Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Orleans, Drop Dead

I guess I’m really a hard-hearted person, but as a survivor of Florida’s Hurricane Charley, which tore my roof off and forced me to spend many days of back-breaking labor and many months of distress, I have no sympathy for the slobs and vultures in New Orleans who want everyone else but them to handle their problems. I agree with the sentiments expressed in the following articles, and I’ll go on to point out that the incident that sealed my disgust with these whiners was when they re-elected Mayor Ray Nagin, possibly the most incompetent politician in the U.S.A. Who could ever forget those hundreds of school buses sitting in pools of water as people died?

In southwest Florida, after facing four hurricanes in a row, there were many incredible stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Because of flooding, New Orleans obviously faced even worse problems than did Floridians, but the main stories to emerge involved terrible crimes, looting, finger-pointing, whining and the arrest of a courageous doctor who faced and dealt with an impossible situation while others fled.

The Big Easy's Billion Dollar Boondoggle
By Lawrence Kudlow, August 30, 2007, RealClearPolitics

So, the president and Mrs. Bush went down to New Orleans to commemorate the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Who knows? Maybe over a latte with leading Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, they discussed spending even more money down there. After all, everyone seems to be saying New Orleans needs more cash.

Here's a pop quiz: How much money has Uncle Sam spent on New Orleans and the Gulf region since Hurricane Katrina ripped the place apart?

I'll give you the answer because you'll never guess it. The grand total is $127 billion (including tax relief).

That's right: a monstrous $127 billion. Of course, not a single media story has highlighted this gargantuan government-spending figure. But that number came straight from the White House in a fact sheet subtitled, "The Federal Government Is Fulfilling Its Commitment to Help the People of the Gulf Coast Rebuild." Huh?

This is an outrage. The entire GDP of the state of Louisiana is only $141 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. So the cash spent there nearly matches the entire state gross GDP. That's simply unbelievable. And to make matters worse, by all accounts New Orleans ain't even fixed!

You might be asking: Where in the hell did all this money go? Well, the White House fact sheet says $24 billion has been used to build houses and schools, repair damaged infrastructure and provide victims with a place to live. But isn't everyone complaining about the lack of housing?

Perhaps all this money should've been directly deposited in the bank accounts of the 300,000 people living in New Orleans. All divvied up, that $127 billion would come to $425,000 per person! After thanking Uncle Sam for their sudden windfall, residents could head to Southern California and buy homes that are now on sale thanks to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and bid up the sagging house prices in the state.

The fact sheet goes on to say that $7.1 billion went to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the levees; that the U.S. Department of Education spent $2 billion on local schools; and that the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries has awarded more than $2.5 million (the pikers). The administration also provided $16.7 billion as part of the largest housing-recovery program in U.S. history.
So the billion-dollar question becomes: Where did the rest of that money go?

Meanwhile, according to an article by Nicole Gelinas at the Manhattan Institute, New Orleans has earned the distinct honor of becoming the murder capital of the world. The murder rate is 40 percent higher than before Katrina, and twice as high as other dangerous cities like Detroit, Newark, N.J., and Washington, D.C.

Think of this: The idea of using federal money to rebuild cities is the quintessential liberal vision. And given the dreadful results in New Orleans, we can say that the government's $127 billion check represents the quintessential failure of that liberal vision. Hillary Clinton calls this sort of reckless spending "government investment." And that's just what's in store for America if she wins the White House next year.

Remember President Reagan's line during the 1980 campaign about how LBJ fought a big-government spending war against poverty, and poverty won? Well think of all this Katrina spending as the Great Society Redux. And it failed. I suppose the current Bush administration would like to label this "compassionate conservatism." But guess what? That failed, too.

Right from the start, New Orleans should have been turned into a tax-free enterprise zone. No income taxes, no corporate taxes, no capital-gains taxes. The only tax would have been a sales tax paid on direct transactions. A tax-free New Orleans would have attracted tens of billions of dollars in business and real-estate investment. This in turn would have helped rebuild the cities, schools and hospitals. Private-sector entrepreneurs would have succeeded where big-government bureaucrats and regulators have so abysmally failed.

This is the real New Orleans Katrina story. It's a pity that the mainstream media isn't writing about it. Call it one of the greatest stories never told.

Lawrence Kudlow is a former Reagan economic advisor, a syndicated columnist, and the host of CNBC's Kudlow & Company. Visit his blog, Kudlow's Money Politics.

The Battle of New Orleans
Published 8/30/2007 American Spectator (Excerpts)

Re: Quin Hillyer's Memories of a City:

”Conservatives are right, however, to raise serious policy issues as the rebuilding of New Orleans proceeds. The failure laid bare in New Orleans with Katrina was not, and is not, limited to, much less unique to, New Orleans. Decades of liberal policy proscriptions for America's cities -- cities run almost exclusively by Democrats -- have categorically proved themselves to be failures. Much is made, by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and many others, of the post-Katrina problems of New Orleans' 9th Ward.

The conservative question should be: Where were these people like Mr. Edwards BEFORE Katrina? And why was the 9th Ward in such bad shape to begin with? The answer to these questions can be found in other cities in America -- like Barack Obama's Chicago or here in my own state of Pennsylvania in sections of Philadelphia or any number of other urban areas, including the city of Washington, D.C., outside the sections dominated by the federal government and the monuments. Millions were squandered on so-called "housing developments" that became squalid infestations of crime and drug addiction. The public education system was/is held hostage to greedy unions and mediocrity, millions of taxpayer dollars producing badly educated kids.

Corruption among bureaucratic officials, occasionally reaching right into various city halls, was/is rampant. And always the answer is to raise taxes higher, the money getting wasted on more bad policy almost as soon as it arrives in the coffers of big city X….

"New Orleans still needs help. We cannot afford to let it die." Really?

Mr. Hillyer seems to have illusions that New Orleans was some sort of a cultural Mecca. But no, the facts are: New Orleans is one of, if not the most, corrupt city in the nation. The police were quasi-criminals; the schools were out-and-out failures; the city government, when it was not run by thieves, was always incompetent; crime was rampant.

By any objective measure, New Orleans was (and is) a city that cannot govern itself. As for the culture of New Orleans, it was that of a sewer. Although he doesn't explicitly say it, you can just sense that a big part of the city's charm for Mr. Hillyer is its blatant corruption.

Even now, so much of the money -- both private and from the government -- that is being funneled down there is stolen and/or squandered. But all that money is not enough. It never will be. But why pour billions, maybe even a trillion plus dollars, into New Orleans, especially given the fact that the city itself is below sea level and is still sinking deeper?

If anything, the New Orleans recovery money should go to protect the area's port facilities and oil refineries which serve a national purpose, not to rebuild ghettos and reestablish its "culture."”
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bush and the Real Lessons of Vietnam

The Vietnam War, started by Democratic President Kennedy and greatly expanded by Democratic President Johnson, has caused many liberals to try to rewrite history. Even as we were winning the Tet offensive, that great liberal commentator and grandfatherly figure, Walter Cronkite, was telling us on CBS that we were losing. A few days ago, President Bush reminded us of a few facts about Vietnam that have been trashed in the meantime. Here are excerpts from two articles that illustrate my point and reinforce the message of leadership that President Bush urges us to understand:

The Left Shudders And Bush leads

by William Kristol
09/03/2007, Volume 012, Issue 47 (Excerpts)

“Like a pig in muck, the left loves to wallow in Vietnam. But only in their "Vietnam." Not in the real Vietnam war.

Not in the Vietnam war of 1963-68, the disastrous years where policy was shaped by the best and brightest of American liberalism. Not in the Vietnam war of 1969-73, when Richard Nixon and General Creighton Abrams managed to adjust our strategy, defeat the enemy, and draw down American troops all at once--an achievement affirmed and rewarded by the American electorate in November 1972. Not in the Vietnam of early 1975, when the Democratic Congress insisted on cutting off assistance to our allies in South Vietnam and Cambodia, thereby inviting the armies of the North and the Khmer Rouge to attack. And not in the defeats of April 1975. As the American left celebrated from New York to Hollywood, in Phnom Penh former Cambodian prime minister Sirik Matak wrote to John Gunther Dean, the American ambassador, turning down his offer of evacuation:

Dear Excellency and Friend:
I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it. You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we all are born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you [the Americans].

Please accept, Excellency and dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.
S/Sirik Matak

The Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh a few days later. Sirik Matak was executed: shot in the stomach, he was left without medical help and took three days to die. Between 1 and 2 million Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in the next three years. Next door, tens of thousands of Vietnamese were killed, and many more imprisoned. Hundreds of thousands braved the South China Sea to reach freedom.

The United States welcomed the refugees--but we were in worldwide retreat. It turned out that the USSR was sufficiently tired and ramshackle that its attempts to take advantage of that retreat had limited success. Still, the damage done by U.S. weakness in the late 1970s should not be underestimated. To mention only one event, our weakness made possible the first successful Islamist revolution in the modern world in Iran in 1979, in the course of which we allowed a new Iranian government to hold 52 Americans hostage for 444 days

The era of weakness ended with the American public's repudiation of Jimmy Carter in 1980…...

As the left shudders, Bush leads. In his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 27 years after Reagan's, Bush also told the truth about Vietnam. Now he has to be steadfast in supporting General Petraeus and ensuring that the war is fought as intelligently and energetically as possible. Not everyone in his administration is as fully committed to this task as they should be. Bush will have to be an energetic and effective commander in chief, both abroad and on the home front, over his final 17 months. Last week was a good start.” Weekly Standard

A Question of National Honor

By James Bowman
Published 8/28/2007 12:08:18 AM, (Excerpts)

Nothing that's happened in this summer's Silly Season so far has amused me half so much as President Bush's suddenly upsetting the media's whole rhetorical apple-cart by comparing Iraq to Vietnam. The media take that has now prevailed since the American-backed overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 -- that every further step in the War on Terror is further progress into a Vietnam-like "quagmire" -- has done a 180. Now they're dragging onto the stage one anti-Bush historian after another to proclaim that Iraq is nothing like Vietnam and that the President, as usual, has got it all wrong.

