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Saturday, January 31, 2004
This Should Add New Meaning To The Word "Warblogger"
Clayton Cramer reports that the US Navy wants to set up a blog, for "speeding up the exchange of information on new defense technologies - and thereby speed up getting the technologies into the field."
Jay Manifold has some thoughts on extending the life of the Hubble Space Telescope - here, here, and here.
I was just wondering...if the operational lifetime of the Hubble does come to an end by 2006 or 2007 as estimated, and I were to make an exceedingly late entry in the race for the X-Prize, could I claim salvage rights to the Hubble? How much could I get for it on eBay?
I have bought a replacement for my green 1998 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab pickup truck that was totaled on January 6 - a maroon 1999 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab. The insurance settlement on the old truck paid roughly $7900 - just $20 or so short of paying off the loan. The original price was over $14,000 (not including tax, title, and license). The new truck cost $7,998 (not including TTL), making up for most of that $6000+ loss. Aside from color, the two trucks are almost identical, except that the new one has antilock brakes, and the cab extension has those tiny doors that open from the inside.
"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek escaped injury when he apparently fell asleep at the wheel of his pickup truck, sideswiped a string of mailboxes and sailed over an embankment into a ditch, authorities said.
Last week Palm Beach County prosecutors released confidential information showing that the conservative radio host initiated plea negotiations but failed to cut a deal.
Without having charged him with anything, they cast the suspicion of guilt over Limbaugh by revealing that he was willing to bargain.
Whether you love him or hate him, what's happening to Limbaugh is scary. Negotiations for a possible plea agreement are generally thought to be confidential. And they should be. Without a good-faith belief that such preliminary conversations will remain confidential, no defendant would engage in them and the justice system would slow to a crawl.
Think, too, of how such information could taint prospective jurors: If they hear that someone considered a plea bargain, they may well begin their deliberations with a presumption of guilt, not innocence.
Meanwhile, the ACLU has filed an amicus brief stating that the prosecutors violated a Florida law that grants time for appeal to citizens whose medical records are sought by the authorities:
The ACLU's request to submit a "friend-of-the-court" brief on behalf of Limbaugh was filed today with the Fourth District Court of Appeal. The ACLU said in its motion that the state infringed on Florida's constitutional right to privacy when it failed to follow well-established protocol, mandated by law, when confiscating Limbaugh's medical files. The organization stated that its interest in the case was "to vindicate every Floridian's fundamental right to privacy by ensuring that the state be required to comply" with the law.
Because of heightened concerns about medical privacy, the Florida Legislature mandated a process Â outlined in Sections 456.057(5)(a) and 395.3025(4)(d) of the Florida Statutes Â that requires law enforcement officers to notify the person whose medical records they seek to obtain and give that person the opportunity to object before the subpoena is issued and before the records are seized.
"The legislature has enacted procedures that carefully balance the interests of law enforcement against the right of every citizen to maintain the privacy of their communications with their physician," said Ft. Lauderdale attorney Jon May, who is serving as counsel for the ACLU. "In this case the State Attorney has circumvented this carefully crafted scheme. If the state can do this to Rush Limbaugh, then the privacy rights of every citizen in Florida are in jeopardy."
In their joint amicus brief (PDF file), the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain, the Florida Pain Initiative, and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons are challenging the applicability of the "doctor shopping" law (emphasis added):
Pain is woefully undertreated in Florida and elsewhere. The amici are organizations that advocate for improvements in pain management and pain management access. All are deeply aware of the costs of loss of physician-patient confidentiality and patient privacy that the subpoenae at issue here represent. Amici request leave to participate so as to inform the court of the importance and immediacy of these issues to health care in Florida. Much more is at stake than the furtherance of a routine drug investigation...
One of the reasons that pain is undertreated is that doctors fear legal and regulatory consequences. Florida has become one of the epicenters of physician prosecution. The consequence is that many Florida physicians flatly refuse to prescribe opioids -- oxycodone, morphine, methadone and the like -- for pain even when they are clearly indicated. This climate of fear distorts the physician-patient relationship, medical decision-making, and medical ethics. It causes great suffering and virtually forces chronic pain patients into the hinterlands of medical care. It is also costly for the State in terms of medical care and claims.
Pain patients who are fortunate enough to find a doctor who is sufficiently compassionate and brave to prescribe opioid medications absolutely require medical records and doctor-patient communication privacy. They are stigmatized as "addicts". The fact that a patient is known to be taking opioids -- particularly OxyContin -- can be grounds for loss of employment, family and social approbation and great personal distress. In this light, todayÂs pain patients are as vulnerable to discrimination as HIV-positive persons were twenty years ago. They are also vulnerable to misinformed law enforcement, which also equates them with addicts.
In short, law enforcement often can't tell the difference between pain management and recreational drug use. Thus they fight the Drug War by shooting at the wrong targets. That kind of collateral damage is not acceptable.
Earlier today I went to Monarch Dental for the second and last surgery. Two left-side bone grafts were put in place, one behind the back lower molar and one between (I think) the two upper molars. The surgeries cost roughly $3200; insurance paid $1500 of that. Don't neglect those semiannual teeth cleanings.
Kgosie Matthews [a citizen of South Africa] is said to have been paid as much as $15,000 per month even though he lacked legal work authorization. He was in the US on a visa which only permitted him to work for a specific employer in the US. To work for a different employer, Matthews would have had to have gotten the new employer to file for a change of status.
