Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Friday, January 31, 2003

The Democrat Response

Delivered by Washington governor Gary Locke. WorldNetDaily has a full transcript here.

We support the president in the course he has followed so far – working with Congress, working with the United Nations, insisting on strong and unfettered inspections. We need allies today in 2003, just as much as we needed them in Desert Storm and just as we needed them on D-Day in 1944, when American soldiers, including my father, fought to vanquish the Nazi threat.

He's comparing apples to oranges to bananas. In WWII we didn't have the might to bring down Hitler ad Tojo alone. In Desert Storm we needed allies solely for logistical reasons; we had the might to crush Saddam all by ourselves, but we needed adjacent territory in Saudi Arabia to launch most of the attacks. We need allies in the War on Terror because the terrorists are everywhere and not conveniently collected together on a small continent or some Mesopotamian backwater.

We must convince the world that Saddam Hussein is not America's problem alone - he's the world's problem. We urge President Bush to stay this course, for we are far stronger when we stand with other nations than when we stand alone.

Saddam has biological and chemical agents. What he may not use he may sell - to the terrorist organizations that have plagued Europe long before they started picking on us (a fact that demolishes the idiotic notion that they only attack pro-Israeli nations). Europe's an easier target - it's closer. Do y'all want to take that chance, messieurs weasels?

Today, the economy is limping along. Some say it's a recovery, but there's no recovery in our states and cities. There's no recovery in our rural communities. There's no recovery for working Americans and for those searching for jobs to feed and clothe their families. After gaining 22 million jobs in eight years, we've now lost 2 million jobs in the last two years since President Bush took office - 100,000 lost last month alone.

I have a job - I've never noticed the economic slowdown, so I'll just take everyone's word for it. Bush can't be blamed for the start of the downturn, since that occurred during Clinton's last years. Some place some of the blame on the Microsoft lawsuit; Silicon Valley did take a bit of a hit, so there might be something to that theory. (It certainly wasn't good for Microsoft.) The dot-com bust was a factor, and an inevitable one - infant industries always go through a period of early boom, and since few of the early entrants learn how to function in the new industry properly, a wave of mass business extinctions ensues. Exploding skyscrapers certainly have negative economic impact.

The insinuation is, of course, that Bush has been bad for the economy. But what could he have doe to wreck it? Letting people keep more of their tax money certainly doesn't lead to job losses (unless government jobs are cut - which hasn't happened). Insinuation frees Gary from the task of providing evidence for his claims.

Two years ago, the federal budget was in surplus. Now, this administration's policies will produce massive deficits of over a trillion dollars over the next decade.

War tends to do that sort of thing. Assuming that the trillion-dollar figure is even accurate, it's slower deficit growth than Congress' spending spree during the 1980s.

We're being forced to cut vital services from police to fire to health care...

Funding for police and fire fighters isn't a federal concern. If your state is having those problems, then the problem is in your own back yard. Medicare ad Medicaid aren't experiencing any cuts, so, if these cuts actually exist, they must represent cuts in hospital services and/or private medical coverage. Wanna alleviate the problem? Stop bleeding companies dry, and stop microregulating the health care industry.

Our plan provides over 100 billion dollars in tax relief and investments, right now: Tax relief for middle class and working families - immediately.

You mean "middle class" and "working families" are two different sets of Americans?

Incentives for businesses to invest and create jobs - this year.

Eliminate business income taxes, then.

Substantial help for cities and states like yours and mine - now.

Start with California. Deport Gray Davis.

Extended unemployment benefits - without delay for nearly a million American workers who have already exhausted their benefits.

Sorry bud, but that's a disincentive to job growth. The longer the hammock is stretched out, the slower people are to move toward independence.

It will create huge, permanent deficits that will raise interest rates...

No deficit has to be permanent. Mine wasn't. And how do you know deficits will be inflationary? They weren't in the 1980s.

...stifle growth...

Since business creation and expansion is the key to growth, please explain how Bush plans to sock it to businesses. Your party is the one that gets its jollies off of strangling commerce in the name of "soaking the rich."

We believe every American should get a tax cut.

Even the rich? Heresy!

Under the president's proposal to eliminate taxes on stock dividends, the top 1 percent - that's people who earn over $300,000 - would get more tax relief than the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers combined.

Who cares? Bill Gates or Steven Spielberg getting rich doesn't make me any poorer. And maybe more "working families" would buy stock if they didn't have to pay the freakin' taxes on dividends. Stop discriminating against the poor and middle class!

Last year Congress authorized $2.5 billion in vital new resources to protect our citizens - for equipment for firefighters and police, to protect ports, to guard against bioterrorism, to secure nuclear power plants and more. It's hard to believe, but President Bush actually refused to release the money. Republicans now say we can't afford it.

I have some questions: 1) what specific resources were going to e purchased, and 2) how vital (or effective) were they to defend us against terrorism?

In my state we have raised test scores, cut class sizes, trained teachers, launched innovative reading programs, offered college scholarships even as the federal government cut its aid to deserving students. Democrats worked with President Bush to pass a law that demands more of our students and invests more in our schools. But his budget fails to give communities the help they need to meet these new, high standards. We say we want to leave no child behind, but our schools need more than kind words about education from Washington, D.C.; we need a real partnership to renew our schools.

But what have you done to introduce market forces in Washington state's education industry? It's the oppressive educrat regime, stupid!

Too many seniors can't afford the remarkable new drugs that can save their lives - some are skimping on food to pay for needed medication.

And some people skimp on food to pay for lottery tickets. Wanna make drugs more affordable? Stop bleeding the pharmaceutical companies dry.

Democrats will insist on a Medicare prescription drug benefit for all seniors. President Bush says he supports a prescription drug benefit. But let's read the fine print: his plan only helps seniors who leave traditional Medicare.

Medicare and other third-party payers make health care more expensive. People need an incentive to leave Medicare. You've got to find a way to bring that monster under control, not continue to feed it.

Our parents shouldn't be forced to give up their doctor or join an HMO to get the medicine they need.

So you're on record as opposing socialized medicine? The only differences between HillaryCare and an HMO are their size and the fact that one is private and one is government-owned.

And instead of opening up the Alaskan wilderness to oil drilling, we should be committed to a national policy to reduce our dependence on oil by promoting American technology and sustainability.

Drilling on one puny patch of barren tundra will have a negligible effect on the environment - but it sure would spur that job creation that you want. Open up ANWR - Native Americans in Alaska need jobs.

[Democrats] will work to create jobs...

How? Y'all are against giving incentives to the people that create jobs.

We will fight to protect a woman's right to choose...

As long as she's not choosing to take her kids and her tax dollars both out of the government school system, or to take her tax dollars out of Social Security to put in the investment plan of her choice.

...we will fight for affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity in our schools and our workplaces.

Affirmative action is the opposite of equal opportunity. Affirmative action is Jim Crow. If you want diversity in colleges and in workplaces, bring regime change to the education industry that traps many minorities in incompetently-run schools, so that more minorities will have the skills necessary to excel.

Above all, we will demand that this government advance our common purpose and not pander to narrow special interests.

Like unions, radical environmentalists, and Yasser Arafat?

This is not an easy time. But I often think about my grandfather, arriving by steamship 100 years ago. He had no family here; he spoke no English.

Ever notice that boat people from the Pacific Rim tend to be more successful - linguistically and economically - than (legal and illegal) Mexican immigrants? That's because the former don't have the bilingual education hammock hindering their ability to learn English. Your grandfather didn't have that hindrance, either. Tell your Southern border state Dem friends to set their Hispanic populations free of this educational menace.

I can only imagine how he must have felt as he looked out at his new country. There are millions of families like mine, people whose ancestors dreamed the American Dream and worked hard to make it come true. They transformed adversity into opportunity.

