Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Larry's Memo To Bush

Larry Sabato, who is as close to a non-partisan political writer as there is, has posted what he calls an "Urgent MEMO to THE PRESIDENT." Sabato's interest is, apparently, pro bono; he seems to believe that some sanity in the White House would be good for the country. He offers five pieces of advice, but he saves the best for last:
Admit One Big Error and Correct It [...] the Medicare drug benefit. Do you know how many Republican Senators and Representatives have said privately that it is the worst, most regrettable vote of their careers? The drug benefit will add trillions to the national debt over time; because of its complexity, it is overwhelmingly disliked by the very seniors it is designed to help; and like most government programs, it is guaranteed to become massively more unwieldy and costly in the future, as new provisions and baubles are added on. Eliminate it, or at the very least, cut it way back by limiting it to the poor. Your gigantic, additional Medicare entitlement underlines the Bush Administration's reckless overspending. The ocean of red ink you have created will be an enormous black, er, red mark on your legacy in the history books. Why not do something about it while you still can? All at once, you can please your party, make better policy, and change your image by confessing a big goof. People will be amazed at your display of humility. Sometimes, the best politics is counterintuitive.
Even though Sabato betrays his left-leaning with his first piece of advice, which goes along with with the democrat policy of denial of the truth of Bush's Iraq policy, the rest of the piece is quite instructive. Don't miss this one!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Kyoto In Montreal

Kyoto in Montreal

And now up for a post-mortem perambulation is the Kyoto Accord, as the hacks of the world bureaucracy and their symbionts gather, amidst much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, to condemn the USA for - what exactly? I do not know. After all, this great nation has done more carbon dioxide reduction than almost all of the countries that have ratified the "accord." These wackos blame Bush for stopping American involvement in Kyoto, yet the Senate voted 99 to 0 against it even before Bush ascended his throne. We are doing more - much more - to curtail carbon dioxide emission than are rest of the entire world put together. Not only in laws that affect about half of our economy, but by putting together a framework that will do what Kyoto never attempted to do, which is bring in most of the world's peoples and economies and work toward finding solutions to our problems, whatever these problems are. What Bush failed to do is kneel down to socialist forces that want the USA to weaken itself in some misguided scheme that springs from a serious misapprehension of how economies and wealth work.

One zero base thinker , David Warren, is, even though a Canadian, very clear headed (and who has long been one of our faves) and he has come up with a fine piece on the denouement in Montreal, He says of the credulous cretins of common confabulated corruption:
They still buy into the possibility that human acts might be contributing to a global warming trend that either is or is not happening, on a time scale that might be short, medium, or long. They just realize that if something must be done about greenhouse gas emissions, there have got to be more intelligent ways to do it, than by suppressing economic activity throughout the Western world.
And, The Australian gets the deal in Montreal exactly right, with:
If a shifty salesman in a blue suit adorned with yellow stars appeared on your doorstep flogging a life insurance policy with high, high costs and low, low returns, would you turn over your hard-earned cash? Most likely you would shut the door in his face. This is effectively what some non-government organisations and governments are asking us to do when they call for drastic restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions in the name of saving us from climate change.
Meanwhile, while government, NGOs, and the punditocracy continue to blab over nonsense, the clever, rational mind, the zero base thinker who knows that the common wisdom is always wrong and seeks the truth, will find that, while natural gas is a low carbon fuel, we are currently seeing a shortage of usable natural gas because of a carbon dioxide shortage!! Yes, the sad fact is that natural gas, and older deposits of petroleum in general, need CO2 to inject into the wells, to produce the hydrocarbon. Yet, there is a shortage of available CO2! The scenario goes like this: Natural gas is produced from a well, CO2 is extracted from it, and then the CO2 is pumped into the ground (for perpetual storage) which causes crude oil to come out of the formerly depleted oil well, that had been previously given up for dead. More gas, more oil, less carbon. But do we hear the government, the NGOs, or the eco-loonies saying anything about this? NOOOOOO!!!

Carbon dioxide will be reduced if and when it is economical to do so, not before. The green movement ignores economic argument as an article of faith. Until they are willing to assign a value, in currency, to CO2 reduction, clean air or water, or whatever, they have no chance of achieving their goals. And, until they embrace nuclear power, they will never convince the rest of us that they are serious about CO2-caused global warming. And only then.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Another Threat Aborning

What with all the noise from Congress about a national ID card, many of us had resigned ourselves to a certain amount of added exposure to government scrutiny, probably consisting of more coordination between the States and the development of a more rigorous driver licensing regime, as a lesser of the evils. One could rationalize that most, if not all, of this info could already be divined by a determined Big Brother, intent on keeping tabs on us law-abiding citizens. Hey, we thought, maybe this will make us a bit safer, and this is a tide that can not be resisted in any case. Now comes the Centers for Disease Control and that seems to be very wishful thinking indeed. In a little-noticed action, the CDC has proposed a rule that would greatly expand the powers of the federal government to track and quarantine individual travelers. The federal government, airline and shipping industries would scrutinize travelers more closely than has ever been attempted before. At least, not in this country.

According to CDC, "[t]his set of data is greater than the set of information currently collected by the airlines, [global distribution systems], or travel agencies." What do these fine federal friends seek to know about us? merely
Permanent address, email address, passport information, traveling companions or group, emergency contact information (including at least name of an alternate person or business and a phone number), phone number(s) for the passenger, itinerary, and other flight information.
All this data would be required to be collected by the carriers, for any passenger on an airliner, train, or bus. The rule also broadens the list of symptoms that would make passengers subject to quarantine. It would allow the CDC to detain a sick individual for three business days without a hearing. After that time, the CDC Director would have the power to quarantine an individual until the end of "the period of incubation and communicability for the communicable disease as determined by the Director." For most diseases, this would be about a month. During that month, the quarantined person would be able to have an administrative hearing, but only to dispute actual evidence on whether the person has been exposed to a disease. Legal or constitutional claims could not be addressed by the hearing, though detainees could petition for a writ of habeas corpus for judicial review of the quarantine order.

The new rule, estimated to cost up to $865 million a year, would require airline and shipping industries to gather passenger contact and health information, maintain it electronically for at least 60 days, and release it to the CDC within 12 hours of a request. The CDC would retain the information for a year. Since this rule would be a blatant violation of The Privacy Act, Congress would presumably have to change the Act. We can expect that democrats as well as republicans will embrace this travesty as a demonstration of their ability to act in a non-partisan manner. Of course, it is completely partisan for members of Congress to act against our freedoms, as the real two sides, the real partisans, is us, against them. The bogeyman now is no longer Osama, but the bird flu. You remember the bird flu. That is the disease that does not yet exist in a dangerous form, but every public health bureaucrat with his or her greed intact swears that it is about to change into something that will endanger us all. Nervous nellies of every stripe are showing signs of going along with the bird flu power grab, but until this CDC proposal, all they wanted was money. Now they want our freedom.

CDC says that this request is nothing new. Again, according to their proposal
The Secretarys authority to quarantine persons is limited to those communicable diseases published in an Executive Order of the President. This list currently includes cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, and viral hemorrhagic fevers, such as Marburg, Ebola and Congo-Crimean, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and influenza caused by novel or reemergent influenza viruses that are causing or have the potential to cause a pandemic
Limited! Notice how, once taken, our freedoms are never restored to us. Cholera is still on the list, and it has not been a threat to Americans since WW II. As a past victim of Cholera, I can attest to the fact that the cure is no more complicated than plenty of water, rest, and Tetracycline, with the Tetracycline being entirely optional. It can not be spread in any area with modern plumbing, yet the government had chosen to retain the right to quarrantine us, for no more than a glorified case of the runs. But at least Cholera is an actual disease. Bird flu does not yet exist, but that fact does not stop the government from using it as a convenient bogeyman to keep tabs on ALL travellers, wherever we go. Within the proposal I could find no restrictions on the level of travel they might choose to focus on. Pass this rule, and they will have the right to scrutinize every subway passenger. Past being prologue, give them the right, and they will exercize it.

