"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


One of Salem Oregon's Unofficial Top 1000 Conservative Political Bloggers!!!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Obama Surfing Figurine... For the New Year!

"What is this-- your Iranian protesters?"

Just when you thought the tacky commemorative plates and Chia Obamas were all over... Once more the Obama kitsch imprints itself upon the national consciousness. Still, I must ask who could resist this depiction of our president, with his bronzed pecs immortalized in sculpted plastic? I'm sure this will make some MSNBC hosts' legs tingle. Place your little Obama on your dashboard and watch him hang ten as the unemployment rate climbs above 10%! And remember it's all Bush's fault...

My thanks to good friend Quite Rightly at Bread upon the Waters for informing me of this wonderful little piece of 21st Century Americana.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sorry for the Absence...

I'm sorry about the long lay off. As I posted before, a lot of my family's birthdays fall into this stretch of the year and I've been distracted with all this holiday-family-togetherness and stuff. Fortunately my health has improved (or at least held reasonably steady), and I'll be posting regularly again after Jan. 1. In the mean time, check out any one of the links in the blog list... all great sites.

I hope everyone out there had a merry Christmas!

Yukio Ngaby

Sunday, December 20, 2009

BREAKING: Senate Passes Health Care "Reform" Cloture

In a move that seems destined to be remembered as a historic debacle, the Senate has passed health care reform cloture 60 - 40. In the dead of night and less than a week from Christmas, the Senate is foisting this unpopular, intrusive, and likely unconstitutional nonsense upon the American people. The actual bill will likely be voted on within a week.

While people like Tom Harkin pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves for ignoring public outcry, the Democrats have basically given the Republicans the perfect platform for the next election. How many borderline Dems will be running against a Republican "repeal the bill" campaign? How many will lose their seats based on that? And how many believe the Republicans can and actually will repeal this travesty? I'm afraid we're going to be stuck paying, through the nose, for worse health care from now on.

What's actually in this bill? The last incarnation included $500 billion in Medicare cuts and $400 billion in taxes new taxes. But who knows what the current bill includes, since the Senate believes that it is none of our business to know such trivialities. We'll have to wait and find out, and most likely very few of us will know until it has passed its final vote and has been signed into law.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a post "Cash for Cloture: Demcare bribe list, Pt. II" listing some of the political payoff and backroom deals for the 60 votes. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Health Care Reform: What's Left in the Bill?

I've been avoiding the current health care "reform" bill as it is rent and glued by the Senate. After reading two versions of the bill (the ill-fated HR 3200, the Senate HELP Committee bill), plus a decent portion of HR 3962 before it was quickly passed by the House, I've been pretty much burnt-out on reading health care regulation bills. After weeks of wrangling, onerous debate, political attacks on spouses, Reid's attempt to massively expand a bankrupt Medicare (a bluff perhaps?), we must ask what are we left with?

Well, according to Jennifer Rubin it's this:

"Really, what’s left after they take out the public option and the Medicare buy-in? A GOP leadership aide put it this way: '$500 billion in Medicare cuts, $400 billion in tax increases, raises premiums, raises costs, onerous regulations, individual mandates, employer mandate, and expensive subsidies.' So what’s not to like? Well, just about everything. Perhaps, in a moment of clarity, everyone will go home, think this through clearly, and come back with a list of a few discrete reforms that will have bipartisan support. Then they can declare victory. Makes too much sense. Instead the Democratic leadership seems hell-bent on coming up with the umpteenth version of ObamaCare no matter how unpopular it may be with the public and making vulnerable members walk the plank. Seems crazy, huh? It is."

$500 billion in cuts, $400 billion in taxes... And exactly what is gained by all this?

Does anyone remember way back in September when Obama solemnly took to the political stage of Congress and promised no new deficits (h/t Pundit & Pundette)? "Here's what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period." Just words... just words... But here's some more anyway: "That is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan."

Ah well...

As Obama promises that we that we are "on the precipice" (not the best choice of words) of passing the health care "reform," even as Howard Dean demands that the bill be scrapped, we "commoners" are left standing on the sidelines wondering what will become of it all. Members of the Senate seem completely flummoxed as to what the current proposals actually entail. And Obama's disingenuous promise that it contains "all the criteria that I laid out" has as much authority as his clumsy red pill/blue pill analogy, and that Benadryl is a viable alternative to a tonsillectomy.

Since none of this is vitally pressing, one would think that this would indeed be a time to step back and reorganize... to look at what is now being presented within the twisting and convoluted structures of the unpopular current proposals. That seems unlikely, even with Dean's coincidental endorsement of such a course of action. It seems Rubin is right. "[T]he Democratic leadership seems hell-bent on coming up with the umpteenth version of ObamaCare no matter how unpopular it may be with the public and making vulnerable members walk the plank." Sanity must return eventually, but great amounts of lasting damage can be done with historic follies such as this bill.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Modern Conservatism and the Need for Definition

The holidays are a busy time for most people. Not to suggest that my holiday is more hectic than the next person, but in the four coming weeks is my birthday, Christmas, my wife's birthday, my mother-in-law's birthday and my father-in-law's birthday. So, I'm afraid I'm going to be a little pressed for time.

Recently there's been a lot of buzz about a third political party in the blogosphere. A lot of it seems to stem from this Rasmussen Report survey that has the Tea Party topping the GOP in a generic three-way ballot. As some have pointed out, this would inevitably lead to a Democratic plurality victory, much the same way that Ross Perot handed Bill Clinton his first term.

I think in light of this, in might be important to remember the infrequently discussed roots of modern conservatism, and the rather recent history that has shaped the conservative movement. For that reason I'm re-posting a piece I originally put up in early May. I don't suggest that this is any sort of last word on the subject, but I hope that it can illustrate the dynamic changes that occur in politics. Also, I hope that it can help readers think about exactly what kind of conservative they are (if indeed they wish to label themselves as such), without the tribalist value judgements so often accompany discussions of this subject.

So here you go:

A few days ago, I was reading through Suzanna Logan's insert clever s.logan here blog. Logan had written a post describing her dislike for Eric Ulrich, a Republican New York City councilman. Check out the posting here. While there I was perusing the comments section of her post and got into a minor exchange with another commenter on the nature of conservatism. You can read it at the above link to see what I mean.

This exchange brought to mind, the need for definition of certain complicated terms that are oftentimes taken for granted. In this case the term being conservative. According to this commenter, my value system lauding individual freedom and liberty, small government respectful of its citizenry and ideally responsive to its constituency's morals and values, is not truly conservative.

I wrote: "One of the most important aspects of conservatism, for me, is the inclusiveness of it. A person is judged by their own actions, their beliefs, and not their handy race or 'type.' It champions leaving people alone to allow them to develop themselves the way they wish. Liberty and freedom are far more important than tradition."

Apparently such remarks are "liberal," and, in a way, that is true. They are indeed classically liberal. Yet, liberalism-- as the word is used today-- is not in any way classically liberal. The term liberalism has been corrupted, and shifted its meaning to being synonymous with the current Left, i.e. socialism. Being progressive has been defined as necessarily "progressing" toward Marx's Communist utopia-- an inevitable utopia according to Marxists (Hegel's influence evident). In fact classical liberalism, as a term, is as dead as the Liberal Party of Great Britain.

My 1980 Oxford American Dictionary defines liberal (way down at definition 6) as "favoring democratic reform and individual liberty, moderately progressive." Does that honestly coincide with the modern idea of liberal? When the media and others use liberal to describe political positions that imposes taxes on cigarettes to pay for government medical services, or institutionalizing political correctness, or nationalizing banking and auto industries, or just generally enlarging government at the expense of citizens' freedoms and income, do they refer to this definition? When Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schummer, Phil Donahue, or Michael Moore describe themselves as liberal, are they referencing this definition?

The source of this confusion is probably mostly due to the current and prevalent Hegelian idea that the world is chiefly made up of binary opposition-- the idea of a thesis confronted with an antithesis e.g. the Left vs the Right, theists vs atheists, Conservative vs Liberal, Democrat vs Republican, etc.--that results into synthesis and "progress." This is a position encouraged by the Left as it reinforces the Marxist's Hegelian tenants upon which Karl Marx based his theories. The fact that this naively simplistic model is demonstrably untrue (Hegel seemed to believe that the Prussian monarch Frederick William III was the eventual end of this thesis/antithesis/synthesis chain, and Marx's apocalyptic predictions have not been proven to be in any way accurate [communism was supposed to be an antithesis to the industrial revolution and the tyranny it inflicted]) has not seemed to stop the vast majority of academicians and the general public to give it great amounts of credence. Perhaps this is because of the superficial similarities between the Hegelian model and the scientific notion of progress towards truth-- but perhaps that is the topic for another post.