Hold on, buster! You're talking about a time before the growth of the nannyish, hyper-regulatory, tax-greedy Vampire L'Etat. Your grandfather's generation built entire industries without government help. Get off our necks so we can make America prosperous.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

I Think It's Safe To Count Al Gore Out Of The Running

Volokh conspirator David Post reports that the Vatican is looking to name a patron saint of the Internet.

I'm a Southern Baptist, so I don't have a dog in this hunt. But I have do an opinion. Naming a great communicator or a prolific writer as the patron saint for this enterprise is ludicrous. The Internet isn't about one guy reaching out to a bunch of people, it's about the masses having access to mass communication. Of the names suggested in the linked article, Maximilian Kolbe is the only one who even approaches that qualification. I guess Johannes Gutenberg isn't a candidate for beatification.

Will the Vatican ever name a patron saint for bloggers? That candidate should be known for:

  • Prolific writing, drawing heavily on other sources.
  • Quoted often in others' writings.
  • Systematic dissection of written works.
  • Frequent correspondence with other writers.
  • Persecution by employers or immigration officials a plus.

State Of The Union 2003

WorldNetDaily has a full transcript here.

To lift the standards of our public schools, we achieved historic education reform – which must now be carried out in every school and in every classroom, so that every child in America can read and learn and succeed in life.

You haven't achieved diddly-squat, Mr. President. The teachers' unions continue to control the schools with an iron fist and continue to stand in the way of achieving an education industry that puts the wishes of the customer above the wishes of elites. The education system will not improve until it sees a regime change.

To protect our country, we reorganized our government and created the Department of Homeland Security, which is mobilizing against the threats of a new era.

I guess you have to say something about this new Cabinet post you created, but words are meaningless until we see some results.

To bring our economy out of recession, we delivered the largest tax relief in a generation.

Bigger than Ronald Reagan's 25% across-the-board tax cuts?

To insist on integrity in American business we passed tough reforms, and we are holding corporate criminals to account.

How about going after some noncorporate criminals, like the ones who flouted New Jersey election laws?

You, the Congress, have already passed all these reductions [reductions set for 2004 and 2006, marriage penalty, child credit], and promised them for future years. If this tax relief is good for Americans three, or five, or seven years from now, it is even better for Americans today.

It's a start. Now cut more! Soak the rich government!

We should also strengthen the economy by treating investors equally in our tax laws. It's fair to tax a company's profits. It is not fair to again tax the shareholder on the same profits. To boost investor confidence, and to help the nearly 10 million seniors who receive dividend income, I ask you to end the unfair double taxation of dividends.

It's not a break for just rich people, folks. I've had to pay those dividend taxes before, and that was before I rose to the ranks of the lower middle class.

Lower taxes and greater investment will help this economy expand. More jobs mean more taxpayers, and higher revenues to our government.

Some might argue that tax cuts won't make a difference in economic growth; either government will spend the money appropriated for cuts (if the cuts are not enacted) or the private sector will spend it - either way, the economy is receiving the same level of infusion of spending. There are two factors that this idiotarian reasoning fails to recognize: that government is more wasteful and far less adept at creating profitable ventures than the private sector. Regarding the latter, government does not in and of itself create wealth; some governments do take ownership of businesses and/or invest money in them. In many cases such as the Enron fiasco in Dabhol, India, government agencies are called upon to invest in a for-profit project because too many private investors are smart enough to avoid that project like the plague.

A growing economy and a focus on essential priorities will also be crucial to the future of Social Security. As we continue to work together to keep Social Security sound and reliable, we must offer younger workers a chance to invest in retirement accounts that they will control and they will own.

I want to be free from the shackles of Social Security so I will have more resources for the planning that I want for myself.

Our second goal is high quality, affordable health care for all Americans.The American system of medicine is a model of skill and innovation, with a pace of discovery that is adding good years to our lives. Yet for many people, medical care costs too much – and many have no coverage at all. These problems will not be solved with a nationalized health care system that dictates coverage and rations care.

HillaryCare was the first time that the government scared the living daylights out of me. I don't know the details, but I understand that living conditions tend to be lower in Europe than in America, even Northeastern America.

Instead of bureaucrats and trial lawyers and HMOs, we must put doctors and nurses and patients back in charge of American medicine.

Everybody who feels strongly about this issue should scour the site for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Scroll down the links on the left to its health care reform page - or click here if your browser can't handle frames.

Health care reform must begin with Medicare; Medicare is the binding commitment of a caring society. We must renew that commitment by giving seniors access to preventive medicine and new drugs that are transforming health care in America. Seniors happy with the current Medicare system should be able to keep their coverage just the way it is. And just like you – the members of Congress, and your staffs, and other federal employees – all seniors should have the choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drugs.

You're against socialized medicine, Mr. President, but you're for socialized insurance. The entire insurance industry, especially Medicare, plays a huge roll in elevating medical costs. Most if not all of the medical procedures going down in cost are those that are not covered by insurance (which includes veterinary care). Refer to the Libertarian Party plank on that issue. (I'd link to my own party's informative, comprehensive platform, but it doesn't have one.)

To improve our health care system, we must address one of the prime causes of higher cost, the constant threat that physicians and hospitals will be unfairly sued. Because of excessive litigation, everybody pays more for health care, and many parts of America are losing fine doctors. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. I urge the Congress to pass medical liability reform.

I don't think that's going to be possible as long as lawyers dominate Congress.

Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home. I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70-percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years.

Start with MOX technology that recycles nuclear waste into fuel. More nuclear plants means fewer emissions and MOX technology means a reduced nuclear waste stockpile.

I have sent you a Healthy Forests Initiative, to help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forest.

Does that initiative call for clearing fire hazards that the environmentalists wouldn't let us clear because of their fanatical belief that humans should have no contact whatsoever with the vast majority of America's wilderness?

Tonight I'm proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car - producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Remember what I said about government investment in private enterprise? Addiction to government money is a disincentive to cost efficiency, without which hydrogen fuel cells will make little impact on the landscape. Those who do not take their resources for granted tend to be more innovative than those who do; the airplane was invented by bicycle mechanics, not by their government-funded competition, for crying out loud.

Americans are doing the work of compassion every day - visiting prisoners, providing shelter for battered women...

So why didn't you stick by Linda Chavez when she was under fire for providing shelter for a battered woman? Oh, that's right, she was a Guatemalan national. You blew a huge opportunity, pal. Imagine the post-9/11 commercials that could have been made: Linda Chavez begging the viewers to support immigration laws flexible enough to accommodate foreigners fleeing both private- and public-sector tyranny, and rigid enough to deny entry to foreigners who don't follow the rules for submitting visa applications.

I urge you to pass both my faith-based initiative...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Don't you DARE bring more private-sector entities into government endowment addiction!

...and the Citizen Service Act, to encourage acts of compassion...

Civilian Conservation Corps AmeriCorps should have been killed. We don't need no stinkin' FDR make-work programs.

Last year, I called on my fellow citizens to participate in the USA Freedom Corps, which is enlisting tens of thousands of new volunteers across America.

The private sector is enlisting volunteers for charitable enterprises just fine, and those enterprises are far more efficient than anything the Imperial Government can cook up. I'll bet you lunch at Reunion Tower that at the height of William Aramony's pilfering spree the United Way was still able to dole out a higher percentage of its receipts to the needy than the federal welfare state did.

I propose a $450-million initiative to bring mentors to more than a million disadvantaged junior high students and children of prisoners. Government will support the training and recruiting of mentors; yet it is the men and women of America who will fill the need.

Enough of the band-aid approaches to education reform! We don't need mentors, we need better teachers, and a free market for education to operate in. It's the oppressive educrat regime, stupid!

