Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Criminalization of Republican Politicians

What do these people have in common?: George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, William J. Casey, Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, Raymond Donovan, William Frist, Lewis Libby, Robert McFarlane, Oliver North, John M. Poindexter, Karl Rove, Kenneth Tomlinson, Caspar Weinberger. Answer: they are all conservative Republicans who have been accused by the liberal press and/or prosecuted for criminal acts under pressures brought by liberal politicians. All of them have been persecuted by the threat of legal action or by actual indictments for political reasons. None have been found guilty although some have had to go through the expense of an appeal process to clear their names.

As William Kristol asks in the Weekly Standard, “Why are conservative Republicans, who control the executive and legislative branches of government for the first time in living memory, so vulnerable to the phenomenon of criminalization?”
Is it just a coincidence that effective proponents of conservative policies, who are not defeated at the ballot box, are then targeted for criminal investigations?

“Don't try selling the idea of coincidence to Kenneth Tomlinson, until recently the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Last May, the New York Times published a lengthy account of Tomlinson's efforts to bring increased balance to public television--i.e., giving a bit more of a hearing to conservatives. He commissioned a modest study to confirm what most everyone already knew, that the practice on shows produced or moderated by Bill Moyers is to interview conservatives and Republicans only when they are in disagreement with the predominant conservative or Republican position on a given issue.

Within days of the Times piece, Democratic congressmen David Obey and John Dingell, ranking minority members on two key committees, wrote a letter to the CPB inspector general, Kenneth Konz, demanding a detailed, elaborate investigation of Tomlinson. Not only did Konz comply, he asked Tomlinson to provide all his emails, which Tomlinson did, and conducted a search of Tomlinson's office files without telling him. A few months later, in September, Konz gave an interview to Bloomberg News in which he confided, concerning an ongoing and incomplete investigation, "Clearly there are indications of possible violations." Konz later said he had been misunderstood, and that it was much too early to come to any conclusions.

And what was the left's central, most deeply felt image of the presidential campaign of 2004? Actively marketed by Dan Rather and CBS News, it was this: John Kerry was a war hero and George W. Bush went AWOL. AWOL is, of course, an acronym: "Absent Without Leave." In the military, being AWOL is a crime subject to court martial, and to lengthy imprisonment. So saying Bush was AWOL was not just an attempt to compare his military service unfavorably with Kerry's, which is fair enough. It was an attempt to criminalize Bush's military career. Though the attempt backfired when it became clear CBS had accepted faked evidence, Democratic and liberal elites were sold on the idea that "war hero" vs. "AWOL" was the key to undermining the widespread respect Bush had achieved by his response to 9/11.” The Weekly Standard.

The fall of 2005 will be remembered as a time when it became clear that a strategy of criminalization has been implemented to inflict defeat on conservatives. This appears to be another part of the overall effort on the part of Democrats to win or preserve through the courts, what they cannot win or preserve in free and fair elections. Political correctness in the classrooms, in the colleges and in political forums has stifled open discussion of most issues. Now we have to worry about fighting off a criminal case against us if we advocate policies that the left doesn’t like.

Let’s keep this in mind as Lewis Libby is excoriated, and the left rejoices in his legal problems.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

The Great Contrasts of My Year Last Year

In July, 2004 (and every July for years), this was our view from the front porch of the cottage we rent in a fishing village and beach in Rhode Island. The place is itself a study in contrasts because it is one of the most peaceful - and yet at the same time one of the most exciting - places to be. If you look closely you can see the huge, white, regular ferry boat to Block Island, and also the aqua and white high-speed ferry that goes there too. You can see fishing trawlers, lobster boats (the white boat in the foreground), sports fishermen, a small harbor cruising boat, and just out of the scene, some Coast Guard rescue boats and some just plain boats. It's not always like this; I was very lucky to catch this picture at just the right time. At other times, the fog will be in, and nothing can be seen, not even the street in front of the cottage, and only the far-off sound of the harbor-entrance fog-horn can be heard in the fog's hush.

Now then, below is a view of what was left of the pool cage (and the carports) at our home in Florida three weeks later, after Hurricane Charley went through. Our roof came off, the pool cage and the carports were destroyed, and the whole complex became uninhabitable.

A year and two months later, there is a new pool cage. New trees and shrubs are in place, carports are under construction, and all units are finished and reoccupied. A final settlement with the insurance company is still not accomplished, but it appears that, after bringing a lawsuit against them, a reasonable settlement is in sight. Those poor souls in New Orleans, who not only had hurricane winds and rain but also deep flooding, have no idea what is in store for them. They probably think that the worst is over. The black mold is just starting to bloom in the walls of all of their houses.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I Heard A Nice Lady Call Rush Limbaugh Today

I heard a nice lady call Rush Limbaugh today to complain about the disdain in which he holds liberals. She felt that she was a nice person and didn’t appreciate some of the terms he was using. She felt that conservatives had gone after President Clinton just as viciously as some liberals attack President Bush. I won’t go into the exchange that went on except to say that, as usual, Rush pointed out the differences very adroitly, but her call got me thinking.

She was a nice lady, and I’ve met a lot of nice ladies who are liberals. When you get to know them, you invariably find that their liberalism is a product of the niceness of their natures and of the guilt that they feel. Their liberalism is not based on a realistic appraisal of the world we live in, but is rooted in existentialism – it’s based on feelings, not facts. Their guilt is based on some distortions of history that we are a “bad” country. We’ve made some mistakes, but our ancestors didn’t do anything that everyone else in the world did in the times they lived; they just did it better.

