Bush must go.


- I have retracted this post and have posted, an eloquent, if I may say so myself, and heartfelt endorsement of Bush. Changing my mind is one of the things that is so great about Zero Base Thinking. Today's opinion is not swayed by a need to stay the course, when the course is wrong.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Jews Rule The World?

Yesterday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad claimed just that, saying "Jews rule the world by proxy" and exhorted the world's 1.3 million Muslims to unite for a "final victory." This is not the first time that the outspoken Prime Minister of the world's largest Muslim nation has said such a thing, but this time he said it in front of the year's largest and most prestigious assemblage of Islamic political leaders, plus Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo attended as special observers because of their large Muslim minorities.

And these words were well received! No less a light than the Foreign Minister of Egypt, one of our putative allies in the Arab world said " "I think it was a shrewd and very deep assessment of the situation. I think he elaborated a program of action that is wide and very important. I hope the Islamic countries will be able to follow this very important road map." Shrewd and very deep to blame all of their problems on the Jews. This echo of Hitler has not yey attracted the attention of the western media, for some reason that is clear only to them. As far as I am concerned, this should be the leading headline in America's papers today. We must know our enemy. Hiding from the truth will not make it go away. Allowing such a blood libel to resonate can do no good for anyone in Christendom.

So what happened yesterday? Palestinian terrorists attacked and killed American diplomatic personnel, and the leader of the world's largest Islamic democracy blamed all of their problems on the Jews, and America's leaders and major media outlets keep quiet about it. This bodes ill for our continuing war against those who would bury us. While President Bush released a statement on the bombing, major networks and Papers either buried the story of skipped carrying it altogether, and Mahathir's statement was hardly carried at all.

Even Mohammad Karzai, who knows that he needs America desperately, issued kind words in response to Mahathir's speech. He must think that he is on firm ground; after all, who gives a shit about the Jews? We shall see, but it is clear that Kobe Bryant is more important than the impending murder of another six million. I am reminded of the joke about the two Jews in Israel, where one asks the other why he reads the Arab newspaper. He replies that the Israeli press makes everything look bad, while in the Arab press he can read about how "the Jews rule the world, and are in control of everything, the media, the government, the banks; everything.

I wish!

We Are Not In Kansas Anymore

At 0930 on 1 Oct 2003, the Honorable John McCain of Arizona opened a committee hearing of the U.S. Senate on The Case for Climate Change Action. He began by stating "there is broad scientific consensus that global warming is occurring, that human activity is causing it [via greenhouse gas emissions], and that its consequences are extremely serious." Declaring that "no excuse for inaction on this issue is acceptable," he went on to say that he and Senator Joseph Lieberman "believe that a market-based approach, combined with mandatory caps and federal oversight, offers the best way for the nation to respond to a growing global environmental threat." Hence, he reported they were calling for "a mandatory carbon dioxide reduction program."

It would really be funny if it were not tragic. Just as the scientific community is coming around to the conclusion that action by humans is NOT indicated at this time, the political clowns decide that therefore their hearings must exclude anyone who is skeptical of their political plans. So they invite religious leaders to tell them what Jesus would do. McCain and Lieberman, two failed candidates for the highest office in the land, standing behind the curtain, pulling the levers, trying to scare everyone. What a sad tableau to behold. Thankfully this sideshow got next to no press. Read the rest if you have the strength.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Rush and Drugs -- the Conservative Dilemma

Guest Post by Steve Dasbach

Conservative icon Rush Limbaugh has confirmed the rumors - he's addicted to prescription pain medication. It's obvious that he has roken our nation's drug laws. Which poses an interesting dilemma for his fellow conservatives.

According to Rush and other conservative drug warriors, "drug users ought to be convicted and sent up" as Rush himself put it. Sent up, as in sent to prison.

So here's the conservative dilemma. Should Rush, a self-admitted "drug user" be "convicted and sent up?"

If they say yes, they're advocating silencing the most powerful and influential conservative voice in America -- imprisoning a man they admire and respect. If they say no, they're contradicting everything they've claimed for years about the need to fight the War on Drugs with stiff criminal penalties, including jail time, for drug users.

Do conservatives think that society will be better off if their friend and idol Rush serves a long stretch behind bars as "punishment" for his drug use? Or that a long prison term will somehow "rehabilitate" him? If not, then why would they advocate such treatment for the sons and daughters and friends of ordinary Americans?

Conservatives argue that stiff criminal penalties, including jail time, are necessary to deter drug use. But such penalties failed to deter Rush, a strong willed individual who preaches self-reliance, responsibility, and the importance of the rule of law for three hours every day. If draconian drug laws and mandatory minimum sentences didn't deter him, how likely are they to deter lesser mortals?