In an almost related action, federal officials have arrested and charged a woman who refused to give her identification to a security guard, as she sat on a public bus. Once again, our freedoms creep away, all in the name of "security." Against whom? A private person, minding her business on her way to work. Terrorists terrorize, and illegals pour over our borders, unchecked, and the response of our government is to harrass citizens? NOT! The response of our government is to use any pretense to expand their power to control and monitor us. That is what they do. That is expected. The frightening thing? Where is the outrage? Who cares? A small minority, at best. Each one of us has to wonder, when will they come for ME?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Choice and Life

Choice and Life

Abortion is the most divisive issue of our time. It certainly permeates our national debate over the Supreme Court nomination process. Emotions run high on both sides of the debate, ergo, the debate is not very rational - read logical. Therefore, it follows that a logical - read rational - solution will not resolve anything. But. There IS a logical solution to this quandry, a solution that satisfies both sides. Absolute respect for a living human being from the moment of conception, congruent with absolute respect for a woman's right to choose. But any solution presupposes that the parties to the dispute WANT to solve it. However, solving the quandry will leave the parties without the argument. Irrational, yes, but both sides are very, very good enemies. Choice and life. We CAN have both.

This quandry is a classic confrontation between two rights. One, and the most basic, is the right to life. This is the first right granted to us in our constitution. Paired with liberty, and then either property or the pursuit of happiness, this constitutes the greatest promise ever granted by any nation to any people. But, what happens when the right of one person to life comes up against another's right to the pursuit of happiness, or stands to cost some of her property. So, along comes a credulous Supreme Court that finds in the penumbras and emanations of the first few amendments to our constitution a right to privacy. Now, penumbras and emanations are the same as shadows and smells, but the Supreme Court in Griswald found that these insubstantial links were enough to allow a constitutional right to privacy. Eight years later, a right to abortion based upon this right to privacy was issued in Roe v. Wade.

Now, it is a truism that your rights end at the beginning of my nose. In other words, your right may not cost me anything personally, or it is no longer a right, but an imposition. Yet there is a great tension between a woman's right to abort and a child's right to live. Courts have glossed over this tension by declaring that an unborn child is not a person with rights worthy of respect. That a majority of our citizens disagree with this dictum is much of the reason that this issue is so contentious. But in the way that contentious people will argue rather than honestly seek to resolve conflict, the official story line is that these two views are incompatible, and thus the power of the courts must be invoked to protect this "right" that most citizens would fail to uphold, if given the chance. Yet, there is no reason for the conflict to exist. Both sides can be accommodated, if we only cared to do so.

It seems to me that a satisfactory solution is as follows: Allow a pregnant woman to renounce, and have removed, any fetus growing inside her, as she could seek the medical removal of any other parasitical organism resident in her abdomen. But. At the same time, treat any fetus so removed as a person with all the rights of any other human being. There. Everyone's rights are protected. No fetus has a right to inhabit a woman who desires it removed. That child's care and feeding thus must become the responsibility of the state, just as the care of a child after birth would become the state's problem, should a woman deliver it into the hands of the state. After about five and a half months of gestation, a premature birth could ensue (or infanticide might have to be performed). What is novel about this proposal is the omission of the act of infanticide on late term pregnancy terminations. More choice than the pro-choice side advocates, eh? Give an aborted, unwanted, victim of "Choice" the chance of the same chance at life that the rest of us believe we deserve.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Iraq More Fair than U.S. Senate

In a stunning reversal, under U.S. and U.N. pressure, the Iraqi Parliament has revised rules under which the constitutional referendum will be voted upon. The former rules were the same rules that the U.S. Senate uses, in which 60 votes are necessary for cloture, the so-called filibuster rule. If only 61 Senators are available the day of the vote, the 60 votes are still needed. Iraq had approved the same rule for its constiturional referendum, where one third of registered voters in three provinces would be needed to reject the constitution. With this new rule, no more than one third of those voting are all that is required to upset the constitution.

Hypocrisy has been banished in Iraq, yet it still thrives in the good old U.S.A. Maybe we need an insurgency here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Test of Consistency

The nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court gives us a chance to see whether the conservatives in the Senate have the courage of their convictions. For decades they have attacked the Left for what is an undeniable inconsistency, which is their situational morals and ethics. The Left has earned their reputation for standing on principle when, and only when, it suited their purposes. Free speech is the easiest, and most egregious example. Only speech that fits their crooked worldview is acceptable. They are the first to scream about a supposed abridgement of their speech, and the first to condemn when speech makes them uneasy. Just ask Bill Bennett. Conservatives have been the ones attempting to restrain them, calling for a logical consistency on this and other issues.

Only last month conservatives were calling upon the Left to confirm the nomination of John Roberts on the basis of these constitutional principles. They were saying that, absent a dearth of competence, Senators had no choice but to vote Aye. Presidents had a privelege here that must be respected. They liked Roberts. Now comes Harriet Miers.

George Will says it best, but many on the Right are calling for her repudiation. I expect that this siren call will only increase. After all, most of what George says about her is apparently true. Will is a great writer and a logical thinker.
[T]here is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to ensure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance that he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, "I agree." Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, "I do."
But, this same George Will used the opposite reasoning when he supported the nomination of John Roberts to the court.
At the risk of revealing a serious empathy deficit, one might ask: What is the importance of a Supreme Court justice's understanding the problems of lettuce farmers in California's Central Valley? How, in the course of performing his judicial duties, does a justice reach out to, and stay in touch with, those farmers? Perhaps Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, two of Feinstein's pin-ups, routinely do the empathetic things that Roberts, Feinstein has decided, does not know how to do, or is too emotionally impoverished to do. But how does any of what Feinstein was talking about pertain to judging?
It is time for a little consistency here. I agree with most of George's argument. Miers seems to be exactly the lightweight that he says she is. She supported Al Gore and the international Criminal Court. As recently as a decade ago she was a certifiable bleeding-heart liberal. Yet....

The President of The United States has the privelege to appoint anyone he wants. So long as his pick is competent with an unsullied reputation, there is no basis, either in the constitution or in precedent, for rejecting her. Conservatives knew when they supported his initial run for the presidency that Bush was a compassionate conservative. That he, like his father before him, was not a real conservative. Now that he will never again have to face the voters, he can be expected to revert to type. But the whole idea of conservativism is a fealty to a set of rules. Rules that, to a conservative, do not change with the whims of people, but rules that serve a larger purpose, that were here when we arrived, and will be here long after we are gone. The term conservative itself could be exchanged with consistent without changing its meaning, as a descriptor of its eponymous political movement. In fact, calling us Consistents is more accurate than calling us Conservatives. At least it used to be. But it would not be, if we fail to support Ms. Miers. Senators should, as they did with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, grit their teeth and vote Aye. Consistency demands it. Fealty demands it. And, if they need just a little bit more, they can console themselves that her background, and the conservative argument against her, is almost exactly the same as that pertaining to Rehnquist himself. Senators, vote to confirm Miers. Be consistent.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Katrina, Race, Silence, and Bill Bennett

The opponents of affirmative action legislation, starting in 1965, pointed out that the policy must fail - indeed, had always failed - because it was a temporary policy that, by its very nature would be permanent. That, once instituted, it could never be repealed. That it violated the fourteenth amendment, that mandated that all people be treated equally. They were right. What they failed to apprehend, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina revealed, is that it creates in its beneficiaries an unnatural dependency on the beneficent class. As news video showed, while poor whites fled, poor blacks waited for rescue. Then they, and their apologists, blamed the federal [White] response, while making excuses, and just plain giving a pass, to the local [Black] response.

Now Bill Bennett, a crusading anti-racist and abhorrer of abortion has the temerity to allude to the fact that blacks are more prone to violent crime than whites, or indeed the population of the U.S.A. as a whole. How foolish of him. What he forgot, just for a moment, is that, while whites refuse to use race as a weapon, the blacks see race as their most effective crutch. How can they ever improve their lot in life if they refuse to face the reality - that their culture, or whatever it is, foments violence, dependency, and racism, while it eschews education and self reliance. And those members of their own community who fail to hew to this line are lambasted for "acting white."