Sometimes it’s so frustrating to discuss things with a liberal that you want to just give up. They aren’t interested in any ‘facts’ that don’t support their positions. You can point out how many independent studies by newspaper organizations investigated the 2000 election in Florida hoping to pin something on Bush, and every one ended up concluding Bush won, and still they say, “selected, not elected”. (By the way, I’ll bet none of you have seen anything in the Main Stream Media about the 16 Democrat election workers convicted of voter fraud or similar charges in the St. Louis area this past year. This past week an obstruction of justice and plotting to murder a government voter fraud witness can be added to that list of Democrat convictions)

You can point out the thorough investigations of possible voter fraud in Ohio in 2004, and they still say, “Ohio was stolen”. You can point out the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission report that linked Saddam to Islamic terrorism, and they’ll say, “no connection”. You can point out that most western countries and many leading Democrats insisted that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and needed to be removed, and they’ll say, “Bush lied”.

Interesting also has been their reaction to the progress made in Iraq. When the election was nearing they said, “the people will be afraid of the terrorists and the Sunnis won’t vote at all”. When so many Iraqis braved death to vote in January, they said, “that’s good, but the important thing will be the Constitution, and the Sunnis won’t let it pass”. When the Constitution passed, they said, “that’s pretty good, but the important thing will be the election in December”. What will be their next lame set of talking points? Their hatred of the President knows no bounds, and distorts everything they see. (By the way, the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq said on Saturday it had found no instances of serious fraud in an October 15 constitutional referendum and was still verifying some results only because of statistical issues. BAGHDAD, Reuters)

Unfortunately, most of the Main Stream Media is leftist, and will spin or won’t report favorable events – only the bad things that happen. As Victor Hanson said in a National Review piece on 10/21/05, “The Western media was relatively quiet about the quite amazing news from the recent trifecta in Iraq: very little violence on election day, Sunni participation, and approval of the constitution. Those who forecasted that either the Sunnis would boycott, or that the constitution would be — and should be — rejected, stayed mum.

There is a really great article today by Thomas Sowell that explains, better than I can, why committed liberals do not respond to logic and facts. You can read it here.

The really interesting thing, from my point of view, is that I learned many years ago just how much we need liberals in order to make progress. Progress comes from dissatisfaction in the way things are; progress comes from creative people having visions of how to make things better. I’m a conservative, but I know that liberals are more likely to come up with creative ideas than are conservatives.

We are all in this together, and these are dangerous times. If the Islamofascists win in Iraq because we withdraw before the fledgling Iraqi democracy can sustain itself, we will face ever increasing terrorism around the world and here at home, and we may end up unable to protect the oil routes through the Gulf. We need to be more together; we need to hold ourselves to high standards, but not impossible standards; and we need to recover the attitude that politics stop at the water’s edge, or we’re going to lose what others have won for us so dearly.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Political Virus and a Flu Pandemic

This is such an important issue, and one that could easily become of overwhelming importance in all our lives, that I thought I should publicize this article.

Political Virus
Why there's only one drug to fight avian flu.

Saturday, October 22, 2005, Opinion Journal

Our political leaders keep telling us to fear the avian flu, and in one sense they're right: We should all be scared to death about how much damage our political leaders will do responding to the avian flu.

Consider Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who declared this month that he hoped concern for "intellectual property" wouldn't "get into the way" of procuring widespread vaccines for a potential avian-flu outbreak. In other words, companies that make vaccines should abandon their patents at Mr. Annan's whim. This kind of hostility to property rights is precisely the reason we now have a shortage of vaccines and drugs to combat this potential pandemic.

No one really knows how great the avian flu threat is. Public-health officials have been warning about it ever since new studies suggested that the infamous 1918 flu outbreak originated in birds. Warning is what these folks get paid to do. Other experts argue that 1918 was a fluke and that the current avian virus is unlikely to become a mass killer of humans.

Whatever the risk, some good will come out of this public alarm if we use it as an opportunity to understand why the U.S. is now so poorly armed to cope with a deadly flu outbreak. The reason is that our political class has spent the past 30 years driving the vaccine industry out of business with its own virus of over-regulation, price controls, litigation and intellectual-property abuse.

The U.S. today has only three large vaccine makers--down from 37 in the 1960s. This is the reason that, as recently as 2001, there was a shortage of eight of 11 critical childhood vaccines. It is also the reason the U.S. fell drastically short of flu vaccine a year ago, after a shut-down of one of two major flu-vaccine makers. And it is the reason only one company, Switzerland's Roche, is being counted on for a drug that would potentially protect against bird flu.

Despite these warning signals, Washington has done almost nothing. One problem is the Food and Drug Administration, which puts safety above developing rapid cures. Flu-vaccine makers face particular difficulties because they must effectively gain approval for a new product (for each new flu strain) every year. The vaccine is still grown in chicken eggs--a process that takes up to eight months. The industry has revolutionary new technologies--reverse genetics and mammalian cell culture--that would dramatically reduce the time and cost of development. Europe is moving toward products using these new techniques, but the FDA refuses to adapt and allow more rapid approval.

The feds have also done their best to remove any financial incentive--i.e., profit--for developing new vaccines. The Vaccines For Children program, a pet project of Hillary Clinton back in her First Lady days, has been especially destructive. The program now buys more than 50% of all private vaccines, and it uses this monopsony clout to drive prices down to commodity levels.

When one pharmaceutical company offered to sell a new pneumococcal vaccine to the government for $58 a dose, the Centers for Disease Control demanded a $10-a-dose discount. Politicians want companies to take all the risk of developing new vaccines, but they don't want the companies to make any money from taking those risks. Then the politicians profess surprise and dismay that there's a vaccine shortage.

Vaccine makers are also a favorite target of tort lawyers, who've spent 20 years trying to get around the 1986 Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)--which was specifically designed to protect vaccine makers from liability abuse. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been trying to update the VICP for several years, and Republicans did pass a liability provision as a rider to a homeland security bill in 2002. But three GOP Senators--Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Lincoln Chafee--created a media ruckus and demanded that it be killed. The Senators promised more debate on the subject, yet once the headlines vanished so did their interest.