One presumes that conservatives embrace the ideals expressed in the Pledge of Allegiance, including "justice for all". That means the same laws are supposed to apply to everyone, whether it's a wealthy celebrity like Rush or a faceless inner-city man mired in poverty. In fact, Rush himself has advocated jail time for athletes and Hollywood celebrities who use drugs.

So if conservatives still believe that drug users should be sent to prison, doesn't that mean that Rush should be imprisoned too?

Some conservatives seem to be having problems coming to grips with this dilemma. When the bombastic Ann Coulter was repeatedly asked if she thought Rush should be sent to prison, the best she could come up with a lame comment that if her mother committed murder, she wouldn't want her sent to prison. Sorry, but that really isn't an answer.

Another prominent conservative focused on the fact that Rush got hooked on legal drugs, conveniently ignoring the fact that he bought them illegally, and that the drug laws conservatives support make no such distinctions. As far as the law is concerned, Rush is no different than the person who buys marijuana, cocaine, or heroin.

So how will conservatives resolve this dilemma? Some will probably decide to sacrifice Rush on the altar of principle. Others will demonstrate by their actions that they are simply hypocrites. They'll support Rush in his time of need while continuing to advocate prison for other drug users.

But perhaps, just perhaps, Rush's addiction will be the catalyst that prompts fair-minded conservatives to reevaluate their unquestioning support for the War on Drugs. Perhaps they'll decide that if it makes sense to let Rush decide for himself how to deal with his drug problem, perhaps it makes sense to let other drug users make their own decisions as well.

This isn't an abstract issue for me. As the father of four nearly grown children, I've had to face the challenges posed by tobacco, alcohol, and drug availability that all parents must confront. Of all the fears associated with confronting these issues, my greatest fear has always been the one Rush's friends are confronting now - the possibility that someone I care for will make a bad choice and have their lives destroyed by the criminal justice system that is supposed to protect us.

Nothing will be gained by sending Rush to prison. Nothing is gained by imprisoning other less-famous drug users either. If Rush's fellow conservatives resolve their dilemma with compassion, perhaps we can all agree to stop treating drug use as a crime and stop wasting lives. And we can continue to enjoy "Excellence in Broadcasting" for many years to come.


Steve Dasbach was National Chairman of the Libertarian party, 1993-1998 and National Director of the Libertarian Party, 2000-2002.

Democrat Conundrum

Peter Beinart of The New Republic has skewered the democrat conundrum: how can the democrat party aspire to the White House without convincing the American electorate that they are serious about, and have a plan for, international geopolitics in the world of American military dominance. As he puts it in hisTNR column on the subject:
Yet, now, with the Bush administration finally recognizing that defeating terrorism requires making sure Iraqis have electricity and clean water, the Democratic presidential candidates are looking for any excuse to avoid saying yes. Pandering to public isolationism may make short-term political sense, but, in the long-term, it will simply confirm what many Americans already believe: that you can dress up the Democratic Party in whatever uniform you want, it still doesn't have a strategy for the defining challenge of our time.
He shows the vacuousness of the positions of the democrat candidates for the White House, whether Kerry, Clark, or Dean, and points out the obvious contradictions between what they are saying and what a leader of this nation will have to do. Kudos to Peter for pointing out the obvious.

We seem to be seeing a raft of democrats who are willing to concede some obvious truths lately. Can these few comments coalesce into a plan that will unseat Bush and Co? We shall see, as the campaign unfolds in the next 13 months.

Monday, October 13, 2003

How Hip-Hop Holds Blacks Back

At least some elements of the Black community are beginning to come out of the closet about the effect of rap music on the behavior of it's youth, or at least some elements therein, as this piece by John H. McWhorter in the City Journal shows so elegantly. This is not written by one of the right-leaning voices from that community, nor from a right-leaning publication. It therefore bears more than a cursory look. Far be it for me to dissect the work; as a conservative libertarian Jew, I have no standing. But as McWhorter says:
Sadly, some black leaders just don’t seem to care what lesson rap conveys. Consider Savannah’s black high schools, which hosted the local rapper Camoflauge as a guest speaker several times before his murder earlier this year. Here’s a representative lyric:

Gimme tha keys to tha car, I’m ready for war.
When we ride on these niggas smoke that ass like a ’gar.
Hit your block with a Glock, clear the set with a Tech . . . .
You think I’m jokin, see if you laughing when tha pistol be smokin—
Leave you head split wide open
And you bones get broken. . . .