Aside from this is the thesis that the economic vitality of nations are dependent upon the I.Q. of their citizens. This may be a painful idea to grasp, but blacks do not fare well on I.Q. tests. No matter how racially neutral such tests are made, even non-verbal I.Q. tests show blacks to score lower than other races. As J. Phillippe Rushton has written (J. Philippe Rushton - Race and I.Q and J. Philippe Rushton - I.Q. Map) a country's prosperity is closely related to the average IQ of its population. In fact, "well over half (about 58 per cent) of the differences in national wealth can be explained in terms of national differences in average intelligence. Each IQ point above 70 in the national average was worth about $850 in per capita GDP."

But we are not allowed to speak of it. When Jamie Glazov, of Front Page Magazine tries to get a conversation on this subject going, all he can get is denunciation - of his source, or his motives, but precious little discussion on the merits. (Katrina, Race and Silence) And poor Bill Bennett is piloried. Al Campaneris and Howard Cosell similarly were made to suffer for speaking truth to the race hustlers, or those to whom no one dare speak truth. But they can not silence us all.

No one takes on the subject better than Fred Reed, who asks the questions the way they must be confronted, which is squarely. (Fred Reed On Katrina Looting) However it is stated, we have a problem here. In an ironic way this is similar with the problem we have with Fundamentalist Islam. That is, this is really their problem to solve, yet all of us suffer if the problem goes unaddressed. Violence and Ignorance can only be fought if we can admit their existence. We can solve nothing with silence.

Monday, September 19, 2005

About Roberts

The necessary Mark Steyn, who has come to occupy the place where Jonah Goldberg was a few years ago - from which he can skewer our ruling class with a combination of fact and humor second to none - has given us a precious look at the process that is called "Advice and Consent." Short of quoting the entire text, there is no excerpt that can give you the flavor of the thing - read it yourself. Trust me.

As President James K. Polk wrote in his diary: "There is more selfishness and less principle among members of Congress ... than I had any conception of, before I became President of the U.S.", in an entry dated December 16, 1846. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ownership Society

Ownership Society

President Bush has been very lucky in the disasters he has had to deal with. Starting out as a president with little foreign policy experience, he was handed the 9/11 wakeup call, which galvanized him into a titan on the world stage. Love him or hate him, you can not ignore him. Now, just a half year into his second term, he has this opportunity to push the core of his agenda, which he calls his "Ownership Society." He also has the chance to put another nail into the coffin of the democrat party.

In his second Inaugural Address, President George W. Bush declared once again his desire to build an ownership society. He describes it thus:
And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.
One might wonder how this could hurt the democrats, since this would seem to be the fulfillment of their dreams, as well as Bush's. The answer is two fold. Primarily, they will never go along with anything that Bush does, so filled with rancor are they. But, just as important, their idea of helping the poor revolves around the idea of entitlement and handout, with the strong implication that this will ensure voters retain a certain loyalty to them and their party. Give a man his rent, and you have created a dependency for another handout every month, when the rent comes due. Give a man ownership of his home, he just might forget who he is dependent upon.

The crazy political theatre that is about to ensue will be a joy to behold. As the administration goes to congress for the rest of the money needed to help the hurricane victims, we will see conservatives promoting a form of welfare, and liberals opposing the aid, with a technical reasoning that will be invisible to most of their constituents. This is going to be fun to watch. Sweat equity, tax abatements, zero rate nothing down mortgages, and private homes going up where the housing projects formerly stood. Why, some of "the poor" might very well become "the rich." And the democrats will oppose it all. It's gonna be great.

Blair Relents

Blair Relents

As I have been saying for a long time, the Kyoto protocol is dead. After years of ridiculous posing, Tony Blair has finally realized that asking the U.S.A. to destroy its economy is not going to work. He also now seems cognizant that any plan that calls itself "Global" needs to address, at a minimum, nations constituting a majority of mankind.

The twentieth century saw a decline in European power, from leading the world to second world status. Their military might destroyed, European countries live in a fantasy world where they have outlawed unpleasant things like war. They are trying to legislate themselves into economic dominance as well. At some point they will have to face reality. This is a first step. They should have realized this back on July 25, 1997, when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution 95-0 denying any possibility that we would ratify this strange political document. At that moment, with the U.S., India, and China excluded, Kyoto lost all relevance. Now, more than eight years later. Europe has finally seen the light.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Katrina Follies

Katrina Follies

As the human tragedy goes on, but starts getting better, for millions of affected people from the gulf coast, our political class is hell-bent on creating another, more long lasting tragedy for the rest of us. Aside from those whose hatred for Bush forces them to turn every political conversation into an opportunity to make claims against his character or competence, there are those opportunists who are already using this situation to lobby for the movement of national policy in the direction of their choice. Others are in the midst of covering their asses, or the asses of their fellow travellers, but it amounts to the same refrain. Instead of "Bush lied, people died" it is "Bush fiddled while New Orleans burned."

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof and others are attempting to ignite the flames of race and class warfare, but they are having one problem - Bush has a better record on class and race than most of his predecessors. He gets no credit from his detractors for this, but it is a loser when it comes to converting the working people, who know that the economy is booming, and Bush's minority appointees are neither tokens nor were they elevated to less important positions - Joycelyn Elders, meet Condoleeza Rice. Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd blame Bush for neglecting New Orleans, and the poor and black especially. Yet his has been an administration that has spent lavishly, even foolishly. Federal discretionary spending is up over a third on Bush's watch, and it was Clinton who downsized government, and halving the military as well.

But truth matters not to pundits and pols who are used to being able to count on the people being a credulous bunch of ninnies. Their problem rests on the fact that their support has been reduced to a small, but dedicated coterie of such credulous ninnies, and the rest of Americans are less and less wiling to believe anything that the political and the chattering classes have to say. No, the real danger lies not to the left. It is the right that we should fear now.

Not the real right, of course. I am talking about the Republicans who will use the present crisis as they have used the last crisis, to erode our liberty and spend our money. I fully expect the Congress, under Republican leadership, to propose and pass sweeping legislation, ostensibly to ameliorate the crisis, but in actuality to continue the old one - the crisis of a political class that has seized more power than the Constitution ever uintended, and now can not be stopped. And now, with Rehnquist dead, we have no Supreme Court Justice, save Clarence Thomas, with the desire to continue Rehnquist's crusade to return our federal government to constitutional limits of federalism. And Rehunquist's replacement? We just have to trust the same guy that hired Michael Brown to be head of FEMA.

Now come all of the calls we are already hearing to grant broad and sweeping new powers to the executive branch, and even the military, to overrun local and state government next time a turf-guarding incompetent like Governor Blanco stands in their way. Now we see over Fifty Billion Dollars in gimme cash being hosed out as fast as possible by a federal bureaucracy hell bent on scoring a record increase in their budget. We see a government evicting people without due process, taking their weapons without benefit of law or reason, and can next expect an attempt to have these seizures enshrined into federal law. And, once the city is empty, who will rebuild? The Corps of Engineers, or Haliburton, can build a new planned federal community, perhaps, where government will make the choices that the people are too foolish to make.

All of us who fear a bigger government have reason to believe that hurricane Katrina will prove to be a greater threat to liberty than 9/11 ever was.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Brown, and Republicans, Relieved

Brown, and Republicans, Relieved

For once, President Bush has listened to me, and has relieved FEMA Director Michael Brown from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. As I said a few days ago, this guy had to go. Republicans should rejoice, since the public is hungering to see some heads roll, and the less than qualified FEMA director was the obvious first choice.

Brown will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts. The FEMA director should always be a hands-on guy. It may well be that Brown padded his resume to get the job in the first place. He was a political crony appointment of the worst type, so all zero base thinkers should applaud his fall from his position of power. It is to be hoped that his boss will demote him all the way to civilian, but getting him out of New Orleans is a fine first step.