But Moseley-Braun's term in office was also marked by scandal. Even before she came to Washington, rumors had surfaced that her campaign manager and then-fiancé, Kgosie Matthews, to whom she had been paying $15,000 a month, had sexually harassed several campaign staffers. Moseley-Braun defended Matthews against these allegations and embarked on a month-long journey to Africa with him before she took office.
Then in 1993 the Federal Election Commission launched a probe into her election campaign, which had $249,000 in unaccounted expenditures. The FEC investigated charges that Moseley-Braun had diverted these funds for personal trips and shopping sprees for herself and Matthews. Although the FEC eventually found that Moseley-Braun had failed to properly itemize and disclose thousands of dollars of campaign expenditures, the agency declined to take action.
The final straw may have been a trip she made to Nigeria in 1996, which incited fervent criticism from a broad coalition of government officials, leaders of the black community and human rights groups. In August of that year, Moseley-Braun and Matthews, without the knowledge of the Clinton Administration or the state department, visited the military dictator Sani Abacha, whose regime had been condemned for its human rights abuses and political corruption. To make matters worse, it was later shown that Matthews worked as a lobbyist for a beltway law firm which represented Nigeria.
Daniel has some other links in the comments section. Check 'em out.
Pelosi: The state of our union is indeed strong, due to the spirit of the American people -- the creativity, optimism, hard work and faith of everyday Americans.
The State of the Union address should offer a vision that unites us as a people -- and priorities that move us toward the best America.
If you want to unite us, stop forcing us to subsidize each other through a Draconian tax system. Put an end to the one-size-fits-all school monopoly and give us a marketplace that offers real choices. Make Social Security optional, so that those of us who want to be fully in charge of retirement planning can do so. Then again, their are far too many Americans who prefer a Potemkin security to liberty - so forget about uniting us and just do the right thing.
For inspiration, we look to our brave young men and women in uniform, especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their noble service reminds us of our mission as a nation: to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
Tell that to arch-weasels Jacques Chiraq, Gerhard Schroeder, Vladimir Putin, and Kofi Annan.
Tonight, from the perspective of ten years of experience on the Intelligence Committee working on national security issues, I express the Democrats' unbending determination to make the world safer for America, for our people, our interests and our ideals.
Democrats have an unwavering commitment to ensure that America's armed forces remain the best trained, best led, best equipped force for peace the world has ever known. Never before have we been more powerful militarily. But even the most powerful nation in history must bring other nations to our side to meet common dangers.
The president's policies do not reflect that. He has pursued a go-it-alone foreign policy that leaves us isolated abroad...
The only nations we're isolating are those with governments who support and/or appease terrorism. Good riddance. Meanwhile, dozens of governments are contributing to our military operations in the Middle East.
...and that steals the resources we need for education and health care here at home.
We need resources for both fighting terrorism and for domestic needs. And besides, YOU have been stealing resources we need for education and health care, by creating a government virtual monopoly of the former and by engaging in unwieldy and incompetent intervention in the latter.
The president led us into the Iraq war on the basis of unproven assertions without evidence;
he embraced a radical doctrine of preemptive war unprecedented in our history;
This wasn't a pre-emptive war - it was a continuation of the Gulf War I. Saddam broke the terms of surrender, and the war reactivated. He started it.
BTW, wasn't the NATO war in Kosovo hailed as a preemptive war that was supposed to prevent localized conflict from spreading throughout the continent?
and he failed to build a true international coalition.
If weasels aren't part of a coalition, that's good enough for me.
Therefore, American taxpayers are bearing almost all the cost, a colossal $120 billion and rising. More importantly, American troops are enduring almost all the casualties -- tragically, 500 killed and thousands more wounded.
Hey, it's not our fault if other nations don't want to chip in more. Now that you have detailed the costs of the war in dollars in lives, what are the costs of not going to war? How many thousands of Iraqis would be dead today, and how much more terrorism would continue to be subsidized today, were it not for the toppling of Saddam?
As a nation, we must show our greatness, not just our strength. America must be a light to the world, not just a missile.
Speaking of Kosovo...
Forty-three years ago today, as a college student standing in the freezing cold outside this Capitol building, I heard President Kennedy issue this challenge in his inaugural address: "My fellow citizens of the world," he said, "ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Saddam's gone. Al-Qaeda is throttled.
There is great wisdom in that, but in it there is also greater strength for our country and the cause of a safer world. Instead of alienating our allies...
Our allies deserve to be alienated if they appease our enemies.
...let us work with them and international institutions so that together we can prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and keep them out of the hands of terrorists.
How are "international institutions" going to be of any help if their membership includes terrorist-supporting and terrorist-appeasing states? The Iraq War disarmed more criminals than all the UN resolutions in history.
Instead of billions of dollars in no-bid contracts for politically connected firms such as Halliburton, and an insistence on American dominance in Iraq, let us share the burden and responsibility with others, so that together we can end the sense of American occupation and bring our troops home safely when their mission is completed.
I've got some questions about the bidding process myself. But I don't want the governments who appeased Saddam's regime to profit from Iraqi reconstruction.
Instead of the diplomatic disengagement that almost destroyed the Middle East peace process...