Another reason for confusion is the notion that political ideas and stances are largely intractable and have remained mostly unchanged over the years. While at first it seems extraordinarily foolhardy for people to believe this (when has a politician himself remained unchanged?), it is an intensely popular view. I used to believe that Republicans and Democrats could be easily traced back to their origins, and that, although ideas may change, the basic tenets of their policies are unmalleable.

It is a belief that both political parties reinforce. Republicans love to trace their heritage back to Lincoln and herald Theodore Roosevelt, and likewise Democrats love to tie their pedigree to Thomas Jefferson (although a more realistic tracing would be to Andrew Jackson) and celebrate John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The implication being that the tenants that these people derived their popularity from remains largely unchanged today, or at the very least today's parties are directly evolved from policies, values and beliefs espoused by these great past names. Indeed, even the Constitution has been reworked in our minds to be something almost religiously continual-- not merely principles that guide our political thought, but guiding principles that have continued unabated for over 200 years.

Yet in reality, political parties and their positions, like all human endeavors, are finite and changeable things. While some may argue that principles may be universal and absolute truths, human translations of them (if possible) are, by definition, flawed, interpretive, and dynamic. The current relevance of the Constitution is derived from the recognition of this fact. The Magna Carta, while an extraordinarily important event in Western history, deals mostly in feudal rights and has relatively little direct bearing in contemporary political or legal thought. The Ten Commandments, while seemingly permanent, are supported by both ardent religious belief and literally millennia of theological study which has resulted in subtle adaption.

For the modern definition of conservative, one must begin in the years following World War II. This is at the nexus of three defining moments in 20th century American history: the Great Depression, World War II, and the beginnings of the Cold War. The Great Depression ushered in Roosevelt's New Deal, a fundamental shift in both government and political thought, not simply to the Left but toward the Socialist Left. World War II ended up positioning the US as one of two global superpowers, while the resulting Cold War instituted a prolonged competitive stare down of different ideologies.

Old conservatism is typified, not by by the great names of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt (both 19th century progressives), but rather by presidents Coolidge and Hoover. Old conservatism tended to lean toward international isolationism and laissez-faire economics. The Old Right (a phrase coined later with the advent of the New Right) formed itself in opposition to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Like most reactionary political movements it tended to be amorphous and disorganized, being without clear political principles. Generally they could be said to be strongly isolationist and anti-socialist, but mostly they defined themselves according to what Roosevelt did and as such added little to the political spectrum except to offer largely token resistance to socialist movements.

With the shadow of communism in the form of both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China looming, conservatism was redefined, in a very real sense under the gun, in the post World War II era. Convinced of the success of the New Deal, many on the Right considered laissez-faire economics to be a thing of the past, and the main conservative debates were to what limits federal government interventions should run economic theory. And still the GOP saw themselves as Democratic foils rather than a cohesively principled political party. While the conservative reorganization that followed was complicated and involved a wide variety of people, for the sake of brevity I will focus on the two major influences of Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley.

Russell Kirk (1918 - 1994) was heavily influenced by Edmund Burke an 18th Century British politician, philosopher, and political theorist. Kirk's work The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot, published in 1953, laid down the groundwork for what would eventually become Traditional Conservatism, a subset (although it eventually separated itself) of the New Right. Kirk's influential writings and views helped form the New Right from the chaotic scramble following Roosevelt's unprecedented expansion of the federal government and World War II. A reactionary at heart, Kirk's Six Canons of Conservatism lay down the groundwork for his viewpoint (from wikipedia):

"1) A belief in a transcendent order, which Kirk described variously as based in tradition, divine revelation, or natural law;
2) An affection for the 'variety and mystery' of human existence;
3) A conviction that society requires orders and classes that emphasize 'natural' distinctions;
4) A belief that property and freedom are closely linked;
5) A faith in custom, convention, and prescription, and
6) A recognition that innovation must be tied to existing traditions and customs, which entails a respect for the political value of prudence.

"These Six Canons were much later (1993) expanded into The Ten Conservative Principles currently espoused by The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. Not pretending to be self-contained like the Six Canons, they are titled:

"1) First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.
2) Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.
3) Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.
4) Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.
5) Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.
6) Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability
.7) Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.
8) Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.
9) Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.
10) Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society."

With William F. Buckley and others, Russell Kirk helped found The National Review in 1955, and then founded the quarterly Modern Age himself in 1957. Modern Age reflects far more Traditional Conservative policies than The National Review.

As previously noted, William F. Buckley (1925 - 2008) founded The National Review, and used the publication to further refine conservative beliefs, and moved away from the big government Republicans of the time (Eisenhower, a centrist of the time, supported most of the New Deal policies). Indeed most tenants that mainstream society considers conservative (supply side economics, reduced size in government, anti-socialistic tendencies, etc.) were reinvigorated out of this New Right movement championed by the magazine. The television commercial's image of William F. Buckley, dressed smartly in a suit and sitting by a blazing fireplace while dryly extolling The National Review is an indelible image of modern conservatism.

Yet, it was out of the 1960s that modern conservatism was truly formed. The counter-culture's unmistakably Marxist beliefs saturated popular culture, while the Civil Rights Movement called into question the moral authority (as Shelby Steele succinctly points out in his essay "Why the GOP Can't Win With Minorities") of both Left and Right American values (and created strange bedfellows in the mission to eradicate racial segregation). When the socialism (often opportunistically tied to the hot topic and moral imperative of racial politics) contained within the now mainstream counter-culture was adopted into the Democratic Party, the term "liberal," already politically redefined (perhaps intentionally) during Roosevelt and the New Deal, jumped the tracks further becoming synonymous with Socialist progressiveness.

This move toward socialism also created the opportunity for fusion within the conservative movement, combining American political conservatism, libertarianism, classical liberalism (and with it much of historic progressiveness), laissez-faire economic theory, and strident anti-communism that abandoned isolationism. Alienated moderate Democrats were redefined or moved to the right and joined in the GOP. Fear of socialism swelled the ranks of libertarians, Traditional Conservatives, and social conservatives.

This occurrence of fusionism, already having been openly encouraged by The National Review and William F. Buckley, is what has shaped the New Right into the mainstream conservative of the modern day. Kirk, grounded in tradition and with only a passing interest in economics, was highly critical of this fusion and the Traditional Conservatives became largely excluded from the New Right. Ronald Reagan is often used to illustrate the New Right and the results of fusionism. This also illuminates why so many of John F. Kennedy's policies closely mirror conservative ideals, while Eisenhower's seem somewhat foreign.

I will not go into neoconservatism nor paleoconservatism mainly because I don't feel enough time has passed to see the full structure, history and precepts of the movements. This is especially true as battle lines are currently being formed to oppose the far-Left policies of Obama. Likewise Ayn Rand's Objectivism is absent being rejected early on (mostly likely because of its atheism) by what would become the more mainstream New Right.

I hope this quickie review of the last fifty years of conservative thought was helpful. This is by no means an exhaustive history and analysis, nor is it meant to do anything other than give a a very general overview of the recent evolution of conservative theory. Hopefully, it also, in a small way, illustrates the inadequacy of Hegel's synthesizing chain and how ideas organically evolve rather than collide in presupposed opposition. Yes, I know Hegel was talking in great, sweeping generalities, but I'm addressing more of the modern Marxist conviction that world history is made up of collisions between progressives and conservatives. A political science professor I knew back in California taught his courses that way and it drove me nuts.

People now talk of the GOP being in disarray (as people so often do when a party loses an election) and that Republicans need to pull back to their ideological roots. It should be realized though that conservatism's roots are actually quite complicated and a fusion of various political outlooks. Rather than regression and fracture, perhaps a better strategy would be to reinvigorate the enthusiasm for the principles that created modern conservatism. Perhaps it would be best to clearly articulate and celebrate the doctrines that won the Cold War, that ushered in an era of historic prosperity and economic growth, that incorporates individual liberty as one of its cornerstones. Can the Left lay claim to any of that?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Link Added! Annotated Margins

Check out fellow Oregonian Mike McLaren's Annotated Margins.

It's not a political blog. And, so as not offend, I'll use Cut & Paste McLaren's own words as his blog description:

"The words of this blog abide in silence, waiting for the one or fewer people with time to kill at work who, accessing the internet, seek a diversion from the mundane nine-to-five thrum. Or perhaps of the six and half billion people on this planet, you made a sudden click and unwittingly arrived at this particular arrangement of a-b-c’s, deciding that these words will sufficiently put you to sleep. If these words do not meet your expectation, I apologize. Do not let these words offend. This blog exists simply because: an orange is how it tastes, and life is what we think, so to know the meaning of an orange, one must know the taste of the orange. To know life, one must know the nature of thought; writing is a way to taste thought. Making thoughts public should make one mindful of the words written."

And I also must add my apologies for not linking to his blog sooner.

UPDATE: For some reason I was unable to get a link to the blog listed on My Blog List. Again my apologies. It's up now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Scientific American Proopses Spending $100 Trillion Dollars on "Sutainable" Future

In the middle of the Copenhagen farce, Scientific American has published an article extolling the building of wind, solar and water stations to replace our carbon-based power system. The cost of this sustainable system according to their own estimates? An unsustainable $100 trillion.