Fun With Advertising

Fun With Advertising, A Modest Proposal

Internet advertising is experiencing a boom, and many of my blogging friends are making substantial incomes from Adsense ads on their sites. As a reader, however, there is plenty of fun that one can have with such ads. This is divided into two kinds of fun. Let's have some fun with advertising.

First, you must understand how Google Adsense works. Advertisers bid on key words in an open auction, and pay for each click that results. Some key words pay several dollars per click. The blog or site owner gets about half of this money. Google tries to place ads where they are congruent with the site content. The site owner can not advise readers to click on the ads, or even mention the existence of the ads themselves. The fun that is possible comes in two flavors. they are:

1) If you like the site, or its content, you can click to reward the owner. At dollars per click, a bit of clickage can reward your favorite writer a bunch. Do not overdo it, however, or Google will pull the ads, and retroactively rescind any monies due.

2) But the real fun that is possible, comes when you hate the advertiser. This is especially fun when political ads you hate come up on a site that you like. In this case, click away to your heart's content. Then you can kill two birds with a single stone - reward your favorite blogger, and at the same time destroy your enemy. Remember that the advertiser is paying from pennies to dollars per click. In a few minutes, you can cost your enemies many hundreds of dollars. Especially when you tell your friends to do the same.

You must be careful, though. Google, and I am sure that the other providers do the same thing, watch their results carefully, so if you overdo it they will obviate your intentions. Yet, by a bit of daily, judicious clicking, you can have a major positive impact on blogs that you like, and moreso, cost your enemies major amounts of money. Let's say that the democrap party advertises one of their anti-American sites. Merely click on the Adsense link once or twice each day, for a month. If a few hundred of us does the same, they will have to pay plenty of dollars per month, for absolutely nothing. Recently I had the chance to do this in favor af one of my favorite libertarian blogs, when a democrap ad came up over and over. My buddy the libertarian received the dollars, while George Soros paid about double that, and received nothing.

Now, I am well aware that such activity, if it become popular, would have a chilling effect on blog advertising. Such advertising, and the boom in internet advertising in general, which is just now making some of the more popular blogs profitable, is a great boon to the blogosphere. And, believe me, I welcome that trend. I may decide to avail myself of that advantage any day now. But, I have never done this for money. In fact, I have never compromised to garner readership either. But, in the spirit of honest information exchange that this blog has always been about, I cannot hold back this information. Indeed, for some, this info may be a revelation. That being said, carpe clickum.

Disclaimer: The above essay is posted completely in jest. No one should attempt to click adsense ads, or any ads, unless you are serious in your interest in the advertiser's product, service, or web site. Causing trouble for an organization you do not like, or causing the unfair enrichment of those you do, is unethical, immoral, and quite likely illegal. I have posted this information for the sheer fun of it, and with the understanding that it is entirely true.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Not So Easy

In the wake of tragedy, it seems unfair to pile on. I have thus resisted the urge to post anything on The Hurricane, at least until now. I will, however, point to other written material that I find most illuminating.

First, one must peruse the magnificent, and much reviewed, piece in the Wall Street Journal by Bob Williams, the former state legislator who represented the legislative district most impacted by the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. He says it best, and puts the lie to the fatuous Left, that will blame Bush for everything, from the hurricane itself to the slow response. Williams is a guy who has been through it before, and knows how it works.

Next, the great Mark Steyn gives his two cents, without the usual humor but, as usual nails it.

On to Ralph Peters, the New York Post's rock steady military analyst, chimes in with a criticism of everyone with a dog in this fight, and does not spare the feds. He points out that there is plenty of blame to go around, but singles out the Department of Homeland Security for special derision. As a military guy, Ralph knows what the military can do, and what they can not do.

Finally, I am amazed at the lack of criticism of Michael D. Brown, the head of FEMA, in the articles linked above. While I promised not to pile on with my own criticisms of the failures of our "leaders" in this mess, I found it instructive to take a look at Brown's background, training, and the way that he got his job. A taste:
Brown ran for Congress in 1988 and won 27 percent of the vote against Democratic incumbent Glenn English. He spent the 1990s as judges and stewards commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. His job was to ensure that horse-show judges followed the rules and to investigate allegations against those suspected of cheating.

"I wouldn't have regarded his position in the horse industry as a platform to where he is now," said Tom Connelly, a former association president.

Brown's ticket to FEMA was Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's 2000 campaign manager and an old friend of Brown's in Oklahoma. When Bush ran for president in 2000, Brown was ending a rocky tenure at the horse association.

Brown told several association officials that if Bush were elected, he'd be in line for a good job. When Allbaugh, who managed Bush's campaign, took over FEMA in 2001, he took Brown with him as general counsel.

"He's known Joe Allbaugh for quite some time," said Andrew Lester, an Oklahoma lawyer who's been a friend of Brown's for more than 20 years. "I think they know each other from school days. I think they did some debate type of things against each other, and worked on some Republican politics together."
Obviously, cronyism at its best. Grow up with a pol, get responsibility for millions of citizens as a reward. If Bush does not fire this guy, I may start asking for his impeachment. There has got to be a limit, and there has got to be responsibility. All those dead and homeless souls down in The Big Easy need to see something from their chief executive, and firing the most visible and the most culpable member of a less than stellar federal cast is a good place to start. Otherwise, we can expect the Rebublicans to pay a dear price next year in the mid-term elections.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Racism - It's a Black Thing

Racism - It's Not A Black Thing

Any fair-minded observer believes that O.J. was guilty. At least there was as much or more evidence of his guilt than for any other murderer on death row, but there are those who see the trial as a matter of right vs. might. as this yahoo snippet shows. As the unconsciously racist writer says,
What she found was someone whom people believed was probably guilty — but who'd been framed by the police... "It didn't really matter to the black population if Simpson was guilty or not. They knew the police lied," she says... "We say, 'So what? Cops always lie.' But if you're black, it's different. The black community doesn't really want justice — they've given up on justice — they just want equality.
And the racism does not stop at the whites. Says a black observer,
"I asked one of the people I interviewed, a professor, if anyone [in the black community] thought Simpson was guilty," Bikel says. "He said, 'I did, but I liked the verdict. When you're black in Los Angeles, every one of us is hassled.'... "It doesn't matter to blacks if Simpson was guilty or not. It's very striking and difficult [for whites] to understand... "What I discovered is that we really live in different countries — the [racial] divide is huge," she says. "We don't pay much attention to it . . . but when something like [the Simpson trial] happens, then we realize it's really two countries.
Two countries? So both sides think that there is a racial divide here, one that the founders never saw. Indeed, our system of justice is based upon the proposition that the power of the state is manifested in the criminal justice system, and that we must have checks on the state's police power. indeed, it is enshrined in our founding documents that, if the constable creates evidence, the only recourse that the people have is to acquit the defendant; that police misconduct must be punished in this, the only way that we have to exert the people's power over the system of justice - by acquittal.

There is really no racial component in this, yet our public discourse is so poisoned by racial - and racist - thinking that most of us can only see this with a racial filter. O.J.Simpson was indeed guilty, and the LAPD did indeed bring evidence that was stronger than that left by the killer. That the jury acquitted Simpson is actually a victory for justice, or at least a necessary exertion of the peoples power over the ultimate power over the police. If we did not have this power, well, then we would have nothing on Stalin's or Saddam's police state.

Back at the farm. Cindy She-Hen goes on dishonoring her son's good name, as this blog post has a fair roundup of the fatuity of it all.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Michael Yon

Michael Yon

I never do this, but never before have I read such a combination of great writing and information at the same time. This is no infotainment, but the dispatches of a very brave soul who is in deep, living and writing from Mosul, Iraq. He deserves our support, and our prayers.