It was diplomatic ENGAGEMENT - the Oslo Accords - that wrecked peace prospects in Israel. That, and the fact that there are terrorist organizations that supposedly civilized folks refuse to liquidate. We won't tolerate the Branch Davidians' alleged manufacture of illicit automatic weapons, but we'll fete the masterminds of suicide bombings as "partners in peace." Arafat needs to rot in jail, alongside Castro, Kim Jong-Il, and Mugabe.
...and aggravated the danger posed by North Korea...
Once again, engagement - feeding the NorKs' nuclear capabilities - was the cause of the problem.
...let us seek to forge agreements and coalitions so that, together with others, we can address challenges before they threaten the security of the world.
The sort of coalitions she prefers don't do jack for addressing world security threats, and often make them worse.
We must remain focused on the greatest threat to the security of the United States, the clear and present danger of terrorism. We know what we must do to protect America, but this administration is failing to meet the challenge. Democrats have a better way to ensure our homeland security.
Okay, let's see the plan.
One hundred percent of containers coming into our ports or airports must be inspected. Today, only 3 percent are inspected.
That should get the attention of the Libertarian Party.
One hundred percent of chemical and nuclear plants in the United States must have high levels of security. Today, the Bush administration has tolerated a much lower standard.
Unfortunately - and predictably - Pelosi doesn't explain in detail what security measures she'd like to see in place. Just don't federalize it and screw up the nuke plants the way airports have been screwed up.
One hundred percent communication in real time is needed for our police officers, firefighters and all our first responders to prevent or respond to a terrorist attack. Today, the technology is there, but the resources are not.
Then stop bleeding our resources dry with your utopian socialist crusades!
One hundred percent of the enriched uranium and other material for weapons of mass destruction must be secured. Today, the administration has refused to commit the resources necessary to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists.
At least we're not giving any more reactors to North Korea.
America will be far safer if we reduce the chances of a terrorist attack in one of our cities than if we diminish the civil liberties of our own people.
Said by the woman who wants to search all incoming cargo containers.
As a nation, we must do better to keep faith with our armed forces, their families and our veterans. Our men and women in uniform show their valor every day. On the battlefield, our troops pledge to leave no soldier behind. Here at home, we must leave no veteran behind. We must ensure their health care, their pensions and their survivors' benefits.
The year ahead offers great opportunity for progress and perhaps new perils still hidden in the shadows of an uncertain world. But you, the American people, have shown again and again that you are equal to any test. Now your example summons all of us in government, Republicans and Democrats, to a higher standard.
This is personal for all of us, in every community across this land. As a mother of five, and now as a grandmother of five, I came into government to help make the future brighter for all of America's children. As much as at any time in my memory, the future of our country and our children is at stake.
Do the children a favor and liberate education from the government.
Democrats are committed to strengthening the state of our union...
Democrats are committed to strengthening the State.
...to reach for a safer...
More gun rights, less appeasement.
...more prosperous America.
Work on that Index score.
Together, let us make America work for all Americans;
Your tax system doesn't work for me.
...let us restore our rightful role of leadership in the world, working with others for "the freedom of man."
Excluding Iraqis, evidently.
I'm now proud to introduce my colleague, the outstanding Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle.
Daschle:Let there be no doubt: the state of our union is strong -- stronger than the terrorists who seek to harm us and stronger than the challenges that confront us. At the same time, we know that our union can be stronger still.
With more market freedom and less government intervention.
The president spoke of great goals, and America should never hesitate to push the boundaries of exploration. But neither should we shrink from the great goal of creating a more perfect union here at home.
What I just said.
In his speech, the president asked us to make permanent the tax cuts already passed. He asked us to create more tax shelters for the wealthy...
Tax shelters? I didn't see any mention of that in the address.
and he asked us to use Social Security money to pay for it.
You've been using Social Security money to pay for everything for decades. If you're serious, take SSA monies out of the general fund.
For the last couple of weeks, I've been traveling through my home state of South Dakota, visiting the people and small towns that are America's backbone. And the folks I met were asking something, too: "What about us? When do our priorities become America's priorities?"
You mean they didn't get any of those tax cuts?
Rather than a society that restricts its rewards to a privileged few, we need an "opportunity society" that allows all Americans to succeed. Our "opportunity society" has at its foundation good jobs, a solid education and quality health care that is affordable and available. We believe that we have to honor the promises we've made to the millions of families who worked hard, played by the rules and have earned a retirement of dignity.
We have more economic opportunity than most nations of the world. Hyperactive government squeezes out that opportunity. Get off our necks!
Our first challenge is to strengthen the economy, the right way. The true test of America's economic recovery is not measured simply in quarterly profit reports; it's measured in jobs. The massive tax cuts that were supposed to spark an economic expansion have instead led to an economic exodus. To make up for the 3 million private-sector jobs that have been lost on President Bush's watch, the economy would have to create 226,000 jobs a month through the end of his term. Last month, the economy created only 1,000 new jobs. That's not good enough.
Job growth is a lagging indicator. That means that other factors have to improve before job creation improves. Give it time, and get out of our way.
America can't afford to keep rewarding the accumulation of wealth over the dignity of work.
Tell me, Tom, precisely how much wealth in this nation (other than that which the government hoards) is the product of something other than work?
Instead of borrowing even more money to give more tax breaks to companies so that they can export even more jobs, we propose tax cuts and policies that will strengthen our manufacturing sector and create good jobs at good wages here at home.