The larger point is that if politicians want private industry to develop new cures and vaccines, they can't steal their patents or confiscate their hope of making money. Private companies developed the AIDS drugs that have extended millions of lives, but countries like Brazil want to force those companies to give the drugs away at cost.

The solutions to getting more vaccines aren't complicated: Push the FDA for faster approvals, shield companies from tort robbery and get the government out of the business of buying routine vaccines. Politicians can't be held responsible for knowing when the next animal virus will strike the human race. But they will be responsible if their hostility to business leaves us unable to cope with its consequences.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

They Don't Make Baseball Like That Anymore

A recent trip to Idaho awakened some pleasant old memories and some sadness. Growing up and spending most of my life in Massachusetts and Rhode Island provides quite a contrast to a heartland state like Idaho, where kids still love to play baseball – anytime, anywhere.

As a child I used to wear out three sets of playmates every day playing baseball. I also spent a good part of a summer on my grandfather’s farm pulling mustard weeds from potato fields just to earn my first baseball glove (it was a Marty Marion). As I look around on the jaded east coast, I don’t see many kids playing that sport anymore. If they do play, it is under the auspices of some organized activity, and the parents are there acting like it’s the end of the world if the umpire calls a strike on their kid.

It wasn’t like that for me and my friends. My parents had other, more important things to do – like survive. All our games were pickup games, with no umpire, and the kid with the ball or bat always had a chance to play. My folks never once saw me play baseball, and it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with that. After all, I was playing. One time my best friend and I walked several miles to stand outside the left field fence where, if we stood on a little hill, we could see the Braves play an exhibition game against the minor league Providence Grays.

A Braves player hit a home run over that fence. Even though it happened well over 50 years ago, I still remember the name of that player – possibly because of what happened. The player was Danny Guardello, and my friend tried to catch the ball bare-handed, but it popped to the ground, where I grabbed it. We then decided that we jointly owned the ball, and the next day, very early in the morning and all alone, we went to the playground where I pitched this prized, major-league ball to him. He tore into it and hit it on a line way over my head. When it landed, it must have rolled forever, because we spent the entire rest of the morning looking for it, and never found it again.

Somehow I think some of those experiences helped me cope with the tragedies and disappointments that everyone faces in life. I wonder if 10 year old kids in uniforms, with professional equipment, playing on well-manicured fields in front of cheering parents and friends learn to cope as well. I have an old friend, Dave, who was my first mentor, and who worked with me at my first real job at EG&G. He was an electrical engineer who designed many new products for the company. He was not only smart, but he was street-smart and taught me things you don’t learn at Harvard. One day I was invited to his house for dinner and met his wife and their teen-aged son, who was the most monstrous, spoiled brat you can imagine. I spent a few hours at their house watching and listening to this brat mouth off to his parents and generally make himself obnoxious, and they didn’t even seem to notice. The next day, I tried, in a tactful and roundabout way, to bring up the subject to Dave. Dave’s response was almost vehement. “I vowed my kid would never grow up deprived like I did”.

Actually I feel sorry for today’s parents. Two big changes that have taken place since I was a child are 1. I never asked my parents for anything because I knew they had no money, and 2. although we were very poor, I was hardly aware of it until high school because everyone else I knew was also poor. When WWII veterans returned from military service, they all seemed to vow that their kids would never go without as they had in their own childhood, which took place during the Great Depression. Times changed, opportunities abounded, and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams; but the results of our prosperity haven’t been universally good. Our prosperity has been one of the factors behind the social revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s, and our children have grown up with a sense of entitlement that baffles and overwhelms their parents. An extreme example of the consequences of this confusion can be seen in a current news story about a high school principal who has decided to cancel the prom because parents were setting up drinking and sex parties for their kids. My parents didn’t have to say no; today’s parents had better learn how to.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Shocking News About the Kyoto Treaty

A short time ago, I wrote in an article that the United States had signed an agreement with China. India, Japan, Australia and South Korea that focuses on energy innovation and research and development of cleaner technologies, as well as technological transfer to the developing world in order to address global warming. This treaty represented a clear break from the underlying mechanisms of the Kyoto Treaty, which most Europeans favor, and which was rejected by the US Senate by a 95 to 0 vote in 1997. The signing of this treaty has been greatly underreported by the main stream press, which loves to castigate President Bush for not reintroducing Kyoto.

Now comes this shocking bit of news (only to liberals)

No More Hot Air Over Global Warming
By Roger Aronoff, October 13, 2005, Accuracy In Media

”The Kyoto Treaty has received a major, perhaps fatal, setback, though it was barely reported in the media. It occurred when British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the gathering at the Clinton Global Initiative in September, the same week that the United Nations had its annual gathering of world leaders, that the treaty was basically dead. Blair has been a major supporter of the treaty, and has unsuccessfully implored President Bush to sign on.

What Blair actually said was quite interesting. As reported by columnist James Pinkerton of, Blair announced that he was going to speak with "brutal honesty" about Kyoto, and then proceeded to do so. "My thinking has changed in the past three or four years," he said. "No country is going to cut its growth." He added that countries such as the two largest in the world, China and India, who are both excluded from the terms of the treaty, "are not going to start negotiating another treaty like Kyoto."

Blair suggested that instead, "What countries will do is work together to develop the science and technology...There is no way that we are going to tackle this problem unless we develop the science and technology to do it." Thus, Pinkerton concluded, "That's what eco-realists have been saying all along, of course—that the only feasible way to deal with the issue of greenhouse gases and global warming is through technological breakthroughs, not draconian cutbacks."

Currently there are 155 nations who have signed on to the treaty, but China and India, among the worst polluters, are exempt from its emissions standards.
In a recent commentary, we noted that the so-called "overwhelming consensus" by scientists, supposedly that human-influenced global warming is not a theory but a fact, does not really exist. The opponents of the Kyoto Treaty, the proposed remedy to save the world from global warming, have long realized what Tony Blair is now saying: it just won't work.