After reading his latest dispatch of Michael Yon's Online Magazine, and then the archives, and signing up for email notifications of any updates, you will contribute. That's not an order, but it is a prediction. Yon's stuff is the best stuff I have seen yet coming out of Iraq. It compares well to the best stuff that came out of Vietnam. Michael Herr's Dispatches, finally, has some competition, at least in the literary sense. but the immediacy, and the reality, is absolutely mind-boggling.

Do not click the link unless you have time to read. Really. This stuff is riveting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sex With Women is Different

Sex With Women is Different

Yes, that headline is deliberately provocative, but I just couldn't resist it. It is, however, an accurate starting place for this essay. Recent research reveals that women do, indeed, have a startlingly different response to sexual stimuli than men do, which is completely congruent with the ages-old knowlege of humanity that women respond differently to sexual situations. What interests me today is more the way that the media use this research to push their agenda.

We start with this post at Gene Expression, one of my favorite blogs, where the discussions are frank, open, and anything but politically correct. There one can go to explore the relationship between our genes and our behavior without any agenda beyond the discovery of scientific truth. It is exactly the opposite of most media outlets, where facts are seen as convenient tools, or inconvenient obstacles, only there to help one make one's point. But GNXP is there with the facts, ma'am, only the facts. And today, the facts are these:
Men are only physically aroused by either male or female stimuli, and men do not exhibit a bisexual arousal pattern (i.e. men who are aroused by male stimuli are only aroused by male stimuli). Men who report being gay or ‘bisexual’ are also aroused only by male stimuli. Women, on the other hand, exhibit physical arousal to both male and female stimuli, which does not track their subjective/psychological arousal or their stated orientation (lesbians and straight women are physically aroused by both male and female stimuli).
Of course, it has not been a secret to zero base thinkers that women see the world through a sexual filter, but that fact is not a part of the common wisdom, and it is anything but politically correct. Even as research has demonstrated that female sexual arousal is nonspecific, whereas, in males, sexual arousal is strongly related to sexual orientation, our society is spending a large amount of effort "gender norming" various human activities, and trying really hard to get us to accept as normal the tiny portion of humanity who self-identify as male homosexuals. Thus the mainstream media use this research in articles such as "What Makes People Gay?" While this particular article offers a wide-ranging review of a lot of recent research, its beginning, its end, and especially its headline declare exactly what the "correct" result of the research should be. As hard as he tries to be even-handed, the author reveals his biases throughout the piece. And he never mentions that women get aroused at the sight of animals doing it. Or the fact that all women are bisexual. Or the fact that no men are.

Why it is so hard to just allow that human sexuality is incredibly complex, and varies hugely from person to person? Beyond our physical equipment, we have the mind, which is very different from each to the other. Not surprising, since we each have to write the software for this fine instrument ourselves, and do it at an extremely early stage of life. Now we can see proof that women have a relationship with their sexuality that is very different from that of men. We can now understand why a threeway with two girls is so much more satisfying for all concerned than one with two guys. We now know that the differences between the sexes are quite basic, and efforts to "norm" the sexes are doomed to failure. And we can appreciate one of the few examples of French culture that remains valid still ; Vive le difference!

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Death of Kyoto

The Death of Kyoto

As we forge ahead into the brave new world of the twenty first century, as junk science and propaganda continues to stymie the science fiction-future many of us anticipated (a world of rational improvements in the lot of mankind) we have to be content with small victories. The confusion and political grandstanding that has accompanied the climate changes seen in the last two decades, culminating in the passage of the Kyoto Protocol, seemed to be a victory of the forces intent on the pursuit of power rather than the improvement of life on Earth. But the forces of truth and rational thought fought back, resulting in the final victory over these blatantly political, power-grabbing protocols. At least, that's what Tony Blair meant when he said, at the G8 summit, ""There's no point in going back over the Kyoto debate, that is an argument that has been, and we can't resolve that, and we're not going to negotiate some new treaty on climate change at the G-8 summit." French President Jacques Chirac said essentially the same thing.

What the leaders at the G8 meeting realized is that Kyoto has failed. The sound bite that emerged in the mainstrean media on climate change reflected the U.S. change of position, with President George W. Bush saying that climate change is man-made and important to address. The point that is receiving less attention, but that is even more important, is the consensus that the Kyoto Protocol is essentially no longer relevant to international climate-change discussions. Most signatories will not be able or willing to meet Kyoto's targets and timetables, and the G-8 leaders said they will no longer criticize Washington for not abiding by Kyoto or participating in Kyoto-based discussions.

Now, this is a minor victory, to be sure, as both sides of the debate are now free to pursue other approaches to the perceived problem. No doubt the Greens will continue to press for legislation, and the West will continue to restrict the emission of carbon into the atmosphere. But the attempt to break the back of the Western economies had failed. Washington has shown no interest in any regulation that will cost too much, instead promoting new technologies. Of course, any attempt to promote technology by government is prone to corruption by pork barrel and single issue politics, but at least that is a positive boost to an economic sector, rather than a negative drag on the economy as a whole, as carbon restrictions are. And now China and India, along with the rest of the developing world, are back in the carbon wars with the rest of us, rather than being given a pass, as was done in the Kyoto protocol.

What has not changed in all of this, is the absolute fraudulence shown by both sides. No scientist claims that carbon dioxide reductions will result in any warming reduction within the lifetime of anyone now living, yet the debate is entirely focused on carbon reduction. If indeed we want to cool, or at least to slow the warming, of the Earth's atmosphere, why would we pursue a method that all can agree will not work for at least 100 years? Why would both sides pursue the use of Hydrogen, when it would only increase the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere? And, most strongly indicative of what is really going on here, if the Greens actually believe that carbon dioxide is the culprit, how can they continue to stand against Nuclear power? Nuclear is the only technology that can reduce carbon emissions on a significant scale, and is the only way that hydrogen makes any sense at all.

Whatever. We can rail against the stupidity of the world, but can do precious little to make it better. Small minded humans will continue to mendaciously obfuscate the truth, in the pursuit of the power they crave. Single interest politics will continue to be the engine of our governance, and needless, meaningless, or even harmful legislation will continue to be produced by the sausage factory in Washington D.C. We can at least revel in this small victory over the Kyoto protocol. Kofi Annan and the undeveloped world have failed, with their fifth column allies here at home, in their attempt to impoverish us. One can only hope that we are more vigilant, and act more decisively, against their next attack on our way of life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Supremes Diverge

Supremes Diverge

Until recently, we had an idea of where the justices of the Supreme Court stood. But today, a couple of recent decisions show that the predictable votes of the polarised members can no longer be predicted. In one Thomas and Rehnquist departed from Scalia (and the lefties), and in another, unanimity prevailed in a case where it could have never been predicted. What is going on?

THE CASES: In the first case, Gonzales v. Raich, the right of states to allow medical use of marijuana without federal interference was rejected by a six to three margin. Sandra Day O'Connor joined Clarence Thoman and Chief Justice William Rehnquist in confirming the fact that private use of locally grown medicine has no impact on interstate commerce. It appears that Scalia and Kennedy voted as they did simply because they oppose marijuana legalization, since they have heretofore been reliable votes to restrict unbridled federal power. Now it sems that the high court can see interstate commerce in a situation within a single state, involving no commerce. It must be nice to exercise power in a millieu without rules. It must also be nice to legislate your own personal morality, under color of authority. The very highest authority in the land.

In the second case, the Supreme Court threw out the June 2002 conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm for destroying Enron Corp. related documents, ruling unanimously that the jury instructions at the trial for the now-defunct company were improper.
The court ruled unanimously that the Houston jury that found Arthur Andersen LLP guilty of obstruction of justice was given overly broad instructions by the federal judge who presided at the trial.

As a result of the faulty instructions, the justices ruled, the firm was convicted without proof that its shredding of documents was deliberately intended to undermine a looming Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry in fall 2001. U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon should have instructed the jury that the law required the government to prove that Andersen knew it was breaking the law, the court ruled.