ClimateSanity has put their own estimates at $200 trillion and offer this critique. Check out their post and analysis here.

From ClimateSanity:

"Jacobson and Delucchi [the writers of the Scientific American article] say…

"'Our plan calls for millions of wind turbines, water machines and solar installations. The numbers are large, but the scale is not an insurmountable hurdle; society has achieved massive transformations before… In 1956 the U.S. began building the Interstate Highway System, which after 35 years extended 47,000 miles, changing commerce and society.'

"The Interstate Highway System is 'largest public works program in history.' The concept was first approved by congress in 1944. But it was more than a decade until President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. The plan evolved to building 42,500 miles of 'super-highway' by 1975. 40,000 miles were completed by 1980.

"The expected cost in 1958 was $41 billion. By 1995 the total construction cost amounted to $329 billion (in 1996 dollars). This translates into $58.5 billion 1957 dollars. That is not too far off from the original estimate. Converting the $329 billion 1996 dollars to 2009 dollars gives $453 billion.

"So if Jacobson’s and Delucchi’s estimate for the cost of their energy system is correct, then their energy plan would cost over 200 times as much ($100 trillion / $453 billion) as the Interstate Highway System to which they like to compare it.

"If my calculations for the cost of their energy system are correct, then it would cost more than 400 times as much ($200 trillion / $453 billion) as the Interstate Highway System! And since they propose building their system in just 20 years, then it would be like building 20 interstate highway systems (which took about 30 years to build) every single year for twenty years."

[...]

"Jacobson and Delucchi claim that the expense of their energy system 'is not money handed out by governments or consumers. It is an investment that is paid back through the sale of electricity and energy.' This is a soothing argument that overlooks an obvious fact: We already have a power energy system that pays for itself 'through the sale of electricity and energy.'

[...]

"It’s almost like swallowing poison so you can reap the benefits of good health after you recover."

There's much more interesting stuff in the post. Read the whole post at ClimateSanity. It is rather enlightening.

But hey, $100 trillion or $200 trillion... What's the difference? Both will essentially bankrupt the U.S. for no purpose... It almost sounds like a threat, doesn't it? Better start working those third world population offsets right now! Geez...

Monday, December 7, 2009

UK Enviromentalist Group: Prevent Third World Births to Offset Your Own Carbon Footprint

Of course it would come to this. It was just a matter of time.

It has long been the contention of "knowledgeable" people that there are just plain too many people on the planet. White House Science Czar John Holdren co-authored the 1977 book Ecoscience with fellow enviro-alarmists Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich. After seeing Soylent Green one too many times, these three advocated forced abortions, forced sterility, and "compulsory population-control laws." In the mainstream, movies such as The Three Days of the Condor and Seven Beauties both ended with the rather dire prediction that very soon we'll all be at war for food. And, of course the aforementioned Soylent Green had humanity eating each other.

And then there's assuaging of the enviro-guilt of living the good life. I mean vague pledges of turning off the lights and having your personal assistant plant a tree is easy, but if the truth be known, that sort of stuff only does so much. Jet-setting, conspicuous consumption, and air conditioning and all that stuff that's just too much fun or too uncomfortable to give up is carbon-costly. But such is the mindset of many wealthy environmentalists that some believe you can always just but their way out of guilt. So, recycling the old indulgence idea that you can buy morality and forgiveness-- now buying responsibility and forgiveness-- enterprising scammers came up with the carbon offset business. Set up a kiosk in the San Francisco airport, calculate the carbon footprint for your pigeon's flight, and then present a bill. Voila!

Unbelievably, the UK's Optimum Population Trust struck upon the brilliant insight to put these two ideas together.

From Brendan O'Neill at the NRO:

"Rushing to the front of the race for the prize of Most Vomit-Inducing Environmental Initiative Ever Devised, the UK’s Optimum Population Trust — which counts such grandees as David Attenborough and Jonathon Porritt among its supporters — has just launched PopOffsets. This quirkily named campaign is actually deeply sinister: It invites well-off Westerners to offset their carbon emissions by paying for poor people in the Third World to stop procreating.

"In short, if you feel bad about your CO2-emitting jaunt to Barbados, or the new Ferrari you just splurged on, then simply give some money to a charity which helps to 'convince' Third World women not to have children, and — presto! — the carbon saved by having one less black child in the world will put your guilt-ridden mind at rest.

"The Optimum Population Trust is a creepy Malthusian outfit made up of Lords, Ladies, and Sirs who all believe that the world’s problems are caused by “too many people.” It recently carried out a cost-benefit analysis of the best way to tackle global warming and “discovered” (I prefer the word “decided”) that every £4 spent on contraception saves one ton of CO2 from being added to the environment, whereas you would need to spend £8 on tree-planting, £15 on wind power, £31 on solar energy, and £56 on hybrid vehicle technology to realize the same carbon savings.

"How can a mere £4 on condoms save one ton of carbon? Well, it prevents more people from being born, and in the eyes of the OPT, people are nothing more than carbon emitters and polluters — filthy, destructive, toxic beings. As its new PopOffsets website says, next to a picture of lots and lots of stick men and a counter telling you how many people were born while you were visiting the website (3,153 while I was there), 'More people = more emissions. Rapid population growth is a major contributor to global warming.'

"So you click on the PopOffsets Calculator, tell it how much carbon you have emitted and give your carbon emissions a title (something like “Summer Holiday 2009,” it suggests), and then it tells you how much money you must donate to baby-blocking initiatives overseas. For example, if you fly round-trip from London to Sydney — which emits ten tons of carbon — you must pay around £40 ($70) and help prevent the birth of one child in Kenya. Visa and Mastercard accepted!

"This is how the value of human life is calculated by climate-change alarmists. A baby in Kenya is equal to ten tons of carbon, or one Londoner’s holiday in Australia. It has no more value than that, no intrinsic worth, no moral or cultural or human meaning; it is simply reduced to a bargaining chip in some wealthy Westerner’s desire to absolve himself of eco-guilt."

O'Neill goes on to succinctly put his outrage at the thought process behind this nonsense.

"This odious campaign — and the relentless rise of neo-Malthusianism more broadly — has two devastating impacts. First it presents fixable social problems, such as poverty and global inequality, as demographic problems, problems of overpopulation. So in keeping with every population scaremonger from Thomas Malthus to Paul Ehrlich, it shifts the blame from society, with its failure to eliminate hunger or to eradicate pollution, and heaps it instead on to people — and, in this instance, on to the poorest people."

[...]

"And second, neo-Malthusianism has a seriously detrimental impact on Third World women’s freedom and autonomy. The most glaringly disingenuous thing about PopOffsets is the OPT’s claim that it is merely helping women to deal with unwanted pregnancies; it is simply providing much-needed reproductive services to the poor of the world. It even uses feminist-sounding lingo to justify its campaign, arguing that it wants to use “education and equal rights” to 'empower women.'

"In truth, when you promote condom use in the Third World in the most scaremongering terms imaginable, as the only sane and scientific way to prevent an apocalypse, as the only thing that can guarantee the safety of the planet and of future generations, then you are not promoting freedom and choice; you are using blackmail — emotional, political, and financial blackmail — to coerce women into doing the 'right thing' as defined by the OPT and numerous other NGOs that problematize population growth. Those of us who do believe women should have unfettered autonomy in reproductive matters (and I am one of those people) should reject the OPT’s warped idea of 'choice,' where women are strongarmed into making one 'choice' only: the responsibly green, planet-saving one."

Okay, this African Offset garbage is going nowhere. Yet, it does illustrate the callow view too many environmentalists have of human beings, and the lengths that they will go through to keep their own consciences "clean" while not impinging on their own lifestyle of course.

UPDATE: Carol over at Carol's Closet also has a post about Oneill's article. Check out her take.

December 7, 1941 - A Date Which Will Live in Infamy




Let us not simply forget, even after the healing and the passing of time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tiger Woods, the AP, and The Interracial Marriage Fight

Okay, I wasn't going to post until Monday but this kinda peeves me a bit. As some of you may know, I'm married to a black woman and the issue of interracial marriages is kind of a thing with me. I've pretty much ignored the whole Tiger Woods car crash incident. I don't like playing golf, I don't follow golf, and I'm not a big fan of celebrity scandals. I really just don't care if Woods is cheating on his wife or not. Whatever...

But then the AP pushed this article upon us: "Tiger's troubles widen his distance from blacks." What's it about? Well, a lot of it's about the race of Woods' mistresses and the black community's attitude toward interracial marriage. My favorite quote from the article:

"On the one hand, Ebonie Johnson Cooper doesn't care that Tiger Woods' wife and alleged mistresses are white because Woods is 'quote-unquote not really black.'