The American flag stands for more than our power and our interests. Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person, and the possibilities of every life. This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted, and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men.

Some people think of the flag as a mere political symbol. The president reminds us that, in short, it stands for normal every-day life - "A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden" (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

In Afghanistan, we helped liberate an oppressed people. And we will continue helping them secure their country, rebuild their society, and educate all their children - boys and girls.

So they can have the freedoms that ungrateful antiwar protesters enjoy.

In the Middle East, we will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine.

Which means that the Palestinians will never have peace as long as they live under autocratic tyranny. Arafat treats his people like dirt, and he would continue to do so - like every other Islamic autocrat before him - even if he did manage to push Israel into the sea. Arafat must be brought to justice, not to a bargaining table. We didn't bargain with Tim McVeigh or Ted Kaczynski.

To date, we've arrested or otherwise dealt with many key commanders of al Qaeda. They include a man who directed logistics and funding for the September the 11th attacks; the chief of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf, who planned the bombings of our embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole; an al Qaeda operations chief from Southeast Asia; a former director of al Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan; a key al Qaeda operative in Europe; a major al Qaeda leader in Yemen. All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way - they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. We are working closely with other nations to prevent further attacks. America and coalition countries have uncovered and stopped terrorist conspiracies targeting the American embassy in Yemen, the American embassy in Singapore, a Saudi military base, ships in the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits the Gibraltar. We've broken al Qaeda cells in Hamburg, Milan, Madrid, London, Paris, as well as, Buffalo, New York.

Who says we're losing the war on terror?

As we fight this war, we will remember where it began – here, in our own country.

In 1993, when the WTC was bombed the first time.

We've...posted more than 50,000 newly-trained federal screeners in airports...

Sprinkled with incompetence and abuse. To quote the linked post, "If he does nothing, Norman Mineta will go down in history as the Cardinal Bernard Law of the Transportation Department." Read Cato's take on the issue.

And this year, for the first time, we are beginning to field a defense to protect this nation against ballistic missiles.

Some will harp on the fact that the system won't be able to stop very many missiles. If we get ten cities rained on with nukes and all we can save is Cleveland, I'd say that's preferable to the alternative.

I ask you tonight to add to our future security with a major research and production effort to guard our people against bioterrorism, called Project Bioshield. The budget I send you will propose almost $6 billion to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola, and plague. We must assume that our enemies would use these diseases as weapons, and we must act before the dangers are upon us.

Not a bad plan, but I wonder about the price tag. How much of that cost is based on expected government incompetence? I'd like to see Cato's analysis on that issue.

Since September the 11th, our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have worked more closely than ever to track and disrupt the terrorists. The FBI is improving its ability to analyze intelligence, and is transforming itself to meet new threats. Tonight, I am instructing the leaders of the FBI, the CIA, the Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense to develop a Terrorist Threat Integration Center, to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location. Our government must have the very best information possible, and we will use it to make sure the right people are in the right places to protect all our citizens.

Once again, I'd like to see some serious think tank analysis. Brink Lindsey, tell your law enforcement policy coworkers to start bloggin'.

Today, the gravest danger in the war on terror, the gravest danger facing America and the world, is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror, and mass murder. They could also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies, who would use them without the least hesitation.

The war protesters don't care. If you can prove that Saddam showed up at an Enron picnic with a Confederate flag plastered on his SUV, then you've got something.

This threat is new; America's duty is familiar. Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world. In each case, their ambitions of cruelty and murder had no limit. In each case, the ambitions of Hitlerism, militarism, and communism were defeated by the will of free peoples, by the strength of great alliances, and by the might of the United States of America.

THANK YOU! When recounting the evils of the 20th century, many are too lily-livered (or deluded) to mention the most destructive one, the one that cost 100 million lives and enslaved hundreds of millions - and still does.

Different threats require different strategies. In Iran, we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction, and supports terror. We also see Iranian citizens risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty and human rights and democracy. Iranians, like all people, have a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny - and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom.

Maybe some Iranian translations of Revolution by Candlelight: The Real Story Behind the Changes in Eastern Europe would be a good idea.

On the Korean Peninsula, an oppressive regime rules a people living in fear and starvation.

Just like they did in Eastern Europe before liberation from the commie menace.

Throughout the 1990s, the United States relied on a negotiated framework to keep North Korea from gaining nuclear weapons.

WUSS! Bill Clinton arranged for the Norks* to get light water nuclear reactors capable of producing weapons-grade nuclear material! He helped them develop their nuclear program!

* New addition to the blogger vocabulary courtesy of Jen.

We now know that that regime was deceiving the world, and developing those weapons all along.

Like I was saying.

America is working with the countries of the region - South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia - to find a peaceful solution, and to show the North Korean government that nuclear weapons will bring only isolation, economic stagnation, and continued hardship.

A bunch of nukes pointed at Pyongyang would inspire Kim Jong-il to remain peaceful. Maybe Revolution by Candlelight could be translated into Korean, too.

Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction. For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement. He pursued chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, even while inspectors were in his country. Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons – not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities.

In other words, since he didn't meet the terms of surrender, Desert Storm I hasn't ended.

Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations, and for the opinion of the world.

But don't try that "enemy of my enemy is my friend" on us, Saddam. Those of us in the West who know what liberty really is have utter contempt for the UN for entirely different reasons - mainly because it is dominated by people who hate individual rights as much as you do.

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax...[and] that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin...Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent....[and] that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them - despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them. From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs...designed to produce germ warfare agents...Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. From intelligence sources we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses. Iraq is blocking U-2 surveillance flights requested by the United Nations. Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. Intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with U.N. inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.

You want evidence? Here's yer evidence.

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages - leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained - by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape.

All you lefty antiwar idiotarians out there, pay close attention - this is why he cannot be trusted with weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein is a genocidal tyrant. Most of ya'll were all eager to stop real and perceived genocide in the Balkans during the Clinton administration, but you don't want to stop it in Iraq now. Pathetic.

And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country – your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.

Hey, if we could liberate Kuwait...

The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq's ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi's legal – Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups. We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

And if the Security Council can't see the blatant evidence, then we should immediately cancel our UN membership and send eviction notices to UN headquarters, which will be transformed into a hostel for political refugees hailing from countries that the UN won't confront.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Speaking Of Obstructing Justice...

Newsmax reports that during the 1990s a French UNSCOM inspector leaked information to the Iraqis.

Axis Of Weasels

Honoring the resolve of France and Germany to obstruct international justice, Scott Ott of Scrappeleface gave birth to this phrase on Roe v. Wade Day in one of his trademark parodies. Now every blogger and his dog from Glenn Reynolds to Charles Johnson has the words "Axis of Weasels" on his/her lips. And Gary Williams is doing the red-blooded American thing by making a few bucks from all this (link via VodkaPundit). Is this a great country or what?

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Same Regime, Same Old Games

Damian Penny discovered this nifty little chart from a Daily Telegraph article. The case against Saddam has been made.

Update: This also makes the case against Saddam (link via Pejman).

Same Blog, New Name, New Look

La Blogatrice has been renamed Andrew & Sasha's Round Table, and much redecorating has been done. Check it out while Sasha frantically prepares for her rapidly-approaching wedding date.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Super Bowl XXXVII - Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21

I can remember Chuck Barris uttering the words "All the way, Tampa Bay" back in the days when the Bucs were a winless expansion team. In their first shot at going to the Super Bowl they scored the only touchdown (on an interception return), but three field goals were all that the Los Angeles Rams needed to win the honor of being slaughtered 31-19 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIV.

First half: Raiders had no momentum; Bucs had momentum, capitalized on turnovers. Second half: Raiders made some spectacular plays to close the gap, but not enough of them. Way to go, Bucs!