"Indeed, it is striking how little culpability the [judge's] instructions required," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote in the opinion for the court. "For example, the jury was told that, 'even if [Andersen] honestly and sincerely believed that its conduct was lawful, you may find [it] guilty.' " Legal analysts said the decision was a major setback to the Justice Department's corporate crime prosecutions.
We can understand that an aggressive prosecutor will ignore the law when he believes that he can attain a conviction. What we can not understand is how the trial judge, and then the appeal panel, can allow this sort of official lawlessness, when the parental control then finds unanimously that the emperor in the case wore no clothing. Meanwhile, 28,000 employees are out of work, and a venerable firm that never intended to break the law has been destroyed. In effect, the Bush Administration destroyed the largest of the Big 6 accounting firms and they were not even guilty. It is the most basic of tenets of our system of laws that a perpetrator must have intent to commit a crime in order to be found guilty. This unanimous ruling by the Supremes sets us back upon that path. Maybe now some prosecutors will stop attempting to criminalize civil, commercial misbehavior.

What is more important is that people come to realize that careerism is rampant in the prosecutorial ranks, where winning and making headlines has become much more important than rooting out crime, or discovering the truth. Further, judges will often ignore the law, and even good sense, when they believe that a greater good will ensue. Just yesterday a famous pedophile went free, because Tom Sneddon, the prosecutor, filed charges against a man without having enough evidence to convict. Sneddon evidently believed that he had enough to convict, when all he had was a few whisps of questionable evidence, which he thought that he could hang on his weird defendant. Kudos to that jury, for following the law. Jacko was obviously a man who needs help, but the law requires a clear showing, within the evidence, of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Too bad the Anderson jury followed the herd, instead of the law.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

My Friend the Leftist

My Friend the Leftist

Friendship. The word itself is strange, almost campy. What ship is this, that describes a man's relationship with other men? Aside from the ship, what indeed is the meaning of the word friend? An acquaintance? Or does the word imply a deeper bond, and how deep? I suspect that the meaning of friendship is different to each of us, as it can describe anything from the most frivolous acquaintanceship to the deepest pair bond between two men. For many men, a friend is someone with whom we would willingly walk into fire, should attempts at dissuasion fail. I put my own definition of the term up that high. Yet, do we have to agree with the personal philosophy of the man with whom we would walk into disaster?

I have a friend, we can call him Larry, with deeply held, deeply wrong, leftist beliefs. No bleeding heart on this guy, and a clearheaded view toward the racial divide in the country, and the world, as it really is. An entrepreneurial capitalist to boot. Yet this guy insists that America is always wrong. Not as a general rule, but case by case, every single time. He has never met a government program he didn't like, or that he thought was receiving enough money. Indeed, after over a half century roaming this planet, this fellow still thinks that government can be an effective force for positive change. And he sincerely believes that the craven fools who run under the democrat banner are inherently superior to the power mad hacks who self identify as republicans. The few truly committed leaders that emerge from time to time are dismissed as wrongheaded dreamers. To Larry, John Kasich was a fool, probably because he left politics just as his ability to wield power began to affect his thinking. Al Gore was a hero, not a self-serving power-craving sociopath who put his personal ambition above the nation's need to move ahead. Michael Moore produces documentaries, not propaganda with little regard for the truth. Al Franken might just save the world, if only enough people could be forced to listen to him, and Rush Limbaugh is a big fat liar, even though Larry can not cite a single lie he ever told. Larry lives in the Bizarro World, where everything is reversed. Faced with Al Franken's ratings, he decides that Arbitron is a right-wing plot.

If you listen to talk radio, you will be familiar with the name Savage. Michael Savage is a reprehensible character who is difficult to listen to for very long. Very little of what he says is accurate, or makes much sense, but he nails a few ideas right on the head. The most correct thing that he says is that liberalism is a mental disease. That is so clearly true. It is the only explanation for Larry. Indeed, it explains a lot. It is not enough to say merely that lefties feel their politics, since many on the right also feel their own. And even touchy-feely bleeding heart liberals can explain and rationalize their misapprehension of world events. Few do, but some can. So, clearly it has been shown that they have a flaw in their logic circuits. Savage is close enough to the truth when he describes this as a mental disease. Larry is suffering from this mental disease.

So what can be done to alleviate Larry's suffering? He is resident in the intellectual New York City Kool-Aid world, so, since I am the only right-thinker he can get on the phone, he likes nothing better than to call me up and attempt to discuss at me the latest accusation that Maureen Dowd or Paul Krugman have pre-masticated for his circle, and then he will anticipate my reaction. Me being me, however, I seldom answer with the preconceived response, which never sways him from his course. He will respond to whatever he has anticipated, and no demurrer on my part will get him to confront the facts of the case, whatever it is. In his world, American troops routinely practice torture and war crimes, Lt. Calley was never punished for his crimes at My Lai, no CEOs have been, or ever will be, sent to jail for stealing from or lying to the public, and, amazingly, Larry believes that an all-white jury would have acquitted OJ Simpson. In Larry's cracked calculus, Iraq=Vietnam, and wealth is a zero-sum game. Take from the rich and the poor will become richer. This from a guy who licenses biometric patents for a living. This from a guy who used to be a philosophy professor at a prestigious university. And somehow, this guy is still my friend. Go figure.

It seems to me that the best treatment for Larry's disease is to continue taking his calls, and treat his opinions as valid, even as he will not concede the same to mine. Continue pointing out the truth, and insisting on a certain rigor as concerns acceptable sources for facts (Mother Jones, The Utne Reader, and opinion columns are NOT acceptable sources for facts). Keep hoping that he will get better. And pray like crazy that no person like him ever achieves serious political power.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Republicans As Statists

Republicans As Statists

Statism may be too strong a term, so far, but there are ominous portents of a statist future for the Republican party. As Lord Acton warned repeatedly, the greater power a man or a group accretes to itself, the greater will become the use, and abuse, of that power. Today's Republican party, and President Bush, are a living embodiment of that idea, as they seek to award new entitlements and protections to the electorate in pursuit of the expansion of their incumbency and their sinecure.

I am an old style reactionary conservative, a Lincoln republican, with strong libertarian leanings. As late as Nixon's Vice presidency where, in his "Checkers" speech, he declaimed that his wife wore "a respectable Republican cloth coat," the Republicans were the party of the working man, and Republicans were the party that sought to create a smaller and less ambitious government. But today, what with the democrats retreating into the arms of an ever smaller coterie of elitists and leftists, the republicans have become emboldened to seek to extend their power into areas never before considered, and to serve their natural constituency less, as they turn to good old single interest politics. Their "big tent" has become more of a tent city, with the social conservatives, the neocons, and the libcons dwelling in their separate quarters in the republican campsite.

This phenomenon takes on a sinister meaning when we contemplate the inevitability of its continuing nature. Absent some major political cataclysm, the power of the national republicans shall grow in the years to come. Indeed, even if the democrats were not bent upon self-destruction, just the mechanics of electoral incumbency would not allow the left to take over the Senate for a decade. In the House, a sea change in political opinion would still not allow for a change in leadership for four years. And there is no chance of a democrat attaining the White House unless and until the war against us is over, or at least until the electorate feels safe from terror. And, just in case such a change in attitudes were possible, the national democrat party seems intent on making the public feel even less safe, showing no sign of a willingness to reverse course on that item any time soon.

So we find ourselves spiralling into the abyss, with a statist republican party "saving" us from an even more sinister leftism, and no end to it in view any time soon. It might be enough to induce one to consider suspending his blogging, in frustration at the futility of the debate, of the inability of an increasingly small minority in the middle to attract supporters from either side to come to their senses. As those on the right become more and more righteous, and those on the left more shrill and even more divorced from reality, one might consider leaving the debate.

