"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, April 30, 2009

Obama Continues March to Nationalize Auto Industry


Check out this article from the AP by Jim Kuhnhenn regarding Obama and Chrysler.

The AP is actually offering an unusual non-cheerleading analysis here. Do you think their confidence in the One is slipping?

Favorite quotes: "'They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices, and they would have to make none,' he [Obama] said. 'I don't stand with them.'" Pray tell... just what personal sacrifices is Obama willing to make? After all, now the US government is a major investor in Chrysler. Too bad Obama's not. It's easy to play with money and businesses that you have no stake in.

"Despite the stigma often attached to bankruptcy, Obama took pains to portray it as a positive development. 'This is not a sign of weakness,' he insisted, 'but rather one more step on a clearly charted path to Chrysler's revival.'" Huh... That sounds a lot like talking emptily to your enemies and selling out your allies is a sign of strength. Care to make any bets on if this bankruptcy and government usurpation will be just as successful?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spanish Judge Pursues Bush Officials... Thanks to Obama

Gerald Warner has and interesting post regarding the "torture" memos. Check it out.

Warner writes "Barack Obama's 100 days of un-American activities are being appropriately marked by the latest hostile initiative against the United States that his partisan rancour has made possible. Notorious Spanish fruit-cake Judge Balthasar Garzon has issued a 10-page writ opening an investigation into officials of the Bush government as 'possible material authors' of torture, accomplices and those who gave orders for torture.

"This ridiculous legal initiative was only made possible, as Garzon admits, by Barack Obama's declassification of US Justice Department memos on interrogation techniques which 'reveal what had been just an intuition: an authorised and systematic plan of torture and mistreatment of persons denied freedom without any charge whatsoever and without the rights enjoyed by any detainee.'"

Way to go Obama... Another example of how Obama does not seem to realize the ultimate consequences of his actions. He's not on the campaign trail anymore-- but that means he's lost and doesn't know what to do. As a community organizer, a brief stint as a State Senator from polarized Chicago, and then a US senator where all he did was plan for his presidential campaign, Obama has made his career from campaigning for various Left causes and enriching himself in the process. He has done little else, aside from being glorified by the media (again a campaign mind-set).

I've written previous posts about Obama's naivety, the cruelty that is inflicted, and the perennial campaign strategies he uses to push his policies. This is just another example of his partisan politics (whatever happened to that post-partisan nonsense?) being ineffective (as Warner notes "latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows a solid majority of Americans opposed to Obama's release of Bush-era memos") and backlashing in ways his administration seems unable to conceive. He needs a damage control czar.

Warner continues "Garzon bases his pompous claim to try American citizens on the principle of 'universal jurisdiction' - the judicial version of World Government. The healthy American response would be to tell him to spin on it; but with this administration grovelling to anti-American forces, convinced its only enemies are fellow Americans, one wonders what further surrenders of US interests, dignity and sovereignty may be made. Why draw the line at Spain - why not have Republican officials tried in Cuba for maintaining a blockade?"

It always amuses me when the Left starts railing on about "international law," thinking that it is some kind of cure-all. In fact, it's nothing more than the shuffling off of responsibility. Instead of doing something and leaving yourself open for attacks (such as Bush), let's let The Hague figure it all out... like the Slobodan Milosevic trial. That legal farce started on Feb. 12, 2002 and ended March 11, 2006. It ended with neither a conviction nor even a verdict, but simply stopped when Milosevic died of a heart attack. Is that international justice? A four year trial that could never even reach a verdict on this butcher?

Warner notes "Garzon is requesting the US Government to send the documents to him. His gratitude to Obama is patent: his previous attempt to indict six specific Bush administration officials, headed by Alberto Gonzalez, former US Attorney General, finally collapsed on April 17 when Spanish prosecutors said it should be heard in America. But this is a different situation: thanks to President Pantywaist's eagerness to undermine US government officials, there is now documentary evidence to support a prosecution in Garzon's kangaroo court."

I doubt that the Obama administration has the spine to send the "documentary evidence" Garzon requests. Even they could see the ramifications of American political figures on trial in foreign courts. Yet, one has to wonder if they would do it otherwise? What's in their hearts on this matter? Where are their loyalties? Is it to the Constitution or to the faddish push for international (i.e. European) law?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Obama is the Second-Least-Popular President in 40 Years"


That's according to The Washington Times (h/t Instapundit). Check out the editorial here.

From the editorial, "As the attached chart shows, five presidents rated higher than Mr. Obama after 100 days in office. Ronald Reagan topped the charts in April 1981 with 67 percent approval. Following the Gipper, in order of popularity, were: Jimmy Carter with 63 percent in 1977; George W. Bush with 62 percent in 2001; Richard Nixon with 61 percent in 1969; and George H.W. Bush with 58 percent in 1989.

"It's no surprise the liberal media aren't anxious to point out that their darling is less popular than George W. Bush. But given the Gallup numbers, their hurrahs could be more subdued. USA Today's front page touted the April poll results as positive, with the headline: 'Public thinks highly of Obama.' The current cover of Newsweek magazine ponders 'The Secret of His [Mr. Obama's] Success.' The comparison with previous presidents is useful because they are usually popular during their first few months in office - and most presidents have been more popular than Mr. Obama."

Completed with my all-time least favorite depiction of Obama-- perhaps from the Lenin farmer/scholar collection. Easy stomach...

Feds Knew Flyover Would Cause Panic

That's the headline of the wcbstv.com article via the Drudge Report.

Nice. And some people want this agency running health care and electricity. Part of this federal compassion that's so prevalent, I suppose. Oh, but Obama is angry... Well, that fixes everything.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Threat of a Nuclear Iran

Check out Caroline Glick's op/ed article on carolineglick.com.

I've admired Glick's articles for a fair amount of time now. Here she makes a persuasive argument for Israeli military strikes to undo Iran's nuclear ambitions and discusses Obama's fantasy-land linking of Iran and the expansion of the Palestinian State. More chilling, however, are Glick's speculations on the world realities stemming from a nuclear Iran. I highly recommend reading it.

In a world of swine flu, the threat of economic meltdown following cap and trade and idiotic US spending, perhaps we soon won't be able to write off a nuclear armageddon anymore. Oh, but don't worry... Iran is just a small country, after all. And acquiescence to their demands is a sign of our strength.

I'll bet most people didn't think a nuclear Iran was part of the Change that Obama promised...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free Roxana Saberi Site


Roxana Saberi has entered into the sixth day of a hunger strike. Today is her 32nd birthday. Iran's courts convicted her of espionage and sentenced her to eight years in prison following a one hour, closed door trial. She has recently been denied access to her legal counsel.

According to NYT via The Grand Forks Herald "Ms. Saberi’s father, Reza Saberi, who came to Tehran two weeks ago from Fargo, N.D., to secure her release, said Sunday that neither she nor her lawyer was aware that the trial was taking place last Monday until after it was under way.'

"'The lawyer was only told to go meet Roxana last Monday,’ he said in a telephone interview. 'No one knew that they were trying her. Roxana found out 15 minutes into the session that she was being tried.

“‘None of them, neither Roxana nor the lawyer, were ready to defend her.'"

Michelle Malkin has a far more extensive write up than I do, including other abuses Iran has inflicted upon journalists and bloggers. I encourage you to go read it.

I also highly recommend a visit the Free Roxana Saberi website (also in the Blog List). Get involved, but still keep in mind that Roxana Saberi is not an isolated case. Even if her release can be won (and I pray that it is), this in no way exonerates the many other abuses and deaths that the government of Iran has inflicted upon both its own people and foreigners-- both within and outside its borders. All of these many other victims should, likewise, not be forgotten.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

NY Post's "100 Days, 100 Mistakes"


Check out this op/ed in the NY Post (h/t Michelle Malkin).

I think it speaks for a lot of us. Maybe even more than you might think.

"100 Days, 100 Mistakes" but maybe it should also list 100 dangers that Obama is ignoring.

Oh... and I just thought that I'd throw in another Obama action figure pic. Here he is machine-gunning right-wing extremists presumably...

New Blog Added! Gerald Warner of the UK


Having been both entertained and informed by Daniel Hannan's blog, I decided to add Gerald Warner's Telegraph blog to my Blog List.