"What is Bush suggesting? That we didn't fight hard enough, stay long enough?" asks Robert Dallek in the Los Angeles Times. "That's nonsense. It's a distortion." Likewise, "Vietnam was not a bunch of sectarian groups fighting each other," Stanley Karnow told USA Today before asking: "Does he think we should have stayed in Vietnam?" Well, yes, I suppose he does think that. But I suspect that he also thinks we should have stayed not to keep on losing for even longer than we did but rather to win.

For in spite of all the differences between Iraq and Vietnam that the administration's apologists are right to identify, there is one salient point of similarity that the anti-war left is powerfully invested in denying. It is that American national honor is at stake in Iraq just as it was in Vietnam, and that a premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq -- and what we know would follow for the Iraqis who have trusted us and been our friends -- would be a stain on that honor as great or greater than the stain it incurred from the abandonment of our friends in Indochina in 1975. Then, in the President's words, "the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps,' and 'killing fields.'"....

Such reminders are particularly irksome to the media and the mainstream of academic historians, for whom Vietnam was merely the long-delayed triumph of youthful and journalistic idealism over a corrupt political and military establishment. That was the version of America's abandonment of her allies that was once again on sale a few months ago on the death of David Halberstam, but it's no more persuasive now than it was then. The media's belief in the glory -- at least their own glory -- in America's retreat, is also what blinds them to the irrelevance of the administration's mistakes in Iraq, which they also keep harping on -- as if those mistakes were of the slightest relevance now. What they can't understand is that it doesn't matter, even if the whole Iraqi invasion were a mistake, in terms of America's national honor. If President Bush has been right about nothing else, he is right about this. If American troops leave before the insurgency is defeated, it will be as much of a dishonor to us as it would have been had the administration been right about everything.

The anti-war crowd have never been able to understand this: war is always stupid, immoral, unjust, hateful, but once a country is engaged in one the national honor is also engaged, and the consequences of dishonor are incalculable. There is no way to "redeploy" American troops, to use a favorite euphemism of the Democrats, so long as there is still fight in the enemy, without surrendering
And surrender is always a dishonor. For us to surrender to the terror campaign -- whether "al Qaeda" or "civil war" makes no difference -- would be to devalue America's word in the international arena forever. This would be disastrous not only to us but to the world order that we uphold and must uphold in spite of the Buchananites and others who think we can simply refuse this role and go back to being Fortress America. They, too, fail to understand national honor.

For, it doesn't matter, either, if the American imperium is a good or bad thing, though we ought naturally to want to make it as good as it can be; it doesn't matter if we think it is primitive and immoral for the world to judge us by our willingness to go on making sacrifices of our young men and women on behalf of something as stupid as trying to make Iraq into even a vaguely Western-style democracy. For better or for worse, this is the task that we have undertaken, and it will be a shame and a disaster to us now to fail in it. It's encouraging to me to think that President Bush understands this, even if his critics don't.” American Spectator

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Oh for the Days When Pros Ran Conventions

Watching the ludicrous and money-wasting presidential debates and plans for primaries this year and in years past, I long for the days when professional politicians made deals in smoke-filled back rooms, and delegates really were able to vote at summer conventions. What was wrong with the choices of Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower? What if Dean hadn’t imploded in Iowa last time?

As to the debates, prior to 1960 and in 1964, 1968, & 1972 there were no televised presidential debates. This year the debate schedule has exploded, and some debates have Alice-in-Wonderland qualities. Here below are some comments from a columnist who writes for The American Spectator. Although her comments single out Democrats, much of the same could be said of the Republican debates; and is anybody watching?

Small Talk
By Lisa Fabrizio

Published 8/1/2007 The American Spectator (Excerpt)

"The big news this week is that leading GOP presidential candidates are prepared to just say no to CNN's September edition of its YouTube debate series. In the aftermath of last week's unutterably awful display of what passes for modern political debate in our country, this is a most welcome and commonsensical development. In addition to the most obviously embarrassing aspects of the Democrat debate -- animated snowmen, phony rednecks, and a host of other wannabes eager for their 15 minutes of fame -- was the inordinate amount of video-questions posed by young, MTV-types.

We unfortunately live in an age where youth trumps all. This phenomenon started in the 1960s and continues unabated today, to the extent that those who started the ball rolling have adopted a Peter Pan mentality: they won't grow up. And it was painfully apparent that the Democratic candidates, if not totally onboard with this concept, must at least pay it lip service if they want their party's nomination. So great is this feeling that the youth vote conquers, that even when choosing a commander-in-chief, immaturity rocks, dude.

This however, is nothing new. Recall the 2004 election season, when CNN televised the "Rock the Vote" Democratic debate which featured questions like, "I'd be curious to find out, if you could pick one of your fellow candidates to party with, which you would choose....If you get sick, who's going to hold your hair back? If you see a cutie across the room...who's going to be your wing man? Who's going to take one for the team?""

Our system of primaries is also obviously broken, as states compete with each other to be first to put on the shows and gain the dollars that come with them.

As states play 'Me First,' primaries fall into chaos

By Susan Page, USA TODAY, August 26, 2007 (Excerpt)

CONCORD, N.H. — “Don't be fooled by the mild manner and balding pate: William Gardner just might be the most powerful person in American politics at the moment.

For three decades, the little-known New Hampshire secretary of State has had the sole authority to set the date of the Granite State's first-in-the-nation presidential primary — an early-in-the-year contest that has been the single most decisive event in determining who gets nominated.

Now moves by Florida and other states to get the attention traditionally lavished on New Hampshire and Iowa, which holds the opening caucuses, has created a train wreck of an election calendar and a high-stakes political showdown. It also has increased the odds that the 2008 nominations for president could be decided before Valentine's Day.

A Democratic National Committee panel voted Saturday to strip Florida of its convention delegates unless it moves back its primary from Jan. 29, but there are no signs the state will comply. If nothing gives, Democratic presidential candidates will face an unusual dilemma: commit to spending valuable time and money to compete in a beauty-pageant election that won't build their delegate count, or essentially ignore the nation's fourth-most-populous state — the one that decided the 2000 election.

FLORIDA SANCTIONED: Democrats strip Florida of primary delegates
Meanwhile, Iowa's caucuses, required by state law to move earlier and maintain the state's primacy in the nominating process, will be competing with New Year's Eve for attention. In any case, the crush of more than 20 states now scheduled to vote on Feb. 5 means the nominees in both parties could be apparent by the next morning.

There are other unintended consequences of the compressed 2008 schedule: The odds of a long shot winning a nomination — as Democrat Jimmy Carter did in 1976 — have gotten longer. And public financing of presidential elections, a post-Watergate reform, is effectively dead because nominees won't be able to wait until the end of summer to get federal funds and begin spending money.

Through it all, Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to be more important than ever. The momentum that victories in those states can provide will be enhanced by the rush of contests that follow.”

Give me some grown-up professional politicians making deals to select a candidate, and spare me the agony of the current, broken process.


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Monday, August 27, 2007

Some Exasperating Liberal Myths

Swift Boat Veterans:
The liberal media and some Democratic politicians sometimes refer sneeringly to “Swiftboating” someone as if it were commonly understood by all that the Swift Boat veterans were lying about John Kerry. As a matter of fact, it was Kerry who told some whoppers about his Vietnam service, who obviously managed that service to build a record he could use in politics, who lied about the activities of his former comrades, and has not, to this date, released his medical records as he has promised to do over and over again. The Swift Boat Veterans performed another honorable service by informing the American public of John Kerry’s duplicity.

What "Swiftboating" really means is 'publishing the truth about someone or something'.

Willie Horton:
George Bush 41 is castigated now and then, almost 20 years after that presidential campaign, for racism in raising the issue of the Willie Horton furlough under Michael Dukakis in Massachusetts. As a former resident of that state (unfortunately for me I lived there while Dukakis and Kerry were governor and lieutenant-governor, respectively), I was outraged at the policy of issuing furloughs to convicted murderers, who were serving life terms. What is the sense of that? Here is what says about Willie Horton: “On October 26, 1974, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Horton and two accomplices robbed Joseph Fournier, a 17-year-old gas station attendant, stabbed him 19 times, and left him in a trash can.

Fournier died from blood loss. Horton was convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment, and incarcerated at the Concord Correctional Facility in Massachusetts.

On June 6, 1986, he was released as part of a weekend furlough program but did not return. On April 3, 1987 in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Horton twice raped a local woman after pistol-whipping, knifing, binding, and gagging her fiancé. He then stole the car belonging to the man he had assaulted, but was later captured by police after a chase. On October 20, Horton was sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. The sentencing judge refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, "I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again." This was reported in the October 1987 Reader's Digest.

Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts at the time, and while he did not start the furlough program, he had supported it as a method of criminal rehabilitation. The State inmate furlough program was actually signed into law by Republican Governor Francis W. Sargent in 1972. However, in 1976, Governor Dukakis vetoed a bill that would have made inmates convicted of first-degree murder ineligible for furloughs.”

Charles Darwin postulated theories based on common descent, random mutation and natural selection that all living creatures are related, that minor beneficial changes spread through populations, and that successive changes lead to new structures and new species. Modern science, with the aid of the electron microscope, has pretty well proven that he was right about common descent and minor beneficial changes, but that new structures and new species are so improbable as to be impossible through Darwinian methods. Despite that, both Creationists and Secular-Progressives refuse to accept the results of modern science because what has been learned conflicts with their world views.