But no. Now is not the time to withdraw from the ebb and flow of ideas. Not the time to retire. It is the time to reinvigorate, reenergize, and double, even treble one's efforts. There are those who have been satisfied to see the lethargy in this space of late, and have speculated that this site might go dark. Banish the thought. Expect the opposite. More, not less. More often. Verbose. Informed. Opinionated. Frequent. Right.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Congress Outdoes Itself

Congress Outdoes Itself

Amazingly, the United States Congress, an institution that has demonstrated that it has absolutely no ability to feel embarrassment, has gone over its previous level of self abasement, and has wasted an entire week on absolutely nothing of substance. Don't get me wrong though, as any week that the Congress does nothing is a week that the rest of us are protected from the evil that that institution does.

Of course, if you were Michael Schiavo, you would never agree that they have done nothing, in a week that saw them pass a bill of attainder that seeks to prevent Michael's wife from having her last wishes carried out. No matter that Terry Schiavo's brain has been replaced by spinal fluid, her parents' baseless hopes for her recovery, overruled by a process that has been reviewed by 17 judges in 6 courts, have been given new life by our fearless leaders in Washington. We can only pray to God that there is no longer a piece of her brain that survives that can perceive pain. Yet this exercise in the unfeeling abuse of power, masquerading as sensitivity, was only a side show to last week's display of craven pandering by the 535 power and ego driven fools.

No, the real show was the hearing, at the Committee of Government Reform, on Baseball. It is hard to understand what figleaf they plan to hide behind, but our legislators are threatening to legislate the use of performance enhancing drugs. No matter that most of these drugs are illegal already. No matter that baseball is an entertainment, rather than a strictly athletic, occupation. These brilliant thinkers are prepared to jump into Baseball with regulations, in order to slow down the advancement of the sport. I just have to ask: if Baseball wants to become more like professional wrestling, by what authority is the Congress empowered to stop them? Doesn't our constitution account for anything anymore? Exactly which enumerated power allows them to micromanage a SPORT?

Meanwhile, back in the real world, technology has advanced far beyond whatever it is that congress plans to regulate in any case. They can only regulate anabolic steroids but, while they were not looking, recombinant DNA technology has allowed pharmaceutical companies to manufacture metabolic steroids. That is, regular human chemicals without which we would die if we did not produce them in sufficient quantities. How do they propose to decide whether or not Mark McGuire has a naturally high testosterone level? And, how about the unmentionable: what if blacks really do naturally have more testosterone than whites? Does Congress want to stop white athletes from overcoming this racist bias?

And the steroid thing is passe anyway. New advancements in surgery have made inroads into sports, just as they have in other forms of the entertainment industry. If they make it illegal for a pitcher to have the "Tommy John" surgery, can Brittley Spears be banned from show biz because of her breast implants? Does Stallone's eye job make him inegible for an Oscar? Weighty questions for our deliberative body to sort out. I only hope that we can be protected from overly pretty, overly strong, and overly fast entertainers. What a farce!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Scrap the Violence Against Women Act

Scrap the Violence Against Women Act

It is now time to take a stand against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In an editorial at IFeminists.com, Ray Blumhorst puts the savage effects rendered by the gender feminists, using VAWA as fuel, into perspective.
The domestic violence industry clings tenaciously to a belief that it must manufacture more and more female victims to get more and more money. To do that, more and more men are fed into the domestic violence arrest system to meet the goals of the industry. Thanks to laws like "primary aggressor," and "mandatory arrest" the gender feminist trained police are coerced to manufacture, ignore, or destroy evidence to support their gender profiling prejudices. It appears from numerous sources the rate of false arrests is greater than one in three. False accusations can be just as devastating and occur much more frequently. In sum, it appears false accusations and perhaps false arrests exceed legitimate accusations and arrests, which are appalling by any measure.
While my regular readers will not find this surprising, the rest of the world is just beginning to come around to understanding just how badly radical feminists have abused our society in their lust for power.

Similarly Trudy W. Schuett has another editorial on the subject, also well worth reading. As she puts it:
Generally speaking, the radical elements who haven't yet realized their work is done are easily dismissed, and most often ignored. Malcontents in society will always be with us. It is only when we allow these malcontents to dictate public policy, and our government to fund programs to further their extremist philosophies that society puts itself in harm's way.
Now congress will have to consider whether to extend VAWA or not. It is to be hoped that the craven princelings on Capitol Hill can take their heads out of their asses long enough to hear both sides of this debate. When ideology trumps justice, freedom loses. When government mandates quotas of a maximum of 5% of arrestees can be women, when the science says the 50/50 is more like it, any idiot can see that we have a problem. Giving billions of dollars, and and the power that results in the incarceration of thousands of innocent men, to radical feminist lesbo-fascists, is a travesty that must be stopped. As I have detailed several times, single interest politics will result in this type of thing. After all, no one wants to condone violence against women, especially a craven vote seeking coward. But now that we have ten years of VAWA under our belt, and we have the opportunity to reexamine the results before reauthorization takes place, we owe it to our society to take a good look before we continue to move in this hateful, and counterproductive, direction.

Hat tip to Iguana at Silly Seattle for the link to the Schuett piece.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Why We Do the Things We Do

Why We Do the Things We Do

Since my teen years I have known that, to a large extent, we humans are passengers in our own bodies - that many if not most decisions we make are made on a level that we are not even aware of. The effect of the subconscious, the sense menory, and the eerie way that smell can catapult one back in time in an instant are all evidence of this. The autopilot function that allows us to walk and talk without ever thinking about our legs or our tongues is the clearest indication of this. Now U.S. News and World report has an article that sums up the state of our knowledge of that magnificent machine that is behind all of this. It
reveals an aspect of a rich inner life that is not a part of conscious, much less rational, thought. Today, long after Sigmund Freud introduced the world to the fact that much of what we do is determined by mysterious memories and emotional forces, the depths of the mind and the brain are being explored anew. "Most of what we do every minute of every day is unconscious, " says University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Paul Whelan. "Life would be chaos if everything were on the forefront of our consciousness."

Fueled by powerful neuroimaging technology, questions about how we make snap decisions, why we feel uncomfortable without any obvious causes, what motivates us, and what satisfies us are being answered not through lying on a couch and exploring individual childhood miseries but by looking at neurons firing in particular parts of our brains. Hardly a week passes without the release of the results of a new study on these kinds of processes. And popular culture is so fascinated by neuroscience that Blink, journalist Malcolm Gladwell's exploration of "thinking without thinking," has remained on the bestseller lists for four weeks.
Goes rather well with last Friday's post, don't you think? Keep reading....

Friday, February 25, 2005

Modern Skulls House Stone Age Minds

Modern Skulls House Stone Age Minds

It has long been an interest of mine to develop a better understanding of how our biological inheritance affects our ability to thrive in this technological and crowded world. This has drawn me to blogs such as Gene Expression and Enlightened Caveman. Now political think tanks are getting into the act. Cato Institute has published a policy report based upon the study of evolutionary psychology, entitled Capitalism and Human Nature, which attempts to reconcile our hunter-gatherer origins and our therefore primitive mentation with our ability to interact on a global level with the rest of the human race. The report reviews recent research in evolutionary psychology, which it describes as a field of science that "specializes in uncovering the truth about human nature."

Pointing out that human nature is absolutely incompatible with socialism is easy enough, even without the aid of peer-reviewed research (we have the mountains of corpses to prove it), but applying those same findings to a quest to understand how compatible our minds might be with a global free market is a bit more difficult. What we can not easily understand can be seen this way, thus:
Our zero-sum mentality makes it hard for us to understand how trade, innovation, and investment can increase the amount of total wealth. We are thus ill-equipped to easily understand our own economic system.
Anyone who has read the scribblings of economists, who devote their lives to the understanding of this "science," has realized that no two economists can agree on anything more than grand principles, and there is a huge amount of argument even at that level. Science can allude to a certain hopelessness inherent in progressivism, as in:
The shape of society is constrained by our evolved nature. Remaking humanity through politics is a biological impossibility.
But progress we shall, indeed we must, so gainsaying the direction in which leftists wish to take our society is not necessarily going to point to the true direction the human race, and American society, should take. It does provide food for thought, however, and it would be wonderful if more of our public policy were to conform to what is known about human propensities and abilities, rather than the current state of our legislation, which more often defies human nature, and attempts to change it, rather than trying to work with the raw material of the human mind.