More than a few of the Concerned Black People inviting this “artist” to speak to the impressionable youth of Savannah would presumably be the first to cry out about “how whites portray blacks in the media.”
But McWhorter does not blame the whites. He's speaking within his own community.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

WaPo Stumbles Upon the Truth

In these days when our political discourse has become so coarse, and the truth is so hard to find, it is a pleasure when we can see anything that suggests a trend in the opposite direction. Friday we noted that Alan Colmes, a professional liberal. supported the truth about Rush Limbaugh in the McNabb Afair. And now we find the Washington Post telling the truth about the report from David Kay:
Mr. Kay's report contains powerful evidence that significant illegal weapons programs were not discovered by U.N. inspectors and that Saddam Hussein was aggressively violating U.N. Resolution 1441, which offered him "a final opportunity" to voluntarily disarm. The report says the team "discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002." These include "a clandestine network of laboratories" suitable for producing biological weapons; a prison laboratory that may have been used to test biological agents on humans; and strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home. Most remarkable are multiple and extensive Iraqi programs for producing banned long-range ballistic missiles, one of which continued even while the inspectors were in Iraq.

The unclassified piece of Mr. Kay's report supports his conclusion that Saddam Hussein never abandoned his intention to produce biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and would have manufactured such weapons as soon as inspectors departed -- or, in the case of some weapons, even while they were in Iraq. It is also possible that some stocks of chemical weapons remain: In an interview on PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," Mr. Kay said that "general officers" of the Republican Guard told his group that "their units were readied" to use chemicals against U.S. troops during the war, though the munitions have not been found.

For opponents of the war, Mr. Kay's report ought to raise the question of how the illegal and dangerous activity he has uncovered would have been stopped without military intervention, given Iraq's success in concealing it from inspectors.
Albeit this is from an editorial, and many news items from the WaPo persist in spreading leftie propaganda, but we feel that zero base thinkers must recognize even baby steps toward truth telling in the mainstream media. The onslaught of lies that began even before the Kay report was released, claiming that Kay had found nothing, has been overwhelming. Indeed, most people that I have discussed this with to date have the impression that nothing is all that Kay has actually found. The editorial board here at Zero Base Thinking applaud these efforts that some elements of the left are making toward reclaiming their place as honest arbiters of the truth.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Colmes Gets Something Right

Alan Colmes, of Fox News Channel's Hannity and Colmes Show, makes his living holding up the left end of this tabloid television news commentary/debate show, and usually can be relied upon to represent the views of the left wing of the Democrat party. Tonight he deviated from the leftie script, by defending something that Rush Limbaugh said.

Rush has come under withering leftie fire for what should be an uncontroversial statement. He had accused the mainstream media of exaggerating the prowess of an NFL quaterback due to his status as an African/American. Lets review exactly what Rush said:
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," Hush said during ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" show in reference to Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
Limbaugh, as an expert spectator of Football and the NFL, thought that most football fans would agree with him. He has said as much. He claims to have thought long and hard before he made these remarks, but the politically correct left has granted him absolutely no license, and have gone after him hammer and tongs. As a result he resigned his position with ESPN's Countdown show.

Leslie Marshall was the guest on the Hannity and Colmes Show designated to go after Rush on this issue, and a more empty-headed leftie they could not have found. After repeating the drivel that should be expected of anyone of her ilk, Alan Colmes came to Rush's rescue! We can credit Sean Hannity's absence for some of Colmes's boldness, but Alan must get some credit for stating the obvious, especially since it goes against his leftie roots. He said that what Rush said was not racist, but merely accused the media of a sort of "reverse" racism. In the face of such obvious truth, Ms. Marshall stuck to her guns, and accused Rush of a towering insesnitivity, and claimed the "if even ONE PERSON was offended, then Rush should have been fired." This statement ignores the fact that Rush resigned, but she should be forgiven since, as a leftist, resignation is something that one should never do, merely to stem the embarrassment of one's employers.

But Alan Colmes acted like a mensch tonight. He said the necessary things, even though his constituency is taking this incident as nothing morenor less than an excuse to rail against Rush Limbaugh, a figure that they would like to bring low, however they can. It is possible that that is exactly why ESPN hired him in the first place, much like MSNBC hired and fired Michael Savage (but I have no inside information that this is what happened here, like the inside dope I had on MSNBC). Yet, what else did ESPN think was going to happen? They are the ones who hired Rush Limbaugh in the first place. He is a controversial figure, who makes his living saying controversial things. They got exactly what everyone should have expected, and kudos to Alan Colmes for calling it as he saw it.

Kyoto Dead, Chirac Throws Fit

This past week at the World Climate Change Conference in Moscow, Russia's leaders have cast doubt on the chances that Russia will ever ratify the Kyoto Agreement. The response from France has been typically French: Chirac is stamping his feet, threatening Russia...
French President Jacques Chirac on Monday joined calls for Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, saying future relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation depended on it.