Man-made Global Warming:

A Summer Chill
By Peter Hannaford, American Spectator (Excerpt)

Published 8/27/2007

“Have you noticed the silence about this year's hurricanes from Al Gore, Pontiff of The Holy Order of the Sky Is Falling? As last year's hurricane season began, the pontiff and his acolytes cheerfully predicted a series of devastating hurricanes. None came. So far this year it's been Dean, which put the east coast of Mexico awash, but without huge losses. Silence from THOOTSIF. No wonder.

Global warming measured over the last century ranges from one to two degrees Fahrenheit. Mr. Gore routinely preaches that it will get ever warmer and calamity will ensue. Since he contends that human beings are the cause of this, his remedy is to crank down industrial society. Alas, the weather is not cooperating with his theory.

On July 9, two days after THOOTSIF's much ballyhooed worldwide series of rock concerts, it snowed in Buenos Aires for the first time since 1918. July, remember, is winter in Argentina, but the season's temperatures are usually akin to those of California or Florida.

In Sacramento, California, where 100-plus temperature in the summer are common, on August 4 it went down from 104 to 74 the next day. It happened again on August 6, setting the lowest high temperature for that day in 101 years.

We have Lloyd Billingsley of the Pacific Research Institute to thank for both pieces of news, inasmuch as the news media (other than the hometown ones in B.A. and Sacramento) seem not to have noticed it. That's not surprising since most of them have long since bought into THOOTSIF's mantra, to wit, that catastrophic future global warming is "settled science." It's not.

The predictions of calamity rest on computer models that are no better than their design. An article by British researchers in the journal Science this month makes the point that "A common criticism of global climate models, particularly for predicting the coming decade, has been that they only include facts such as solar radiation, atmospheric aerosol and greenhouses, which are affected by changes from outside the climate system, [but ignore] climate variability that arises from natural changes within the system, such as El Nino, fluctuations in ocean circulation and anomalies in ocean heat content."

Theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson casts more doubt on the use of land temperatures to build predictive computer models. About average land temperature, he says, "there's no way you can measure it."

If climate modeling is as inexact as these scientists say, shouldn't Congress take their views into account before trying to pass draconian laws that would increase the cost of energy and hurt our economy?

The global warming alarmists had been pointing to 1998 as evidence that the warming trend is current. It was, they claimed, the hottest year on record, buttressing their contention that the warming trend is a result of the large increase in worldwide industrial production since World War II. Alas, NASA has just rained on their parade. It says 1934 -- in the midst of the Great Depression -- was the hottest year and that 1921, 1931 and 1938 were also among the Top Ten.

Despite all this bad news for the alarmists they manage to keep the "mainstream" media in a state of agitation. Typical of their stories, these August 8 headlines: Washington Post, "Across the Globe, Extremes of Heat and Rain"; the New York Times, "Warming Threatens Farms in India, U.N. Official Says."

It turns out these are nothing new. A researcher at the Library of Congress recently came across this Page 2 story in the Washington Post of November 2, 1922: "Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt." Sound familiar? The Business & Media Institute recently completed a study in which it said that the media "have warned about impending climate doom four different times in the past 100 years."

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Surprising News On Iraq From Arab Newspaper

Although Al Qaeda is desperately trying to head off its debacle by setting off bombs in northern areas of Iraq that have been completely free of violence all along, the mood of the American people and even of Congress has definitely shifted in the past few weeks. What Americans may not know of is the shifting of opinion that has also been going on among other Middle Eastern countries. I wish Americans could gain the same perspectives from our mainstream press, which has lost all trust along with its readership.

From an *Arab newspaper published in London and translated into English:

Iraq: Signs of a New Horizon
Friday 17 August 2007, Asharq Al-Awsat

Are we witnessing an all-round change of attitude towards Iraq?
Consider the following.

Several Arab powers that had tried to shun new Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 have announced a change of policy, including plans to open their embassies in Baghdad. At least four of them have issued invitations to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for official visits, reversing a policy under which the Iraqi leader was treated as a pariah.

When combined, the two events could indicate the realisation in Arab capitals of the impossibility of replacing Maliki with a man of their choice.

For its part, the Islamic Republic in Tehran has unrolled the red carpet for Maliki, ending the chill that had marked the mullah's attitude since they failed to impose their candidate as prime minister in Baghdad.

Some Iraqi politicians have criticised Maliki’s visit to Tehran. But anyone who claims that Iraq can ignore Iran, regardless of who rules in Tehran, is delusional.

Some 90 per cent of Iraq’s population live in areas only 60 miles from the Iranian border. Leaving aside the trade linked to the US-led coalition’s presence in Iraq, almost half of Iraq’s commercial exchanges today are with Iran.

To be sure, the Islamic Republic will do all it can to make the Americans bleed in Iraq. But I doubt that the mullahs want the US-led coalition to cut and run before Iraq is stabilised.

This is one of those deadly ambiguities that have always marked international politics.

Two of Iraq’s neighbours, Turkey and Syria have also indicated what could amount to significant changes in their hitherto negative postures on new Iraq.

Turkey has feted Maliki with great pomp and publicly abandoned its threat of military intervention against Turkish-Kurdish terrorists based in northern Iraq.

Turkish Premier Recep Tayyib Erdogan has gone out of his way to throw his support behind Maliki and promise joint action against terrorism.

Erdogan knows that stability in Baghdad would deprive his most vocal opponents within the Turkish military of their favourite nationalistic theme of intervention against terrorists in northern Iraq.

Even more surprising is what looks like a change of attitude by Syria.

For the first time, the Syrian authorities have acknowledged that Islamist terrorists fighting in Iraq have a presence in Syrian authority. The Syrians have even admitted that last week their forces were trapped in an ambush by the terrorists. Six Syrian soldiers died and 11 others were injured. The message is clear: the terrorists killing the Iraqis every day could easily expand the killing fields to Syria and beyond.

The fact that the so-called “security committee”, consisting of Iraq’s neighbours plus the United Sates and Britain appears to have become operational is also significant news.

Add to this what looks like a change of attitude by the United Nations and the new picture becomes clearer. For more than four years, the UN tried to keep its involvement in Iraq to the lowest level decently possible. Former UN secretary-General Kofi Annan always believed that he had made a deal with Saddam Hussein and that the Us and its allies were wrong in toppling the dictator. At the same time, the UN was traumatised by the murder of Sergio de Mello, its charismatic first envoy to new Iraq.

The UN’s new secretary-general, the Korean Ban Ki-moon does not suffer from Annan’s personal hang-ups about Iraq, including the involvement of his son and several of his senior UN aides in the oil-for-food scam ran by Saddam Hussein. Secretary Ban has renewed the UN’s commitment to Iraq, especially on the issue of urgently needed humanitarian assistance.

According to the best sources at least half of Iraq’s population still needs humanitarian relief along the lines established by the UN in the late 1990s.
The UN is also beginning to change its nonchalant attitude towards the Iraqi refugee problem.

No one quite knows how many Iraqis have become refuges as a result of the current violence. Jordan claims to host over a million Iraqis. But when we checked last April he Jordanians had registered no more than 18,000 Iraqi refugees. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis in Jordan regarded themselves as temporary residents and, engaged in business, largely paid their own way.

For its part, Syria claims to have received 750,000 refugees from Iraq. But there, too, the figures do not tally. In Syria, the United Nations’ High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered some 40,000 “displaced persons” from Iraq. These include at least 25,000 of Palestinian origin plus an unknown number of Egyptians and Sudanese who had been brought to Iraq under Saddam Hussein as part of his plan to change the sectarian balance there.

At the same time some 1.5 million Iraqis who had been refugees in Turkey and Iran for many years have returned home since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

On balance, therefore, Iraq seems to have generated some half a million refugees since 2003. These new refugees include large numbers of Christians who have had to flee their homes under pressure from both Shiite and Sunni terrorists. There are also large numbers of educated Iraqis, precisely the type of peoples that new Iraq needs to build a viable state and society.

The Maliki government has not paid enough attention to the refugee problem and the more pressing problem of displaced persons inside Iraq itself. (They number over a million people, according to the most conservative estimates.) The $25 million package that Maliki has allocated for the purpose is pitiful, to say the least. (The latest annual national budget presented by Maliki amounts to $44 billion, an all time record for the country).

As we move towards the heart of the summer it seems as if a general consensus is developing that stabilising Iraq under its new system is in everyone’s interest. For all that, however, Iraq is not yet out of the woods. Many people remained committed to destroying Iraq, and quite a few powers still wish to hedge their bets. The struggle for Iraq is far from over.

*Asharq Al-Awsat is the world's premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, Printed simultaneously on four continents in 12 cities.
Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan- Arab and international affairs, offering its reader's in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab World.


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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Two Prominent Liberals Change Their Minds

Georgie Anne Geyer is a widely respected and well-known liberal columnist whose articles focus on foreign affairs issues and appear in approximately 120 newspapers in North and Latin America. She is the author of several books, including a biography of Fidel Castro. Ms. Geyer devotes much of her attention to criticizing conservative presidents – particularly with respect to their Central American and South American policies.

My regular readers are well aware that I devote this weblog often to the dangers multiculturalism poses to the future of the United States and to its role as a beneficent, functioning republic – the greatest and most progressive democracy the world has ever known. No other country in history ever defeated its enemies after a great war and then lent them a helping hand to become prosperous democracies themselves (Germany and Japan). All throughout prior history the victor claimed the spoils. That many countries we saved now treat us with disrespect is just a fact of life that powerful countries have to bear. No good deed ever goes unpunished.