He's a crusty British "author, broadcaster, columnist and polemical commentator who writes about politics, religion, history, culture and society in general. If it is an exaggeration to say that he believes the world has gone to the dogs, it is only a slight hyperbole."

He's also the first person I know of who referred to Obama as "President Pantywaist," so what's not to love? Seriously though, I'd like to get some more international perspectives on the issues.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Obama is Hip!" Claims Obama Cronies in Fawning Article


Check out this article from politico.com and then this response from newsbusters.org. The title says it all, "For Obama, Hipness Is What It Is."

This fawning quote from politico is a little hard to take. "During his first 100 days as president of the United States, Barack Obama revealed how different he is from all the white men who preceded him in the Oval Office, and the differences run deeper — in substance and style — than the color of his skin.

"Barack Hussein Obama is the nation’s first hip president. This, of course, is subject to debate. But watch him walk. Listen to him talk. See the body language, the expressions, the clothes. He’s got attitude, rhythm, a sense of humor, contemporary tastes.

"This much is clear: Whether dealing with the Wall Street mess, shifting troops from Iraq to Afghanistan or fumbling to fill his Cabinet, Obama leans heavily on personal panache to push political policies. Truth be told, his style is rooted in something elusive and hard to define. Pure and simple, it’s hip."

And hipness is so important in a president. We see how it won over the Iranians... "Happy nowruz to us, everyone!"

Obama's clothes don't seem all that different to me and I subscribe to the belief that clothes don't make the man. His expressions are arrogant, smug, and aloof to me-- is that hip now? He is half-Kenyan and raised in Hawaii, which I suppose counts for this "new cadence" in his speech that so many drool over. Of course, the fact that it's an affectation seems completely irrelevant to everyone.

And as Michael Bates from newsbusters.org point out, "To buttress his assertion of Obama's hipness, the author quotes John Leland of The New York Times, longtime Democratic operative Roger Wilkins, and Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics. Wilkins and Tannen are themselves apparently hip, both having contributed money to Obama's campaign. That hip fact didn't merit reporting."

I just love it when the free press supports their pro-Obama articles with quotes from Obama-cronies. Very hip indeed...

AP Article Pushes Obama's Bipartisanship Lie


Check out this article by the AP, "Obama bipartisanship push has mixed success." Can you believe this is a headline?

Well, let's see... How has Obama been bipartisan?

1) By attacking conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh, and having White House staff personally call or call out (like Kramer-- hardly a conservative) media and reporters who step out of line.

2) By publicly dismissing conservative points of view as old-fashioned and irrelevant.

3) By pushing a "stimulus" bill through Congress that was written exclusively by Democrats, and is largely nothing more than political payoff to Democratic and Left supporters (the article suggests this is a bipartisan victory due to the three Republican senators who voted for it).

4) By continuing to push through a partisan budget that does nothing but increase deficit spending into the trillions... while ignoring his own pick for commerce secretary's, Republican Senator Judd Gregg outspoken opposition to the proposal.

5) By appointing Rahm Emmanuel "known as a brass-knuckles partisan," as White House chief of staff.

6) By continuing to publicly blame every problem under the sun and any that could possibly ever arise on George Bush.

7) By calculatingly releasing the "torture memos" and then nonsensically threatening to prosecute Republican legal council over their contents.

8) By releasing a DHS report that paints anyone who believes in Federalism, abortion, or is a vet as potential right-wing, extremist terrorists.

But it's the Republicans' fault for not being bipartisan. "'You can open up your door, extend your hand and invite people in, but if they don't want to come, you can't drag them,' said David Axelrod, a senior Obama adviser. 'That doesn't mean we're not going to keep trying.'"

Oh, how noble... continuing to try the come in, sit down, shut up, and believe in all that I do version of bipartisanship... Real cute.

The most annoying aspect of this AP article is the continued push to present Obama as a centrist. The AP and the Obama-media seem to be operating under the assumption that if you tell a lie enough it'll start to become true.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama's International Arrogance: Naive Narcissism


We all know about Obama's macho handshake with Venezuelan President (soon to be president-for-life) Hugo Chavez, the gift of the Marxist-themed book, etc. Almost immediately conservative bloggers that I follow such as William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, Michelle Malkin, and The Commissioner over at The Political Huddle, called him on it.

Jacobson and The Commissioner both point out that this act had far greater repercussions than one might first think. Jacobson writes "Obama greets Chavez with not a polite diplomatic handshake, but a warm clasping of hands as befits two old friends meeting again, and a loving hand placed on Chavez's shoulder. Chavez's press office was so pleased that it is circulating the photos."

The Commissioner adds "Obama lent a burgeoning dictator a great foreign relations victory to help prop up his credibility around the world. This coming after one of our strongest South American allies, Columbia, captured definitive evidence of Chavez's considerable support of the bloody, Marxist, narco, terrorist organization FARC."

Of course, they are both right. Comparing Obama's treatment of Venezuelan dictator Chavez to his shoddy treatment of British PM Gordon Brown and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaks volumes as to where Obama's sympathies actually lie.

Listing the brutal excesses Chavez has inflicted upon his country and region is long and trying. For starters, he has jailed or forced into hiding political opposition, has allied himself with Iran, most likely encouraged anti-Semitism within Venezuela, regularly threatened his neighbor Colombia, supported the drug-trafficking terrorist organization FARC, stifled the media, and generally whittled away the rights of Venezuelans. But more over he is not our political ally, he is not our political friend. Whether Obama chooses to acknowledge this reality or not, the world is made up of friends and enemies to varying degrees. To deny this, is naive and foolish.

I've waited to comment on this issue, as I was curious on how Obama would respond to the criticisms. Well, he didn't disappoint. After Gingrich criticized Obama's comparing his foreign policy to Carter, Obama fell back on his "tiny country" defense. In the politico article Obama responds "'Venezuela is a country whose defense budget is probably 1/600th of the United States'. They own Citgo. It’s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States. I don’t think anybody can find any evidence that that would do so. Even within this imaginative crowd, I think you would be hard-pressed to paint a scenario in which U.S. interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela.'"

Ah yes, dredging up the old argument that countries are too small and too under-funded to be much of a worry. During the campaign, he said this about Iran and its efforts to construct an nuclear weapon. Aside from the puerile stupidity of this small country idea (What was the defense budget for Al Qaeda when it ran two planes into the World Trade Center Towers, another into the Pentagon, and a fourth that was only foiled by the actions of American heroes?), the question begs to be asked does Obama honestly believe that we consider Venezuela a conventional threat to America? Does he actually believe that people are worried about Venezuela invading the shores of Texas and that is why they don't like him shaking hands with Chavez? To top it all off, Chavez then insulted Obama (whether Obama will admit or not) and the American public by giving him a Marxist book and advising him to read it. I would suggest giving Chavez a copy of Alexis de Tocqueville's work...

While denouncing American arrogance and running about the world greenly apologizing for it, Obama is, in fact, repeatedly demonstrating his own egoism. But he is also espousing American inaction, making the basis of our reactions the far-Left's transient and self-absorbed sense of moral right.

Obama's personal arrogance is getting to be better and better documented. Mark Steyn has put it best as far as I've seen. On Obama's response to Ortega's diatribe at the Summit of the Americas Steyn said, "What struck me (aside from its unfortunate echoes of his self-absolvement with regard to what William Ayers did when young Barack was eight years old) was the reductive narcissism of the answer. Barack Obama is not a banana-republic coup-leader resetting the calendar to Year Zero. When he travels abroad, he represents two-and-a-third centuries of constitutional continuity. The impression he gives that that's all just some dreary backstory of no real relevance to the Barack Obama biopic he's starring in 24/7 is very unusual in the chief of state of one of the oldest democratic polities on the planet. And not entirely reassuring." (h/t to Pat at So it Goes in Shreveport)

It's not very reassuring because it's just one more instance of Obama's self-obsession. Other presidents have been presumptuous in the past. Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Nixon, and Wilson (just to name a few from the 20th century) all possessed very high opinions of themselves. However, unlike Obama, they all also possessed far greater political accomplishments, substantial personal experiences in their past, and world views not directly passed down by a naive academia. This is not to say all were great presidents. Some of these men blundered, made terrible and tragic decisions, some remained arrogant to the end. Yet all of them, in some manner, earned their self-aggrandizing stance (not that this earning arrogance absolves it). Obama's arrogance lacks any experience. It seems borne upon nothing but his own self-love.