If you want domestic hiring to flourish, reduce the cost of doing business in America. And since when were you in favor of cutting the taxes of companies?
We can also show our patriotism while strengthening agriculture and rural America by labeling all food products with their country of origin.
Huh? How about not spending money on that labeling program and using the savings to justify tax breaks?
Education is the second key to our "opportunity society." Two years ago, the president signed a new education law. The heart of that law was a promise: The federal government would set high standards for every student, and hold schools responsible for results. In exchange, schools would receive the resources to meet the new standards. America's schools are holding up their end of the bargain; the president has not held up his. Millions of children are being denied the better teachers, smaller classes and extra help they were promised.
I'm leery of the purported correlation between class size and class quality. Aside from that, the reason quality sucks is because schools don't have to compete. Schools are feudal estates, and parents are treated as subjects. As reported by EIA, the newsletter of the teachers' union in your home state of South Dakota expresses that sentiment: "[P]ublic schools are not some sort of buffet where you can choose the things you like." Education policy should not be "serfin' USA."
At the same time, the president's tax cuts have put states in such a bind that they're being forced to raise the cost of college.
Since President Bush took office, the average tuition at a four-year public college has increased by nearly $600. The America our parents gave us was a place in which everyone had a chance to go to a good school, and then to college, community college or vocational school, regardless of family income. Our children deserve nothing less.
Huh? How can me paying less to the Federal government affect state revenues? If anything, the latter should be going up, since I have more money to spend in my home state. Oh, wait - colleges receive heavy Federal subsidies. Are you saying that you actually cut those subsidies? Since when in the past few decades has any federal program (other than the Defense Department) reduced its spending
Third, our "opportunity society" is built on the belief that affordable, available health care is not a luxury, but a basic foundation of a truly compassionate society.
Today, 43.6 million Americans -- almost all of them from working families -- have no health insurance. That's over 3.8 million more than when President Bush took office. Those Americans lucky enough to have health insurance have seen their premiums go up each of the last three years. The increase in premiums that middle-income families have seen over the past three years is larger than the four-year tax cut they've been promised. This is an invisible tax increase on middle-class families.
Tonight, three years into his administration, the president acknowledged that the rapidly rising cost of health care and the increasing number of Americans with no health coverage are problems. But the solutions he proposed -- more tax cuts -- are not the right ones. More tax cuts will do little to make health care more affordable or reduce the number of people without insurance, and they will weaken health coverage for those who now have it.
I don't have any health insurance (other than dental, which is dirt cheap). I got LASIK surgery last year. Under free markets the cost of that procedure has gone steadily down. You want health costs to go down? Return market forces to the rest of health care. And I don't mean HMOs. They're not the free market - their privatized, localized versions of HillaryCare.
In a true market, the doctor is the seller and the patient is the buyer; the incentive is to provide a health service at the lowest competitive price. Under private- and public-sector managed care, there are two transactions. In the purchase of coverage, the managed care entity is the seller and the patient is the buyer. In the providing of health services, the doctor is seller, the managed care entity is buyer, and the patient is an expense to the latter. Under managed care, as my British and Canadian readers will attest, the incentive is to withhold health services.
Mr. Daschle, fix this.
When I was driving around South Dakota this summer, I met a nurse in Sioux Falls who has cancer. She told me that she couldn't afford the $1,500 a month her drugs cost. She told me that she was going to die, that she was a lost cause. But, she said, we must solve this problem; don't turn more people into lost causes.
We believe that the federal government should use the power of 40 million Americans to lower prescription drug prices and to allow us to get more affordable drugs from Canada instead of forbidding both. Drug companies and insurance companies are the only ones who benefit from that restriction, not the American people, and that's why we want to change it.
And in our vision of an "opportunity society," promises made to those who have worked a lifetime will be honored in retirement. That's why we believe that America's pension system needs to be strengthened, and Social Security's benefit should a guarantee, not a gamble.
Social Security isn't a gamble? A retirement scheme whose monies are placed into the general fund for current spending rather than future investment? And you people have the nerve to point a finger at Kenneth Lay! Yeah, he's a crook, but so are you.
Only when every American who wants to work, can;
Stop taxing the hell out of the people who provide jobs.
...when every child goes to a good school and has the opportunity to go further,
Like I said, do the children a favor and liberate education from the government.
only when health care is available and affordable for every American,
Liberate health care from the government, too.
...when a lifetime of work guarantees a retirement with dignity,
Federalized Ponzi schemes ain't dignified.
...and when America is secure at home and our strength abroad is respected and not resented;
If our allies resent us, we need better allies.
...only then will we have a union as strong as the American people. That's the America we want to build, because that's the union the American people deserve. Thank you for listening, good night, and God bless America.
As we gather tonight, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror. By bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure.
Dude, words mean things. "Violent" describes a friendly game of football and an unfriendly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Be explicit. You're delivering justice to people who assault, murder, and steal. Rational people know what you're talking about, but idiotarians are legion.
Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working.
Please, sir, I want some more.
Tonight, members of Congress can take pride in the great works of compassion and reform that skeptics had thought impossible. You're raising the standards for our public schools...
Won't work until the government virtual monopoly is broken.
...and you are giving our senior citizens prescription drug coverage under Medicare.
And you're making their grandchildren foot the bill.