"'But at the same time we still see him as a black man with a white woman, and it makes a difference,' said Johnson Cooper, a 26-year-old African-American from New York City. 'There's just this preservation thing we have among one another. We like to see each other with each other.'"

Preservation thing? This kind of language is the same crap that various white supremacist websites push. All the time these idiot sites blast that the white woman is under attack and that that the white breed and "white beauty" is an endangered species (oftentimes complete with pics of white bikini or lingerie models-- classy). Take my word for this. Normally I would set up links for evidence of my claims, but I will absolutely not link to that crap, nor will I give unlinked references to those sites. What was I doing on these sites, particularly conspiracy minded readers might ask? Answer: I like to know the ideological stances of my enemy.

This kind of language in an AP article is just plain scary. Scarier still is the fact that few people will call them on it, call Johnson Cooper on an obviously racist standpoint (what if she were white and saying such things about a white celebrity married to a black woman?), and then justify the whole mess as being black authenticity. I mean nothing in the article is new to me, but to put up such a biased article and offer not a word of a different stance or a contrary viewpoint is irresponsible. I know... this is the AP. Why should even begin to expect journalistic integrity?

I'll probably post more extensively about this when I feel better. Meanwhile, Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, JammieWearingFool, and Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters all have decent posts. Sheppard especially has a good round up of the AP article.

From Sheppard: "Add it all up, and Woods is racist for cheating with white women, Americans are racist because they wouldn't be interested in this story if his mistresses were black, and it's okay for blacks to resent black men that are involved with white women.

"Any questions?"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Thanks, and I Will Be Back Soon

My thanks to all the well-wishers from whom I've received thoughtful comments and messages. I appreciate every thought and prayer and such kind words make me feel great.

Just for clarification, I'm not going through any sort of life-threatening problems. I simply have an acute, chronic pain whose source seems to be beguiling the various doctors I've seen. The multiple tests I've been going through the past several weeks have been very uncomfortable and thrown me for a loop. I wouldn't say the cure (or in this case the attempts at diagnosis) is worse than the disease, but the last few days have been particularly rough. I hope that doesn't sound too whiny. This is not to make things sound worse than they are, though. I know people go through much worse and have far greater medical issues than I do, and I have confidence that my health will improve in the future.

The latest batch of probings and blood leachings are over and, after a few days to sleep and recover, I should be back to this blog soon. I hope to be posting regularly by Monday. This has been quite a year for me. Hopefully, the next one will be better.

Again all my thanks for your kind words,
Yukio Ngaby

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Response to Obama's Afghanistan Speech

I was unable to watch the speech last night. I did read the transcript though and man... Maybe I'll post about it when I feel better. I'm afraid I unable to write much right now.

In the meantime, check out Victor Davis Hanson's dead-on response to the speech (h/t Pat @ So it Goes in Shreveport).

"That was such a strange speech. Deploring partisanship while serially trashing Bush at each new talking point. Sending more troops, but talking more about when they will come home rather than what they will do to the enemy. There was nothing much new in the speech, yet apparently it took the president months to decide whether even to give it."

Click on the link and read the rest. It's well worth the time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Personal Announcement

Sorry for not posting recently. I'm currently undergoing a very unpleasant medical procedure. I will begin posting in a few days after I have (hopefully) recovered from this physically difficult medical testing.

Thank you.
Yukio Ngaby

Friday, November 27, 2009

Climate Czar Browner's Glaring Conflict of Interest


Okay, I was going to lay off blogging through the weekend, but I couldn't let this one pass by without mentioning it.

Over at BigGovernment.com Christopher C. Horner has an interesting little heads up on Climate "Czar" Carol Browner. It seems that "[s]he was on the board of one of the leading carbon offset trading companies, APX.

"That makes for one really big conflict of interest in her role guiding the administration’s efforts to regulate carbon dioxide and force emitters to buy CO2 ration-coupons.

"So, add this to her work for the Albright Group which is 'secretive about its clients' (SourceWatch), violating a federal judge’s order to preserve documents by wiping computers clean while at EPA (sound at all relevant these days?), and her board membership for the Socialist International’s 'climate' project.

"Other than those I can’t think of too many reasons Obama wouldn’t want her subjected to disclosure requirements and scrutiny."

Cute stuff.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!



Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I'll be taking a break from blogging for the long weekend (will be watching my own Godzilla-Rodan-Mothra Marathon on DVD), but will be back posting on Monday. I hope everyone has a fun and restful holiday. Don't stuff yourselves too much...

Best Wishes,
Yukio Ngaby

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Obama Gives Go Ahead to Troop Surge in Afghanistan-- but Hedges Bets

Well, Obama (after how many months of dithering?) has finally made a decision regarding McChrystal's request for more troops. He's sending in 34,000 more troops, but is hedging his bets which greatly increases the chances of failure.

Clifton B. at Another Black Conservative has a good analysis here. As Clifton B. points out, "General Stanley McChrystal gave Obama three options, a low-risk option of 80,000 troops, a medium-risk option of 40,000 troops and a high-risk option of 20,000 troops. Obama decision seems to fall short of the medium risk option and it will be interesting to hear his decision why."

While it will be interesting to hear Obama's justifications for what seems to be the politically safest bet, the real reasons will never be publicly voiced. However, they are not so difficult to speculate on. Obama has given himself the most outs possible without simply walking away from the whole thing and admitting utter failure in a war that he vocally supported while a Senator.

As both McClatchy and Another Black Conservative point out, Obama has given himself a number of "off-ramps" regarding troop deployment. "The administration's plan contains 'off-ramps,' points starting next June at which Obama could decide to continue the flow of troops, halt the deployments and adopt a more limited strategy or 'begin looking very quickly at exiting' the country, depending on political and military progress, one defense official said.

[...]

"It's 'not just how we get people there, but what's the strategy for getting them out,' White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday."

It's gotta be a little discouraging to people when the White House press secretary is already talking about pulling troops out even as they announce they will be sending more in...

This last laugher from McClatchy: "The administration's plan is expected to encounter opposition on Capitol Hill, where some senior Democrats have suggested that the administration may need to raise taxes in order to pay for the additional troops."

Democrats objecting to raising taxes?! I guess senior Dems think that taxes aren't so great when they're not trillions of dollars funding government health care "reform," political payoff-- err I mean ineffective economic "stimulus," Cap & Trade, etc. Geez. These guys would rather underfund US troops (I mean we already have 68,000 troops in Afghanistan) rather than hold back their grandiose and unpopular domestic agendas.

Obama's decision, at first glance, appears to be just about the worst he could have possibly made. Without proper support, sending more troops into a conflict is one of the worst things that can be done. Without the proper political and financial support and clear mission objectives, the only thing that's accomplished with a troop build-up is sending more troops into un-winnable and demoralizing danger. These men and women need (and deserve) a commitment of full financial and political backing-- something that Obama's months of dithering has proven the White House is, at the absolute best, very reluctant to give. The Congressional Dems are already whining about the cost of the Afghanistan conflict, even though they passed a $789 billion+ stimulus and prepare to pass a $1 trillion debacle of a bill labeled health care "reform."

Do you, for a minute, believe that Obama will be willing to go to the mat for these troops? He won't even fully commit to the 40,000 "moderate risk" deployment-- never mind an 80,000 low risk deployment. And surely Obama will never compromise his perceived legacy of inflicting upon all of us his astronomically expensive health care "reforms" to insure fully-funded troops.

In fact, Obama had only two real choices (have we learned nothing from L.B. Johnson?): 1) To fight a a winnable war with masses of well-funded and fully supported troops or 2) to pull out the troops and compromise the already tenuous political integrity of that geographic region including Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal.

True to form, after months of self-indulgent dithering, Obama appears to have chosen neither. He'll trickle in the politically safest amount of troops (just enough to be able to say that they might be able to accomplish their mission), give himself "off-ramps" so he can judge the mood of the country as the deployment begins and the insurgents respond, and then hope for the best.

Will it work? I really do hope so. I have no wish for American dead and disabled, needless Afghan suffering, and a (further) destabilized Pakistan.

However, I fear that it will not. Tentative strategies have a very poor track record in annals of military history. Afghanistan was a very hard nut for the British Empire to crack and required a full commitment for their eventual victory. Plus, the KSM civilian trial suggests that the Obama Administration seems to view this whole thing as a "police action" a phrase that should be synonymous with military failure. That sort of thinking could impose unreasonable and dangerous restrictions onto both the men and women in the field and the military strategists.

Can the US win this war? Yes. Can Afghanistan become a stable country? Yes. Will either actually happen? Well, that depends on the political and financial sacrifice Obama and the Congressional Dems are willing to endure until the 2010 elections (when the problem will likely become a bipartisan one). It will cost money and it will cost American lives to really accomplish anything there. I see very little indication that the Dems are willing to compromise any of their grandiose and extremely expensive agendas for the Afghanistan cause.