Obama's incessant apologizing speaks of America's insincerity more than anything else. Obama's not apologizing for himself (has he ever?), he's apologizing for the mistakes of others. While his narcissism allows him to offer condolences for America, it likewise allows him to shoulder none of it. Most people of the world understand that what Obama is actually offering nothing but conciliatory words devoid of any action. They also recognize the opportunities that exist for aggressive governments when the world's sole superpower is run on the basis of a "white guilt" derivative rather than statecraft.

Yet, Obama's apologies do more than embolden our enemies, they dishearten our allies. Israel, already under fire from the U.N., now sees the US as shrinking away from them. Although the US did not attend Durban II, Obama refused to meet with Israeli PM Netanyahu, an act that has understandably raised concerns in Israel. I also tend to agree with Jacobson's assertion that a "leaked" highly classified Harman tape was a political "shot across Israel's bow." Even overlooking these, and more (see Caroline Glick's series of essays for more) gestures of political antagonism, Obama's apologies are in effect saying that the US will be incredibly unresponsive to all threats to all of our allies as the US debates the political correctness of a given individual situation. After all, we wouldn't want to have to make more apologies, would we?

This does not sit well for Colombia, threatened by Chavez. Nor does this sit well for Japan or South Korea routinely menaced by Kim Jong-il. This does not sit well for Singapore, a few years ago the target of an Al Qaeda-backed plot to overthrow the government. This does not sit well for Thailand, having battled Islamic separatists for years they now are facing forces reinvigorated by Al Qaeda. This does not sit well with the Philippines, fighting Al Qaeda before most Americans had ever heard the name. This does not sit well in Taiwan, routinely menaced by mainland China's navy and air force. This does not sit well with the Liberians, trying to carve together a government (again) after the country's most recent and brutal civil war. Obama's apologies don't make them feel better.

But of course it is not supposed to. It's intended to make Obama and the American Left feel better. Who cares about how our allies feel?

In Obama's mind, there is the world before him and the world with him. It speaks of a dangerous narcissism that Obama possesses. For us, it is good to remember that there will a world after him. Most likely, by the end of his term as president Obama will indeed owe many people an apology himself, around 307 million Americans at the last census, 7.25 million Israelis, 45.6 million Colombians, 4.6 million Singaporeans, 127 million Japanese, 48.5 million South Koreans, 66 million Thais, 3.5 million Liberians, 23 million Taiwanese, almost 98 million Filipinos and undoubtedly more. It is however, one unlikely to ever be offered-- or even acknowledged.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Roxana Saberi Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison; Obama "Deeply Disappointed"


Journalist and American citizen Roxana Saberi was convicted of spying by a one day, closed-door court in Tehran. She was sentenced to eight years in prison, although she could have been given the death penalty. AP story here. She joins a small legion of Iranian reporters convicted in closed-door trials by the fundamentalist Iranian judiciary.
A White House official saying that Obama was "deeply disappointed." Well, I guess that's a step up from when Obama called Iran "unhelpful."
UPDATE: Per Anne Leary at Backyard Conservative "Northwestern's Medill School faculty, students, alum have set up a site to press for Iran to Free Roxana Saberi."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fascism: the Badly Understood Insult

I was perusing through William A. Jacobson's Legal Insurrection blog when I came across this post: "When Fascism Comes To America, It Will Look Like Tea Party Crashers." It's a good post about totalitarian governments and political movements violently stifling free speech. However, what struck me were the comments to his post and the casual and ignorant use of the word fascism. I suggest you read through the comments section to get a full idea of what I mean. I'm there, but my lengthy (lengthy? me?!) comment will be pretty much repeated in this post.

Fascism is a word that gets thrown around a great deal, generally being viewed as an amorphous extreme right-wing ideological stance-- sort of an opposite to the communist stance. It becomes a catch-all for anything viewed as too authoritarian that is not clearly Marxist or Socialist.

Generally ill-defined, it's carelessly employed common usage aggravates the situation. While people can argue almost endlessly about whether certain regimes or political views are fascist or not, the conclusion (if ever reached) is invariably based on group-think-- various like-minded individuals ignorantly nodding their heads in agreement-- rather than any logic or coherent thinking.

The main source of this difficulty seems to be that no one really knows an exact political definition of fascism. This is unfortunate since the word itself is imbued with such emotional power and elicits charged feelings not dissimilar to the label of racist. Mussolini, probably agreed upon as the founder of fascism, was neither a political theorist, nor philosopher, nor a particularly brilliant individual.

He was a politician, and unlike Marx or the Enlightenment thinkers, was concerned with the immediate and tangible results from his publications. Marx was supremely informed by Hegel, and the Enlightenment Thinkers influenced by Descartes' concept of a clockwork universe and a plethora of scientists and thinkers convinced of the existence of natural laws. Their work is crouched in historic academic traditions, allowing for easier analysis. Mussolini had no philosophical basis for his Fascist Manifesto. While some describe the work and inspiration of the Fascist movement as reactionary, it gives Mussolini's ideas far more credit than they deserve.

"The Fascist Manifesto," published in 1919, was in reality little more than a list of demands, a pale cry of political dissent not unlike such as those issued by pathetic, modern day student protesters (see their own real-life manifesto beginning with amnesty for their takeover of the food court). I've found it reasonably difficult to find the "Fascist Manifesto" in its entirety, it's usually summed up like this (from economicexpert.com), however Vox Day at World Net Daily claims to have translated his version from the original Italian. Since it seems reasonably congruent with the summations, I'll present Day's version here:

"Italians! Here is the program of a genuinely Italian movement. It is revolutionary because it is anti-dogmatic, strongly innovative and against prejudice.

"For the political problem: We demand:
a) Universal suffrage polled on a regional basis, with proportional representation and voting and electoral office eligibility for women.
b) A minimum age for the voting electorate of 18 years; that for the office holders at 25 years.
c) The abolition of the Senate.
d) The convocation of a National Assembly for a three-years duration, for which its primary responsibility will be to form a constitution of the State.
e) The formation of a National Council of experts for labor, for industry, for transportation, for the public health, for communications, etc. Selections to be made from the collective professionals or of tradesmen with legislative powers, and elected directly to a General Commission with ministerial powers.

"For the social problems: We demand:
a) The quick enactment of a law of the State that sanctions an eight-hour workday for all workers.
b) A minimum wage.
c) The participation of workers' representatives in the functions of industry commissions.
d) To show the same confidence in the labor unions (that prove to be technically and morally worthy) as is given to industry executives or public servants.
e) The rapid and complete systemization of the railways and of all the transport industries.
f) A necessary modification of the insurance laws to invalidate the minimum retirement age; we propose to lower it from 65 to 55 years of age.

"For the military problem: We demand:
a) The institution of a national militia with a short period of service for training and exclusively defensive responsibilities.
b) The nationalization of all the arms and explosives factories.
c) A national policy intended to peacefully further the Italian national culture in the world.

"For the financial problem: We demand:
a) A strong progressive tax on capital that will truly expropriate a portion of all wealth.
b) The seizure of all the possessions of the religious congregations and the abolition of all the bishoprics, which constitute an enormous liability on the Nation and on the privileges of the poor.
c) The revision of all military contracts and the seizure of 85 percent of the profits therein."

Noticeably lacking in the text is any form of political structure or philosophical base for these demands. Instead there's dreamy quick-fixes for complicated problems-- again like American student protest's demands-- based in what is believed to be popular. In other words, it's a shallow work of public relations, and not meant for either academia or political theorists.

What is evident is the nationalization of certain industries, the seizing of churches' properties and a "strong progressive tax" to "expropriate" wealth (hardly consistent with American Right ideologies). That suggests to me a reasonably Left-thinking model where a centralized state assumes a great deal of economic and social control.

Of course, what also missing is many of the modern characteristics we associate with fascism, its trademarks so to speak. This is because Fascism did not simply stand still following the manifesto's broad strokes (how could it?).