We can press on with economic growth, and reforms in education and Medicare, or we can turn back to old policies and old divisions.
Those divisions won't go away until education and medicine are fully privatized.
The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated.
The Axis of Weasel stands in the way not of American unilateralism, but the safety of innocents in Indonesia, Morocco, Kenya, Israel, Turkey, and Iraq. And Saudi Arabia - Saudis have died at the hands of murderers funded in part by their fellow Saudis.
Inside the United States, where the war began...
In 1993, with the first WTC bombing - that is, if we're counting only the al-Qaeda era of our wars with terrorists.
...we must continue to give our homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets. For years, we have used similar provisions to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers.
That scares me. One of the tools of the war on Drugs is the seizure of assets of those not convicted - and sometimes not even formally charged - with a crime. I'd sure like to see an independent review on the effectiveness of that information-sharing.
The first to see our determination were the Taliban, who made Afghanistan the primary training base of al Qaeda killers. As of this month, that country has a new constitution, guaranteeing free elections and full participation by women. Businesses are opening, health care centers are being established, and the boys and girls of Afghanistan are back in school. With the help from the new Afghan army, our coalition is leading aggressive raids against the surviving members of the Taliban and al Qaeda. The men and women of Afghanistan are building a nation that is free and proud and fighting terror -- and America is honored to be their friend.
Oh, no! Quagmire!
Since we last met in this chamber, combat forces of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Poland and other countries enforced the demands of the United Nations...
That the UN would not enforce.
...ended the rule of Saddam Hussein, and the people of Iraq are free.
The once all-powerful ruler of Iraq was found in a hole, and now sits in a prison cell. Of the top 55 officials of the former regime, we have captured or killed 45. Our forces are on the offensive, leading over 1,600 patrols a day and conducting an average of 180 raids a week.
Still more quagmire!
The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And America has always been willing to do what it takes for what is right.
If that were true, we'd have a perfect score of 1.00 on the Index of Economic Freedom - but we didn't. And McCain-Feingold - the bill and the senators - would be sharing a place in the dustbin of history with the WIN button, George McGovern, and Skylab. (Alas, poor Skylab.)
As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear. They are trying to shake the will of our country and our friends, but the United States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins. The killers will fail, and the Iraqi people will live in freedom.
Don't let Iraq become another Weimar Germany, a nation with fragile democratic organs and fragile support for individual liberties and equality under the law. It took years to transform postwar Germany and Japan into relatively free nations.
Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Qadhafi correctly judged that his country would be better off and far more secure without weapons of mass murder.
Different threats require different strategies. Along with nations in the region, we're insisting that North Korea eliminate its nuclear program. America and the international community are demanding that Iran meet its commitments and not develop nuclear weapons. America is committed to keeping the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes.
That last statement exposes the illogic of the idiotarians hissy fit over nuclear powers pointing fingers at other nuclear powers. It's not the guns, it's whether they're wielded by civil folk or by murderers. If Switzerland ever starts fielding multi-warhead ICBMs, we'll just yawn.
Many of our troops are listening tonight. And I want you and your families to know: America is proud of you. And my administration, and this Congress, will give you the resources you need to fight and win the war on terror.
Maybe one of those resources could be a weaponized Howard Dean scream - a sonic device that could paralyze crowds without causing deafness. Eliminates collateral damage and affects insurgents hidden from line of sight. Should pass muster with the Geneva Convention.
I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all. They view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved mainly with law enforcement and indictments. After the World Trade Center was first attacked in 1993, some of the guilty were indicted and tried and convicted, and sent to prison. But the matter was not settled. The terrorists were still training and plotting in other nations, and drawing up more ambitious plans.
One of those plans was Operation Bojinka, which law enforcement failed to investigate.
After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got.
Some in this chamber, and in our country, did not support the liberation of Iraq. Objections to war often come from principled motives. But let us be candid about the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power. We're seeking all the facts. Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the dictator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day. Had we failed to act, Security Council resolutions on Iraq would have been revealed as empty threats, weakening the United Nations and encouraging defiance by dictators around the world. Iraq's torture chambers would still be filled with victims, terrified and innocent. The killing fields of Iraq -- where hundreds of thousands of men and women and children vanished into the sands -- would still be known only to the killers.
Appeasement serves only the appeased.
Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq.
But it can't be international if France isn't involved!
From the beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained much support. There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.
Stuff that in your croissant, Chiraq!
We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every human heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again.
Freedom wasn't a hallmark of pre-WWII Japan, either, and look at what was accomplished.
To cut through the barriers of hateful propaganda [in the Middle East], the Voice of America and other broadcast services are expanding their programming in Arabic and Persian...
I think we need a counterpart aimed at certain of our Western allies.
America is a nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace -- a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side, yet we understand our special calling: This great republic will lead the cause of freedom.
Don't forget about our allies. Some live under various forms of socialism. Some live under the scrutiny of more surveillance cameras than all the convenience stores in the free world. Some are forced to subsidize a state-owned press. (Wait a minute, that includes us...)
You have doubled the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000, reduced the marriage penalty, begun to phase out the death tax, reduced taxes on capital gains and stock dividends, cut taxes on small businesses, and you have lowered taxes for every American who pays income taxes.
Now why don't' you address some spending abuses?