I think the future looks rather dim for our presence in Afghanistan. It seems likely that we will be sacrificing further American lives for an unsupported cause in the very near future.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rasmussen Reports: Just 38% Support Congressional Health Plan-- 56% Oppose

Congress seems deaf to just about any criticism of their grand disaster in the making. The most recent Rasmussen survey has 56% of the voters disapproving of the proposed health care reform. Click on the link and check out the reported results of their surveys.

From the piece: "Just 38% of voters now favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That’s the lowest level of support measured for the plan in nearly two dozen tracking polls conducted since June.

"The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% now oppose the plan."

[...]

"Prior to this, support for the plan had never fallen below 41%. Last week, support for the plan was at 47%. Two weeks ago, the effort was supported by 45% of voters.

"Intensity remains stronger among those who oppose the push to change the nation’s health care system: 21% Strongly Favor the plan while 43% are Strongly Opposed [emphasis mine].

[...]

"Only 16% now believe passage of the plan will lead to lower health care costs. Nearly four times as many (60%) believe the plan will increase health care costs. Most (54%) also believe passage of the plan will hurt the quality of care.

"As has been the case for months, Democrats favor the plan while Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major party are opposed. The latest numbers show support from 73% of those in the president’s party. The plan is opposed by 83% of Republicans and 70% of unaffiliated voters.

[...]

"Only 16% now believe passage of the plan will lead to lower health care costs. Nearly four times as many (60%) believe the plan will increase health care costs. Most (54%) also believe passage of the plan will hurt the quality of care.

"As has been the case for months, Democrats favor the plan while Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major party are opposed. The latest numbers show support from 73% of those in the president’s party. The plan is opposed by 83% of Republicans and 70% of unaffiliated voters.

[...]

"Among the nation’s senior citizens, 34% favor the health care plan and 60% are opposed. A majority of those under 30 favor the plan, but a majority of all other age groups are opposed."

It seems like the AARP are backing the wrong horse on this one, this is despite the back-handed "Divided We Fail" campaign they're running.

Check out this Washington Post op-od by Robert J. Samuelson (h/t Jacobson at Legal Insurrection) for more background in the young-paying-for-the-old insurance scheme the AARP is pushing. In a far too overly simplified summary (click on the link and read the whole WaPo op-ed), the young will be forced to buy insurance at higher rates to subsidize the higher costs of incurred by seniors. Failure to force this into being is "age discrimination" according to the AARP. Cute, huh?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Death Panels" of the Future: Mammogram Edition

Check out this post by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air (Carol @ Carol's Closet).

From Morrissey:

"What a difference six months — and a health-care overhaul proposal — can make! Just six months ago, the U.S Preventive Services Task Force, which works within the Department of Health and Human Services as a “best practice” panel on prevention, sounded a warning signal over a slight decline in annual mammograms among women in their 40s. In fact, they warned women of this age bracket that they could be risking their lives if they didn’t get the annual preventive exam (via HA reader Devil’s Advocate):

"'The downward trend, however slight, has breast cancer experts worried. Mammograms can enable physicians to diagnose the disease at early stages, often before a lump can be felt. "When breast cancer is detected early, it often can be treated before it has a chance to spread in the body and increase the risk of dying from the disease," says Katherine Alley, medical director of the breast health program at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

'The U.S Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts working under the Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that women older than 40 get a mammogram every one to two years. The task force finds the test most helpful for women between ages 50 and 69, for whom it says the evidence is strongest that screening lowers death rates from breast cancer. Other groups, including the American Medical Association, suggest a more rigorous schedule, saying the test should be done every year; insurers often pay for annual tests.

'But experts say they are seeing gaps beyond two years in many cases. Carol Lee, chair of the American College of Radiology’s Breast Imaging Commission and a radiologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, says many women understand that they need to have a mammogram but don’t go back for repeat tests after the first one. In Bethesda, Alley said she has even heard anecdotal reports of breast cancer survivors forgoing recommended mammograms.'

"But today, that same panel says … never mind:

"'"We’re not saying women shouldn’t get screened. Screening does saves lives," said Diana B. Petitti, vice chairman of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which released the recommendations Monday in a paper being published in Tuesday’s Annals of Internal Medicine. "But we are recommending against routine screening. There are important and serious negatives or harms that need to be considered carefully."

'Several patient advocacy groups and many breast cancer experts welcomed the new guidelines, saying they represent a growing recognition that more testing, exams and treatment are not always beneficial and, in fact, can harm patients. Mammograms produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

'But the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology and other experts condemned the change, saying the benefits of routine mammography have been clearly demonstrated and play a key role in reducing the number of mastectomies and the death toll from one of the most common cancers.

'"Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it," said Daniel B. Kopans, a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School. "It’s crazy — unethical, really.""

Crazy but not without economic incentive. As The Washington Post article cited by Morrissey points out, breast cancer screening is expensive.

"The new recommendations took on added significance because under health-care reform legislation pending in Congress, the conclusions of the 16-member task force would set standards for what preventive services insurance plans would be required to cover at little or no cost. [actually according to HR 3962 the Health Benefits Advisory Council (HBAC) --all political appointees by the way-- would determine yearly what would be covered under qualified health plans].

"About 39 million women undergo mammograms each year in the United States, costing the health-care system more than $5 billion [emphasis mine]."

Diana Petitti then gives this amusing little lie.

"Petitti said the panel was not influenced by the reform debate or cost issues."

Later in the article, citing a host of studies, gives us this little bit of info. "While annual mammography for all women beginning at age 40 reduced the death rate from breast cancer by at least 15 percent, the modeling studies indicated that the added benefit of starting before age 50 was modest, the researchers concluded.

"For every 1,000 women screened beginning at age 40, the modeling suggested that just about 0.7 deaths from breast cancer would be prevented, while about 470 additional women would receive a false-positive result and about 33 more would undergo unnecessary biopsies [emphasis mine]."

Okay, let's go ahead and go with this best-case scenario-- and just forget that pesky drop of 15% in the death rate as this panel would like you to. For every 1000 women, .7 deaths are prevented by screening. So early screening does save lives, just not enough to be cost beneficial, I guess. So how many lives does this panel suggest we sacrifice for the sake of saving money? Sacrificed lives? Panel? Hmm.

"For women age 50 and older, cutting back to screening every two years would maintain 81 percent of the benefits of testing annually while reducing by half the number of false-positives, the computer modeling study estimated [emphasis mine]."

81% of the benefits. Sounds like a bargain unless you're part of that 19% whose health would suffer under decreased testing. Oh, well... Thems the breaks.

Now it's important to understand that under the current laws, this panel's recommendations don't carry the sort of weight. It's something that insurance companies weigh the benefits of against any other number of other factors, other recommendations, and other studies in their actuarial processes. It's this fact that is conveniently overlooked when current health care "reform" advocates claim "death panels" exist now in the form of private insurance determinations.

Under the HR3962 and undoubtedly under the pending Senate Bill, these same type people's findings (Pettiti, et al) would have singular and direct importance. The HBAC's "recommendations" would directly affect your health insurance, determine what would and would not be covered. In other words, if the HBAC decides that a sacrifice of 19% of the benefit of mammograms is acceptable, then you will no longer get yearly mammograms. And if you end up being one of those 1.9 in 10 whose health is affected by this cutback-- too bad. You'll be taking one for the team, for our "shared responsibility," and for social justice.

Do you remember when the House dropped the "death panels" out of the bill-- even though they didn't exist? Well, that was the end of life stuff. The real "death panels" are the HBAC (or an alphabet soup equivalent) and the way they will arbitrarily (with lobbying and all its rational fairness, of course) and surreptitiously ration care.

Is this a Joke? Obama Gives "Sternest Warning" Over Deficit Spending



According to Reuters (h/t Pundit & Pundette via Gateway Pundit) Obama is now against deficit spending.

"President Barack Obama gave his sternest warning yet about the need to contain rising U.S. deficits, saying on Wednesday that if government debt were to pile up too much, it could lead to a double-dip recession.

"With the U.S. unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, Obama told Fox News his administration faces a delicate balance of trying to boost the economy and spur job creation while putting the economy on a path toward long-term deficit reduction.

"His administration was considering ways to accelerate economic growth, with tax measures among the options to give companies incentives to hire, Obama said in the interview with Fox conducted in Beijing during his nine-day trip to Asia.

"'It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession,' he said.

"Fox News, which released a transcript of the interview, showed that comment by Obama on Wednesday morning and said the full discussion would be broadcast later in the day."

This seems me to be an indication of two things: 1) a man losing confidence in his own policies, and 2) a prelude to raising taxes.

As Gateway Pundit points out, in February Peter Orszag, the White House Budget Director, said in another Fox interview:

"During an economic downturn like we’re experiencing the deficit gets elevated which is not only natural, it’s beneficial because it helps bring the economy back up to the potential output level. In other words, the key problem we face right now is the gap between how much the economy could produce and how much it is producing. The whole point of the Recovery Act is to fill in that gap and part of that means a temporary elevated deficit."