But when two highly respected liberal intellectuals conclude that multiculturalism, a key tenet of liberal philosophy, is in fact a failing, dangerous poison to the American experience, this change of opinion and direction needs to be trumpeted. I know I am usually preaching to the choir, but this time the fog of liberalism must be pierced. And these are the arrows that can do it.

In this piece, Georgie Anne Geyer discusses both her own observations and also the amazing study just announced by Professor Robert Putnam of Harvard. Crossposted from Peace and Freedom, and many thanks to our friend, John E. Carey:

The Case Against Multiculturalism
By Georgie Anne Geyer
August 16, 2007

WASHINGTON -- One of the many distasteful and underestimated influences on American and European life to emerge from the turbulent, anti-establishment '60s was the concept of "multiculturalism" -- which still dooms us today.

It sounded so good. Not only were all people "created equal," as our founding documents had it, but equal opportunity was to be solemnly strived for, and men and women of every stripe and culture were to be guaranteed equal outcome. There was also the underlying (and insulting) idea that those "others" had no culture or memory or history of their own -- they were just like us.

They wanted the same things that we did.

Ironically, these doctrines were born in the utopian lefts in American and European universities, but they came to have a hammer hold on the administration of George W., as well. Remember all the tripe about the father in Mosul wanting "just what we want for our kids"?

But now the entire, miserable multicultural voyage has made a sudden port call, and it is a curious one. One of the theory's major protagonists is the respected liberal Harvard professor Robert Putnam, known for his 2000 book "Bowling Alone," in which he uncovers a sobering decline in civic engagement in America. He has now come up with some astonishing findings that are so shocking that he did not release them for several years.

The truth, Putnam found, is that the greater the amount of multiculturalism and diversity in a society, the lower the level of civic engagement and shared sense of community cohesiveness. The multiculturalists who have dominated our social thinking for nearly 50 years got it all wrong.

Because the study has been published only in an obscure journal, it took a major newspaper like The Boston Globe to ferret out this "downside of diversity." Writing in the Globe, Michael Jones reports that, after interviewing approximately 30,000 participants in the widest-ranging survey ever on this subject, Putnam found that, "The greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogeneous settings."

Moreover, the wise commentator John Leo, writing in the Web's City Journal, adds that, "Putnam's study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. ... The problem isn't ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation."

If Putnam's findings are true -- and there is every reason to believe them to be -- then they may offer one explanation for why the American people responded so little and so lamely when our "leaders" dragged us, not even whimpering, into the most foolish war in history in 2003. I have often in these four years awakened in the middle of the night thinking something like: "Nobody simply cares. Nobody is related to anybody else in this country anymore. All the old connections between citizens and government -- and one another -- somehow got lost along the way."

Putnam is saying that yes, indeed, that's exactly what did happen, leaving us lost and atomized with a government that no longer needed our assent for its hubris, arrogance and violence.

But Putnam, a serious intellectual who does not usually let his liberal leanings affect his work, is not the only liberal having second thoughts these days. Writing in The New York Times Magazine recently, Michael Ignatieff, former Harvard professor and now a prominent Liberal Party politician in Canada, published a "mea culpa" on his stand supporting the Iraq war.

Essentially, he says: "In academic life, false ideas are merely false, and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions, and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual's responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician's responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm."

It's an old, old story: utopian dreaming of perfect worlds and ignoring the harsh reality of this one vs. the politician or the journalist or the candy-maker who has to have an innate and polished street sense to survive.

Multiculturalism -- the notion that everyone is actually the same and will fit right in -- is palpably absurd. It disrespects the new person, his history, his reality, his personality. Bringing in unlimited numbers of people disrespects the society into which they are coming -- no society can absorb that many totally different peoples. Witness Europe and Islam. Witness California and its overwhelming Hispanic numbers. This becomes, then, no melting pot, but a boiling pot and a roiling sea of unassimilable numbers that leads to the breakdown and anomie of society.

Professor Putnam delayed publishing his findings because he found them so shocking he felt he had to wait until he could offer some answers to the problem. There already is an answer. It is called common sense, and its handmaiden is human nature.


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Friday, August 17, 2007

Major Bush Victory-Liberal Icon Padilla GUILTY

Many times on this site the case of Jose Padilla has been discussed. Padilla was one of two American citizens (Hamdi was the other) who effectively renounced their citizenship when they decided to wage jihad against the United States. The American left, suffering always from Bush Derangement Syndrome, led by the New York Times, took up the cause of this thug and mercilessly hammered the Bush Administration when Padilla was apprehended on his return from Afghanistan and confined to a Navy brig. Despite the need to protect sources and extract the maximum amount of information from this traitor, demands have been made for years to turn him over to our criminal justice system, which was finally done last year.

Yesterday afternoon Padilla was found guilty of waging jihad against the United States and other countries. Will the New York Times and other left-wing media outlets and groups now apologize to President Bush for comparing him to Hitler? Will Senators Kennedy and Durbin apologize? I won’t hold my breath>

By CURT ANDERSON, APNews, Aug 16, 2:37 PM (ET)

MIAMI (AP) - Jose Padilla was convicted of federal terrorism support charges Thursday after being held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant in a case that came to symbolize the Bush administration's zeal to stop homegrown terror.

The Chicago native was once accused of being part of an al-Qaida plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the U.S., but those allegations were not part of his trial with two co-defendants.

Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi face life in prison because they were convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas. All three were also convicted of two terrorism material support counts that carry potential 15-year sentences each.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke set a Dec. 5 sentencing date for all three defendants.

The three were accused of being part of a North American support cell that provided supplies, money and recruits to groups of Islamic extremists. The defense contended they were just trying to help persecuted Muslims in war zones with relief and humanitarian aid.

Padilla was first detained in 2002 because of much more sensational accusations. The Bush administration portrayed Padilla, a U.S. citizen and Muslim convert, as a committed terrorist who was part of an al-Qaida plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the U.S. The administration called his detention an important victory in the war against terrorism, not long after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The charges brought in civilian court in Miami, however, were a pale shadow of those initial claims. That was in part because Padilla, 36, was interrogated about the plot when he was held as an enemy combatant for 3 1/2 years in military custody with no lawyer present and was not read his Miranda rights.

Padilla's attorneys fought for years to get his case into federal court, and he was finally added to the Miami terrorism support indictment in late 2005 just as the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to consider President Bush's authority to continue detaining him.

Padilla had lived in South Florida in the 1990s and was supposedly recruited by Hassoun at a Broward County mosque to become a mujahedeen fighter.

The key piece of physical evidence was a five-page form Padilla supposedly filled out in July 2000 to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan, which would link the other two defendants as well to Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization.

The form, recovered by the CIA in 2001 in Afghanistan, contains seven of Padilla's fingerprints and several other personal identifiers, such as his birthdate and abilities to speak Spanish, English and Arabic.

Padilla's lawyers insisted the form was far from conclusive and denied that he was a "star recruit," as prosecutors claimed, of the support cell intending to become a terrorist. Padilla's attorneys said he traveled to Egypt in September 1998 to learn Islam more deeply and become fluent in Arabic.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wikipedia Becomes Almost Useless

For a few years the internet site Wikipedia has provided a research source that millions use and rely on. Some time ago, it became widely understood that just about anyone could provide information for Wikipedia’s database, and also edit it, which made it a site one relied on with a certain amount of caution. Just last week, however, just how unreliable Wikipedia is has become all too obvious. (see article below)

According to the IT magazine, “Wired”, here are a few recent alterations:

“At the United Nations, somebody declares author Oriani Fallici a 'racist whore' and I think it was the UN, or was it the BBC, where somebody said George Bush's middle name is 'wanker' and not 'Walker'. George Bush is also a 'mass murderer' according to another edit.

At Al Jazeera, a staffer declares the founding of Israel as bad as the holocaust, while the Guardian newspaper has rewritten the entry on the rival Times.

To be fair, this is a game the right also play. Republicans rewrote sections on the Iraqi War, the Israeli government altered the entry on Hezbollah, and the FBI altered the entry on Guantanomo Bay and removed photos.

Technology firms and other corporates also remove facts they wish to hide. Thus, Microsoft has removed references to X-Box failures; Dell Computers has apparantly whitewashed its own entry and Novell has removed information about the origins of the Suse Linux software programming language.”

I use a service called for a quick lookup of information and the meanings and spellings of words. I complained to them about a year ago that their use of Wikipedia was unwise. Their answer was that they use multiple sources. I think that they and everyone else should stop using Wikipedia entirely until Wikipedia sets up only reputable editors to comb their database for erroneous and biased material and to provide future entries.

New tool exposes self-edits in Wikipedia
IDG News Service 8/16/07, John Blau

A word of caution about editing entries "anonymously" in Wikipedia: a tool has been developed that can show who made the changes.

Virgil Griffith, who will be a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology starting in September, has developed Wikipedia Scanner, a search tool that traces the IP (Internet Protocol) address of people who make edits to the online encyclopedia.

While Wikipedia allows anyone to make edits, it keeps detailed logs of the changes made. And although people can make changes without identifying themselves, the changes often create digital fingerprints that provide information about the user, such as the location of the computer used to make the edit.

Many of the edits detected by the scanner correct spelling mistakes or obvious factual errors, but others have been used to polish entries by rewriting or removing critical material. The scanner has traced entries to people at several large companies who appear to have altered potentially damaging content.

Someone on Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s network, for instance, altered a line about the wages it pays employees. The original entry stated that "Wages at Wal-Mart are about 20% less than at other retail stores," citing the author Greg Palast as the source. The revised entry reads: "The average wage at Wal-Mart is almost double the federal minimum wage," and changes the attribution to Wal-Mart.