More highlights:

  • Opening songs: Celine Dion did a good rendition of "God Bless America." Dixie Chicks did a good rendition of the National Anthem, sparing us the spectacle of Celine adding 78 extra syllables to the phrase "and the home of the brave."
  • Half-time show: Putrifying costumes (except Sting's). Shania Twain rocked - until she accompanied Sting and butchered "Message In A Bottle." The lyrics "I'm sending out an SOS to the world" were quite appropriate for the 20-3 halftime deficit.
  • Best commercial: Pepsi Twist commercial w/ Ozzy Osbourne and friends. Honorable mention: Gilligan's Island parody, guy walking mop-haired dog.
  • Worst commercial: Levi's 3.14159 Overpriced Jeans (or whatever number they're using for their brand name these days) w/ the buffalo stampede - stupid. Dishonorable mention: beer commercial (forgot which brand) w/ the guy meeting his girlfriend's mom. I miss the ferret.

Oops: That was Gwen Stefani of the California band No Doubt who butchered "Message In A Bottle."

Friday, January 24, 2003

A Victory Against PC Tyranny

Back in November I reported that Telegraph columnist Robin Page had been arrested for violating the UK's hate speech statutes (see update at end of post). In the comments section of the Samizdata scoop written by Natalie Solent, Tony Bennett (not that Tony Bennett) gave an eyewitness account of the scene:

The actual words used by Robin Page when opening the speech for which he was arrested were: "In case any of you are of a fragile disposition and easily offended, please go for a walk round the lake and come back when I have finished. If there is a black, vegetarian, Muslim, asylum-seeking, one-legged, lesbian lorry-driver present, then you may be offended at what I am going to say, as I want the same rights that you have got already". These are the only words the Police were interested in.

A few days ago, Natalie posted on her blog some commentary, and also a reader letter, which elicited this response:

Yes - a point that needs to be made to both right and left-wingers is that "what they do to the people you don't like today they'll do to the people you do like tomorrow."

As for your very true point about how odd it is that the police have spare time for this sort of thing, I suspect that they sometimes prefer the easy, safe, unimportant task to the difficult, dangerous and important one. In that they are only human, but it is a human tendency which should be fought against.

The Telegraph reports that the charges have been dropped. Page "is now planning legal action against Gloucestershire police for unlawful detention and is considering action for defamation."

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

The Dallas City Council has voted 10-3 to ban smoking in all Dallas restaurants.

The smoking ordinance is the most restrictive in the Metroplex, also prohibiting smoking in hotels, city-owned facilities, private clubs with eating establishments, bowling alleys and bingo parlors.

But smokers can continue to light up in designated areas of stand-alone bars and billiard halls, as well as in outdoor patios, cigar bars and hotel rooms that are designated for smoking.

The ordinance will go into effect March 1.

On his show yesterday, WBAP talkmeister Gary McNamara pointed out that if Mayor Laura Miller, the chief architect of the new law, had been concerned about health, then she would have called for a ban in ALL businesses and not just restaurants. So what's her excuse?


The class-action obesity lawsuit against McDonalds has been dropped.

In honor of this auspicious occasion, I ordered a super-sized Quarter Pounder meal last night.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

I'm going to commemorate this 30th anniversary not by examining the abortion industry or the activists but by looking directly at the Roe v. Wade decision itself. Our journey begins with this passage that spells out the foundation of the ruling:

The principal thrust of appellant's attack on the Texas statutes is that they improperly invade a right, said to be possessed by the pregnant woman, to choose to terminate her pregnancy. Appellant would discover this right in the concept of personal "liberty" embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause; or in personal, marital, familial, and sexual privacy said to be protected by the Bill of Rights or its penumbras, see Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972); id., at 460 (WHITE, J., concurring in result); or among those rights reserved to the people by the Ninth Amendment, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S., at 486 (Goldberg, J., concurring).

Griswold concerned a Connecticut law that "makes it a crime for any person to use any drug or article to prevent conception." Eisenstadt concerned a conviction under Massachusetts law against the distribution of contraceptives by anyone other than "(1) a registered physician administering or prescribing it for a married person or (2) an active registered pharmacist furnishing it to a married person presenting a registered physician's prescription." These rulings invented out of whole cloth a constitutional "right to privacy." This "right" is allegedly stems from the Ninth Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Griswold was the key precedent for this "right," as it was cited as precedent in Eisenstadt. Justice William O. Douglas repeatedly cites court decisions in which "privacy" is stated by name - "freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations," (NAACP v. Alabama), "the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life" (Boyd v. United States), "right to privacy, no less important than any other right carefully and particularly reserved to the people (Mapp v. Ohio) - and concludes that privacy is one of those "retained by the people." But where did those cited precedents extract a "right" to privacy? This line of reasoning begins to resemble that featured in last Sunday's Non Sequitur comic strip:

Homer: But all I did was save a girl...Who says that's blasphemy?
Mob leader: The Bishop! And to question him is the same as questioning the infallible word of GOD!
Homer: Uh...who told you that?
Mob leader: that you mention it, that decree was made by the bishop.
Homer: Didn't that make any of you a little suspicious about his motives?
Mob leader: Well now, that would be questioning the bishop, wouldn't it...

Blindly relying on precedent is the equivalent of placing a human judge on equal footing with the Constitution. The Constitution does not protect privacy in and of itself. It protects the rights to specific actions, with no regard to whether they are exercised in public or private: worship, speech, press, assembly, gun ownership. It bars government from specific invasions of privacy: involuntary quartering of troops in homes, warrantless searches, property seizure without due process of law or just compensation.

Justice Douglas argued that "a law which, in forbidding the use of contraceptives rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon [a constitutionally-protected] relationship." Marriage is to some an exercise of religious liberty and to all an exercise of right to peaceable association. Government may not regulate religious institutions, but it is not constitutionally barred from regulating the conduct of marriages or other products of free association. Nor is it barred from doing anything that might harm such relationships. Such issues fall properly within the jurisdictions of legislatures; courts serve to assess consistency with the law, not the definition of "harm."

Griswold argued that the Constitution protects of marital sexual privacy. Eisenstadt extended this "protection" to everyone: if married persons have a right to contraception, then by the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, then so do single persons. Justice Henry Blackmun extended this "protection" further, to include the right to reverse, not merely prevent, a conception.

But does abortion constitute "private" activity? Blackmun summarized the key plank in the case made by the State of Texas:

The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, [410 U.S. 113, 157] for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument. 51 On the other hand, the appellee conceded on reargument 52 that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Blackmun attacked the claim that the unborn have constitutional protection thus:

The Constitution does not define "person" in so many words. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment contains three references to "person." The first, in defining "citizens," speaks of "persons born or naturalized in the United States."

This clause serves to define citizenship: fetuses are not citizens, but then neither are resident aliens, as Judge Roy Bean noted when he ruled: "Gentlemen, I find the law very explicit on murdering your fellow man, but there's nothing here about killing a Chinaman. Case dismissed."

The word also appears both in the Due Process Clause and in the Equal Protection Clause. "Person" is used in other places in the Constitution: in the listing of qualifications for Representatives and Senators, Art. I, 2, cl. 2, and 3, cl. 3; in the Apportionment Clause, Art. I, 2, cl. 3; 53 in the Migration and Importation provision, Art. I, 9, cl. 1; in the Emolument Clause, Art. I, 9, cl. 8; in the Electors provisions, Art. II, 1, cl. 2, and the superseded cl. 3; in the provision outlining qualifications for the office of President, Art. II, 1, cl. 5; in the Extradition provisions, Art. IV, 2, cl. 2, and the superseded Fugitive Slave Clause 3; and in the Fifth, Twelfth, and Twenty-second Amendments, as well as in 2 and 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. But in nearly all these instances, the use of the word is such that it has application only postnatally. None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible pre-natal application.