There is a clean source of energy available, namely nuclear power. It has received a couple of recent boosts. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice brought it up at the Clinton gathering, as something "that is going to have to be part of the mix." It currently represents about 75 – 80 percent of France's energy supply, and 20 percent of ours in the U.S.

As the Hudson Institute's Michael Fumento recently pointed out, the two so-called nightmare events involving nuclear power plants that have occurred in recent history proved to be far less disastrous than their press clips suggest. No one was even injured in 1979 because of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania. And a new report by the Chernobyl Forum, made up of eight United Nations agencies, puts the lie to the frightening figures attached to the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union.

There is no doubt this was a serious accident. But while some five million people received excess radiation exposure, the actual number of immediate deaths was 47, all of which were either plant personnel or emergency workers. And the estimate by the Chernobyl Forum of those who later died from radiation-related cancer is some 4,000, far fewer than the estimated tens of thousands at the time, though even this new figure is questionable.

According to the report, "the largest health problem created by [Chernobyl]" is the "damaging psychological impact [due] to a lack of accurate information." Fumento points out that as a result, "no new nuclear power plants have been ordered since the late 1970s and more than 100 new reactors have been canceled."

While the New York Times briefly mentioned the Chernobyl story, the Washington Post ignored it. Both papers chose to ignore Tony Blair's comments about global warming. Perhaps they are more interested in keeping that "overwhelming consensus" on global warming intact than helping their readers better understand the complexities of global energy issues and how the U.S. can secure our energy future.
The man-made global warming theory is dead. Let's move on.” Roger Aronoff

The man-made global warming theory may not be dead, but Kyoto certainly is. The key issue has always been, “not, is global warming occurring, but, does man’s activities contribute to it significantly, or is it overwhelmingly a naturally reoccurring process?”. Of course, steps to reduce man-made emissions will be beneficial to life on the planet, but those steps should be reasonable and not ones that would throw the industrialized world into a depression, which is also not beneficial to life on the planet.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

If I Should Die Before I Wake, I Pray The Lord My Soul To Take

The terrible deaths made possible by modern medical advances necessitate a change in thinking about the ethics of assisted suicide. These days, despite my conservative nature and my firm support for him on most matters, I seem to be disagreeing with President Bush on several fronts: the Terry Schiavo case, illegal immigration, the pouring of money down the drain in New Orleans, and now, assisted suicide. Over 15 years ago, as I watched my mother’s health and body deteriorate and the likelihood of a very painful death process looming, I turned to the Hemlock Society and purchased the book, “Final Exit” by Derek Humphry. The book was a waste of time, giving no usable advice, and my conversations with her doctor and with my own doctor led nowhere. I concluded that in Rhode Island I could not even discuss the subject of giving her a way out if she were in excruciating pain and dying.

Nowadays, doctors assure me that they have the means to provide a pain-free existence to a person whose body is wasting away from cancer or from some other wasting disease. I think this is generally true, but I think also that there are many situations where either the doctors would be unwilling to provide the drugs in the amounts needed, fearing malpractice lawsuits from the family, where the person’s existence is so degrading that just stopping the pain is not enough, or where the drugs just don’t work. The flip side to the wonders of modern medicine is the prospect of a horrible, lingering death, and we do not even have the blessing of “the old man’s friend” anymore. Last year I got a vaccination that protects me from pneumonia for the rest of my life.

In 1994, the state of Oregon, the only state to do so, voted in favor of the Death With Dignity Act, and three years later they voted against repeal. The Oregon law allows terminally ill patients of sound mind who are likely to die within six months to receive lethal doses of pills after conferring with two doctors. A prescription for lethal drugs is then written by the doctor, and the patients administer the drugs themselves. Despite fears that ill people would flock to Oregon for assisted suicide, in the law's first seven years, only 208 people followed through to the end. When John Ashcroft became attorney general in 2001, he issued an edict that doctors who prescribe drugs that are used to commit suicide can be prosecuted under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The state of Oregon and a group of terminally ill patients challenged this Ashcroft directive and won. The case has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Court began hearing arguments in the case on Oct. 5. Supporters of the assisted suicide law say a favorable high court ruling could lead other states to follow Oregon's lead. It is the first major case that new Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative jurist just named by President George W. Bush, has heard since his confirmation late last week.

The Bush administration argues - unsuccessfully so far, in two lower court decisions, - that federal drug-control laws bar doctors from prescribing lethal doses. This case really involves two important issues: the right of terminally ill people to end their lives, and the allocation of power between the federal government and the states.

George Eighmey, executive director of Compassion in Dying of Oregon, a group that advises assisted suicide patients in Oregon, said the law offers terminally ill patients a humane way to end their suffering.

"The law is working well, in the sense that the few individuals who do use it are individuals who are strongly independent; well-educated, financially secure and family-oriented," Eighmey said. "These are people who wish to exit on their own terms."

Opponents include some doctors and religious organizations.
"Assisted suicide is a reversal of the proper role of a doctor as a healer, comforter and consoler to an improper role of the physician causing a patient's death," said Dr. Kenneth Stevens of Physicians for Compassionate Care, a leading opposition group.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has filed briefs in the Supreme Court case, contends that Oregon "is sending a very negative message to sick, elderly and vulnerable patients that their lives are not worth protecting and their suicides are not worth preventing," spokesman Richard Doerflinger said.

M. Charles Bakst, in the Providence Journal on 10/04/05, wrote, “Eli Stutsman, a Portland lawyer who helped write the law, told me this year, ‘The patient decides, and they're making decisions about themselves, and then only in very limited circumstances. There's no allowance in the Oregon law for anybody to make the decision for the patients, and in fact, it's a crime to coerce a patient. It just doesn't happen.’"