In 1932 "The Doctrine of Fascism" was published. Written by Giovanni Gentile though credited to Benito Mussolini, the relatively short but still rambling essay lays out in much greater detail the precepts and philosophical basis of Fascism. Unfortunately to do any sort of detailed analysis of this document here, while a tempting endeavor, would take up a great deal of space in an already long posting, so I will leave that for a future posting.

Suffice it to say that Gentile was greatly influenced by Hegel (like Marx) and thus the "The Doctrine of Fascism" exhibits a number of certain Hegelian tenets. Among such tenets is the devaluation of the individual and the uplifting of the state. Hegel saw the nation-state as being the true individual in his great sweeping view of history (while Marx saw social class as being the individual).

Gentile writes "Fascism sees in the world not only those superficial, material aspects in which man appears as an individual, standing by himself, self-centered, subject to natural law, which instinctively urges him toward a life of selfish momentary pleasure; it sees not only the individual but the nation and the country; individuals and generations bound together by a moral law, with common traditions and a mission which suppressing the instinct for life closed in a brief circle of pleasure, builds up a higher life, founded on duty, a life free from the limitations of time and space, in which the individual, by self-sacrifice, the renunciation of self-interest, by death itself, can achieve that purely spiritual existence in which his value as a man consists." The innately immoral individual (the common man) is thus supplanted in both morality and importance by the nation and the country.

Unlike the atheist Marx, Gentile is like Hegel in expressing a devotion to a form of theistic spirituality, a religion. Yet, while these spiritual beliefs set standards for ethical behavior they should not be confused with mainstream religious beliefs.

Gentile states, "The Fascist conception of life is a religious one, in which man is viewed in his immanent relation to a higher law, endowed with an objective will transcending the individual and raising him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. Those who perceive nothing beyond opportunistic considerations in the religious policy of the Fascist regime fail to realize that Fascism is not only a system of government but also and above all a system of thought.

"In the Fascist conception of history, man is man only by virtue of the spiritual process to which he contributes as a member of the family, the social group, the nation, and in function of history to which all nations bring their contribution. Hence the great value of tradition in records, in language, in customs, in the rules of social life. Outside history man is a nonentity."

Again we see the reduction of the individual per Hegelian thought. While open to "an objective will transcending the individual [a spiritual morality]" the individual itself only gains spiritual virtue by what "he contributes as a member of the family, the social group, the nation." Also we see history becoming a formative, functioning and in many ways moral process. Again this is taken from Hegel who conceived of history as being a manifestation of God's will-- not unlike the Divine Chain of Being which I have mentioned in previous posts. History was a process by which God's plan was enacted, thus morality (w/ God as its basis) could be discovered by seeing the sweep of history and understanding (hubris alert) God's intent. In this manner, states could be moral in how they align themselves according to God's will and individual morality would be, to some degree, determined by how great a part one plays or how actively one participates in this great process.

Once again, I fail to see how this necessarily equates to the American Right's espousal of individual liberty and organized, mainstream religion.

The modern definition of fascism seems to be based more upon the results or assigned results of Fascist leadership. While most people are completely oblivious to the basic tenets of Fascism, and are likewise unaware of the deep philosophical connection between Hegel, Marx and Gentile (again perhaps examined in more detail in a later post), there still exists a certain popular view of fascism. This view must therefore be based on actions and perceptions of the Fascist governments themselves.

Yet, we are still left with a distinct lack of a demonstrable theoretic framework, even though the word is so commonly used. While Umberto Eco is supposed to have analyzed and presented Fascism (among other places suggested within the comments of Jacobson's post), in reality Eco's work offers little. If this fourteen bullet point essay on "Ur-Fascism" by Eco is indeed the work that many people refer to, it is all but useless in a serious analysis of fascism.

Eco's own introduction disqualifies itself. Eco writes "In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it."

So really this "Ur-Fascism" is merely a laundry list of warning signs about repressive governments. It's really not even that, however as point #5 is "Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity." That's a bullet point?

I think Fascism is a misused term, coming from an ill-defined and largely dead-ended Hegelian political theory. Since the term refuses to go away, perhaps it is best to define vaguely what is meant by it now. To that I offer this list I compiled from various talks with political science professors (I am not claiming to have defined or made up any of these).

Fascism supposedly is a political system that has most of these characteristics:
1) Nationalism tinted with a sense of historic mandate
2) Aggressive militarism or militancy
3) Use of violence or threats of violence against opposition and to impose their views on others
4) Cult of personality centered around charismatic leadership
5) Centralized, top-down organizational structure
6) Dehumanization and scapegoating of outsiders, presenting them as enemies to society
7) Self-images as a superior form of social organization to capitalism, democracy, and socialism, presented as a heroic national endeavor
8) Promotion of strict moral values and social control, prioritizing security over civil liberties
9) Patriarchal attitudes toward women while advocating equal involvement from both sexes
10) Romantization of a mythic heritage

Now, as I said in the comment section of Legal Insurrection, I'm not saying this is what fascism is, I'm saying that this is what political theorists claim fascism appears to be. But again, there isn't a clear consensus. You will also notice these characteristics are based on the results of fascism and not on Gentile's Hegelian foundations.

Also notable is how fascism does not stand as a polar opposite to socialism nor Marxism. All are systems which hold that the state is morally superior to the individual and thus empowered to dictate social norms, economic directions, and political ideologies. They are not antithetical, and the far right-end of the political spectrum is not fascism.

Marx was nice enough to define communism and watered down socialism for us. Unfortunately, fascism isn't nearly so clear. I hope this at least presents a beginning to understanding this misused totalitarian label.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

AP Reports on Tea Party

The AP actually gave a reasonably fair article to the nationwide Tea Party protests. Story here.

Honetly, I'm a little surprised since the L.A. Times has played down large Tea Party protests in the past.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why is the Left Afraid of Tea Parties?

I am fascinated by the Left's fear of the ongoing Tea Party protests.

William A. Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection has an interesting post here. He catalogs a few of the various smears from sources such as the New York Times and Media Matters. Jacobson also, significantly, notes that his posts regarding Tea Parties received great amounts of attention. Jacobson writes "my post Tea Parties Are Sooo Scaaary generated more hits for me from more sources (blogs, posting boards, elsewhere) than almost any other post I have written." I would hazard to guess that his most recent post "Liberal Doughboys Afraid of Tea Parties" will likewise garner much attention.

Over at And So it Goes in Shreveport, Pat has noted at upswing in troll activity on her blog. From my own perusing on her blog, I've noted that much (though certainly not all) of the rancor seemed directed at Tea Party posts. Very few posts regarding Tea Parties were left unchallenged.

What I find interesting is that the Left seems so intent on discrediting the protests. Despite the fervent spitting the Left indulged in during the Bush presidency, conservatives largely ignored such protests. While Cindy Sheehan (spelling?) and other anti-war demonstrators were featured prominently on CNN and in other mainstream programming and newspapers, I cannot recall any concerted effort by the Right to discredit their concepts of protest. Sure, the protesters weren't on too many conservatives invites and private discussions were generally disparaging and even personally insulting. They certainly wished they would go away. Michelle Malkin and other conservative pundits and bloggers went so far as to research the protesters' backgrounds and presented their cases, and confronted them on the issues being broached. No one that I know of attempted to infiltrate and shill their way into their discrediting their right to protest. No one I know of attempted to label them as a dangerous bigot, separatist, or revolutionary. Maybe this did happen, but it must have been on a small enough scale that the media did not report it.

Yet, we get lines such as these with great regularity. "The Tea Party movement represents a real danger to the tenets of democracy Americans have embraced for centuries." And then "These are not tea-parties. They are tea-tantrums. And the adolescent, unserious hysteria is a function not of a movement regrouping and refinding itself. It's a function of a movement's intellectual collapse and a party's fast-accelerating nervous breakdown" (both are quotes posted in Legal Insurrection's "Tea Parties are Sooo Scaaary"). And this comment from someone unsure of how to work the shift key, or maybe it was e.e. cummings: "huh? i'm a liberal and i've been all over the coverage of tea baggers. most of what i've seen is complete mockery of the teabaggers (have you seen all the videos?). no one i know is 'scared' of the demonstrations, they're looking forward to them. i know i am."

Why the exaggerated sneering bile? Why the over-compensated fear?