In most of these instances, the Constitution describes activities that a fetus is not physically capable of entering, such as voting, running for office, committing crimes, and owning property. It is not physically impossible for the government to extend protection to the fetus. The Constitution does not take any measures to define "person," only to describe activities persons may or may not do, and protections that persons may receive.

Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.

One wonders how Blackmun can in one breath declare that the fetus is not a person, and in another claim that "[w]e need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins." Why?

In areas other than criminal abortion, the law has been reluctant to endorse any theory that life, as we recognize it, begins before live birth or to accord legal rights to the unborn except in narrowly defined situations and except when the rights are contingent upon live birth. For example, the traditional rule of tort law denied recovery for prenatal injuries even though the child was born alive. That rule has been changed in almost every jurisdiction. In most States, recovery is said to be permitted only if the fetus was viable, or at least quick, when the injuries were sustained, though few [410 U.S. 113, 162] courts have squarely so held. In a recent development, generally opposed by the commentators, some States permit the parents of a stillborn child to maintain an action for wrongful death because of prenatal injuries. Such an action, however, would appear to be one to vindicate the parents' interest and is thus consistent with the view that the fetus, at most, represents only the potentiality of life. Similarly, unborn children have been recognized as acquiring rights or interests by way of inheritance or other devolution of property, and have been represented by guardians ad litem. Perfection of the interests involved, again, has generally been contingent upon live birth. In short, the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.

Recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense. Henry Blackmun uses "person" not as a scientific term but as a legal classification. The fact that Blackmun looked to statute rather than the Constitution to judge constitutionality is a problem in itself. But note the inconsistency of his logic. He could find no precedent for the granting of legal rights to the fetus, so he assumed that such rights must not exist - yet he insisted on determining that "person" is a purely legal classification even though he produced no evidence that "person" had ever been used in such context.

So scientific proof that life begins at conception - or at some point during gestation - is irrelevant to this ruling. It rests on the legal definition of "person."

Update: Please do not interpret my reference to the Non Sequitur comic strip as Catholic-bashing (or as endorsement of Wiley's perception of medieval politics; if anyone can offer evidence that a bishop really could unilaterally order an execution, then fork it over in email). My point is that those who govern churches or nations or other organizations are not the equivalent of the rules that such entities exist under; checks and balances must be established to keep leaders from getting away with violating that distinction.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Against The Red Hand

 photo TiananmenBlogger.jpg

(with apologies to Brink Lindsey)

On January 15, Damian Penny linked to a CNN report that the People's Republic of China blocked access to all Blogger-hosted Internet sites. The next day he posted an update, noting blogger John Ray's report that the ban has been lifted.

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Time To Catch Up On Some Blogging

Just got back from a little trip to Corpus Christi to see family. Problems with the phone lines over there kept me from visiting the blogs (and posting to my own).

Update: So this is what happens when I'm gone - bloggers are harassed by immigration officials and assimilated into the Collective.

(Links via OxBlog and PejmanPundit.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

George Ryan's Express

I have stated in the past that I oppose the death penalty. In brief, I believe that deadly force should be reserved for addressing crimes in progress - read my detailed explanation here.

So why am I not happy about the recent events in Illinois? In that post on capital punishment, I wrote:

The courts are far too easily politicized and is [sic] far too arbitrary to be trusted with such power.

The authority granted to governors to commute sentences was put in place to serve as the last line of defense against courtroom malpractice. Governor Ryan used his authority not to administer such checks and balances but to make a statement. Indeed, he has few if any doubts about the guilt those whose sentences he reduced to life imprisonment. I despise arbitrary leniency as much as I despise arbitrary punishment. There is due process for changing the law, and George Ryan violated it.

Then again, maybe the outgoing Republican governor has a greater plan. Fewer executions means fewer dead people. In Illinois, felons can't vote but dead people can, and in Illinois the dead vote overwhelmingly Democrat...

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

MLK Holiday?

For years I'd heard news stories about debates over whether or not to establish an official Martin Luther King holiday, and never did anyone report the arguments against. I always suspected that one was that we had way too many day-off-of-work holidays as it was. Having one three weeks after Christmas does seem a bit superfluous. MLK Day would be only the third national holiday named after a person, the others being Christmas and Columbus Day, commemorating the chief catalyst for Western culture and the chief catalyst for extending Western culture to the Americas. (In the case of the latter, make that Western cultures; English and Iberian influences were vastly different.) Some, I imagine, feel that only those rare individuals who have had such a radical impact should have holidays named for them. Dr. King isn't in that league; the only Americans who are are the Founders; their holiday is July 4.

Here's my argument against making January 15 [Update: MLK Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January, which happens to fall on the 15th in 2003] an official holiday: it's not fair to everyone else involved in the civil rights movement. Independence Day isn't just about one guy. We have a holiday for all those who made the Declaration of Independence happen. We should have a federal holiday called Civil Rights Day. It would be like Memorial Day, honoring leaders of past civil rights struggles instead of soldiers of past wars.

My recommendation is to schedule it for the first Monday in September, replacing Labor Day, the brainchild of United Brotherhood of Carpenters founder Peter J. McGuire. Talk about not being fair to everyone else who makes it happen - when do we celebrate Entrepreneur Day and Management Day? Labor Day is a day for a telethon, family outings, and union propaganda. Let's keep the first two and get rid of that last item. The unions bathe us in propaganda every election cycle and every time important legislation comes up. They don't need a special holiday.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

It's About Oil...

...that funds terrorism. Slide show courtesy of WorldNetDaily.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Good Morning, Dave

 photo HAL-1.jpg

On this day in 1992 (on screen) or 1997 (in the novel and screenplay), the HAL 9000 became operational.

Blog of the Rings

The Straight Dope wonders what LOTR would be like if it had been written by someone else. (Found via Volokh Conspiracy.) I looked at the many responses, and as of this moment no one has suggested blogger versions of the literary epic.

Emperor Misha:

Loyal Citizen Glorfindel gives us the heads up on some interesting things Boromir of Gondor had to say at the Council of Elrond:

Saruman is a traitor, but did he not have a glimpse of wisdom?

He imprisoned Gandalf by putting him on top of Orthanc in the open instead of locking him in a cell. Sounds like first-rate idiocy to me.

Why do you speak ever of hiding and destroying? Why should we not think that the Great Ring has come into our hands...

OUR hands??? serve us in the very hour of need? Wielding it the Free Lords of the Free may surely defeat the enemy.

And what happens to people other than Sauron who come into contact with the Ring? Isildur got a back full of arrows from Orcs. Gollum KILLED HIS FRIEND to get the Ring. Bilbo went weird on his friends for a long time, and after seeing the Ring once again after having given up on it cold turkey, he turns on his nephew. And Frodo looks pretty sane now, but that Ring is yanking his brains as we speak; give him enough time and he'll turn into another Gollum. Do you expect things to go any differently if someone else - like YOU - tries to wield the Ring, you sorry...

Jay Manifold:

Physically, the One Ring is nothing more than an engraved band of pure gold. What makes it "indestructible" is its special protective magic. Melkor enchanted Mount Orodruin to function as a forge to create indestructible armor; various distractions detailed in the Quenta Silmarillion prevented him from carrying out his plans. Sauron discovered Mount Doom's special properties, but he couldn't figure out how to enchant anything larger than a grape. So he made an "indestructible" ring with fantastic powers.