Americans took those dollars and put them to work, driving this economy forward. The pace of economic growth in the third quarter of 2003 was the fastest in nearly 20 years; new home construction, the highest in almost 20 years; home ownership rates, the highest ever. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing. Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise.
If only I could have watched the face of Terry McAuliffe as those words were being spoken.
All skills begin with the basics of reading and math, which are supposed to be learned in the early grades of our schools. Yet for too long, for too many children, those skills were never mastered. By passing the No Child Left Behind Act, you have made the expectation of literacy the law of our country. We're providing more funding for our schools -- a 36-percent increase since 2001. We're requiring higher standards. We are regularly testing every child on the fundamentals. We are reporting results to parents, and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing. We are making progress toward excellence for every child in America.
How about a No School Left in Government Hands Act? We'll never have genuine educational quality without genuine competition.
At the same time, we must ensure that older students and adults can gain the skills they need to find work now.
Children need to learn about how the marketplace and the various jobs within it function, not from a single trip to the guidance counselor during the senior year, but from years of instruction. Education must have a strong vocational component.
My administration is promoting free and fair trade to open up new markets for America's entrepreneurs and manufacturers and farmers -- to create jobs for American workers. Younger workers should have the opportunity to build a nest egg by saving part of their Social Security taxes in a personal retirement account. We should make the Social Security system a source of ownership for the American people. And we should limit the burden of government on this economy by acting as good stewards of taxpayers' dollars.
I demand to be freed completely from the shackles of Social Security. Stop making my retirement planning for me.
In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years.
If you were really cutting wasteful spending, discretionary spending would go down.
I oppose amnesty, because it would encourage further illegal immigration, and unfairly reward those who break our laws. My temporary worker program will preserve the citizenship path for those who respect the law, while bringing millions of hardworking men and women out from the shadows of American life.
We'll have fewer illegals when Mexico's government makes serious economic reforms. Maybe we should have VOA open up a branch in El Paso. Does Milton Friedman speak Spanish?
A government-run health care system is the wrong prescription.
Government micromanagement, which is rife in our health system, is snake-oil as well. Do something about it.
By executive order, I have opened billions of dollars in grant money to competition that includes faith-based charities. Tonight I ask you to codify this into law, so people of faith can know that the law will never discriminate against them again.
We need to wean institutions from government subsidy, not further the addiction. Want charities to have more money? Reduce taxes so we'll have more to donate.
In the past, we've worked together to bring mentors to children of prisoners, and provide treatment for the addicted, and help for the homeless. Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We know from long experience that if they can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit crime and return to prison. So tonight, I propose a four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups. America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.
I wonder what Charles Colson thinks of this plan? He's an expert on what does and doesn't reduce recidivism.
For all Americans, the last three years have brought tests we did not ask for...
...and achievements shared by all.
Like the fact that McCain-Feingold doesn't affect independent bloggers - at the moment.
Last month a girl in Lincoln, Rhode Island, sent me a letter. It began, "Dear George W. Bush. If there's anything you know, I, Ashley Pearson, age 10, can do to help anyone, please send me a letter and tell me what I can do to save our country." She added this P.S.: "If you can send a letter to the troops, please put, 'Ashley Pearson believes in you.'"
Tonight, Ashley, your message to our troops has just been conveyed. And, yes, you have some duties yourself. Study hard in school, listen to your mom or dad, help someone in need, and when you and your friends see a man or woman in uniform, say, "thank you." And, Ashley, while you do your part, all of us here in this great chamber will do our best to keep you and the rest of America safe and free.
Add these to your to-do list, Ashley. Read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers. Read Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman. Read some Cato Institute literature. Read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, and learn to grasp "not merely...the immediate but...the longer effects of any act or policy" (p. 5). Understand that society is the servant of the individual, not vice versa. Understand that everyone must be equally protected by and equally subject to the law. Understand that you don't have to don't have to condone peoples' attitudes, ideas, and psychological bent to accept them as human beings. And understand that those who seek to assault, murder, and steal cannot be appeased, that the threat of force is the only deterrent, and that the use of force is the only means to end such crimes once they start.
Note: the speech is quoted in portions, not in its entirety.
In FrontPage Magazine, Don Feder reports recent comments Gwyneth Paltrow made about the US of A:
The Oscar-winning actress told a British publication: "I worry about bringing up a child in America. At the moment, there's a weird, over-patriotic atmosphere over there, like, ‘We're number one and the rest of the world doesn't matter.'"
If frantic flag-waving weren't enough, the nation apparently is awash in firearms. "And the guns in school – it's not great," Paltrow complained. You'd think the legendary gun lobby was handing out assault rifles at the schoolhouse door. (Blame not the NRA, but the ACLU and other proponents of permissiveness, for violence in our schools.)
...because I was too distracted by chills and fever - which only got worse when a plumbing catastrophe in the bathroom. The maintenance guy worked on the immediate problem (a backed-up sewer) that night, and fixed some other plumbing problems the next day - disrupting my nocturnal sleep schedule (I work the Dracula shift). Some time soon I should be able to track down a transcript of the State of the Union Address and the Official Response and fisk away.
U.S. and Iraqi officials asked the United Nations on Monday to send a team to study the possibility of holding elections in Iraq, a key issue in Washington's dispute with a leading Shiite cleric over plans for creating a transitional government by July 1.
Why doesn't the UN study the possibility of holding elections in all of its member nations?