Taking (or using) these words as an excuse, the Obama Admin, has revved up the spending to historic levels. $789 billion in political payoff-- er, um... "stimulus" spending was just the beginning of Obama's spree. According to the AP (via Fox): "The federal budget deficit tripled to a record $1.4 trillion for the 2009 fiscal year that ended last week, congressional analysts said Wednesday.

"The Congressional Budget Office estimate, while expected, is bad news for the White House and its allies in Congress as they press ahead with health care overhaul legislation that could cost $900 billion over the next decade.

[...]

"The previous record deficit was $459 billion and was set just last year."

Now, as many indicators point toward an economic downturn after the corpse bounce, Obama is out issuing "stern warnings" against deficit spending. Hmm. Looks like a loss of confidence to me.

My bet is that Obama is laying down a track of finger-wagging warnings simply so that he can cover himself and claim the "fact" that he did so before an economic downturn and a harder recession. The mere fact that Obama is doing all this now, is a pretty good indication that he believes hard times are ahead and that his stimulus didn't do much stimulating despite the White House's Orwellian vaudeville lines to the contrary. We also shouldn't forget that Obama is in Asia trying to sell American economic strength abroad. Every statement he makes there should be considered in that context.

Second, this is a pretty clear warning that tax hikes are on the way, perhaps even the much-anticipated Value Added Tax. Sure, deficit spending is bad but that's not going to stop Obama and Congress from spending $1 trillion on Trojan horse health care. So how do you limit deficit spending but not cut back on programs and other... uh... spending? By raising taxes, of course. I'm sure he'll claim it's all Bush's fault and that the "inherited" economic crisis caused him to break his campaign promise of no new taxes on the middle class, blah, blah, blah... So much excuse-making blather...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

KSM Trial Intended to put Bush-Cheney-Yoo on Trial

Ever since the announcement, I have wondered what was the purpose of putting Khalid Sheik Mohammed on trial in New York. Senselessly extending Constitutional rights to a man whose one of many ambitions is to bring down the American government ruled by the Constitution, did not not make a great deal of sense to me. Nor did I see any purpose to invoking an inevitable media circus that would accompany the (for all intents and purposes) show trial and its inevitable verdict.

Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has an interesting theory, one that is echoed by Andrew Sullivan of all people.

First from Jacobson's post: "The lofty rhetoric about the rule of law is a sham. The KSM civilian trial is all about putting the Bush administration on trial in a public forum. With plausible deniability built in because KSM and his attorneys will do the Bush-basher's dirty work for them over the government's objections.

"The decision also is another vote of 'present' for Obama. Obama satisfies the left's desire for further public disclosure of the interrogation program, but it will take place as part of the civilian trial process, not as a result of an administration choice. If there is damage to our intelligence agencies from such disclosures, blame will be placed on a federal judge, not the Obama administration.

"Using 'the rule of law' for a political agenda is the ultimate disrespect for the rule of law. And in this case, another vote of 'present.'"

Jacobson links to Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic who writes a piece amusingly entitled "Finally A President Not Governed By Fear" (the fact that the Obama Administration is one of the most alarmist is the last twenty years-- fretting about "right-wing extremists, FOX news, Chicken Little screams about a "failing" economy, etc.-- seems completely lost upon Sullivan).

From Sullivan: "I think it's a potentially brilliant move. I do not believe for one moment that this case was brought in a civilian court without sufficient evidence to convict KSM of criminality to put him away for good. But what an open civilian case will also do - and it's why a war criminal like John Yoo is so apoplectic - is reveal the extent to which the brutal torture of KSM was unnecessary, and led to the government's inability to prosecute him to the full extent of the law.

"It will be a civic lesson to America and the world. It will show the evil of terrorism and the futility and danger of torture. It will be a way in which Cheney's torture regime can be revealed in all its grotesque excess at the same time as KSM's vile religious extremism is exposed for its murderous nihilism. That all this will take place in New York - close to where the mass murder took place - is a particularly smart touch."

I enjoy the "civic lesson to American and the world" line. This sentiment, coming on the heels of Obama's world apology tour soon after his election, is hard to stomach. Apparently for Sullivan it's wrong for America to teach the world, but laudable for Obama to do so. Do these people not read their own words anymore? Ah, but I digress...

Sullivan ends with "I believe this is the best symbolic answer to 9/11: a trial, with due process, after tempers have calmed somewhat, that exposes this evil for all it truly was. And also reveals the tragedy of an American government that lost its nerve and has now, under a new president, regained it."

Obama has not demonstrated "nerve," in the sense that Sullivan uses it, as he frets over Afghanistan. Indeed the only nerve he has demonstrated is the arrogant belief that he can restructure the US economy (with the Value Added Tax and Cap & Trade) and health care industry over the objections of the majority of American people, and that he can succeed in these endeavors where other countries have universally failed within a few decades. More digression... I'm sorry.

I have to wonder whether both Jacobson and Sullivan have given too much credit to the Obama Administration. One consistent feature of the Obama Admin has been amateurism. On an almost daily basis, Obama and his people have demonstrated little understanding of the nuts and bolts of political reality. Whether its alienating the US's intelligence services over water boarding, the predictable "pwning" by Iran while negotiating with them over enriching uranium, the out-of-control House health care "reform" bills, the misreading of the mislabeling of the Honduran crisis as a "military coup," the Obama Administration has shown a great deal of inexperience and naivety in the decisions it renders. It all makes me slightly dubious that the inexperienced but powerful Obama Administration could orchestrate the "brilliant move" that Sullivan describes with the full Machiavellian awareness Sullivan credits them with.

Jacobson does make a strong point in his post when he says (you must forgive the repetition) "[t]he decision also is another vote of 'present' for Obama. Obama satisfies the left's desire for further public disclosure of the interrogation program, but it will take place as part of the civilian trial process, not as a result of an administration choice. If there is damage to our intelligence agencies from such disclosures, blame will be placed on a federal judge, not the Obama administration." This move does strike me as being rather Obamaian (Obaman?) as it is a grand gesture, back-handed, likely to end badly, and most concerned about satisfying Left sensibilities while leaving an enormous escape hatch for the Administration itself. So, who knows?

It really doesn't matter, of course. Like most things Obama, the KSM trial will certainly spin out of control and skid beyond any political intentions. It will become a highly divisive circus, further splitting the American Left and Right, and distract the media and American people from very real upcoming economic dangers-- such as the upcoming Senate version of health "reform" bill, the Value Added Tax, etc. Hopefully it will not distract the US intelligence community from their job and make the US less safe. Any bets on that?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Apology for Inactivity

Sorry for the blank blog that's been here the last couple of days. I've been distracted while working on my writing and have also been just plain lazy. I'll be back posting soon-- hopefully tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How I Learned to Stop Worrying About and-- Not Love-- but Tolerate Terrorist Attacks

Check out Victor Davis Hanson's essay on terrorism (h/t Pat @ And So it Goes in Shreveport) in National Review Online. Hanson points out that Hasan's attack on Fort Hood is not as unique as most of us might think or remember.

Click on the above link and read the whole essay (it's not long), but excerpts are below:

"Many commentators were more likely to cite the stresses of hearing patients discuss two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than Hasan’s own apparent extremist beliefs.

"In truth, the Fort Hood murders fit into a now familiar pattern of radical Islam-inspired violence that manifests itself in two principal ways.

"First are the formal terrorist plots. Radical Muslims have attempted, in coordinated fashion, to blow up a bridge, explode a train, assault a military base, and topple a high-rise building — in ways al-Qaeda terrorist leaders abroad warned us would follow 9/11.

"This year alone, three terrorist plots have been foiled.

[...]

"There have also been 'lone wolf' mass murders in which angry radical Muslims sought to channel their frustrations and failures into violence against their perceived enemies of Islam.

"Since September 11, several Muslim men have run over innocent bystanders or shot random people at or near military bases, synagogues, and shopping malls.

"After the initial hysteria died down, we were usually told that such acts were isolated incidents, involving personal 'issues' rather than radical Islamic hatred of the U.S. Yet a few examples show that was not quite the case.

"The just-executed sniper John Allan Muhammad, who, along with an accomplice, killed ten, voiced approval of Osama bin Laden and radical Islamic violence.

Naveed Afzal Haq is currently on trial for going on a murderous rampage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building. A survivor said Haq stated his attack was a 'personal statement against Jews.'

"Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar ran over nine students at the University of North Carolina. Officers said he told them afterward he wanted to avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide.

"Omeed Aziz Popal struck 18 pedestrians with his car near a Jewish center in San Francisco. Witnesses say he said, 'I am a terrorist,' at the scene.

"No doubt in each case, experts could assure us that there were extenuating personal circumstances — stresses and mental illnesses that better explain what happened.

[...]

"Every few months either an Islamic-inspired terrorist plot will be foiled, or a young Muslim male will shoot, run down, or stab someone while invoking anger at non-Muslims.