The Ring's protective magic can't function when it comes into contact with the source of that magic - the deeps of Mount Orodruin. When thrown into the volcano, the Ring will melt, and any wizard will tell you that magic can't adhere to a molten surface. The result is one big honkin' chain reaction of uncontrolled magical energy under Arda's crust. Gandalf the Grey estimates that the explosion could exceed that of 15 megatons of fireworks.

James Lileks:


Gnat had just wandered into the living room as I was relaxing in front of the fireplace. Her eyes had locked onto the sterling silver spoon I had just used to stir my coffee. She reached out her hand and repeated her command: "Spoon."

She didn't see me, or the chair, or the living room, or anything else in the world except the Bright Shiny Thing...

[much ado about prying Gnat's attention away from the spoon]

This was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read about Frodo's stopover in Lothlorien. He's volunteered for the task of delivering the Ring of Power to Mount Doom, but deep down he doesn't really want the responsibility. He tries to pass the buck to someone else, and of all people he picks the most powerful elf in all of Middle-earth. I can imagine Galadriel's first thoughts, the Bright Shiny Thing filling her universe and Frodo becoming hobbit dust if he changes his mind about the offer...

Glenn Reynolds:

The Ring of Power has been discovered in the Shire. The Ring is currently in the possession of Frodo Baggins; his whereabouts is unknown, but he is rumored to be connected to a nighttime disturbance at Bree.

UPDATE: A council has been convened in Rivendell. Emperor Misha doesn't like some of what he's hearing.

UPDATE: Jay Manifold has some interesting technical information on the Ring.

UPDATE: Frodo avoids becoming hobbit dust.

Steve Green:

Friday Recipe - Bacon and Mushrooms

You'll need:

One pound of bacon, chopped
Three pounds of Buckland mushrooms, chopped
One cup olive oil
Two cloves of garlic, diced
Two large wooden spoons
One medium-sized cauldron

Put the bacon in the cauldron. Fry bacon until it starts to ripple. Before it has a chance to get crispy, pour in the olive oil and garlic and stir. That bacon isn't quite done yet, so you want to simmer the concoction a while - about 15 minutes should do the trick. Pour in the mushrooms and stir-fry until the mushrooms are tender. Serves four elves, or three humans or dwarves, or two hobbits.

Andrew Sullivan:

VON HOFFMAN AWARD NOMINEE (for spectacularly bad predictions): "A new Power is rising. Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all...Its victory is at hand; and there will be rich reward for those that aided it." - Saruman the White.

Values And Economic Freedom II

Huw Raphael responds:

My point being that, given the choices which Alan and the study seem to find important, "traditional values" seem to take a serious back seat if they get in the way of making money or getting what one wants.

Praise for prosperity should not be equated with praise for materialism. I am paid modestly, but I make more more money than I need for food, shelter, clothing, and transportation to work. That is the definition of prosperity: when one earns enough to have disposable income. Prosperity creates new industries, therefore creating new jobs - I'll bet that the personal computer industry is thriving more in Oslo than in all of North Africa. Prosperity also opens up the door to temptation toward materialism in its two forms: worshipping and taking for granted physical resources. (Gray Davis, who based California state budgets on the assumption that the dot-com boom would never stop, is a perfect example of the latter.) Prosperity is good, but like any good it can be idolized or otherwise misused.

The key factor to economic freedom is government. A population's trend toward traditionalism or modernism does not play a discernable factor in the level of interference its government will throw into private trade. Secular Sweden and religious Ireland are both among the most economically free nations; secular Belarus and religious Iran are commerce-unfriendly ratholes.

Freedom is one thing; actual wealth is another. Economic freedom makes prosperity possible, but the people have to be willing and able to take advantage of those freedoms to become prosperous. This is where traditional values come in. Three significant factors are work ethic, crime ethic, and marriage ethic. The University of Michigan study does not address the first two directly; they are shaped greatly by parents' ability and willingness to instill discipline, which the study does take into account. Prosperity requires effort. Overall and in the long run, criminals are poorer than law-abiders. (Crime certainly doesn't enrich its victims.) Single parenthood and marriages that are poorly planned and/or maintained are costly. A table with per-capita GDP on one axis and an index equaling level of economic freedom plus scores on work, crime, and marriage ethics along the other should reveal a positive relationship between the two.

I would, however, go one further and add another axis of orthodox (note the lowercase "o") versus heterodox faith. The determining factor being that without regard to which religion you practice, how closely to you adhere to the stated dogmas of that faith. The options being "as close as possible (no one is perfect you know)" and "a la cart? do I have to use the cart?" I think the pattern would hold - although not in all cases. There would, I suspect, generally be a following of "more free" with the other "more free" quadrants - the US would be in the a la cart line, and other secular and self-expression oriented cultures would as well. The former communist block countries would, along with politically oppressed or ethically repressed countries, find themselves in the orthodox section.

Worldliness-centered religious inconsistency tends to thrive where the "secular rational" mindset dominates.Huw suggests that the churches in the former Communist states would tend toward orthodoxy. If that is true, then in most of these countries they exist side-by-side with a vast nonreligious secular-rationalist majority - which wouldn't be a surprising sight to see after 70 years of Communist deprogramming (which seem to have affected Romania and Poland less than most other countries).

I'd like to see one more axis added. The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal gave us an index of economic freedom; now it's time to create an index of non-economic freedom. And I'd like to see the University of Michigan to include more countries in its study - starting with Israel.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Values And Economic Freedom

Iain Murray has a series of recent posts here, here, here, and here, about an recent article in the Economist that relates to the Anglosphere. About this concept, James C. Bennett of the Foreign Policy Research Institute writes: "The Anglospherist school of thought asserts that the English-speaking nations have not only formed a distinct branch of Western civilization for most of history, they are now becoming a distinct civilization in their own right." Iain's posts focused on a chart featured in the Economist article:

 photo CSF914.gif

The chart derives its data from the University of Michigan's "world values survey."

The university has been sending out hundreds of questions for the past 25 years (it now covers 78 countries with 85% of the world's population). Its distinctive feature is the way it organises the replies. It arranges them in two broad categories. The first it calls traditional values; the second, values of self-expression.

The survey defines “traditional values” as those of religion, family and country. Traditionalists say religion is important in their lives. They have a strong sense of national pride, think children should be taught to obey and that the first duty of a child is to make his or her parents proud. They say abortion, euthanasia, divorce and suicide are never justifiable. At the other end of this spectrum are “secular-rational” values: they emphasise the opposite qualities.

The other category looks at “quality of life” attributes. At one end of this spectrum are the values people hold when the struggle for survival is uppermost: they say that economic and physical security are more important than self-expression. People who cannot take food or safety for granted tend to dislike foreigners, homosexuals and people with AIDS. They are wary of any form of political activity, even signing a petition. And they think men make better political leaders than women. “Self-expression” values are the opposite.

The Economist views the United States as a statistical outlier; Iain sees the chart as evidence that the America is the hub of the Anglosphere. Three other major clusters are recognizable. Eastern and Western Europe form two of them, both secular but differing on the “self-expression” scale. The emerging nations of Asia, Africa and South America form the third. If there's a statistical outlier on the map, it's Japan - more "secular-rational" than the Eurosphere and valuing self-expression far more than the other Confucian nations.

But none of this has to do with my fascination with the chart. I wondered if I could find any correlation between the world values survey and the 2003 Index of Economic Freedom. The chart below identifies the economic freedom categories of each of the countries in the University of Michigan study. (Montenegro was not included in the Economic Freedom index.)

 photo FreedomValuesChart.gif

Economic freedom does not correlate with "traditional values" score at all, but it correlates strongly with the "quality of life" score. Almost all of the "free" nations favor self-expression values. ALL of the "repressed" nations favor survival values. "Mostly free" nations are evenly distributed, while "mostly unfree" nations skew toward the left-hand side of the chart.