There are many activities that are none of the business of the federal government, and traditionally states have had the exclusive right to rule on moral and ethical issues. The Terry Schiavo case showed the wisdom of this philosophy. The federal government should just stay out of the relationship between doctor and patient. I hope no-one I know and love ever needs to have this choice. I hope I never need it, and I would regard each day I could spend with loved ones and friends as precious, no matter what. However, although I don’t think I could do it, I want assisted suicide to be available when that time comes. I also don’t ever again want to read about elderly couples in such dire straights that one kills the other and then themselves with a gun.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Peaceful Muslims Need to Make Some Changes

The following letter lays bare a crucial issue facing the civilized West in its battle to defeat Islamofascist terrorism, which, as of today’s date, had carried out 3078 murderous terrorist acts around the world since 9/11. That issue is: are Muslims in general supportive of these acts, given the cheering we witnessed on September 11, 2001 and given the many calls to violence against infidels in their Koran – or are Muslims in general a peaceful people who abhor these barbarisms?

"Jihad Watch", October 13, 2005
“The United States Wednesday made public a letter from a senior al-Qaida figure to the group's chief operative in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, that, among other things, questions his tactic of attacking Iraqi Shiite mosques. The State Department said the letter reveals al-Qaida as a confederacy of evil, and a perverter of Islam....
It says ordinary Muslims find tape footage of the al-Zarkawi group's slaughter of hostages in Iraq unpalatable, and also says they cannot accept its bomb attacks on Iraqi Shiite mosques, remarking that public aversion to the tactic will continue.
The letter further says that more than half the battle is taking place in the media, and that it is a race for the hearts and minds of the Islamic world.

At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said the letter shows the media-savvy of al-Qaida, but also clearly reveals the evil nature of the enemy being faced in Iraq:
"This isn't a question of hearts and minds, it's a question of bodies and gore, quite frankly. Meaning that this is a network and this is a confederacy of evil that will stop at nothing to advance its radical agenda. And that agenda was made very clear: it's a caliphate that will start in Iraq and move to take over Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and practice the kind of abuse and intolerance and perfidy that we saw under the Taleban in Afghanistan, which was in cahoots with these guys," Mr. Ereli says.

Mr. Ereli said the best evidence of what al-Qaida and its allies are all about is their own writing.
He said the United States released the letter so that those claiming to be speaking in the name of Islam can be seen by Muslims for what they are, in his words, perverters of that religion.” "Jihad Watch"

My opinion is that overwhelmingly the general Muslim population around the world and here in the U.S.A. deplores the violence and yearns for peace, modernity and freedom. The things we see that disturb us can be likened to the general population cheering for the gangsters during the 1920’s; they didn’t really support crime and violence, they just take their heroes where they can find them. Every survey I have seen bears this out, and our situation in fighting this war would be 100 times worse if the general Muslim population supported terrorists.

There is no question, however, that the Koran contains hundreds of references to the killing of infidels, and that the actions of CAIR, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, are reprehensible and unfathomable, given the circumstances. This organization has defended terrorists and tried in every way to subvert activities aimed at stopping terrorist acts. For these and other reasons, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, Steven Pomerantz, concludes that "CAIR, its leaders and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." The millions of peaceful Muslims here and abroad clearly have to do much more to change this situation.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Simmer Down and Think about Harriet Miers

I have been reading and listening to a great deal of moaning and nonsense about the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. This explosion of opinions is important because most of us never heard of her, and what is said in the press and on TV is going to shape the debate. Today I offer two reasoned opinions that I think make the most sense, and conclude that Miers should be confirmed.

Kevin P. Martin in the Boston Globe on October 7, 2005 said (excerpt),
“PRESIDENT BUSH'S nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court has been met with a remarkable amount of resistance from conservative pundits, including such luminaries as George Will, who have stumbled over themselves rushing to question her credentials. According to these critics, because Miers is not a well-known judge, attorney, or legal scholar, there is reason to doubt her competency to serve as a Supreme Court justice. Because she is likely incompetent, the reasoning goes, Bush appointed her just because she is a crony.

Frankly, it is stunning that conservatives would jump to these conclusions. Any suggestion that Miers lacks the basic competency to perform the functions of a Supreme Court justice betrays a lack of understanding of how the Supreme Court operates. It also naïvely assumes that the president's task in selecting justices is simply to identify the ''most qualified" individual for the position.
Why, then, the rush to dismiss Miers as a mere crony? Mostly it is because conservatives have long had a dream list of nominees to the court, federal judges such as Michael Luttig, Samuel Alito, Edith Jones, Janice Rogers Brown, and Mike McConnell, and non-judges such as Miguel Estrada. To be sure, the failure to have a conservative superstar nominated is disappointing. Each of these individuals likely would have been a superb justice and has used his or her position on the court to advance conservative jurisprudence more effectively than Miers, perhaps, can be expected to.

To assume, however, that Bush is engaged in cronyism because he passed over these individuals for another qualified individual, one whose judgment he is familiar with personally rather than merely as a matter of reputation, is a disservice to both Miers and the president. It also ignores history. Justice Clarence Thomas is among the justices currently revered by conservatives for his service on the Supreme Court, and deservedly so. Yet at the time of his nomination, it would have been difficult to finger Thomas, only recently appointed to the Court of Appeals, as the nation's preeminent jurist, legal scholar, or advocate. He likely was selected in part because his judgment was trusted and in part for political reasons, and the same is likely true of Miers, a woman and evangelical Christian hailing from the underrepresented (on the court) red states.” Kevin P. Martin

And Thomas Sowell, in “Real Clear Politics” offered this piece (excerpt)
October 7, 2005
Republican Senate Is Weak, Not Bush

”Much of that frustration and anger is now being directed at President Bush for his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Why not someone like Judge Janice Rogers Brown or any of a number of other identifiable judges with a proven history of upholding conservative judicial principles under fire?

Looming in the background is the specter of people like Justice Anthony Kennedy, who went on the High Court with a "conservative" label and then succumbed to the Washington liberal culture. But while the past is undeniable, it is also not predestination.