Once again I think of Shelby Steele's beautifully reasoned essay "Why the GOP Can't Win With Minorities" in the Wall Street Journal. Steele writes, "When redemption became a term of power, 'redemptive liberalism' was born -- a new activist liberalism that gave itself a 'redemptive' profile by focusing on social engineering rather than liberalism's classic focus on individual freedom. In the '60s there was no time to allow individual freedom to render up the social good. Redemptive liberalism would proactively engineer the good. Name a good like 'integration,' and then engineer it into being through a draconian regimen of school busing. If the busing did profound damage to public education in America, it gave liberals the right to say, 'At least we did something!' In other words, we are activists against America's old sin of segregation. Activism is moral authority in redemptive liberalism."

I think Steele is quite correct in tying the Left's activism directly into its sense of moral authority. And, if he is to be believed, then it can be seen that Tea Party protests are a direct affront to the Left's sense of moral authority. When conservatives get together to protest, despite the shunning of most of the MSM, despite the best efforts of Media Matters et al to derail them, and despite the inclination of most conservatives to avoid public displays of political activism, an ugly confrontation begins. Now the Left must not only defend itself from the protesters' oppositional view, but also must defend against the moral authority they see inherent in activism.

Yet, Tea Party protests are indeed quite different from the Left's. First the ranks of the Right are not swelled with professional protesters and organizers the way that the Left's are. Tea Parties, for all their disorganization, varied purposes, and at times misdirected anger, are truly amateur affairs. In that way they gain legitimacy. They are truly citizens' products and not the photo-ops of ambitious, low-ranking politicians, well-paid race-baiters, and B-list celebrities.

Being decidedly unhip also adds to Tea Parties' genuineness. After all, not too many people are going to show up and participate because it's the cool thing to do.

Most significantly though, this sort of protest is different in that it doesn't denigrate others for the reclamation of moral authority. While the liberal activist seeks forgiveness (Steele's white redemption) by ironically declaring minorities inferior and in need of largess, by assaulting the opposing views of others in order to reaffirm the rightness of their own, the Tea Party protester is unfettered by such leftist sensibilties. The Tea Party protesters are united by issue, not by the need to prove their morality. And that is something to be proud of.

Department of Homeland Security Issues Report: A Sweeping Indictment of Conservatives

Looks like we're the terrorists now. Never mind Hamas... Obama's on his way to legitimizing this Iranian-funded terrorist group now anyway. Somali pirates? Small potatoes compared to conservatives, apparently.

Check out this post from Michelle Malkin and shiver a little. I urge you to read this post.

The Department of Homeland Security has released a report (PDF file is here) detailing the threat of conservatives against the US government. I highly recommend that you read it in its entirety.

As much as this pains me to say this, this is not a joke. This is real.

Michelle Malkin writes "I spent the day chasing down DHS spokespeople, who have been tied up preparing for a very important homeland security event later today: The First Lady is coming to visit their Washington office. Priorities, you know.

"Well, the press office got back to me and verified that the document is indeed for real.

"They were very defensive — preemptively so — in asserting that it was not a politicized document and that DHS had done reports on 'leftwing extremism' in the past. I have covered DHS for many years and am quite familiar with past assessments they and the FBI have done on animal rights terrorists and environmental terrorists. But those past reports have always been very specific in identifying the exact groups, causes, and targets of domestic terrorism, i.e., the ALF, ELF, and Stop Huntingdon wackos who have engaged in physical harassment, arson, vandalism, and worse against pharmaceutical companies, farms, labs, and university researchers.

"By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives. And the intent is clear. As the two spokespeople I talked with on the phone today made clear: They both pinpointed the recent 'economic downturn' and the 'general state of the economy' for stoking 'rightwing extremism.' One of the spokespeople said he was told that the report has been in the works for a year. My b.s. detector went off the chart, and yours will, too, if you read through the entire report — which asserts with no evidence that an unquantified 'resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalizations activity' is due to home foreclosures, job losses, and…the historical presidential election."

Malkin has a list of excerpts from this report:

"Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

Well let's see... I was called racist pretty regularly in college for saying that I didn't think that race was the primary characteristic that shaped an individual's personality. It was also implied that I was a racist (by members of my family no less) for saying that certain people looked Peruvian and for disagreeing with Rev. Wright's assertion that blacks thought in an essentially different way then whites (Wright's "different not deficient" catchphrase). Uh oh.

Oh, and I believe that local, county, and state governments are more responsive to the citizenry and better able to handle local problems. I always felt that those most responsible for the hurricane Katrina's misery were the state, parish and especially city government that were ill-prepared for the disaster (directing people to the Super Dome and then leaving them there) and actively spreading misinformation (the police chief shedding crocodile tears while telling Oprah that people were "raping babies" in the Super Dome). And then FEMA got the blame for not swooping in immediately and making everything better with their magic wands. I guess that puts me in the "rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority" category according to this report.

I'm against gun control... there's another strike... and I'm pro-life. All of these, I feel, are reasonable political views. But I mean according to this I qualify as potentially being some incredibly dangerous fringe-wacko. And why? Because of my reasonably conservative political beliefs. And of course just about every conservative minded person in this country also seems to qualify as potentially a terrorist. How many conservatives don't believe in a weaker federal government? Or are not pro-life? How many cannot be construed as racist for believing in real and actual equality-- who reject the lie that whites are inherently superior and are then labeled racist because of it?

As Malkin points out "There’s no hackneyed left-wing stereotype of conservatives left behind in this DHS intelligence and analysis assessment." Too true.

This report is an offence to the democratic principle of lawful dissent. It is a clear political attack on conservative principles, and portrays such things as a belief in federalism and being pro-life as potential threats to the government. This report marginalizes mainstream conservatism, moving into the wacko-fringes of white supremacy. It is a disgrace.

How I would love to retract this post. I would be only too happy to say "Nope... I'm an idiot... I was fooled. This is all just a big hoax." But right now I can't say that. If I'm going off half-cocked at this, then I will print up an apology and retraction in the biggest font size there is. I promise.

While Iran is developing nuclear weapons, Biden is warning Israel to do nothing about this dire threat, and Somali pirates are attacking American-flagged ships, the DHS is portraying conservative beliefs and ex-military men and women as being analogous to rightwing extremists. Why is that during Bush's presidency America's enemies were foreign extremists who hated America, and killed thousands of Americans in 9/11? And now that Obama's in charge we're talking about how Iran and "moderate" elements of the Taliban aren't really our enemy. No, the true enemy, according to this DHS report, is within.

Am I overreacting? Is this report not an attempt to stifle legitimate internal dissent? I hope I am. I hope I'm full of it. We'll see...

UPDATE: "This Ain't Hell, but you can see it from here" has a copy of the American Legion's letter to Department of Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano. I think it speaks for all of us. (h/t Michlle Malkin)

UPDATE 2: Power Line has an excellent dissection and analysis of the DHS report. Check it out. It is highly recommended. John, the writer, puts things far more succinctly then I did.

UPDATE 3: Various blogs have their own take on this story--

William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection talks about the Constitution as being a subversive manifesto under the DHS's guidelines here.

Pat at And So it Goes in Shveeport has an analysis in her post here.

Pundit & Pundette have a lengthy post here.

Newbusters.org has an excellent but brief post contrasting the DHS's detailed report on Left-wing extremists including specific groups and specific threats as opposed to the DHS's amorphous right-wing bogeyman report.

Quite Rightly at Bread Upon Waters has his take here.

All have interesting views and information. They are well worth you time to read through.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Universal Health Care: the Left's Smug "Gift" Pt.2

Given the many demonstrable problems with both the implementation and practice of socialized medicine (covered in my last post), and the extreme expense of it (and estimated $1.5 trillion-- that's $1,500,000,000,000-- over the next decade), the question of why such a policy should be enacted is obviously raised.

Oftentimes the answer is the vast amount of uninsured individuals in the US. Fair enough. But what exactly is the number of those who cannot afford health insurance? Notice that I do not ask how many are uninsured. Those who can afford health insurance and then unwisely decide to buy a new SUV or a house they cannot afford instead of purchasing health insurance should not be counted. You have lower taxes due to private health insurance options, if you decide to not take this extra money and use it for insurance, you don't get counted.