A person with access to an IP address at the election systems division of Diebold Inc. cut large sections out of an entry about concerns of security experts over the integrity of Diebold's voting machines, as well as information about the its CEO's fund raising for President George W. Bush. The deleted text was later restored.
And a user of a computer at the British Broadcasting Corp. changed Bush's middle name from "Walker" to "Wanker."

The scanner has also tracked digital fingerprints that have led to computers at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Vatican.

Griffith created the tool to "create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike," he wrote on his Web site. He admitted that it's impossible to be sure if the edits were made by someone working at one of the organizations, although the IP address reveals that they were made by someone with access to their network, he says.

"If the edit occurred during working hours, then we can reasonably assume that the person is either an agent of that company or a guest that was allowed access to their network," he wrote.

Griffith came up with the idea when he "heard about Congressmen being caught for white-washing their wikipedia pages," he said.

He said he believes that anonymous speech is important for open projects like Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia works fine today for "noncontroversial topics," he said, but tools like Wikipedia Scanner can help make the site more reliable for controversial topics, he said.

A spokesman for Wikipedia in Germany referred to the scanner tool as a "good development" and encouraged other researchers and people to download data from the online encyclopedia and snoop around. "There's surely plenty to discover," he said via e-mail.


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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

End Welfare Before We All End Up Murdered

We know that Welfare has destroyed black families and is well on its way to destroying white families. Before former President Johnson’s Great Society, about 26% of both white and black children were born out of wedlock. Today that figure has doubled for whites and tripled for blacks. Welfare reform was a start, but it has hardly made a dent in this devastation of American society. What is needed is for AFDC to be made into an emergency aid program that can only be drawn on for a short time every few years.

We’ll never get anywhere if we keep throwing money at symptoms while the underlying problems are kept off the table.

Newark triple-murder reveals need for fathers

August 14, 2007, Carey Roberts,

"Enough is enough," thundered Newark mayor Cory Booker at Saturday's funeral of Dashon Harvey. The weekend before Dashon, age 20, and two of his friends had been forced to kneel against a wall at a nearby school playground and shot in the head, execution-style.

Dashon had been a student at Delaware State University, eventually hoping to become a social worker.

City Journal commentator Steven Malanga reveals the social pathology that lies behind those murders: "An astonishing 60 percent of the city's kids are growing up without fathers ... Studies have also found that about 70 percent of the long-term prisoners in our jails, those who have committed the most violent crimes, grew up without fathers." []

Just hours before Mayor Booker was venting his outrage, Robert Pedersen, divorced father of two, was preparing to depart on a 700-mile bicycle trek from Lansing, Michigan to Washington, DC. His objective: to share his story at an August 18 rally in honor of Family Preservation Day. []

As Pedersen was set to leave on his journey, he lamented, "I was not able to say goodnight to my children last night because the phone was never picked up despite a total of 4 calls. All I wanted to do was to hear their voice before having to leave on such a long and intense journey."

Kids yearn for the love and discipline of their fathers, and dads long to be with their children. So where on the road to a kinder, gentler society did things begin to go a-kilter?

The wellspring of the problem can be traced to the advent of no-fault divorce, relaxed sexual mores that gave rise to out-of-wedlock births, and the legacy of Great Society programs that diminished father's roles.

And a recent report by political scientist Stephen Baskerville reveals powerful incentives have now become rooted in the system. [] These inducements stymie reform and place families at risk.

The problem starts at the top with the Office for Child Support Enforcement, the federal bureaucracy that awards grants to states that propel the gears of their child support enforcement machinery.

Remember we're talking about a squeezing-blood-out-of-a-turnip problem — few low-income dads have the skills or job opportunities to make their child support payments. So revoking their fishing licenses and throwing them in jail becomes an exercise in social do-gooding that is more symbol than substance.

If our child support collection effort was working, the revenues collected from obligated parents should exceed the program's expenses. But they don't. According to a 2003 report from the House Ways and Means Committee, taxpayers actually lost $2.7 billion in 2002.

The OCSE sweetens the deal by dangling juicy incentives that are tied to the level of child support dollars collected. For example in 2002, child support programs brought $640 million to California and $228 million to Ohio.

It's those incentives that have made the system so destructive to families.

If fathers are awarded 50% custody of their children, they owe little or nothing in child support. If no child support dollars are channeling through the system, then the federal money dries up. This creates an inducement for states to keep children away from their fathers as much as possible.

The system has become so corrupted that bureaucrats brazenly speak out in its defense. Last year North Dakota citizens were debating a bill to promote shared parenting.

Then Department of Human Services head Carol Olson did her Chicken Little routine, claiming — falsely — that the state would lose $71 million in federal payments. Olson was saying in so many words that a father's love counts for less than being able to suckle on the federal teat.

The end result is a dissolution of the family and an unraveling of the social order. Of course that creates the demand for more welfare programs. As former Administration for Children and Families head Secretary Wade Horn explained, "My agency spends $46 billon per year operating 65 different social programs. The need for each is either created or exacerbated by the breakup of families and marriages."

So we're talking about a federal program that costs billions of dollars a year, fails to recover its own expenses, elbows dads out of the picture, subjects single moms to the vagaries of state-enforced neo-paternalism, harms children, and eventually rends the social fabric of our nation.

So as Robert Pedersen peddles into Washington and does a triumphant loop around the DC mall, the question remains, Will federal lawmakers take heed of the senseless tragedy of Dashon Harvey and his grieving parents?


City Without Fathers
Behind Newark’s epidemic violence are its thousands of fatherless children.

Steven Malanga, 9 August 2007, City Journal

The horrific, execution-style killing of three teens in Newark last weekend has sparked widespread outrage and promises of reform from politicians, religious leaders, and community activists, who are pledging a renewed campaign against the violence that plagues New Jersey’s largest city. But much of the reaction, though well-intentioned, misses the point. Behind Newark’s persistent violence and deep social dysfunction is a profound cultural shift that has left many of the city’s children growing up outside the two-parent family—and in particular, growing up without fathers. Decades of research tell us that such children are far likelier to fail in school and work and to fall into violence than those raised in two-parent families. In Newark, we are seeing what happens to a community when the traditional family comes close to disappearing.

According to 2005 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 32 percent of Newark children are being raised by their parents in a two-adult household. The rest are distributed among families led by grandparents, foster parents, and single parents—mostly mothers. An astonishing 60 percent of the city’s kids are growing up without fathers. It isn’t that traditional families are breaking up; they aren’t even getting started. The city has one of the highest out-of-wedlock birthrates in the country, with about 65 percent of its children born to unmarried women. And 70 percent of those births are to women who are already poor, meaning that their kids are born directly into poverty.

The economic consequences of these numbers are unsettling, since single parenthood is a road to lasting poverty in America today. In Newark, single parents head 83 percent of all families living below the poverty line. If you are a child born into a single-parent family in Newark, your chances of winding up in poverty are better than one in five, but if you are born into a two-parent family, those chances drop to just one in twelve.

And the social consequences are even more disturbing. Research conducted in the 1990s found that a child born out of wedlock was three times more likely to drop out of school than the average child, and far more likely to wind up on welfare as an adult. Studies have also found that about 70 percent of the long-term prisoners in our jails, those who have committed the most violent crimes, grew up without fathers.

The starkness of these statistics makes it astonishing that our politicians and policy makers ignore the subject of single parenthood, as if it were outside the realm of civic discourse. And our religious leaders, who once preached against such behavior, now also largely avoid the issue, even as they call for prayer vigils and organize stop-the-violence campaigns in Newark. Often, in this void, the only information that our teens and young adults get on the subject of marriage, children, and family life comes through media reports about the lifestyles of our celebrity entertainers and athletes, who have increasingly shunned matrimony and traditional families. Once, such news might have been considered scandalous; today, it is reported matter-of-factly, as if these pop icons’ lives were the norm.

Faced with such a profound shift in attitudes, even well-designed, well-intentioned government programs that have worked elsewhere may have only limited success in a community like Newark. The city’s dynamic new mayor, Cory Booker, has moved quickly to import successful ideas and programs, including rigorous quality-of-life policing from New York City. Booker is advocating sensible changes to fix the city’s troubled school system, which graduates a shockingly low number of students, and he’s looking at job training programs to get fathers involved, at least economically, in their children’s lives.

But Booker has also shown frustration at the slow pace of change in Newark, and earlier this week he observed that the city’s problems didn’t start yesterday and won’t be solved tomorrow. Given that some 3,750 kids are born every year into fatherless Newark families, Booker’s prediction may be depressingly correct.


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Monday, August 13, 2007

The Limits of Atheism

Like most people, I left high school biology class, where the works of Darwin and Mendel were taught, believing that I had learned the truth about man’s origin and evolutionary development. It was not until I encountered college and graduate school statistics that I realized that life could not possibly have occurred by chance on this planet, but I had a growing family to support and could not spend much time thinking about such grand questions. For all those years I got by with a vague concept that, yes, evolution was the answer, but it was God-directed.

Then I stumbled upon Dr. Michael Behe’s book, “Darwin’s Black Box”, and saw that it was one of man’s great gifts to mankind, and it sparked a reawakening for me. I understood completely why Darwin really made no sense, and I understood the connections that exist between Darwin, Marx, Stalin, Hitler and other socialists. (Don’t be shocked at the Hitler reference; Nazi is short for National Socialism, and that’s just what it was.)

What I didn’t understand was why the politically correct left fights so hard to retain the supremacy of Darwinism, a scientific theory whose proofs are almost non-existent and filled with known frauds (Hagel’s embryos, the gray moths of England, etc.) Scientists and academics who challenge Darwinism are not just opposed, their professional lives and careers are put at risk.