This administration needs to be held responsible for its own shortcomings but not those of previous Republican administrations.
Rush Limbaugh has aptly called this a nomination made from a position of weakness. But there are different kinds of weakness and sometimes the difference matters.
President Bush has taken on too many tough fights -- Social Security being a classic example -- to be regarded as a man who is personally weak. What is weak is the Republican majority in the Senate.

When it comes to taking on a tough fight with the Senate Democrats over judicial nominations, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist doesn't really have a majority to lead. Before the President nominated anybody, before he even took the oath of office for his second term, Senator Arlen Specter was already warning him not to nominate anyone who would rile up the Senate. Later, Senator John Warner issued a similar warning. It sounded like a familiar Republican strategy of pre-emptive surrender.
Before we can judge how the President played his hand, we have to consider what kind of hand he had to play. It was a weak hand -- and the weakness was in the Republican Senators.

Does this mean that Harriet Miers will not be a good Supreme Court justice if she is confirmed? It is hard to imagine her being worse than Sandra Day O'Connor -- or even as bad.

The very fact that Harriet Miers is a member of an evangelical church suggests that she is not dying to be accepted by the beautiful people, and is unlikely to sell out the Constitution of the United States in order to be the toast of Georgetown cocktail parties or praised in the New York Times. Considering some of the turkeys that Republicans have put on the Supreme Court in the past, she could be a big improvement.

We don't know. But President Bush says he has known Harriet Miers long enough that he feels sure. For the rest of us, she is a stealth nominee. Not since The Invisible Man has there been so much stealth.

That's not ideal by a long shot. But ideal was probably never in the cards, given the weak sisters among the Republicans' Senate "majority."
There is another aspect of this. The Senate Democrats huffed and puffed when Judge John Roberts was nominated but, in the end, he faced them down and was confirmed by a very comfortable margin.

The Democrats cannot afford to huff and puff and then back down, or be beaten down, again. On the other hand, they cannot let a high-profile conservative get confirmed without putting up a dogfight to satisfy their left-wing special interest groups.
Perhaps that is why some Democrats seem to welcome this stealth nominee. Even if she turns out to vote consistently with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the Democrats are off the hook with their base because they can always say that they had no idea and that she stonewalled them at the confirmation hearings.” Thomas Sowell

As I have said before, I didn’t vote for President Bush for his oratorical qualities; I voted for him because I trusted his character, and because I believed that his beliefs more closely fit mine than did those of Gore and Kerry. I trust him on this nomination. In addition to the weak position the Republican Senate has left the President on this matter, there are rumors, impossible to confirm, that several prospective nominees declined to go through the confirmation process. The Democrats have made this process into a vicious war, in which the only thing that matters is the right to kill babies. Why would anyone endure what Bork and Thomas went through? Justice Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 97 to 3 even though her background as an ACLU attorney left no doubt that she was an extreme left-winger. Republican senators rightly felt that any qualified person nominated by the President should be confirmed.

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

How to Make Your Web Surfing 10X Faster

If you know all about RSS and Atom, this will be a waste of your time, but if you never heard of these site feed protocols, this article may be of interest, because it will make your web surfing much faster, more efficient – and almost professional. Many web sites and web logs automatically generate a file whenever they are updated. That is, whenever a new report, headline or article is posted, a special file is exported. In doing so, these sites follow either an RSS or an Atom protocol – both of which usually can be read by certain programs called newsreader-aggregators, or just, aggregators. These RSS or Atom files cannot be read by normal browsers; you need to have an aggregator to gain access to these automatic feeds.

If you have an appropriate aggregator, and if the web sites you normally surf have such site feeds, you can list each and every site on a single page on your screen. Whenever one or more of your preferred sites is updated (with news, weather, new products, technology announcements, legal briefs, new cartoons, jokes, whatever), that fact is noted alongside the name of the site or sites. If you then click on the site name, the new updates pop up on your screen – usually in a side window. Once you have clicked on the site name to look at the updates, the site name changes to show that you have seen the most recent updates. Instead of going from web site to web site to see if there is anything new and interesting for you to see, all of the sites are in one window – and show at a glance which have updates and which have not, since the last time you checked.

Most of these aggregator programs charge a rental fee or a downloading fee.
However, one of the reasons I am writing this article is that I have recently discovered and now use a free web site which is itself an aggregator. Instead of having to pay for and download an aggregator program, you need only to go to this site and register to use it.

On my own web site, “From Sea to Shining Sea”, just under my profile at the right, is a small white and blue banner that says “Subscribe with Bloglines”. If you click on the banner, it will take you to Bloglines, the aggregator web site; it will establish “From Sea to Shining Sea” as your first site subscription (my site generates an Atom site feed); and it will permit you to register.

After you register, you can set up any and all web sites you wish to monitor (providing they have RSS or Atom site feeds), and off you go. The link to directions for setting up (subscribing to) a site is in the lower left hand corner, and the easiest way is to use what Bloglines calls an “Easy Subscribe Bookmarklet”. Once you have set up the Bookmarklet in your Favorites or Bookmarks, when you visit a favored site again, just click on the Bookmarklet, and that site is subscribed automatically. From that point on, any updates to that site will be noted. Updates to your Blogline account are performed hourly, and surfers with slow internet connections will find that the feeds load much faster than do the complete web pages they used to load. Happy surfing.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

The Established Religion of the United States

An article by Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D. in the October 7, 2005 issue of “The American Thinker” was so insightful, that I felt I had to bring it to the attention of my viewers. I took the liberty of editing it to home in on what I thought were the essentials to make it easier to read and understand, but you can follow the link to see the entire article if you wish. (Excerpts)

“One of the favorite worries of the professional worrying class is the establishment of religion. After reading accounts of recent Supreme Court decisions, which rule that display of the Ten Commandments is constitutional except when it’s unconstitutional, a naive person might ask, "Just what religion are they talking about? If we’re in danger of establishing a religion, wouldn’t we know what religion we’re establishing?"