Chirac made the plea in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who backed away on Monday from an earlier pledge to swiftly ratify the U.N. pact on global warming, a step necessary to bring the agreement into force worldwide. Ratifying the pact "would underline Russia's determination to accept all the responsibilities of a large modern country towards future generations," Chirac said...

"I therefore see in it an essential element to the constitution of the common economic area we decided to create in St Petersburg," Chirac said, referring to plans for a common European economic space.
France and Germany like the Kyoto protocols because they are the two industrialized countries that would have the easiest time complying with them. But with nations that account for over two thirds of global greenhouse gas enissions not affected by the pact, Russia's stance is the only sensible position for them to take. Now almost three quarters of the world's emission emitters are out of the pact. How amusing that it may be for the wrong reasons, but at least the world has made the right decision.

Much Ado About Nothing

It's truly amazing how much attention has been lavished on the controversy over the outing of the CIA operative, Valerie Plame. If ever a story needed some Zero Base Thinking, it is this one. There is so much noise here, and almost no substance at all.

The law, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, was enacted in 1982 and was designed to protect the identities of covert U.S. agents. It was a response to an organized campaign led by former CIA agent Philip Agee to identify CIA and other U.S. covert agents around the world. The law calls for a finding that the CIA employee not only be a "covert operative" but also to have been operating out of the country within the last five years. According to Robert Novak, the columnist who started this mess: "Valerie Plame was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives." So far as I can glean from public sources, Ms. Plame has not been out of the country for the last six years.

Those enemies of the Bush administration who are trying to use this brouhaha to cast aspersions are ignoring these facts. Rather than investigating the truth of her status as a covert operative, they are concentrating on the "leak." It is a sad state of affairs that this nation is in, that the news media are pushing this anti-Bush propaganda as if it was a serious story. It is not. Just as with their behavior in covering the global warming phenomenon, the media can't report the truth and still pursue their agenda. So they report on the Emperor's new clothes, while those with the eyes to see realize that the clothes are not new, there are not any clothes at all.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

War On Pain Patients

We can discuss the reasons for it, but the fact is uncontroversial: the U.S. government has declared war against pain patients, and the doctors who treat them. Whether it is medical marijuana or OxyContin, the government has decided that it must exert its power over its citizens who fail to obey its arbitrary rules.

Over the last few years medical science has rediscovered the fact that intractable pain can almost always be effectively treated by opioid pain killers, if the dosage is titrated (adjusted) to the level that works in each individual patient. In some patients, that dosage is very much higher than a single, minimum dosage pill. That brings medical science into conflict with that holy of holies, the war on drugs. A patient on high doses of potent painkillers might discover that, thanks to the war on drugs, the government has created a scarcity that has the effect of creating a market for these painkillers that is willing to pay an incredibly high price for these medications. Perhaps understandably, some of these patients give in to the temptation to divert some of their medication to the black market. These few patients give the government all the evidence thay need to imprison the doctors who wrote the prescriptions in the first place. It may be unfair, it may be immoral, it may be wrong, but that's exactly what's going on in prosecutions like that against Dr. William Hurwitz.
Dr. William E. Hurwitz, 57, was named in a 49-count indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. He was accused of conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances, drug trafficking resulting in death and serious bodily injury, drug trafficking, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and health care fraud.
If you read the rest of the article you will find that Dr. Hurwitz is a dangerous criminal who should be put behind bars for life. But if you read what some of his peers, the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, say about this case:
The Administration delivered on its threat to treat doctors "like the Taliban" last Thursday when federal prosecutors indicted and imprisoned William Hurwitz, M.D. of McLean, VA., for prescribing legal pain relief supervised and approved by the Virginia Board of Medicine.

Trial attorneys think doctors should pay dearly for abuse of medication by patients after they leave the doctors' offices. But why is Bush Administration government jailing doctors for the misdeeds of their patients?

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Rossi declared to a reporter that "our office will try our best to root out (certain doctors) like the Taliban. Stay tuned." And earlier this month, the President pointed to physician prosecutions as the example of how he wants to pursue terrorists.
They are not going to be satisfied with just a few doctors, either. In a more thoughtful news piece in a local paper, another local doctor reveals that he is in denial about his own impending fate:
[Dr.] Statkus said: "They are busy prosecuting physicians and not individual drug addicts. I don't know where their focus is, but it needs to [be] redirected."

[Dr.] Statkus doesn't believe he is next on the hit list. "I was once told by a DEA agent they were going to get the top five prescribers of each area," Statkus said. "But my lawyers have told me they are backing off of us. They are going to be pretty busy with Billy (Hurwitz), I imagine, for a while."
But the feds have time. After they are through with "Billy," they will be coming after the next doctor on their list. I can only hope and pray that they don't come after mine.