The number I see most often, inspired by a Michael Moore propaganda piece disgracefully labeled a "documentary" Sicko, is 47,000,000 uninsured. But that number is hugely misleading. As Julia Seymour at NewsBusters.org points out and is again reiterated by the Business & Media Institute (that Julia Seymour is an assistant editor for) "The Census Bureau's 2007 report on the uninsured found that of the 45.6 million people who are uninsured 9.7 million of them are non-citizens, 7.9 million of them are under 24 years old, and over 9 million could afford insurance because they make at least $75,000 a year. That leaves roughly 19 million uninsured, a much smaller problem than the media and some politicians admit [slightly over 6% of the population]."

Even those numbers do not provide a complete picture, since the Census Bureau admits that 'health insurance coverage is underreported' in the survey, meaning that more people have insurance than the report suggests."

Can it seriously be suggested that the US spend $1.5 trillion over ten years to insure less than 6% of the people? That's $1,500,000,000,000 to begin with. What government agency has not had its' budget increased beyond that of inflation? Historically, once government agencies are initiated they become kudzu, growing at various rates but generally unstoppable except by drastic actions. They have no economic or fiscal reality to counter-balance their financial demands, and are restricted only by the assumed limitless wellspring of tax dollars that finance them.

But money, and ineffectiveness, and the inevitable drop in health care for the majority of Americans is beside the point. As is the fact that government bureaucrats' fiscal opinions will guide patients' treatment to a greater degree than doctors' medical knowledge. What drives the Left's socialized medicine campaign is much the same motivating factor that drives the Left's mascot racial politics.

While reading Shelby Steele's excellent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, I was struck by his linking of ineffective government programs with the need to demonstrate racial innocence. Steele writes, "When redemption became a term of power, 'redemptive liberalism' was born -- a new activist liberalism that gave itself a 'redemptive' profile by focusing on social engineering rather than liberalism's classic focus on individual freedom. In the '60s there was no time to allow individual freedom to render up the social good. Redemptive liberalism would proactively engineer the good. Name a good like 'integration,' and then engineer it into being through a draconian regimen of school busing. If the busing did profound damage to public education in America, it gave liberals the right to say, 'At least we did something!' In other words, we are activists against America's old sin of segregation. Activism is moral authority in redemptive liberalism."

To me, the issue of socialized medicine reads much the same way, though divorced of an overtly racial bent. The point of instituting the Left's "do-gooder" governmental policies is not the effectiveness of the policy, nor the good or harm it ultimately does, nor, at this point, does it even matter whether the issue in question actually exists. It is a matter of exercising and reaffirming moral authority. Many individuals on the Left believe it is the job of government to exert moral authority onto the citizenry, and not for the citizens' morals to be exerted upon the government (as is essential in both direct democracies and republics).

Back in January I wrote in a previous post here about the dangers of a government's superior moral authority dictated to the masses, and the differences between a moral government and morally superior government. I won't restate the complete argument here, but I will restate that it is antithetical to democracy to have, or even crave, a government considered morally superior to the citizenry.

Yet, it is just this sort of motivation that pushes so much of Obama's policies and political goals. This smugness and arrogance that so many people feel he displays both in manner and action is, I believe, directly related to the moral superiority he believes he possesses. Thus we are left with a government whose policies are not directed by effectiveness nor even need, but by a sense of "moral" purpose, a need to "uplift" its citizenry for personal moral satisfaction.

In his essay Shelby Steele stated "In a liberalism that wants to redeem the nation of its past, minorities can only be ciphers in white struggles of conscience." I would say that in a liberalism that wants to redeem the present, it necessarily reduces its citizens to mascots and pets-- things on which to haughtily demonstrate their moral superiority.

The simple fact is, universal health care won't work. It can hobble along in the US for maybe a decade or two (Britain's has lasted almost sixty years supported by neighboring countries and foreign medical innovations), but it will ultimately fail. So we'll probably get a massive increase in public health services-- taxes will significantly rise, quality of care will decrease for the middle and lower class, doctors' freedoms of diagnosis and treatments will be restricted, technological innovation and research will suffer. And the elitist rich who will have implemented and foisted this downturn on the lower and middle classes will slap each other on the back and be reassured at how wonderful and humanitarian they are.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pirates Killed, U.S. Captain Freed

The AP is reporting that Navy SEALS have rescued ship captain Richard Phillips, unharmed, from Somali pirates.

From the article:
"An American ship captain was freed unharmed Sunday and three of his captors were killed in a daring rescue by U.S. Navy Seals that ended a five-day standoff between the world's most powerful Navy and Somali pirates in a lifeboat far off the Horn of Africa.

"Capt. Richard Phillips was in 'imminent danger' of being killed before U.S. Special Operations forces shot the pirates in an operation personally approved by President Barack Obama, U.S. officials said.

"Phillips' crew, who said they had escaped after he offered himself as a hostage, erupted in cheers aboard their ship docked in Mombasa, Kenya. Some waved an American flag and fired flares in celebration."

I'm sure you're all like me and elated that Phillips was rescued unharmed. Bravery, luck, and skill combined for this joyous outcome.

Yet, I just cannot forget that Phillips was rescued by some of the same men whose medical benefits Obama had threatened to cut off less than a month earlier. While we celebrate this news, we need to remember this incident months from now. We need to support our military. And we should not forget that Obama's own actions and policies have shown that he has a very low opinion of these fine men and women, whose duties and services save American lives.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Universal Health Care: the Left's Smug "Gift" Pt. 1

Socialized Medicine, this time in the guise universal health care, is once again making the political rounds. Obama openly calls for it saying "This time, there is no debate about whether all Americans should have quality, affordable health care. The only question is how." He has signed S-CHIP into law supporting it, ironically and stupidly, on the impermanent and shrinking source of cigarette taxes. Of course, as cost overruns multiply and the greater administrative costs begin to spiral while cigarette sales diminish, the government will be forced to look elsewhere for S-CHIP's funding, equalling higher taxes for all.

The idea of universal health care is appealing for many. Shuffling off the financial burden onto the backs of anonymous tax payers sounds great to a lot of people. After all, why pay for something that the government will provide for "free?" While some more thoughtful people may realize that "free" or greatly reduced cost health care is simply a matter of reshuffling costs into higher taxes, there's a blithe assumption that somehow the benefits will outweigh the costs. Britain's health care system offers stark evidence contrary to such assumptions.

Universal health care is a costly boondoggle, that has resulted in horrific care for the majority of those under its benevolence. Britain is a prime example of such a poorly thought out system. Despite being in place since 1948 (WWII being a necessary component for its implementation) and despite the relative low population of Britain (compared to the US), Britain's health care lags far behind that of other nations.

A list of its shortcoming is both long and tragic. Well known is the mix-ups of sperm and sometimes eggs during artificial insemination. Lesser known is the "hospital of death" reported by British newspaper The Independent. Widely ignored by the smitten MSM the "scandal was exposed [in Britain] after monitoring of mortality rates showed that Stafford Hospital, in the West Midlands, had between 400 and 1,200 more deaths than the national average in the three years to 2007-08." Illustrating the "appalling standards of care" were incidents that included a "patient who later died was left for three days with a fractured thighbone. Another who died after becoming infected with the hospital bug C. difficile was earlier left in a soiled bed for four hours."

A daughter of one of the patients had this to say within the article. "Julie Bailey spent 14 months campaigning for an inquiry into Stafford Hospital following the death of her mother, Bella Bailey, in November 2007. Ms Bailey, 47, from Stafford, was so concerned about the standards of care being given to her 86-year-old mother that she and her relatives slept in a chair at her hospital bedside for eight weeks.

"'What we saw in those eight weeks will haunt us for the rest of our lives,' she said. 'We saw patients drinking out of flower vases they were so thirsty. There were patients wandering around the hospital and patients fighting. It was continuous through the night. Patients were screaming out in pain because you just could not get pain relief. They would fall out of bed and we would have to go hunting for staff. There was such a lack of staff.

"'It was like a Third World country hospital. It was an absolute disgrace.'"

Danny Huddleston's informative article in American Thinker provides a list of grievances in Britain's health system (among them the "hospital of death"), a few of which I will repeat here.