The Court can’t mean Judaism. It does some bizarre things, but to attribute that much influence to Jews is to enter the realm of Holocaust denial and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Court must mean that an undiscriminating display of the Ten Commandments would amount to the establishment of Christianity, about which the Ten Commandments say nothing.

While Justice Breyer was busy defining with exact inexactitude which displays of the Ten Commandments threaten us with a state religion and which are mere memorials of a thankfully bygone era, a religion was indeed being established in America, a religion that receives hundreds of billions of dollars of public funds annually, a religion jealous of mere mention of other religions, jealous even, as in the case of the Ten Commandments, of non-mention of other religions.

"Scientism is," according to “Scientific American”, "a scientific worldview that encompasses natural explanations for all phenomena." It "embraces empiricism and reason."

Scientismists are fanatically ("courageously") striving to crush ("supplant") Christianity and Judaism ("these ancient cultural traditions") and replace them with a state religion, the state funding it under the guise of science and repressing its rivals on the pretext that the Constitution prohibits an establishment of religion.

The United States will have an established religion, if it does not have one already, that justifies its establishment with the transparent fiction that it is not a religion, that its saints, shamans, oracles, apostles, and God provide spiritual sustenance without ever breaching the wall of separation between "supernatural and paranormal speculations" and the repressive apparatus of the state.

Current events, including the debate over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, make a lot more sense if we stop taking at face value claims of the Court majority that it is preventing an establishment of religion and recognize that it is instead defending an establishment that has already taken place. How else can we explain what otherwise appears to be a paranoid fear of an establishment of Christianity despite the near total lack of advocates of a state church? The Court is not afraid of an establishment of Christianity; it is merely doing what established religions do, which is to wipe out the opposition."
Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D.

Our forefathers risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to give each of us the great gift of freedom based on their belief that such freedom was God-given. Whether you believe in a God or not, those of us who understand, cherish and wish to pass on the knowledge that our country was founded on that principle have quite a fight facing us. It is slipping away.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

President Bush's Magnificent Speech on Confronting Islamic Terrorism

Today, October 6, 2005, President Bush gave one of the best speeches of his presidency explaining the aims and philosophy of the terrorists; what it will mean if they win; and what it will take to defeat them. I believe that this is an extremely important speech because, for the first time, the President has laid out in detail the true goals of the terrorists. The speech was delivered at 10:07 AM, when most people are working, so I have created a link to his speech here. It is a long speech; it took about 30 minutes to deliver.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Muslim Stamp Continues to Raise Objections Undermining Bush’s Policies

A chain letter decrying a USPS postage stamp that honors the Muslim religion has started making the rounds again, and is sparking anew protests from various quarters. The stamp is one of a set of four stamps that honor four great religions, and, according to my local post office, is due to be reissued shortly. It seems to me that those who object to this stamp do not understand that we do not have any argument with the millions of peaceful Muslims here and around the world. Our argument is with that small minority of Islamic terrorists who are not supported by the majority Muslim population. A recent Pew Survey showed limited and declining support for Islamic terrorists in the Muslim world, and it has been a constant of President Bush’s policy on world-wide terrorism to reach out to these peaceful Muslims and enlist their cooperation. The last thing we want is to turn this into a religious war, and force all Muslims to choose sides.

This small minority of terrorists hate us and want to kill us because they interpret their Koran as commanding them to do so (we are infidels); because they want to restore Islam to its former greatness; because we have supported, in an area of the world where stability is vital to assure our oil supplies, the status quo of despotic regimes that do not promulgate Islamic fundamentalism; and because we have made it difficult for them to kill Jews and drive Israel into the sea.

There is a difference between appeasement of terrorists and the honoring of peaceful adherents to a religion practiced by millions of Americans. It should be obvious that we cannot win over the terrorists with “good deeds”. We saved thousands of Muslim lives in Bosnia and in the tsunami-struck countries and in other places. The terrorists want us dead or want us out; nothing more, nothing less.

We are not about to abandon Israel, nor can we stop policing the Gulf. Hopefully, now that Arafat is gone, the Palestinians and the Israelis can slowly approach some sort of rapprochement, and that source of dissention will diminish. Leftists who drive Humvies may spout their nonsense about blood for oil, but I, for one, know that without oil I would be selling apples on the corner and sleeping in cardboard boxes. What we have to do to protect ourselves is to marginalize Muslim terrorists among the overall population so that their support and funding will disappear. The focal point to marginalize Islamic terrorists clearly resides in encouraging the development of secular democracies in Muslim territories without causing open breaks with current allies who rule as autocrats. The main allies of concern where we must work slowly and carefully are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Oman. The countries where we should proceed as rapidly as possible to help along the development of democracies are Iran and Syria. We have already achieved considerable progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, in separating Lebanon from Syria and in removing the WMD threat from Libya.

The restoration of a great Islamic civilization in today’s global and connected economy can only happen where free and democratic institutions thrive. Even China is rapidly going down this path. Hopefully someday soon a democratic Iraq will show the Muslim world an example the rest of them will want to follow.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Bush Deserves Criticism Not on Katrina but on Immigration

Instead of loudly berating President Bush for the federal response to one of the worst natural disaster in US history (and for situations that were mostly caused by local corruption and incompetence), I would like to point out an area where he does deserve criticism – a lacking and ineffective response to illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is occurring at the rate of about 700,000 per year, and there are now somewhere between 10 and 20 million illegals here in the US now.

We are not even really sure just how many illegals are here now. Pew Research puts the figure at 10.3 million, while a Bear Stearns analysis by Robert Justich and Betty Ng suggests as many as 20 million illegals - roughly the population of New York State are here, and asserts that there are between 12 and 15 million jobs in the U.S. currently held by illegal aliens, or about 8 percent of the work force. No income or social security taxes are collected on most of these under-the-table jobs.