The survival instinct is heightened by two situations: poverty, which is especially severe under economically unfree governments, and criminal theft and assault, which can originate from the private sector or from politically unfree governments. (I don't think I have to explain why people living in unfree governments tend to avoid political involvement.) Dominance of survival values throughout a society is therefore a sign that that society lives under or is recovering from government oppression (or faces great threat from a foreign government, in the cases of South Korea and Taiwan).

The Anglosphere and Protestant Europe dominate the list of economically "free" nations, and not coincidentally they tend to have the highest "self-expression" values. Under free markets and thug-free governments, survival faces far fewer threats; this allows greater devotion of time and energy to other pursuits. Life is richest where liberty reigns.

Update: see next post.

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Recent Political Developments

NewsMax reports that President Bush is appointing Otto Reich as the White House "special envoy" to the Americas:

Long known as a vehement critic of Castro's communist regime in Cuba and of other leftist movements on Latin America, Reich was forced to step down from his temporary appointment as assistant secretary for Latin American affairs when that appointment expired last November.

As reported, the Democrat-controlled Senate refused even to hold hearings on Reich's nomination, forcing President Bush to give the veteran anti-communist diplomat a temporary appointment, which ran out in November.

At the time, Reich's supporters expressed confidence that he would be renominated this month after the Senate reconvened under GOP control. But according to the Miami Herald, which described Reich as "a lightning rod for his conservative views," the administration chose to give him the new White House assignment rather than face a bitter confirmation battle in the Senate.

In other news, WorldNetDaily reports that California rancher Richard Pombo will chair the House Committee on Resources:

The Resources Committee has jurisdiction over a wide range of issues vitally important to private property rights and use of federal lands, including Interior Department agencies like the National Parks Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, and legislation involving the Endangered Species Act, water, timber, mining and fisheries management.

So what kind of difference will Pombo make?

Each year since 1997, the American Land Rights Association's League of Private Property Voters has posted its Congressional Vote Index [PDF file], a scorecard showing how every senator and representative voted on from eight to 12 key bills involving property rights, land use and environmental matters. Of the seven contenders for [the] post, Pombo is the only one to score a perfect 100 percent: Year after year, session after session, Pombo voted for property rights every time and never missed a roll call.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Harry Potter And The Prisoners Of Political Correctness

Affirmative action is coming to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

I Have A Bad Feeling About This

Pejman Yousefzadeh linked BBspot's discovery that director Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Return of the King is taking way too many liberties with Tolkien's novel.

Soon And Very Soon, We Are Going To See The King

Here's a story on Dorian Baxter, an Elvis-impersonating cleric who pastors the Christ the King Graceland Independent Anglican Church of Canada.

(Found via Amy Welborn.)


George Bush is renominating 31 judges, including Charles Pickering, to various Federal judgeships - and this time there won't be a Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee to unilaterally bury their confirmations.

The Income Gap: An Overrated Economic Statistic

Daniel Drezner comments on a Boston Globe story on globalization and income distribution. He praises the article as "an excellent (and all too rare) example of a lucid treatment of economics in the mainstream press." I think it's a wasted opportunity.

Globe reporter Laura Secor focuses on the debate over whether or not globalization increases have led to income gap increases. One of her sources seems to recognize the pointlessness of this debate:

Pro-globalization Columbia economist Jagdish Bhagwati laments that his younger colleagues are spending so much of their time chasing after figures that are both so elusive and, he believes, so meaningless. "I'm more worried about poverty because that's really much more critical," Bhagwati says. And here the news may be good: By many accounts, even where inequality is increasing, poverty is on the decline. The 2002 UNDP Human Development report notes that the proportion of the world's people living in extreme poverty dropped from 29 percent in 1990 to 23 percent in 1999. Says Friedman, "If it's inequality you're worried about, the world is becoming a less good place. But if it's poverty you're worried about, while we still have a ways to go, the world is becoming a better place."

Bravo, Professor Bhagwati! Everybody repeat after me: income gaps are not in and of themselves a problem. Wide gaps exist in two types of societies: nations where most if not all property and commercial rights are denied the masses and limited to a minority elite, and nations where such rights are extended to a broad spectrum of the population. In economically free countries, income gaps reflect widely differing levels of ability and effort within the population; in economically unfree nations, the gap is caused by theft. Capitalism ultimately pays better than communism and other forms of commercial authoritarianism; the average Cuban serf has a lot less money than Fidel Castro, but I trail behind Bill Gates even further, and quite frankly I think I'm better off.

This paragraph should have changed the direction of Secor's story. She cited an important point: disputes over the reliability of a poverty index used in Bhagwati's research. But she fizzles out, lamenting the difficulty of tying poverty and income gap trends to globalization, and moving into the issue of the effects of globalization on national prosperity. The poverty issue should have lit this question in her head: do income gaps even matter?.

She should have recognized the simple economic fact that the income-gap-obsessed crowd can't see through the trees: one's prosperity is properly measured not by comparing one's income to someone else's but by comparing the changes in one's real income. I paid off my college loans about a year and a half ago, thus my disposable income has increased. If during that time Bill Gates' disposable income went up by a greater amount, does that mean that I'm worse off than before?

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Happy Rock Concert Vandalism Day

On this day in history:

In 1970, Max Yasgur was sued by neighboring farmers for $35,000 to pay for damages caused by concertgoers at the Woodstock festival.

In 1975, a riot at a Led Zeppelin concert in Boston caused $30,000 in damages.

(Source: Scope Systems' Any Day In History page.)

"You Do Not Understand The Power Of The Dark Side"

The Truth Laid Bear has a contest to come up with the best caption to go with a photo of Glenn Reynolds, our fearless Blogger King. (Found via InstaPundit, of course.)

He sure does look sinister. But is he evil?

Another Day In The Life After The Cold War

Former Red Army lieutenant Chris Sverkounov is now a Second Lieutenant in the Unites States Air Force. Welcome aboard.

(Found via Anne Wilson.)

High Tech News From The Sunshine State

The Sun-Sentinel reports:

The nation's first sea water desalination plant built to serve as a primary source of drinking water is expected to begin providing water for residents here by the end of the month.

It is expected to reach full capacity by March, generating 25 million gallons a day of drinking water, officials say.

The plant, located at Tampa Electric Co.'s Big Bend power plant site on Tampa Bay, is a key part of the regional utility's plan to reduce wellfield pumping.

Here in Texas, water planning is a serious issue. Farmers and ranchers often seek access to the same water supplies that service major cities. If Tampa's desalination plant turns out to be both cost-effective and efficient, Texas should jump all over this technology. Build plants at Port Arthur, Galveston, Port Lavaca, Corpus Christi, and Port Isabel (near Brownsville). That will make coastal cities unaffected (or less affected) by drought, and water sources will be freed up for the inland agri-community.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Movie Review: Die Another Day

Went to see the latest James Bond flick last night. The film has three minor flaws: the most boring theme song of any Bond film, two gadgets (the car and the glasses - you'll know it when you see it) that are way too high-tech for the Bond universe, and a violation of the laws of physics by which a single bullet causes explosive decompression in an airplane.

One does get the feeling that the franchise is starting to run out of ideas for basic plots, but this Diamonds Are Forever story with a lot of original twists works. "Okay, what kind of vehicle haven't we put in a chase scene yet? How about a hovercraft? Or one of those rocket-powered ice skimmer thingies?"
Both good calls. The sword scene rocks. The orbital Death Star is an old weapon with a new look - and this one actually gets used, with dazzling special effects.