I'm sure that the same reporters who condemned government gridlock during the 1990s will look positively on Bush's end-run around the unprecedented 2-year filibuster that blocked Senate voting on numerous judicial nominations.
The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. Using a scale of 1 (free) to 5 (repressed), it rates the economic liberty of nations in ten categories: trade policy, fiscal burden of government, government intervention in the economy, monetary policy, capital flows and foreign investment, banking and finance, wages and prices, property rights, regulation, and informal market (includes smuggling, intellectual property piracy, black market operations).
Is there a relationship with economic freedom and economic prosperity? I have taken index scores and GDP data from the Index to compose the following chart:
Median income is perhaps a better gauge of prosperity than per capita GDP, since the latter figure does not reveal how GDP is distributed throughout the population. For instance, a country with a single lucrative industry whose profits go to an elite few (such as we find in the Middle East) can have more widespread poverty than one finds in countries whose per capita GDP is lower but whose commerce is far more decentralized.
Per capita GDP is still a valuable indicator. While there is some question as to the worldwide concentration of wealth, there is little question as to the worldwide concentration of poverty. Of the 155 nations ranked in the Index, 53 of them have a per capita GDP under $1,000 - and only six of those have an index score better than 3: Bolivia (2.59), Uganda (2.70), Cambodia (2.90), Mongolia (2.90), Mauritania (2.94), Nicaragua (2.94).
Thus one can conclude that a nation cannot escape such levels of poverty without achieving a certain level of economic freedom - but such freedom does not guarantee prosperity. Why? Because government repression isn't the only threat to commerce. Other factors include war, insurgent forces, social instability, epidemics, and cultural attitudes toward work and entrepreneurship.
The former Communist nations - including Estonia, whose distinction as the most economically free of them is memorialized near the top of the blogroll - built private markets from scratch only a little more than a decade ago; it will take time for market reform to translate into commercial prosperity. Of course, not all of these nations are pursuing freedom...
Closer to home, the chart illustrates the crux of the problem of US-Mexico relations. The US, like the rest of the Anglosphere - even Canada - falls in the "free" category. Mexico is just barely "mostly free." The illegal immigration problem exists because our neighbor to the south is an economic hellhole, and its government, instead of pursuing reform, prefers to use our borders as a safety valve so that its citizens will seek escape rather than pressure the government for needed reform. The Index'sreport on Mexico speaks of heavy taxation (Fiscal burden of government: 4.0), heavy governed intervention (score: 3.5), annual inflation rate of 6.34% (Monetary policy: 3.0), Vicente Fox's foot-dragging over property rights reform (score: 3.0), hefty regulation and "rigid" labor laws (Regulation: 3.0), and, ahem, a huge informal market (score: 3.5).
I doubt that even a perfect score of 1.0 will lead any country to become as prosperous as Luxembourg (1.71). That tiny nation has a lot of business in proportion to its population; you might say it's the rich suburb of Europe. The European Union would do well to look to fiscal leadership from there than, say, France (2.63).
Why Am I At Home Blogging Instead Of Working Tonight?
Yesterday I went to Monarch Dental for the first of two bone grafts to buttress the bone support for my upper teeth. I also had a little teeth grinding done to even out the bite, and to shorten the lower incisors. Typical with an overbite, my incisors overlap; eating causes the lower incisors to press food against the upper gumline. This effect has now been reduced.
I've taken the rest of the week to recover not so much from oral surgery but from jet lag. With my work hours I normally sleep from 7AM to mid-afternoon CST. I went in for a consultation at 11AM, and they were able to schedule the first surgery (on the right side of the mouth) for that afternoon. Finally got to bed at about 7PM. Next surgery is in two weeks at the much more civilized time of 4PM.
It's not a wonderful day in the Iowa neighborhood, as LGF reports. Dale Ungerer of Hawkeye, Iowa addressed Dean with this comment: "Please tone down the garbage, the mean mouthing, the tearing down of your neighbor and being so pompous," Ungerer told the former Vermont governor and Democratic front-runner. "You should help your neighbor and not tear him down."
Mister Dean replied, "George Bush is not my neighbor." Ungerer said, "Yes, he is." Reuters records Dean's retort:
"You sit down. You had your say. Now I'm going to have my say."
The crowd cheered and Ungerer sat.
"George Bush has done more to harm this county right here with unfunded mandates, standing up for corporations who take over the farmers' land, making it impossible for middle class people to make a real living, sending our kids to Iraq without telling us the truth first about why they went," Dean said.
"It's not the time to put up any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff ... I love my neighbor, but I'll tell you I want THAT neighbor back in Crawford, Texas where he belongs."
Last night's movie viewing: A Bridge Too Far. In September 1944 during WWII, General Bernard Law Montgomery devised two operations known collectively as Operation Market-Garden, an ambitious attempt to take the major bridges in Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Market was a blitzkrieg assault (I'm sure Monty would have used different language) by 30,000 airborne troops to take the bridges at Son, Veghel, Grave, Nijmegen, and Arnhem; Garden was a coordinated advance by the British Second Army, providing relief for the paratroops at the bridges.
Market-Garden received massive incoming rounds from Murphy's Law. Long-range radios for communications with HQ were sent with the wrong crystals, and the shorter-range radios for communications between the brigades had technical problems. Without radio communications, the troops couldn't let HQ know that the supply planes were dropping supplies on German positions. The Second Army encountered various delays, the most significant being the destruction of the Son bridge, which an engineering unit eventually replaced with a pontoon bridge.