Britain's National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)-- great acronym, huh?-- decided to not to offer some drugs to NHS kidney cancer patients. "It concluded that the drugs - bevacizumab, sorafenib, sunitinib and temsirolimus - did not offer value for money [bang for the buck in American bailout jargon]." This prompted some of the "UK's top cancer consultants warn that NHS drug 'rationing' is forcing patients to remortgage their homes to pay for treatment."

NICE's response? "Andrew Dillon, the NICE chief executive, and Sir Michael Rawlins, NICE's chairman, told the Sunday Times the NHS did not have unlimited funds to provide all available treatments.

"'There is a finite pot of money for the NHS, which is determined annually by parliament,' they said.

"'If one group of patients is provided with cost-ineffective care, other groups - lacking powerful lobbyists - will be denied cost-effective care for miserable conditions like schizophrenia, Crohn's disease or cystic fibrosis.'"

Health care is degraded into a matter of lobbying the government for funds. This is what the Left and Obama want for America?

NICE also has banned life prolonging cancer drugs due to cost. "Thousands of patients with terminal cancer were dealt a blow last night after a decision was made to deny them life prolonging drugs.

"The Government's rationing body said two drugs for advanced breast cancer and a rare form of stomach cancer were too expensive for the NHS [National Health Services]. "

Bureaucrats' cost-benefits models are shortening people's lives. This sort of cruelty (if you wish to call it that) is inherent in rigid government bureaucracies. They have no customer base. While bad press, poor service, bad word of mouth can and does affect private health insurers and inspires a degree of flexibility, the government bureaucracies feel no such pressures. Does the DMV care about your grievances?

The NHS doesn't seem to feel much human sympathy either. It suggests that a man lose his sight in one eye, before it'll treat his disease.

"An ex-serviceman is being left to go blind in one eye before the National Health Service will consider treating him for a condition affecting 250,000 people in the UK.

"Leslie Howard, 76, noticed problems with his right eye in November and was diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration two months ago.

"His sight could be saved by a course of treatment involving new drugs which could cost more than £6,000 a year.

"But the local Primary Care Trust has told him it will only considering funding in his case once he has gone blind in one eye and developed wet AMD in the other.

"The condition, developed by 26,000 a year in Britain, can cause blindness in as little as three months and needs prompt treatment.

"Mr. Howard, who retired 17 years ago, said: 'I can't believe I'm being left to go blind in one eye. I've spent most of my working life devoted to public service, I was in the Army, police and prison service and I've never failed to pay my dues.

"'I've paid literally tens of thousands of pounds in taxes and to know I will lose my sight because I can't afford private treatment is diabolical.'

"'Has the Government lost all sense of compassion as well as economics? Is there no way I can get help to save my sight?'"

Are incidents such these indicative of the "quality, affordable health care" that Obama espouses? Why not? He lauds government health care, and Britain is a wonderful example. The NHS touted itself as "the envy of Europe" not so many years ago. Obama himself has no record of any accomplishments in the health field, nothing to demonstrate his belief of what good health care should be.

Ah, but his wife does. While the First Lady should not be the target of political ire, neither should her status be used as a shield. Michelle Obama has publicly inserted herself into this argument on many occasions, not just as First Lady but on the campaign trail as well. Therefore I feel it is perfectly reasonable and fair to address her past record as a $317,000-a-year job as a vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center.

It was under Michelle Obama's well-paid tenure as Vice President for Community and External Affairs that University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) began the practice of patient dumping-- shuffling lower income patients covered by Medicaid, uninsured, or likewise unprofitable patients to other community hospitals, while making room for higher income, well-insured patients requiring more profitable procedures.

This illegal practice skirted by Mrs. Obama's programs under the guise of "South Side Health Collaborative" and then "Urban Health Initiative" was examined, in detail, here at American Thinker by David Catron. "Mrs. Obama first hatched the UCMC program as the 'South Side Health Collaborative,' which featured a gang of 'counselors' whose job it was to 'advise' low-income patients that they would be better off at other hospitals and clinics. The program was so successful in getting rid of unwanted patients that she expanded it, gave it a new name, and hired none other than David Axelrod to sell the program to the public. According to the Sun-Times, 'Obama's wife and Valerie Jarrett, an Obama friend and adviser who chairs the medical center's board, backed the Axelrod firm's hiring.' Axelrod helped the future First Lady formulate a public relations campaign in which the 'Urban Health Initiative' was represented as a boon to the community actuated by the purest of altruistic motives.

"The resultant PR campaign was a study in Orwellian audacity. Chicago's inner city residents soon began hearing that UCMC's patient dumping program would 'dramatically improve health care for thousands of South Side residents' and that the medical center was generously willing to provide 'a ride on a shuttle bus to other centers.' Likewise, the people who ran the community hospitals to which these unwanted patients were being shuttled began to read claims in local media to the effect that the Urban Health Initiative was good for them as well. Dr. Eric Whitaker, the Blagojevich crony who succeeded Mrs. Obama as Director of the program, repeatedly assured gullible reporters that the financial impact on these hospitals would be positive: 'The initiative actually is improving their bottom lines.' The CFOs of those hospitals were no doubt relieved to learn that treating Medicaid and uninsured patients is profitable."

Unfortunately, Mrs. Obama's less than sterling legacy at UCMC is not terribly unlike the situation now found in the United Kingdom. While private insurance does exist in the UK, high premiums restrict those who can afford it to the wealthy. People like retired policeman Mr. Leslie Howard (going blind in one eye) cannot afford private care and is forced, like 92% of the population of Britain to make due exclusively with the government's NHS. In other words, the wealthiest 8% can afford high quality private health care, and the rest are shuffled off to the mercies of government bureaucracies. It's patient cherry-picking on the grandest of scales.

Canada has fared a bit better, but it has the US nearby to make up for a great deal of the shortcomings of its system. A Canadian acquaintance of mine works in the Canadian health care industry and spends an inordinate amount of his time in California. The reason being that almost all medical innovations, technological, pharmaceutical and organizational, occur in the US and then are exported to Canada and other nations. This is the case, not because Americans are inherently superior or smarter or any other such nonsense, but because the US system allows for, and encourages, progress. By rewarding successful innovation, by making medicine and the technology that supports it profitable, industries, researchers and doctors are given incentive to excel-- and they do. To ignore this and to recreate Britain's cartoonishly unresponsive and ineffective medical system in the US-- just multiply it by a factor of about 10 to account for American population and geographic differences-- would have a great and negative impact on Canada's already flawed system.

Canadian hospitals are lightly populated with expensive diagnostic equipment, expensive to purchase, operate and maintain. This cost saving measure costs lives, as possibly illustrated by the recent and tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson. While I hate to exploit the death of the actress, the problems of government bureaucracies deciding in advance what diagnostic equipment is available and to what degree they are to be used, as this case illustrates, should not be ignored.

The southern migration of Canadian patients to US hospitals is no myth. Lisa Priest of the Canadian Paper Globe and Mail reports "More than 400 Canadians in the full throes of a heart attack or other cardiac emergency have been sent to the United States because no hospital can provide the lifesaving care they require here.

"Most of the heart patients who have been sent south since 2003 typically show up in Ontario hospitals, where they are given clot-busting drugs. If those drugs fail to open their clogged arteries, the scramble to locate angioplasty in the United States begins."

The Canadian Medical Associations' response, "Canadian Medical Association president Brian Day said he couldn't speak about the Ontario problem, but noted this country is the last in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to finance hospitals with global budgets.

"Under that model, patients – and often doctors – are sometimes viewed as a financial drain.

"'We keep coming back to the same root cause,' Dr. Day said in a telephone interview from Ottawa. 'The health system is not consumer-focused.'"

With Britain's NHS demonstrably in tatters and Canada's system slow, with long waits (with a population of merely 33,500,000-- the US contains more than 9x that number over 307,000,000 citizens) and reliant on the US for technological, procedural, pharmaceutical innovation, one must ask why is the Left so insistent upon change?

Continued in Part 2 of Posting...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cuba's Naked Racism and the Congressional Black Caucus' Ignorance

Check out this article in American Thinker by Humberto Fontova.