As FRED BARNES said in the Sept. 1, 2005 edition of the WSJ Opinion Journal, "Immigration is the most troublesome issue for Mr. Bush because he is at odds with many Republicans. He is passionately pro-immigrant, while they are fixated on securing America's southern border. The president has little influence on Republicans on immigration and wouldn't have it even if his approval rating were 20 points higher. Instead, congressional Republicans are responding to grassroots pressure to stop the flow of illegal aliens.

There's a solution. By joining his guest-worker plan with beefing up border protection, Mr. Bush and Republicans have a good chance of enacting an immigration bill. In this case, a bipartisan measure supported by Sen. Edward Kennedy could emerge. Sens. Kennedy and John McCain are co-sponsors of an immigration bill that may be closer to Mr. Bush's thinking than a rival bill authored by Sen. Kyl and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.”

Brandon Crocker in “The American Spectator”, 2/17/2004, said, "The guest worker program as outlined by Bush would allow illegals who have regular jobs to be eligible for temporary (the proposal is 3 years, renewable) legal status, and would be available to people living outside of the United States who could show that they have a job offer (first offered to existing legal U.S. residents, with no takers).

Certainly, those who are already here and have a job would be guaranteed legal status. But the free market, as efficient as it is, would quickly produce an industry dedicated to matching potential foreign workers with American jobs going wanting -- which would probably be a preferable route for most would-be immigrants than paying high fees to untrustworthy smugglers or risking a trek through the desert, with uncertain results. Seasonal workers (such as in agriculture) could conceivably return to their home countries to live with their families during the off months (instead of trying to smuggle their families into the United States) without the fear that they would have to risk another clandestine border crossing when their work is to resume.”

President Bush proposed a moderate guest worker program that could have gained wide support if backed up by much more effective enforcement of existing laws governing illegal immigration. It is not to his credit that election considerations caused him to emphasize the new legislation without also clamping down on illegal entries on our southern border. Immigration control may become the great issue of the next election. Already southwestern governors have recently taken steps to bring this issue to a boil.

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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Two Wins for America on 9/11 Memorials; Multiculturalism Loses

The hate-America, multiculturalism crowd tried their best to destroy all relevant meaning to the memorials planned for “Ground Zero” and for the crash site of “Flight 93", but the unyielding efforts of many brave people who lost loved ones on that day seem to have paid off. We cannot relax, because the Ward Churchills of this world are still out there waiting to pounce, but if we are vigilant, we can continue to honor our history proudly and truthfully.

“Westchester Housewife
Meet Debra Burlingame, who won a battle at Ground Zero.

Saturday, October 1, 2005 12:01 a.m.
The Opinion Journal

Rage renders some people incoherent and others blind. It causes some to flare up--fiercely, but briefly--and then to burn out. In others, it does no more than instill sadness, and paralysis. Yet in Debra Burlingame--the 51-year-old sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame, the pilot of the plane that was crashed into the Pentagon by terrorists on September 11, 2001--rage has fueled eloquence, an impressively mulish obstinacy, and an almost eerie moral clarity.

These are not all virtues, however, if you happen to be--like the founders and planners of the International Freedom Center--the object of that rage. Just this week, George Pataki, New York's governor, ordered the ousting of the Freedom Center from the World Trade Center memorial site: He did so, it should be said, in response to the relentless pressure exerted by Ms. Burlingame and the Take Back the Memorial Movement, a coalition of little platoons of 9/11 family members assembled to boot the Freedom Center off Ground Zero. This is ground that Ms. Burlingame and numerous Americans regard as hallowed; for them, the Freedom Center's apparent mission--the establishment of an educational venue focused more squarely on such matters as the Native American genocide and the Jim Crow South than on the victims and perpetrators of 9/11--was pure anathema, proof not merely of leftist muddle-headedness but also of an elitist contempt for popular feeling.

The Take Back the Memorial Movement's best-known voice--and certainly the most articulate critic of the Freedom Center--is Ms. Burlingame, who started it all on these pages in early June, when she wrote an op-ed essay titled "The Great Ground Zero Heist." In it, she made public the Freedom Center's determination to build a memorial that "stubbornly refuses to acknowledge" 9/11.

"Rather than a respectful tribute to our individual and collective loss," she wrote, "[we] will get a slanted history lesson, a didactic lecture on the meaning of liberty in a post-9/11 world . . . [and] a heaping foreign policy discussion over the greater meaning of Abu Ghraib and what it portends for the country and the rest of the world." She also asked whether it was seemly for the Freedom Center's advisory board to include members who had said that "the only true heroes are those who find ways to defeat the U.S. military" (Columbia's Eric Foner); pushed for the center to highlight how 9/11 had led to the curtailment of civil liberties (the ACLU's Anthony Romero); and led a world-wide "Stop Torture Now" campaign focused on the U.S. military (Michael Posner, of Human Rights First).”


“Architect offers to alter Flight 93 memorial to appease critics

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The architect of the memorial to a plane downed in western Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, said Wednesday he would work to satisfy critics who complained that it honors terrorists with its crescent-shaped design.
Designer Paul Murdoch said he is "somewhat optimistic" that the spirit of the design could be maintained.

"It's a disappointment there is a misinterpretation and a simplistic distortion of this, but if that is a public concern, then that is something we will look to resolve in a way that keeps the essential qualities," Murdoch, 48, of Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview.
Murdoch's design, "Crescent of Embrace," was selected last week during a meeting of the Flight 93 Advisory Commission. It had been one of five finalists, narrowed down from 1,011….

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., sent a letter Tuesday to National Park Service Director Fran Mainella saying many have questioned the shape "because of the crescent's prominent use as a symbol in Islam - and the fact that the hijackers were radical Islamists."”

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