We are what we are, and not some progressive construct of what we wish we were. Political correctness stands in direct opposition to progress, which is directly opposite to what its promoters claim. Human knowledge is ill-served by denial of, say, the cannibalism of the Anasazi, or refusal to recognize the nature of Homosexuality. Refusal to allow the study of, and understanding of, whatever it is that impairs many African-Americans from succeeding in our society does not help them. Indeed, it holds them in bondage to false ideas, and encourages the destruction and refabrication of the ideas of Martin Luther King, among others, in a mad attempt to avoid embarrassment. The continued attempts to redistribute wealth similarly shows a denial of human nature, as well as a poor understanding of the economics of wealth creation. The plain truth, that wealth is not a zero-sum game, seems to be hidden from these "thinkers," and the facts of the tension between our charitable nature and our resistance to coercion are denied as well. The current debate over Social security is a debate between those who want power over their fellows, and is not at all about providing for the elders of our society.

Until public policy reflects an understanding of the good, as well as the bad, in our natures, the personal freedom forseen by our nation's founders will continue to be elusive. Better understanding of human nature, and thus what will work, is the key, and the Cato piece is a great step forward. Too bad almost no one will read it. But it is a sign of better days ahead.

Hat tip to Enlightened Caveman for the link to the Cato piece.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Criminalizing Fantasy

In a further demonstration that the government is truly out of control, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger is apparently attracting a lot of positive response to his attempt to extend the already foolish statutes against suicide to a ban on the mere discussion of, and fantasy concerning, suicide. I have (so far) found no news items suggesting that this action is overstepping the boundaries of the law, giving me more reason to believe that I have been right all along, that almost everyone can clearly see the Emperor's new clothes, and is not merely reticent about discussing their lack.

A sample of the news coverage, "Man Allegedly Sought Suicide Pacts for Years", from the Washington Post, seems to me to allege no crime that has been committed. Even a conspiracy charge requires that at least one act in furtherance of the commission of a crime must be performed before the conspiracy becomes a criminal act. Yet, incredibly, it seems that the mere act of clicking the "send" button in a chat room transforms conversation about suicide into a crime. This completes the realization of the aim of those who would seek to make illegal mere unpopular speech. If this prosecution succeeds, all internet communicators will have a far heavier burden to carry. But. Far more important is the silence. Why are not civil liberties activists of all stripes screaming about this? Is it because of the supposed victim status of the so-called scheme's so-called participants?

Where does it stop? If a man can not speak to strangers about fantasy hangings that will noy take place over non-existent beams in his trailer home, after they discuss sex acts that will never be performed, at what point does harmless banter become an actionable crime? This is very troubling to me, mostly because it does not seem to trouble anybody else.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Darfur Is No Genocide Says UN

Darfur Is No Genocide Says UN

One of the best essayists today is Mark Steyn, whose insights and observations never fail to make one laugh as he skewers the pompous and powerful. And we have to laugh, or we will never stop crying. Just today a government report finds that gun laws have no effect on crime, but goes on to conclude that its conclusions are no reason to change anything. I expect that Steyn will have something to say about that presently, but today's piece is about the U.N. Oil for Food Scandal. While he covers that travesty with a completeness and brevity at the same time, what really got me going was a little bon mot at the end, about something entirely different. he sums up the transnational mindset - and standard operating procedure - perfectly
If Paul Volcker's preliminary report on Oil-for-Food dealt with the organisation's unofficial interests, the UN's other report of the week accurately captured their blithe insouciance to their official one. As you may have noticed, the good people of Darfur have been fortunate enough not to attract the attention of the arrogant cowboy unilateralist Bush and have instead fallen under the care of the Polly Toynbee-Clare Short-approved multilateral compassion set. So, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan managed to persuade the UN to set up a committee to look into what's going on in Darfur. They've just reported back that it's not genocide.

That's great news, isn't it? For as yet another Annan-appointed UN committee boldly declared in December: "Genocide anywhere is a threat to the security of all and should never be tolerated." So thank goodness this isn't genocide. Instead, it's just 70,000 corpses who all happen to be from the same ethnic group – which means the UN can go on tolerating it until everyone's dead, and Polly and Clare don't have to worry their pretty little heads about it.
Isn't that the truth? Great stuff. Too bad that the black Africans in Darfur can not laugh, and may even be fresh out of tears. But if we can not lampoon those who could make a difference to them, but refuse to, nothing will ever change.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Having it Both Ways

In a telling piece of journalism, the Washington Post today reveals some of the rank hypocrisy of which our elected officials are capable. They criticize Bush for spending too much money, and running deficits, then, when he shows fiscal discipline, they attempt to destroy those efforts. You may laugh or you may cry, but the reaction of the democrats to this budget proposal are beneath contempt. In fact, they are beneath comment. Anyone with his or her brain plugged in can fisk this document. And, it is called a NEWS article! Read it and weep.

UPDATE - Just in case you think I'm being too hard on WaPo, take a look at the same story, without editorial content masquerading as news.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Dems Moving Left, Again

So now the waiting is over, and we know that the democrat party has no intention of taking any substantive steps toward reversing course and moving toward the middle politically. It seems that they have settled on Howard Dean as their standard bearer. Just as the choice of Terry McAuliffe moved them toward the left, Dean will move them more so. Even as a reactionary libertarian conservative like me was hoping that the opposition party would once again become relevant, they push inexorably toward obscurity. Perhaps this is a good thing. Maybe this will make room for a truly conservative party to come to the fore. The only problem with this, there IS no conservative party available to do so, unless you consider the isolationist Libertarian Party conservative. Me, I consider them a utopian party, and thus as capable of achieving a majority as the communists. For a majority party, you need a big tent, and the Libertarians are (mostly) true believers, and thus are fighting to have the smallest tent possible.

In national politics, single-interest coalitions beat out ideology every time. That is why the Republicans are the majority now, and the Democrats are sinking. The more ideological they get, the happier their base will be, the their relevance to our national polity will decrease. What will sustain them when they no longer have Bush to kick around? Their coalition of academics, labor movement socialists, angry masculine women, journalists, and artists is a mile wide and paper thin. Who listens to those people anyway?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

We're Back

We're Back

Happy New Year! It has been a long vacation for us, and it is good to be back at home at last. Folks here in Seattle are unhappy about the mid-sixties temperatures, which actually fit right in with their mid-sixties politics, as it seems to show them that the globe is actually warming. The fifty two below zero readings in Minnesota do not fit their theory, but environmentalists are never going to allow mere facts to hinder a good supposition. The further fact that these ultra-low temperatures occurred in a town called Embarrass is also lost on these people, since irony is another thing that they never seem to get.

Meanwhile, I have been steaming for the last couple of weeks over the response to the Tsunami. It would be hard to market a work of fiction in which an earthquake's sequelae are blamed on a political leader in a nation six thousand miles away, yet that is exactly what has happened. First Bush didn't do enough, then he didn't do it fast enough, then he did it in the wrong way (W stands for wrong!). I can forgive the political class from spinning and hyping the story, but what about the media solons, who so recently were wringing their hands over their fading influence. Don't they realize that their influence is fading precisely because they can no longer be trusted to get the most basic facts straight?

Last week it seemed that every news outlet was declaring that the death toll in the tsunami was the "greatest loss of human life in a natural disaster in human history." A quick glance at a compendium of disasters shows that Bangladesh alone has had two greater disasters since 1970, and if we include famine, this tsunami is an order of magnitude short of being on the all-time greatest list. This is the sad truth: the so-called NEWS has degenerated into entertainment, at least in its broadcast form. We can get as much accurate fact from Rush Limbaugh as we can get from CBS News. I have long said in this space that the "Common Knowledge" is always wrong. I must now report that the broadcast news is not much more accurate than that. File this under sad but true.