Fontova expertly illuminates Castro and Cuba's racism that Congressional Black Caucus pretends to be wholly unaware of. This article is highly recommended. The facts and statistics that Fontova presents are chilling.

A little quote from Ernesto "Che" Guevara contained in the article: "The Negro is indolent and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent... We're going to do for blacks exactly what blacks did for the Cuban revolution. By which I mean: NOTHING!"

I wonder if Representative Barbara Lee ever heard that one?

The CBC have managed to not only insult themselves, the black population (other than their constituencies) they purport to represent, the Cuban-American population, but all of America with their ignorant endorsement of this brutal dictator.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pirates Update

Here's the latest on the Somali pirate situation, via the AP. While details are still sketchy or just plain lacking, it appears that the ship's crew did overpower the pirates and is steaming away minus the captain. The captain appears to be adrift in a lifeboat with a number of pirates holding him hostage. There's a rumor running about that the captain gave himself up to keep the crew safe. How this relates to the crew's resistance doesn't seem to be known. The FBI and military are currently negotiating with the pirates for the captain's release.

A rather interesting line: "It was the first such attack on American sailors in about 200 years." My question is, do you think it will be the last in Biden's safer world?

Turkish Anchor Reports on Obama in Blackface

WTF?

A Turkish news anchor reported on Obama's visit while in blackface. Check out this post from Althouse. There's a vid-link there and a link to the misnamed blog thinkprogress.org. If you wanna have a little fun, read through thinkprogress' comments. I'm completely convinced that the anchor was trying to "show respect" [sarcasm].

Oh... just as a side note the huge majority of African slaves from 150 - 200 years back were imported, not to Europe, nor European colonies, nor America, but into the Ottoman Empire-- modern day Turkey. I'm not really sure about the specific ins-and-outs of race relations in modern Turkey, but I do know that there's a lot of what we would consider prejudice and racism within the country. I am not sure how this plays into the video.

Their translation of the anchor is "Welcome, Mr. Obama. You took our hearts with your hospitality. We appreciate your kindness. We will do whatever America asks of us, as friends. Now, we ask the same of you." Is it just me, or does that not sound a bit sarcastic while in blackface?

Yeah... well maybe Obama wasn't so well received in Turkey.

Iran Charges Journalist Roxana Saberi With Espionage

After being held in a prison for two months, journalist and American citizen Roxana Saberi has finally been charged with spying by Iran's Revolutionary Court. She had been originally charged for buying a bottle of wine and then for working as reporter without a valid press card. Now, suddenly, she is a spy. If convicted she could face 3 to 10 years in prison or face execution. Wall Street Journal article here and And So it Goes in Shreveport post here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pirates Seize American Vessel in Biden's Safer World


Pirates have seized an American-flagged ship off the coast of Somalia (h/t Pundit and Pundette), and are holding 20 Americans hostage. The L.A. Times story is here.

Although the LAT mentions that "the attack marks a rare hijacking of a U.S.-operated ship in Africa, where piracy has been surging along Somalia's coast and in the Gulf of Aden," they fail to mention some significant facts. Notice the report missing elements reported here from Bloomberg: "Pirates captured the container ship Maersk Alabama and its crew of 20 Americans off Somalia in what Navy officials said may be the first seizure of a U.S. ship in four years of attacks" (emphasis mine). And later Bloomberg reports "It’s the first seizure of Americans and a U.S. vessel since a Maritime Protection Corridor was set up in the Gulf of Aden in August and may be the first since the pirates’ activity intensified in 2006, the U.S. Navy spokesman said."

You know, the difference between "rare" and "first" is pretty significant.

Coming directly on the heels of Biden's assurances-- "I guarantee you we are safer today, our interests are more secure today than they were any time during the eight years" (which itself came soon after North Korea's missile test and Obama's tepid response) is a bit troubling. Are we safer because Obama is being apologetic to European and Muslim grievance mongers? How will Obama handle this situation? Will he pay the ransom like the French, put aside bailout money for terrorist ransoms?

UPDATE: Reports are now saying that the unarmed crew have regained control of the ship. I hope this is the true, but we shall see.
UPDATE: Latest word is that captain is still being held by pirates (on a separate boat?).

Added New Link!

I've added a new link to NW Republican blog, giving my blog a little local flavor-- something I think I leave out far too much.

Go check it out! Link above and over in the Blog List.

And Some Oregon News Making Me Proud...

Check out this post from NW Republican via Michelle Malkin.

Does anybody actually READ the bills before testifying or voting on them anymore?

But they're so long and the language is really dry and tough...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Biden Believes America Bashing and Apologies Will Keep us Safe

Check out this AP article. Just to remind everyone that political naivety goes well beyond Obama himself in this administration, Biden has said that Bush and Cheney made the US unsafe.

According to Biden, "the last administration left us in a weaker posture than we've been any time since World War II: less regarded in the world, stretched more thinly than we ever have been in the past, two wars under way, virtually no respect in entire parts of the world."

Hmmm. I'm not sure how much this sort of respect makes us safe. I mean, "oh no... the French are acting arrogant and blindly self-righteous again! How unsafe we all are!" While it's certainly nice for France and other fickle "allies" to respect us, what keeps the US safe is when Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Islamic extremists, and the rest of our enemies respect us.

Biden continues, "And so we've been about the business of repairing and strengthening those. I guarantee you we are safer today, our interests are more secure today than they were any time during the eight years."

Yeah... releasing the Gitmo terrorists back into the general population makes me feel safe. Oh, and the hand-picked shills (h/t to Pat at So it goes in Shreveport) at Obama's "town hall" meetings in France and Turkey were all very happy and supportive. Again I feel safer. I know that if Iran gives an atomic bomb to Hamas that those French shills from that meeting will be behind us 100%. Right?

Well, let's not forget Biden's words. Put these in the files right beside Obama's attempt to throw US veterans under his bus for about $540 million.

The problem is Obama doesn't see our enemies as enemies, naively believes that a few arrogant, hollow, and friendly words (coupled with toadying America bashing/apologizing) are enough to sway them to "start liking us again," and that selling out Israel and pretty much anybody else who isn't popular enough with the American left will keep us safe. It's like immature high school popularity wars being played out as international policy. Is Obama taking his policy cues from Mean Girls?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Failure of Obama's "Grass-roots" is Confirmed-- and then Some


Check out this article in the Washington Post by Dan Eggen via Pundit & Pundette.

Eggen writes, "But in its first big test, the group dubbed Organizing for America (OFA) had little obvious impact on the debate over President Obama's budget, which passed Congress on Thursday with no Republican support and a splintering of votes among conservative Democrats. The capstone of the campaign was the delivery of 214,000 signatures to Capitol Hill, which swayed few, if any, members of Congress, according to legislative aides from both parties.

"The episode underscores the difficulty that Obama and his supporters face in attempting to transfer the excitement of a historic presidential campaign to the mundane and complex process of pushing legislation through Congress. It also comes as something of a relief to beleaguered Republicans, who cast the relatively humble pledge campaign as a sign of broader disaffection with Obama's economic priorities."

But by favorite part is here, "The grass-roots effort on behalf of Obama's $3.5 trillion budget began in early March and was described by Plouffe as the group's "first major engagement" in the legislative process. OFA organized a door-to-door canvass effort on March 21 that netted about 100,000 pledge signatures; another 114,000 signatures came in through the group's e-mail network, the group said.

"OFA trumpeted the effort as resulting in more than 640,000 pledges[huh... pledges? I promise to follow and support my Obama's spending?]. But that number comes from triple-counting -- the group made three copies of pledges, one each for the signer's House member and two senators."

The only number I've heard from the media is the 640,000. This is the first source I've seen that admitted that 640,000 came from a triple counting of 214,000 signatures-- 114,000 of which were merely e-mails from Obama's campaign supporters.

In a previous post I'd passed on that presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs had said that the OFA had knocked on a million doors over a weekend. Well assuming that this is accurate (I mean Gibbs would never fib about anything like that...) and that these 100,000 signatures all came from that single push (unlikely in the extreme), the numbers show that less than 10% of those asked bothered to sign the OFA's petitions (100,000 out of a million). In other words, 90% of those did not sign a petition supporting Obama's budget. Not the best numbers, are they?

Huh... Maybe Congress should take notice of the OFA's campaigning.