Now Behe has written another seminal book, “The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism”, which goes even further in overturning Darwinian theory. In the following article by David Warren, the basis for the violent opposition to any challenge to Darwinism is explained. I tried to excerpt the article, but finally decided the entire piece needed to be read.

The limits of atheism

David Warren
The Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I get such apoplectic letters, whenever I write about "evolutionism," that I really can't resist writing about it again. This is not, of course, because I have any desire to tease such correspondents. Perish the thought. Rather, when a writer finds he has hit such a nerve, he can also know that he is approaching a great truth.

In this case, we must ask ourselves why so many people get so excited about an area of science that should not concern them. For most of these correspondents know precious little science, and haven't the stamina to engage in detailed argument.

They are simply shocked and appalled that anyone would dream of challenging what they believe to be the consensus of "qualified experts," whom they assume are a closed camp of hard-bitten materialists, with no time for religious or poetical flights.

The answer to this question is clear enough. People without a stake in a controversy pay little or no attention to it. They will hardly be vexed by assertions of one party or another, when the result of the controversy cannot touch their lives. It is rather when a person does have a stake, that he begins to care.

It follows that my most apoplectic correspondents have a stake in evolutionary controversies. They imagine themselves to have an impersonal interest in defending science against "religious superstition," and the dangers to society that the latter might present. They in fact have strong and uncompromising religious beliefs of their own, which they are loath to have questioned.

Much of the "star chamber" atmosphere, that has accompanied the public invigilation of microbiologists such as Michael J. Behe, and other very qualified scientists working on questions of design in natural systems, can only be explained in this way. The establishment wants such research to be stopped, because it challenges the received religious order, of atheist materialism. Any attempt, or suspected attempt, to acknowledge God in scientific proceedings, must be exposed and punished to the limit of the law; or by other ruthless means where the law does not suffice.

To be fair, some Roman churchmen were once unhappy with certain cosmological speculations of Galileo Galilei, and biblically literalist Protestant clergymen with the direction Charles Darwin seemed to be going -- though in neither case was the slightest effort made to suppress the research itself. But as we found throughout the 20th century, atheist materialism is vastly more sensitive to heresy than any previously known religious orthodoxy -- as witness more than 100 million corpses it created, to enforce its doctrinal will.

Meanwhile the edifice of official atheist materialism crumbles, under the pressure of actual scientific inquiry. Mr. Behe's recent book, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, does a fairly good job of surveying the three iron struts from which Darwinism was welded: random mutation, natural selection, and common descent. He is able to leave only this last standing.

This last week we learned of the collapse of one of the latest props of "deep evolutionism," which was also one of the earliest (the ancient Greeks first thought of it): The very popular "panspermian" hypothesis that life was first seeded on the earth by materials arriving in comets. It has been kicked away by Paul Falkowski, and other biologists and oceanographers from Rutgers and Boston universities, studying DNA samples frozen in the Antarctic ice. (See, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.) They showed nothing of any earthly genetic use could have survived.

Like every other modern essay in "evolutionism" (i.e. evolution as a religious cosmology), the idea behind panspermianism is to transfer the problem of life's origin on earth, out of the finite space and time of the earth's own geological history, and into some abstract place where the laws of chance have an infinite amount of time to do whatever is necessary. But the game is almost up. We can now roughly date the origin of our universe, and 15 billion years more-or-less is proving much too short a time for random processes to produce a non-random result. Fifteen billion times 15 billion years is still not nearly enough time.

Those who refuse to acknowledge God, will not give up. Most have by now moved on to hypotheses about "multiple universes," in the hope that by allowing an infinite number of other universes in which random processes produced random results, we can excuse this one for being so exceptionally non-random.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Warm-mongers and cheeseburger imperialists

Warm-mongers and cheeseburger imperialists

Sunday, August 12, 2007 MARK STEYN, OCRegister

Something rather odd happened the other day. If you go to NASA's Web site and look at the "U.S. surface air temperature" rankings for the lower 48 states, you might notice that something has changed.

Then again, you might not. They're not issuing any press releases about it. But they have quietly revised their All-Time Hit Parade for U.S. temperatures. The "hottest year on record" is no longer 1998, but 1934. Another alleged swelterer, the year 2001, has now dropped out of the Top 10 altogether, and most of the rest of the 21st century – 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 – plummeted even lower down the Hot 100. In fact, every supposedly hot year from the Nineties and this decade has had its temperature rating reduced. Four of America's Top 10 hottest years turn out to be from the 1930s, that notorious decade when we all drove around in huge SUVs with the air-conditioning on full-blast. If climate change is, as Al Gore says, the most important issue anyone's ever faced in the history of anything ever, then Franklin Roosevelt didn't have a word to say about it.

And yet we survived.

So why is 1998 no longer America's record-breaker? Because a very diligent fellow named Steve McIntyre of labored long and hard to prove there was a bug in NASA's handling of the raw data. He then notified the scientists responsible and received an acknowledgment that the mistake was an "oversight" that would be corrected in the next "data refresh." The reply was almost as cool as the revised chart listings.

Who is this man who understands American climate data so much better than NASA? Well, he's not even American: He's Canadian. Just another immigrant doing the jobs Americans won't do, even when they're federal public servants with unlimited budgets? No. Mr. McIntyre lives in Toronto. But the data smelled wrong to him, he found the error, and NASA has now corrected its findings – albeit without the fanfare that accompanied the hottest-year-on-record hysteria of almost a decade ago.

Sunlight may be the best disinfectant, but, when it comes to global warming, the experts prefer to stick the thermometer where the sun don't shine.

One is tempted to explain the error with old the computer expert's cry: That's not a bug, it's a feature. To maintain public hysteria, it's necessary for the warm-mongers to be able to demonstrate that something is happening now. Or as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram put it at the end of 1998:

"It's December, and you're still mowing the lawn. You can't put up the Christmas lights because you're afraid the sweat pouring off your face will short out the connections. Your honeysuckle vines are blooming. Mosquitoes are hovering at your back door.

"Hot enough for you?"

It's not the same if you replace "Hot enough for you?" with "Yes, it's time to relive sepia-hued memories from grandpa's Dust Bowl childhood."

Yet the fakery wouldn't be so effective if there weren't so many takers for it. Why is that?

In my book, still available at all good bookstores (you can find it propping up the wonky rear leg of the display table for Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"), I try to answer this question by way of some celebrated remarks by the acclaimed British novelist Margaret Drabble, speaking just after the liberation of Iraq. Ms Drabble said:

"I detest Coca-Cola, I detest burgers, I detest sentimental and violent Hollywood movies that tell lies about history. I detest American imperialism, American infantilism, and American triumphalism about victories it didn't even win."

That's an interesting list of grievances. If you lived in Poland in the 1930s, you weren't worried about the Soviets' taste in soft drinks or sentimental Third Reich pop culture. If Washington were a conventional great power, the intellectual class would be arguing that the United States is a threat to France or India or Chad or some such. But because it's the world's first nonimperial superpower the world has had to concoct a thesis that America is a threat not merely to this or that nation state but to the entire planet, and not because of conventional great-power designs but because – even scarier – of its "consumption," its very way of life. Those Cokes and cheeseburgers detested by discriminating London novelists are devastating the planet in ways that straightforward genocidal conquerors like Hitler and Stalin could only have dreamed of. The construct of this fantasy is very revealing about how unthreatening America is.

And, when the cheeseburger imperialists are roused to real if somewhat fitful warmongering, that's no reason for the self-loathing to stop. The New Republic recently published a "Baghdad Diary" by one "Scott Thomas," who turned out to be Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp. It featured three anecdotes of American soldiering: the deliberate killing of domestic dogs by the driver of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle; a child's skull worn by a U.S. serviceman as a fashion accessory; and the public abuse of a woman to her face, a half-melted face disfigured by an IED. In that last anecdote, the abusive soldier was the author himself, citing it as evidence of how the Iraq war has degraded and dehumanized everyone.

According to the Weekly Standard, army investigators say Pvt. Beauchamp has now signed a statement recanting his lurid anecdotes. And even the New Republic's editors concede the IED-victim mockery took place in Kuwait, before Pvt. Beauchamp ever got to Iraq.

They don't seem to realize this destroys the entire premise of the piece, which is meant to be about the dehumanization of soldiers in combat. Pvt. Beauchamp came pre-dehumanized. Indeed, he was writing Iraq atrocity fantasies on his blog back in Germany. It might be truer to say he was "dehumanized" by American media coverage. In this, he joins an ever lengthening list of peddlers of fake atrocities, such as Jesse MacBeth, an Army Ranger who claimed to have slaughtered hundreds of civilians in a mosque. He turned out to be neither an Army Ranger nor a mass murderer.

There are many honorable reasons to oppose the Iraq war, but believing that our troops are sick monsters is not one of them. The sickness is the willingness of so many citizens of the most benign hegemon in history to believe they must be.

As Pogo said, way back in the 1971 Earth Day edition of a then-famous comic strip, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Even when we don't do anything: In the post-imperial age, powerful nations no longer have to invade and kill. Simply by driving a Chevy Suburban, we can make the oceans rise and wipe the distant Maldive Islands off the face of the Earth. This is a kind of malignant narcissism so ingrained it's now taught in our grade schools. Which may be why, even when the New Republic's diarist goes to Iraq and meets the real enemy, he still assumes it's us.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sick of SCHIP by Diana Furchtgott-Roth

Sick of SCHIP
August 10, 2007, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Hudson Institute

The State Children's Health Insurance Program expires on September 30, potentially leaving 5 million children uninsured, 637,000 of them in New York State. SCHIP, pronounced ess-chip, originally was signed into law in 1997 as an addition to Medicaid.