Scenery is great. The Ice Palace is a spectacular work of art. The North Korean base has that touch of megalomania and sill looks like a real-life military installation. Havana (scenes filmed at Cadiz, Spain) is shows for the rathole that it really is. (As I look at that Cuban official's office, it seems to me that while he has a lot of perks that I don't, this modestly-paid blogger has the overall higher standard of living - and the freedom to blog without getting tossed into prison). And no Bond movie is complete without a lush hotel with room service and a secret surveillance camera.

The characters are great. Bond (Pierce Brosnan) keeps his cool even when he looks like Ted Kaczynski. Graves (Toby Stephens) is an enjoyable larger-than-life villain. Zao (Rick Yune) is the token Disfigured Henchman, and does that job well. MI-6 neophyte Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) lives up to her last name. Jinx (Halle Berry) is both super-glamorous and a capable action hero - a unique combination for a Bond Girl. M (Judi Dench) and North Korean General Moon are two stern, elegant personas who have no control over the chaos surrounding them but try anyway. John Cleese is settling into his role as the new head of Q Division quite nicely. Moneypenny's personality has undergone a radical change since Lois Maxwell handed the baton to Samantha Bond several films ago, but the crush on 007 lives on. Madonna pulls off a cameo appearance as a fencing instructor and actually looks like she belongs in the film. Her song doesn't though.

Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee) has one of the best one-liners: "That'll teach you to lecture me. Get me another anger management therapist!" Mister Bond quotes the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail with this this quip - said to the guy who played the Black Knight, no less: "It's only a flesh wound." Miranda Frost demonstrates her familiarity with Bond's dossier when she says to him, "I know all about you - sex for dinner, death for breakfast."

An Illustration Of The Superiority Of Capitalism Over Communism

 photo KoreaJapanNight.jpg

Japan and the Korean peninsula at night. Those lights in the Sea of Japan are probably oil platforms - either that, or Godzilla and King Ghidorah have a pretty fierce sea battle going.

I Completely Missed This Momentous Occasion

The Tolkien Society sends a birthday toast

Political Quiz

This is no gag. Inspired by a Max Boot column, Gary North drew up a Neocon Litmus Test. The actual quiz starts at the middle of the webpage, and you have to do it on paper. I come out as: "New Rightist (as defined – and more important, funded – by Richard Viguerie)." I've never heard of the guy, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of North's quiz.

Domestic Terrorism Update

The Earth Liberation Front torched SUVs at a Pennsylvania auto dealership.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Let's See If blogs4God Links This Quiz

I am 33% Evil Genius

I want to be evil. I do evil things. But given the opportunity, and a darn good reason I may turn to the good side. Besides I am probably a miserable evil genius.

Take the Evil Genius Test at

The Envelope, Please IV

Little Green Footballs has announced the winner of its first annual Fiskie Award.

The Harlem Draft Plotter

Charles Rangel thinks that if the US reinstates the draft, the government would be more hesitant to enter wars:

"I think if we went home and found out that there were families concerned about their kids going off to war, there would be more cautiousness and a more willingness to work with the international community than to say, 'Our way or the highway,'" he said.

If Rangel's thesis is correct, then explain that giant black tombstone in Washington, DC that commemorates the last time we had a draft. What the Harlem Democrat fails to recognize is that people tend to be more careful with resources when they are in short supply. That principle applies to tax policy, too, by the way.

British Invasion

That blogroll needs a little more variety.

La Blogatrice "Featuring Sasha Castel: Dangergirl." Don't ask me if the graphic at the top of the page really looks like her. This FAQ has her bio (scroll to bottom of page), the correct pronunciation of "blogatrice" (think Italian, not French), and brief info on the blog's other contributors, including fiancee Andrew Ian Dodge. She is a good cook and a Walter Williams fan. Andrew is not a fan of bloated bureaucracies.

Oxblog "Trying to live up to the hype since April 23, 2002!" Another British group blog, run by Rhodes scholar Josh Chafetz, Marshall scholar Dan Urman, and Rhodes scholar David Adesnik. While studying at Oxford, these guys manage to squeeze in commentary on issues such as war, cleaning up after war, and uncooperative parties who demand cooperation from others.

Friday, January 03, 2003

More Permalinks

I finally got around to getting my ISP to set up my free 300 MB worth of website space. I'll be using it for online storage of image files displayed on the blog, starting with the nifty flag icons on the blogroll, which will have some new additions today:

Daimnation! "Not yet banned in China!" Damian Penny lives in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada. He has a short list of predictions and knows the difference between Iraq and North Korea.

Tal G. in Jerusalem No apparent bio. Lots of news from Israel. In a December 20 post Tal notes a bizarre juxtaposition: "Here's an article about a training course for foreigners who come here to support the Palestinians against the IDF (ie. what the media calls "peace activists"). They sign an agreement committing themselves to non-violence, are told to avoid drinking and other behaviours that could offend the Palestinians, and be "sensitive and respectful" about suicide bombing (emphasis added).

Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler "HQ of the Rottweiler Empire An Affiliate of the VRWC." Emperor Misha is a lean, mean fisking machine with everything liberal in his crosshairs. His recent victims include gun control, raising taxes to subsidize illegal immigration, and the Iranian franchise of the Religion of Peace.

Kim duToit Bio is here. He is "a White African-American with a girl's first name and a French last name," a South-African-turned-Chicagoan-turned-Texan. He and Inscrutable American are members of the Rottweiler Empire blogger clan. Along the left sidebar under "The Gun Thing" are links to a series of posts that systematically argue from several angles in favor of gun rights - well worth the read. He has some advice for the city of Boston on how to deal with its crime problem, and laments the crime problem in France.

News From The Future

Jay Manifold has the scoop.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

The Envelope, Please III

This time it's not Andrew Sullivan but the Media Research Center. The Best of Notable Quotables 2002 is out now. Originally named the "Linda Ellerbee Awards for Distinguished Journalism," these prizes commemorate "the most outrageous and/or humorous news media quotes" from the past year. Bill Moyers won Quote of the Year for this:

The entire federal government - the Congress, the executive, the courts -

Uh, doesn't "entire federal government" mean everybody in the federal government, and not just a slim majority in two houses of Congress and a third of the Supreme Court justices? Must be that New Math.

is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate.

Since when were the Republicans ever united behind anybody's mandate? Yeah, there's nothing that says "right wing mandate" like the party of Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chafee, and Arlen Specter.

That agenda includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to surrender control over their own lives.

As opposed to the pro-abortion agenda to allow pregnant women to surrender the lives of certain others?

It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.

You mean rich people don't work? Including yourself, Bill?

It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable.

Everyone knows about Dubya's plan to allow the dumping of nuclear waste into water supplies. Maybe he could provide some balance by extending the environmentalists' free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies.

And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine.

Like snooping through 900 FBI files and sending IRS hit squads after think tanks and private individuals the administration doesn't like?

Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life.

Oh, no! You mean our Supreme Court justices will no longer be elected? And they'll all be partisan hacks like Henry Blackmun?

If you like the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House,

That's a lie. Only seven of the justices put him there.

you will swoon over what’s coming. And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture....

Uh, isn't the Rapture supposed to be foreshadowed by the emergence of a multinational leftist regime? I think you've got the wrong President.

So it’s a heady time in Washington, a heady time for piety, profits and military power, all joined at the hip by ideology and money.

So what else is new? Oh yeah, the piety.

Don’t forget the money....Republicans out-raised Democrats by $184 million

But lagging behind the Democrats in donations from communist dictatorships

and they came up with the big prize: monopoly control of the American government

There you go with that New Math again.

and the power of the state to turn their radical ideology into the law of the land. Quite a bargain at any price.”

Heck, the right wing doesn't even have the power to stop government funding of luxury items such as that public broadcasting mini-empire where you got most of your employment. If it can't get rid of a piffly little pork-barrel project like PBS, how can it be expected to accomplish anything that could be genuinely described as radical?

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