"In other words, the attack on Fort Hood happened on schedule. It was the rule, not the exception. And something like it will occur again — soon."

While it is important to differentiate between violent acts perpetrated by people with Arabic sounding names and terrorist-motivated attacks, it is equally, if not more, important to not simply dismiss terrorist attacks as the results of mental stress.

All terrorists are the results of mental stress. Are we to believe that people who strap on explosives lined with nails and tacks, and then go and detonate themselves in a pizza parlor or on a bus are not under mental stress? Simply because an act of terrorist murder resembles an act of mental breaking, does not change the basic nature of a terrorist attack. They are not completely unrelated to begin with.

Like so many others, I am shocked at the way the media, government, and even the top brass in the military have responded to the Fort Hood attack. We're told not to jump to conclusions. Fine. We waited. And as we waited MSNBC, CNN, CBS, the NYT and so many others of the MSM speculated wildly and told us that Hasan suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (although he had never seen combat), or that he had been driven to his killings by frustration at the lack of health care funding (remember this is when HR 3962 was on the House floor). We were told not to care what his religion is. While we waited, we were told Hasan was bullied for his beliefs in Islam.

And now as the truth of the matter becomes clearer and clearer, much of the press and Obama himself would like to treat this incident as just another natural tragedy, like a tornado or a flood. While many have swooned over Obama's Fort Hood speech (chiefly because he didn't spend any time praising himself), Obama spoke of the victims as though they had been struck down by lightning in some freak storm.

Certainly it's fine and fitting to honor the memory of those slain, but to do so without even touching upon why and how these fine people were brutally murdered is disingenuous to the extreme. It reeks of moral cowardice-- of an inability to be even slightly honest when confronted by events outside of Obama's great plan. It dishonors the fallen by twisting the circumstances of their deaths until their tragedy's meaning is devoid of any relation to the truth.

This strikes me as being similar to a certain branch of grief counseling, where the focus is on the exhumation of already surfaced feelings. By wringing out every last drop of emotion and energy, the aggrieved are left physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted at the end. The bereaved often feels relieved, generally better, and sometimes feels as though something has been accomplished, some mental burden has been lifted and set aside. Yet the tragedy remains, and the hollowness of absence continues, and they're told that all that will get better in time. Well, that would have been the case regardless, so what's the point of the emotional crush at the beginning of the process?

The basic idea is to expunge the negative feelings (the assumption being that such feelings won't come back, or if they do that they'll return with less intensity) so that they will not cause undue internal stress and consternation in the aggrieved. It's sort-of a shortcut to acceptance. It's a theory that dismisses the possibility that the gradual grieving process has an internal importance, that the road to acceptance has meaning based in the journey itself and not merely because of the end result. And acceptance, in this case, is just another word for tolerance.

Obama's strategy in dealing with these violent attacks seems to be not completely dissimilar. Be sure to focus sympathy on the victims (who could argue with that), expunge, wait for everything to simmer down and let tolerance take root, and then continue with political agendas. Repeat as necessary. Indignation at the hateful and violent causes behind such tragedies would be a distraction. Far better to teach us us all how to learn to accept these man-made disasters in stride.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

School Fundraiser: Cash for Grades

From the you-can't-possibly-believe-this-is-okay news files comes this little gem: a middle school was selling extra credit grade points as part of a school fundraiser.

According to the newsobserver.com article by Lynn Bonner (h/t BigGovernment.com):

"Selling candy didn't raise much money last year, so a Goldsboro middle school tried selling grades.

"However, the fundraiser came to an abrupt halt today after a story in The News & Observer raised concerns about the practice of selling grades.

"Wayne County school administrators stopped the fundraiser, issuing a statement this morning.

"'Yesterday afternoon, the district administration met with [Rosewood Middle School principal] Mrs. Shepherd and directed the the following actions be taken: (1) the fundraiser will be immediately stopped; (2) no extra grade credit will be issued that may have resulted from donations; and (3) beginning Novermber [spelling is district administration's?] 12, all donations will be returned.'

"A $20 donation to Rosewood Middle School would have gotten a student 20 test points - 10 extra points on two tests of the student's choosing. That could raise a B to an A, or a failing grade to a D."

Later in the article, the principal, Mrs. Shepherd, offered this perfectly reasonable explanation that completely exonerates a practice, that on the surface, seems reprehensible.

"'Last year they did chocolates, and it didn't generate anything'" Shepherd said.

"Shepherd rejected the suggestion that the school is selling grades. Extra points on two tests won't make a difference in a student's final grade, she said.

"It's wrong to think that 'one particular grade could change the entire focus of nine weeks,' Shepherd said."

Oh, I understand... Chocolates didn't cut it, so they decided to sell grades. And of course those extra credit points wouldn't make any difference-- that's why people would be willing to pay $20 for them.

The article also included a Rosewood Middle School price list:

"A $20 donation buys 10-point credits to be used on two tests of the student's choice.

"A $30 donation buys the test points and admission to a 5th-period dance.

"A $60 donation buys students test points, the dance invitation, and a 'special 30-minute lunch period with pizza, drink and the choice to invite one friend to join them.'

"Photo ops with Rosewood principal Susie Shepherd, the vice principal, and a home room teacher go for $75. The photos will be posted on a school bulletin board and on the school's Web site."

As my wife pointed out, that $75 prize doesn't seem so great. A photo-op with the vice principal? I mean I pretty much got one of those in 7th grade for free when I started a food fight in the cafeteria.

My wife suggested that a date with some of the school spirit minded staff would be more enticing for the $75 price tag. I mean, I'm sure there's some pretty science teacher, or handsome computer science teacher down there willing to spend an evening with a generous parent for the sake of the school coffers.

Why not? Principal Shepherd is already selling out their grades...

Added New Links! Musings and Their Meanings & Another Black Conservative

Just added a couple of links.

Musings and Their Meanings had some impressive posts on the HR 3962 scuffle and made me link.

Another Black Conservative had an amusing but dead-on post titled "Michael Steele: White Republicans Are Afraid of Me."

My favorite lines: "Memo To Michael: If you are trying to get brothers and sisters to join the Republican Party, you have to stop agreeing with the stereotypes black liberals have of Republicans!

"As a black conservative who has probably met as many white Republicans and conservatives as Michael Steele has, I have not met any who cower in fear of me, especially when they know we share the same political beliefs. On the other hand, I have encountered TONS of white liberals who DEMAND to know why I am a conservative. Talk about racist, what are black people only allowed to have one political view?"

I had to read more after that post and had to link after reading those posts.

Check them out. They're both worth some perusing time.

HR 875: Regulating Organic Farming-- Including Hunting Game and Home Gardens

Many silly bills circulate through the House in any Congress, and under any administration. Most of the time Americans simply trust that somebody in the House or Senate will see the nonsense for what it is and publicize the fact to influential parties, or the bill will be tacitly acknowledged as a bad idea and whither away on the vine.

However, the current political climate makes pretty much any bad bill a potential bad law. When the president's key political policies are encompassed in "the worst bill ever," and the prevailing attitude within the Congressional Democrats is the championing of a nanny-state government, no bill seems too ridiculous to take seriously.

Enter HR 875. Lydia Scott at Campaign for Liberty has a decent, although perhaps a bit alarmist, write up on the possible implications of the bill as it stands.

From the post:

"This legislation is so broad based that technically someone with a little backyard garden could get fined and have their property seized. It will affect anyone who produces food even if they do not sell but only consume it. It will literally put all independent farmers and food producers out of business due to the huge amounts of money it will take to conform to factory farming methods. If people choose to farm without industry standards such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers they will be subject to a variety of harassment from this completely new agency that has never before existed. That's right, a whole new government agency is being created just to police food, for our own protection of course.

[...]

"Red flags I found and I am sure there are more...........

"Legally binds state agriculture depts to enforcing federal guidelines effectively taking away the states power to do anything other than being food police for the federal dept.

"Effectively criminalizes organic farming but doesn't actually use the word organic.

"Affects anyone growing food even if they are not selling it but consuming it.

"Affects anyone producing meat of any kind including the processing wild game for personal consumption.

"Legislation is so broad based that every aspect of growing or producing food can be made illegal. There are no specifics which is bizarre considering how long the legislation is.

"Section 103 is almost entirely about the administrative aspect of the legislation. It will allow the appointing of officials from the factory farming corporations and lobbyists and classify them as experts and allow them to determine and interpret the legislation. Who do you think they are going to side with?

"Section 206 defines what will be considered a food production facility and what will be enforced up all food production facilities. The wording is so broad based that a backyard gardener could be fined and more.

"Section 207 requires that the state's agriculture dept act as the food police and enforce the federal requirements. This takes away the states power and is in violation of the 10th amendment."