Politicians find it hard to end any government program, though, especially one delivering services to children, so reauthorizing SCHIP should be easy. But it isn't.

That's because the reauthorization of SCHIP has sparked a philosophical debate over the government's role in health care. This bill is but one battle in a long ideological war that will not end with the resolution of this legislation. President Bush is prepared to reauthorize SCHIP when Congress returns in September, but he opposes Democratic proposals to expand eligibility to families who are more than 200% above the poverty line. He wants to treat federal-state health insurance like the government treats food and housing - available to low-income Americans who need it, but not to everyone.

By contrast, many congressional Democrats believe that health insurance should be treated like street lighting - available to everyone, and paid for by the taxpayers, as in Europe and Canada. Some Democrats would expand SCHIP to families who cannot be defined as low-income by any stretch of the imagination.

Which side will blink first when Congress reconvenes?

Mr. Bush wants to increase SCHIP's funding by $5 billion over five years. Only in Congress is this regarded as an insignificant amount. Senate Democrats, led by Montana's Max Baucus, have passed a bill by a margin of 68 to 31 to increase funding by $35 billion. The House Democrats' bill, sponsored by Michigan's John Dingell, the savvy senior Democrat, passed 225 to 204 and goes for broke at $50 billion.

The "compromise" from a House-Senate conference seems certain to exceed Mr. Bush's declared limits. Will he veto it? Can Democrats muster the two-thirds majorities in each House needed to override a veto?

If a veto comes and stands, the Democratic leadership will have to consider a second-round, and more modest bill. It may try to set up Mr. Bush as hostile to more generous health care for children, but it cannot walk away from the issue altogether.

The number of children covered by government health care programs has been rising. Last year SCHIP covered 7 million low-income children and Medicaid covered 29 million low-income children, 48% of all children, compared with 28% in 1998.

Even so, there are still children without health insurance, and that's why congressional Democrats want to expand the program. The exact number is uncertain. The administration estimates that 2 million children are uninsured for a year or more. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 5 million children lack insurance for part of a year.

Many parents don't register children for SCHIP because they don't see any reason to do so. Kids are basically healthy, and parents may have to take unpaid time off from work to register them.

If a child gets sick, however, and visits a doctor or an emergency room, the child is usually signed up for SCHIP or Medicaid on the spot. Hence, numbers of children listed as "uninsured" overstate numbers with no care.

To insure more children under SCHIP, Democrats would raise income eligibility well into the middle class. The present limit of 200% of the poverty line is $40,444 for a family of four, although individual states can and do fund higher levels. The Senate would raise the limit to 300%, or $61,000, and the House sets no limit on what states can do. Hence, states such as New York, who are applying to raise the limit to 400% of poverty, or $82,000, would be able to do so.

Mr. Dingell, whose bill, according to CBO, would insure another 5 million children, proposes changes that would enlarge the role of government and diminish individual responsibility and choices within private markets. Here is the philosophical conflict that makes compromise difficult: Mr. Dingell would eliminate co-payments to Medicaid recipients and reduce premiums paid to Medicare Advantage plans, the competitive Medicare program favored by Mr. Bush as a door into a truly private system.

As well as getting rid of elements of choice and competition in the government system, the bill expands the eligibility of pregnant women for government-paid care, raises the age of eligible "children" to 25 - that's not a typo - and allows states to waive the five-year residency requirement for legal immigrants.

To pay for all this, Mr. Dingell proposes cutting government payments to Medicare Advantage plans and raising $26 billion through hikes in cigarette excise taxes, regressive taxes that fall most heavily on lower-income smokers. Another $570 million would come from taxing existing health plans, punishing those who insure themselves.

Mr. Baucus, whose bill would increase enrollment by 4 million, would fund his bill through $35 billion in higher cigarette taxes.

Bob Goldberg, vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, declared that "Congress is expanding an entitlement to families who, according to the Census Bureau, currently spend more per household on restaurants than on health care."

If would be more useful to look seriously at plans to tax employer-paid premiums as income to employees and to give tax benefits to individuals to buy health insurance. Such tax deductions or credits would encourage insurers to broaden the coverage they offer as they compete for new customers.

Mr. Bush wants to give all families a $15,000 standard tax deduction from income and payroll taxes to buy health insurance. And Senator Enzi of Wyoming has proposed "Ten Steps to Transform Health Care," a bill that would, in addition to the tax deduction, give subsidies to low income people to buy health insurance. Mr. Enzi would also authorize so-called interstate risk pools that would lead to lower premiums for individual buyers.

Putting such a system into place would require Mr. Bush and congressional Republicans to convince Americans that they would do better with a wider choice of health plans than with the temptation of government-provided plans.

Whoever wins the SCHIP battle next month will have the long-term advantage in shaping American health care.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow and director of Hudson Institute's Center for Employment Policy. She is the former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.


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Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Canadian Doctor Describes How Socialized Medicine Doesn't Work

SCHIPS (State Children's Health Insurance Program) was passed by both houses of Congress just before the members fled Washington for vacation. This program, no matter how well-meaning, is a definite step towards a government monopoly in medicine (socialized medicine). Tomorrow I will be posting an article that directly discusses SCHIPS. Today is a reminder of what a chaotic health system we will have if we adopt such a program. If you are going to do it, please wait until I am gone.

A Canadian Doctor Describes How Socialized Medicine Doesn't Work
By DAVID GRATZER July 26, 2007 City Journal

I was once a believer in socialized medicine. As a Canadian, I had soaked up the belief that government-run health care was truly compassionate. What I knew about American health care was unappealing: high expenses and lots of uninsured people.

My health care prejudices crumbled on the way to a medical school class. On a subzero Winnipeg morning in 1997, I cut across the hospital emergency room to shave a few minutes off my frigid commute.

Swinging open the door, I stepped into a nightmare: the ER overflowed with elderly people on stretchers, waiting for admission. Some, it turned out, had waited five days. The air stank with sweat and urine. Right then, I began to reconsider everything that I thought I knew about Canadian health care.

Dr. Jacques Chaoulli faces the media in Montreal in June 2005, after he got Canada's Supreme Court to strike down a Quebec law banning private insurance for services covered under Medicare — a decision the rocked the country's universal health care system.

I soon discovered that the problems went well beyond overcrowded ERs. Patients had to wait for practically any diagnostic test or procedure, such as the man with persistent pain from a hernia operation whom we referred to a pain clinic — with a three-year wait list; or the woman with breast cancer who needed to wait four months for radiation therapy, when the standard of care was four weeks.

Government researchers now note that more than 1.5 million Ontarians (or 12% of that province's population) can't find family physicians. Health officials in one Nova Scotia community actually resorted to a lottery to determine who'd get a doctor's appointment.

These problems are not unique to Canada — they characterize all government-run health care systems.

Consider the recent British controversy over a cancer patient who tried to get an appointment with a specialist, only to have it canceled — 48 times. More than 1 million Britons must wait for some type of care, with 200,000 in line for longer than six months. In France, the supply of doctors is so limited that during an August 2003 heat wave — when many doctors were on vacation and hospitals were stretched beyond capacity — 15,000 elderly citizens died. Across Europe, state-of-the-art drugs aren't available. And so on.

Single-payer systems — confronting dirty hospitals, long waiting lists and substandard treatment — are starting to crack, however. Canadian newspapers are filled with stories of people frustrated by long delays for care. Many Canadians, determined to get the care they need, have begun looking not to lotteries — but to markets.

Dr. Jacques Chaoulli is at the center of this changing health care scene. In the 1990s, he organized a private Quebec practice — patients called him, he made house calls and then he directly billed his patients. The local health board cried foul and began fining him. The legal status of private practice in Canada remained murky, but billing patients, rather than the government, was certainly illegal, and so was private insurance.

Eventually, Chaoulli took on the government in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Representing an elderly Montrealer who had waited almost a year for a hip replacement, Chaoulli maintained that the patient should have the right to pay for private health insurance and get treatment sooner. A majority of the court agreed that Quebec's charter did implicitly recognize such a right.

The monumental ruling, which shocked the government, opened the way to more private medicine in Quebec. Though the prohibition against private insurance holds in the rest of Canada for now, at least two people outside Quebec, armed with Chaoulli's case as precedent, are taking their demand for private insurance to court.

Consider, too, Rick Baker. He isn't a neurosurgeon or even a doctor. He's a medical broker — one member of a private sector that is rushing in to address the inadequacies of Canada's government care. Canadians pay him to set up surgical procedures, diagnostic tests and specialist consultations, privately and quickly.

Baker describes a man who had a seizure and received a diagnosis of epilepsy.

Dissatisfied with the opinion — he had no family history of epilepsy, but he did have constant headaches and nausea, which aren't usually seen in the disorder — he requested an MRI.

The government told him that the wait would be 4 1/2 months. So he went to Baker, who arranged to have the MRI done within 24 hours — and who, after the test revealed a brain tumor, arranged surgery within a few weeks. Some services that Baker brokers almost certainly contravene Canadian law, but governments are loath to stop him.

Other private-sector health options are blossoming across Canada, and the government is increasingly turning a blind eye to them, too, despite their often uncertain legal status. Private clinics are opening at a rate of about one a week.

Canadian doctors, long silent on the health care system's problems, are starting to speak up. Last August, they voted Brian Day president of their national association.

Day has become perhaps the most vocal critic of Canadian public health care, having opened his own private surgery center and challenging the government to shut him down.

And now even Canadian governments are looking to the private sector to shrink the waiting lists. In British Columbia, private clinics perform roughly 80% of government-funded diagnostic testing.