The assault on Arnhem in particular was doomed by several factors. Field Marshal von Runstedt expected Patton, not Montgomery, to make the next advance, so he moved the weary Ninth and Tenth SS Panzer divisions away from the front line to Arnhem - airborne troops are ill-equipped to face armor. The choice of landing zone - 15 km from the Arnhem bridge - made the First Airborne's task all the more difficult. Of the Jeeps transported to the drop zone by glider; those that were not lost on landing were ambushed by German forces.
Montgomery called the operation "90% successful." He seized all the bridges except the one at Arnhem. In this Pyrrhic victory, 2,000 of First Airborne's 10,000 troops returned; according to the History Place, 1400 were killed and the remainder taken prisoner. Wikipedia has more information on the operation.
The communications SNAFU and the intelligence SNAFU - British command dismissed evidence of armored units present at Arnhem - were certainly key elements to the outcome. But the ultimate problem with Market-Garden, I believe, was that it required the Second Army to be present at five different battlefields - the five bridges - on a specific schedule. Such a plan requires far more cooperation from the enemy than one can reasonably expect.
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has a list of top ten underreported stories. All relate to health threats, armed conflict, and state oppression in various parts of the globe - one of which happens to be Somalia:
For more than twelve years, civilians in Somalia have been punished by cycles of violence, displacement, drought, and flooding. With no recognized central government, these factors have brought agricultural development to a standstill, perpetuated extreme poverty, and forced millions of Somalis into a hand-to-mouth form of survival. Of more than 800,000 people who fled Somalia in 1991 and 1992, during the heart of the crisis that began the nation's downward spiral, almost half are still living as refugees in surrounding countries.
Inside Somalia, up to 450,000 people remain displaced, with 150,000 scraping together an unstable existence in camps in the capital Mogadishu. Civilians are still routinely caught in frequent armed clashes between the myriad of clan-based militias that remain active throughout much of the country.
With no working government and little outside support, the already poor health care system has ceased to function in many areas. This has hit women's health especially hard: more women die in childbirth in Somalia than almost anywhere else on earth. Low vaccination coverage and inadequate sanitary conditions result in frequent cholera and measles outbreaks in the country.
Rarely is there anyone there to provide assistance. Persistent violence and a lack of international funding have hindered aid agencies from mounting an effective response to the immense needs in the country.
I plugged the movie into the DVD player earlier tonight. The obvious error that catches the eye of many is that the Ranger/Delta Force/10th Mountain Division team was not given the proper equipment (they were sent in without armored fighting vehicles - and with far too few men) to carry out the mission.
But another failure should be recognized: the mission was all wrong to begin with. The idea was to send in a bunch of guys into a hostile area, capture a couple of lieutenants to Somali warlord Mohamad Farrah Aidid, and then get out. No! First, you CONQUER the hostile area, THEN you take prisoners!
On my way to work tonight, I was driving northbound on MacArthur when all of a sudden an SUV had either stopped or severely reduced speed in front of me. I hit the brakes, but the car did not stop in time, so I ran into the SUV. It appears that my Ford ranger hit an icy spot at the wrong time. The SUV was stopped several car lengths in front of another vehicle that had been stopped. Nobody was injured. The SUV had minor damage to the rear. The front end of the pickup was caved in, and the driver's side door will not open or close all the way. I do not know how the insurance company will rule on a collision from the rear exacerbated by road ice. I'll be back to relying on Dallas Area Rapid Transit to get to and from work, but I'll have to find a ride from somebody on Sunday nights as the two buses that go to that part of Irving do not run on weekends. Any hits to the PayPal button would be greatly appreciated.
"We expect parents to work in the best interest of the kids. We’re working in the best interest of the teachers."– Hudson (Ohio) Education Association President David Spohn. (October 9 Akron Beacon Journal)
Whatever happened to "the customer is always right?" Oh, I forgot - parents and kids are subjects, not customers.
Media Research Center has published The Best of Notable Quotables 2003, its roster of "the most outrageous and/or humorous news media quotes" of the past year. The Quote of the Year is short but sweet:
"If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."
– Charles Pierce in a January 5 Boston Globe Magazine article. Kopechne drowned while trapped in Kennedy's submerged car off Chappaquiddick Island in July 1969, an accident Kennedy did not report for several hours.
Diane Sawyer: "I read this morning that he's [Saddam Hussein] also said the love that the Iraqis have for him is so much greater than anything Americans feel for their President because he's been loved for 35 years, he says, the whole 35 years."
Dan Harris in Baghdad: "He is one to point out quite frequently that he is part of a historical trend in this country of restoring Iraq to its greatness, its historical greatness. He points out frequently that he was elected with a hundred percent margin recently."
Tim Blair has a list, and many more have been spammed posted in his comments section. I contributed these:
Documents relating to Iraq's WMD program will be discovered in Paris.
Athens will pay more for cleaning up after the Olympics than for hosting them.
Bill Clinton will become the next UN Secretary-General.
"Fisk" will make it into the Oxford English Dictionary. [Glenn Reynolds approves]
Here's some more:
New Hampshire will become the first state to allow Internet voting, despite concerns that hackers might influence elections. This decision will come under review when William Gibson and Clay Aiken make strong showings in the primaries.