Certainly this bill would seem to have few supporters (the Left loves their "organic" farmers), but, as I said before, these are odd political times and HR 875 deserves some attention. Would you have believed that so many House Dems would vote have voted for the Stupak Amendment, or that such an amendment would even become politically feasible and brought up in session before Saturday? Besides, the possibility that the basic idea of policing foods and extending industry regulations to non-industry providers could be made politically viable in this climate-- perhaps put into a more "organic farming friendly" bill.

This could be a bill to watch.

Monday, November 9, 2009

ABC News: Fort Hood Shooter Attempted to Contact al Qaeda

According to an ABC News post by Richard Esposito, Mathew Cole and Brian Ross, Nidal Hasan had been attempting to contact members of the terrorist group. No details are provided as to how long before the shooting Hasan did this, however "U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago."

From the article:

"U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.

"One senior lawmaker said the CIA had, so far, refused to brief the intelligence committees on what, if any, knowledge they had about Hasan's efforts.

"CIA director Leon Panetta and the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, have been asked by Congress 'to preserve' all documents and intelligence files that relate to Hasan, according to the lawmaker.

"On Sunday, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) called for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs as to whether Hasan was an Islamic extremist.

"'If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have a zero tolerance,' Lieberman told Fox News Sunday.

"Investigators want to know if Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a web site that promotes jihad around the world against the U.S.

"In a blog posting early Monday titled 'Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing,' Awlaki calls Hassan a 'hero' and a 'man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.'

"According to his site, Awlaki served as an imam in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Virginia.
"The Associated Press reported Sunday that Major Hasan attended the Falls Church mosque when Awlaki was there.

"The Telegraph of London reported that Awlaki had made contact with two of the 9/11 hijackers when he was in San Diego.

"He denied any knowledge of the hijacking plot and was never charged with any crime. After an intensive investigation by the FBI, Awlaki moved to Yemen."

So let's see, Hasan tried to contact members of al Qaeda, and attended a mosque with a terrorist cheerleader as an imam who has himself posted that Hasan attacked unarmed men and women (including civilians) because of his Muslim faith... Do you think we can call Hasan an Islamist extremist now? Do you think we can call Hasan a terrorist now? Or is he still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder even though he's never been in combat? Is he still just a bullied victim of racist teasing and intolerance (CNN Video here h/t Powerline)? Maybe the strippers made him do it...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Can the Health Care "Reform" Bill Survive the Senate?

So HR 3962 passed the House 220 - 215. Nearly 2000 pages of business micromanaging / regulation, legislated stagflation, penalties (including jail time) for noncompliance, and incentives to keep paid wages low and unemployment high. Brilliant. I don't think the Wall Street Journal was exaggerating when the paper declared HR 3962 to be "the worst bill ever."

While I am astonished that such a bill could exist, even in this political climate, it is not surprising to me that it passed. Obama, Pelosi, and the rest pushed hard on this, brought enough of the Blue Dogs to heal and have, for the past year, been busily ushering in a new era of divisiveness while hypocritically preaching bipartisanship. This polarizing, you're-either-with-us-or-against-us mentality bullies people to act and vote beyond reason and logic.

It is unreasonable to vote for $1 trillion dollars of non-essential spending amid a recession and a 10.2% unemployment rate, while two mostly ignored wars are being fought. It is unreasonable to believe that the U.S. government could do a better job of regulating the medical industry than it did regulating the housing market and manipulating interest rates. It is unreasonable to release a 2000 page bill on Oct. 30, force a vote on Nov. 7, and then claim due deliberation and transparency. It is unreasonable for a president to stand before Congress and the American people, declare that he will not sign a bill that increases the deficit by one dime or requires cuts in Medicare benefits, then essentially renege on that promise within two months, and believe that the American people will not notice.

Of course all this has nothing to do with reason and everything to do with agendas and the delivery of political promises to those deemed by the Washington elite as being of consequence-- to those who matter.

The Senate will need 60 votes to bypass a filibuster over the issue. There are essentially 60 Democrats (2 kinda/sorta independents-- Lieberman CT and Sanders VT) currently in the Senate. How will the chamber respond?

In the years past, I would've predicted the passage of a typical, slightly watered down bill. But the current political climate is not analogous to the climates of the recent past.

The House has shoved a massive bill down our throats with a stunning lack deliberation and a casual ignorance of the will of the majority of the American people. I firmly believe the response of the Senate will depend on the response of the American people to this bill's passage through the House. If we behave subdued, defeated, tamely distraught, then the bill will pass largely unchanged. If we stand idle and mutely confirm that we believe Washington knows what is best for our individual lives, then the bill will pass largely unchanged through the Senate. And if we show that we are not disinterested in the political process, despite our lives, families and careers, that we will hold those responsible accountable to their votes, then it will be unlikely to pass at all.

Obama and Pelosi have demonstrated nothing but arrogant disdain and contempt for those who oppose their wishes. Among her numerous slights, Pelosi has famously published an editorial in which she stated protesters to her agendas were "un-American." Just today Obama has characterized, not for the first time, those who stand against his policies and positions as extremists. From the New York Times (h/t Anne Leary @ Backyard Conservative): "According to Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who supports the health care bill, the president asked, 'Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care? All it will do is confuse and dispirit' Democratic voters 'and it will encourage the extremists.'"

We can allow ourselves to be discouraged by elected officials unresponsive to the concerns of their constituents. We can allow ourselves to be bullied into silence. We can allow ourselves to lapse into a listless malaise amid baseless accusations of racism and extremism, and disingenuous questioning of our patriotism. But it defies the basic precepts of representative democracy to do so.

Joseph de Maistre's assertion from Lettres et Opuscules Inédits, "Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite" (Every country has the government it deserves), has been largely accepted as common wisdom in the United States. Americans are now being called upon to determine what kind of government they will earn.

If we believe federal bureaucrats should determine our health insurance coverage, then we should remain silent. If we believe health care should be rationed under the Left's concept of "social justice," then we should stay in our homes. If we believe that medical funding should be based on lobbying and the political stylishness of diseases, then we should simply shake our heads and go on with the business of our families and careers.

The answer to the question posed in this post's title, is yes. But only if we allow it to.

FINAL VOTE TALLY FOR HR 3962

CONTACT LIST FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

UPDATE: Check out Dr. Helen's piece on "Anger is an energy."

From the post: "[Johnny] Rotten's [of the Sex Pistols] line [anger is an energy] is a good one as a metaphor for the fight against a statist government that desires to take over our liberty, our economy, and even our very lives. Often, I hear Republicans and conservatives say that we are 'doomed.' This negative cognitive self-talk is pathetic. It is crippling. Don't engage in it.

"You are never doomed until you are dead. There is always something that can be done. The anger of the American public is only just beginning. It is an energy that will be needed in the coming days, weeks and months to protest, stand up, debate, argue and get in the face of every government official, public figure and others who support a bill that leads us down The Road to Serfdom.

"And even if the bill passes, we can continue the fight, for they have won only a cultural battle, not the culture war. Culture changes politics, not the other way around. I will be fighting back against a culture that leads to less individual autonomy in every way I know how. Will you?"

UPDATE 2: Here's a list of Blue Dog Democrats who voted in favor of the $1 trillion+ health care "reform:"

Congressman Arcuri - New York's 24th congressional district - R+2.

Congressman Baca - California's 43rd congressional district - D+13.

Congressman Berry - Arkansas 1st congressional district - R+8.

Congressman Bishop - Georgia's 2nd congressional district - D+1.

Congressman Boswell - Iowa's 3rd congressional district - D+1.

Congressman Cardoza - California's 18th congressional district - D+4.

Congressman Carney - Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district - R+8.

Congressman Cooper - Tennessee's 5th congressional district - D+3.

Congressman Costa - California's 20th congressional district - D+5.

Congressman Cuellar - Texas' 28th congressional district. - EVEN.

Congresswoman Dahlkemper - Pennsylvania's 3rd congressional district - R+3.

Congressman Donnelly - Indiana's 2nd congressional district - R+2.

Congressman Ellsworth - Indiana's 8th congressional district - R+8.

Congresswoman Giffords - Arizona's 8th congressional district - R+4.

Congresswoman Harman - California's 36th congressional district - D+12.

Congressman Hill - Indiana's 9th congressional district - R+6.

Congressman Mechaud - Maine's 2nd congressional district - D+3.

Congressman Mitchell - Arizona's 5th congressional district - R+5.

Congressman Moore - Kansas 3rd congressional district - R+3.

Congressman Murphy - Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district - D+2.

Congressman Pomeroy - North Dakota's at-large congressional district - R+10.

Congressman Salazar - Colorado's 3rd congressional district - R+5.

Congresswoman Sanchez - California's 47th congressional district - D+4.

Congressman Schiff - California's 29th congressional district - D+14.

Congressman Scott - Georgia's 13th congressional district - D+15.

Congressman Space - Ohio's 18th congressional district - R+7.

Congressman Thompson - California's 1st congressional district - D+13.

Congressman Wilson - Ohio's 6th congressional district - R+2.