This privatizing trend is reaching Europe, too. Britain's Labour Party — which originally created the National Health Service — now openly favors privatization. Sweden's government, after the completion of the latest round of privatizations, will be contracting out some 80% of Stockholm's primary care and 40% of its total health services.

Since the fall of communism, Slovakia has looked to liberalize its state-run system, introducing co-payments and privatizations. And modest market reforms have begun in Germany.

Yet even as Stockholm and Saskatoon are percolating with the ideas of Adam Smith, a growing number of prominent Americans are arguing that socialized health care still provides better results for less money.

Politicians like Hillary Clinton are on board; Michael Moore's new documentary, "Sicko," celebrates the virtues of Canada's socialized health care; the National Coalition on Health Care, which includes big businesses like AT&T, recently endorsed a scheme to centralize major health decisions to a government committee; and big unions are questioning the tenets of employer-sponsored health insurance.

One often-heard argument, voiced by the New York Times' Paul Krugman and others, is that America lags behind other countries in crude health outcomes. But such outcomes reflect a mosaic of factors, such as diet, lifestyle, drug use and cultural values.

It pains me as a doctor to say this, but health care is just one factor in health.

Americans live 75.3 years on average, fewer than Canadians (77.3) or the French (76.6) or the citizens of any Western European nation save Portugal. Health care influences life expectancy, of course. But a life can end because of a murder, a fall or a car accident. Such factors aren't academic — homicide rates in the U.S. are much higher than in other countries.

In The Business of Health, Robert Ohsfeldt and John Schneider factor out intentional and unintentional injuries from life-expectancy statistics and find that Americans who don't die in car crashes or homicides outlive people in any other Western country.

And if we measure a health care system by how well it serves its sick citizens, American medicine excels. Five-year cancer survival rates bear this out. For leukemia, the American survival rate is almost 50%; the European rate is just 35%. Esophageal carcinoma: 12% in the U.S., 6% in Europe. The survival rate for prostate cancer is 81.2% here, yet 61.7% in France and down to 44.3% in England — a striking variation

Like many critics of American health care, though, Krugman argues that the costs are just too high: health care spending in Canada and Britain, he notes, is a small fraction of what Americans pay. Again, the picture isn't quite as clear as he suggests. Because the U.S. is so much wealthier than other countries, it isn't unreasonable for it to spend more on health care. Take America's high spending on research and development. M.D. Anderson in Texas, a prominent cancer center, spends more on research than Canada does.

That said, American health care is expensive. And Americans aren't always getting a good deal. In the coming years, with health expenses spiraling up, it will be easy for some to give in to the temptation of socialized medicine. In Washington, there are plenty of old pieces of legislation that like-minded politicians could take off the shelf, dust off and promote: expanding Medicare to Americans 55 and older, say, or covering all children in Medicaid.

But such initiatives would push the U.S. further down the path to a government-run system and make things much, much worse. True, government bureaucrats would be able to cut costs — but only by shrinking access to health care, as in Canada, and engendering a Canadian-style nightmare of overflowing emergency rooms and yearlong waits for treatment.

America is right to seek a model for delivering good health care at good prices, but we should be looking not to Canada, but close to home — in the other four-fifths or so of our economy. From telecommunications to retail, deregulation and market competition have driven prices down and quality and productivity up. Health care is long overdue for the same prescription.

Gratzer, a physician, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. This article is adapted from the forthcoming issue of City Journal.


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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Gambling With Our Lives – the Cheshire Massacre

Over and over again, we pick up our morning papers and read of another horrific crime committed by life-long criminals who should never be walking the streets. We also read that gun-control activists and politicians are trying again to get around the Second Amendment by placing more restrictions on our right to defend ourselves. In Massachusetts you cannot even purchase a handgun until and unless you fill out several forms, take a course and get a permit. Good luck on doing this, because all kinds of informal stumbling blocks will also be placed in your path. The one person you need to see is always out or “forgets” your appointment.

The one thing your local paper and the well-intentioned, but misinformed gun control proponents will never tell you is that in every state where permits to carry firearms have been introduced for ordinary, law-abiding citizens, violent crime has decreased – often by large percentages, and in the two states studied that I know about, Utah and Florida, crimes with guns by permit holders are almost non-existent. Propaganda that gun accidents increase is also just that – propaganda.

The brutal massacre discussed below that happened in Cheshire, Connecticut was so horrible, the name, CHESHIRE, should serve as a rallying cry for state authorities everywhere to stop releasing dangerous criminals - especially sexual predators.

Gambling with our lives
By Bob Weir, August 04, 2007, The American Thinker

When someone has been arrested more than 20 times for burglary one would think the justice system would find a place to incarcerate him for the rest of his life.

Burglars, especially home-invaders, are among the worst type of criminals because they often perpetrate their malevolent crime in the middle of the night when people are most vulnerable. Although it is often said that these nocturnal interlopers are non-violent and only seeking to commit larceny, they are opportunists who will elevate their crime to more serious levels if the opportunity arises and they think they can get away with it.

The 2 savages who broke into the home of a prominent physician and his family in Connecticut should never have been walking loose in a civilized society. Doctor William Petit, a prominent endocrinologist, was brutally beaten with a baseball bat, tied up and thrown into the basement of the home while the burglars sexually assaulted his wife and 2 daughters. Early the next morning, the doctor's wife was forced to withdraw money from a local bank. When the animal got her back home the rape-torture continued. Ultimately, the wife was strangled and the daughters, who had been tied to their beds, were doused with gasoline and the house was torched.

In the meantime, authorities were alerted by bank officials who felt there was something suspicious about the early morning transaction. The police captured the monsters as they were fleeing the blazing structure. Although the husband survived, his family perished in the fire. The demented murderers, Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26 and Steven Hayes, 44, were apprehended after they crashed their getaway vehicle, the Petits' car, into three police cruisers. They are each being held on $15 million bond.

This is another example of the lack of security we have in a justice system with no teeth. Already, correction officials have taken to the airwaves to say it's not the fault of prosecutors or judges because there is not enough room in our prisons, hence, non-violent offenders often do little time. Are you as tired as I am of hearing that the dregs of society must be put back on the street because there are no vacancies at the justice motel? Well, how many times does a person have to be arrested before it becomes clear that he is a tragedy waiting to occur? Burglary is a serious felony, yet these 2 home-invaders, turned rapist-murderers, were nabbed more than 20 times each, yet, those who are paid to keep us safe, didn't see them as enough of a threat to hold onto them.

Instead, they were freed again and again, repeatedly exposing communities to the type of tragedy that inevitably happened. These horrific crimes are being carried out all over this country, leaving a wake of destruction for more families than you can count. Yes, when it happens to a prominent family it becomes more newsworthy. Such increased publicity should be used to make all of us aware of the constant danger we face when we accept such ludicrous explanations as overcrowded prisons. Suppose we had overcrowding in the lion cages at the local zoos? Would we open the gates and set the predators loose into the neighborhood?

The fact is, there are no valid excuses for exposing the innocent public to the savagery of the brutal whims of societal misfits who have proven their propensity for criminal activity on numerous occasions. Every time a recidivist criminal is thrust back into the population it's a roll of the dice as to how many lives will be lost

Now begins the long, slow, arduous process of trial and punishment. While the victims are buried and the lone survivor deals with recovery from his wounds and a never ending nightmare of grief, the creatures of the night will be fed, clothed and sheltered for years before anything resembling justice will occur. This is the type of crime that could, and should, be tried quickly, resulting in a guilty verdict and an immediate execution. Not only did the police catch them as they were leaving the burning edifice, they have an eyewitness to the merciless slaughter.

Nevertheless, the system will hobble along at its usual ludicrous pace, totally incapable of recognizing the perils it perpetuates. It's about as silly as setting bail for the miscreants at $15 million each, instead of simply stating the obvious, that no amount would be enough. Yes, now that these beasts have ravaged a family and shocked a nation, they will finally be kept in their cages. How many other savage ex-cons, well aware of the weaknesses in the system, are watching, stalking and waiting for the right time to strike?

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Departments


Chris Powell: Cheshire case should surprise no one
August 7, 2007, Providence Journal (Excerpts)

MANCHESTER, Conn. – “CREDIT CONNECTICUT Gov. Jodi Rell and state legislative leaders for not affecting shock about the failures of the state’s criminal-justice system that have been exposed by the atrocity in Cheshire, in which three members of the Petit family were slain, allegedly by two parolees with long rap sheets. If the governor and the legislators now know what to do, it is only because they have known all along…..”

“Most relevantly, the state Senate’s Republican minority proposes enacting a real “three strikes” law to replace Connecticut’s pretend law, to require long imprisonment upon a third serious conviction.

But just like the disregard of the transcript law, horrific crimes committed by career criminals free on bond or parole are actually old news in Connecticut.

The worst such outrage prior to the Cheshire atrocity happened in 1989, when bank vice president Diane Gellenbeck was abducted from a parking garage in Hartford and raped and murdered by Daniel Webb, who had been free on bond for 18 months on charges of two similar abductions short of murder. Though Webb thus was flagged as a dangerous predator, Connecticut’s criminal-justice system couldn’t get around to him until he murdered someone. Webb now has been on Death Row for years, and, as with everyone else there, Connecticut can’t get around to him again.

And though the two suspects in the Cheshire atrocity had 21 and 17 felonies and dozens of misdemeanors and plea-bargained charges between them, Connecticut still hadn’t tried to put them away for good. With its infinite indulgence of career criminals and the probation officers, social workers, psychiatrists and halfway-house workers who minister to them ineffectually at state expense, Connecticut hadn’t even tried.”

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