We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Flunk" is Not the Only F-word in Schools These Days

We know standards for juvenile behavior in schools have slipped here in the U.S., but apparently England has us beat in that department. Apparently, swearing has become so pervasive in UK schools that in some of them it's now all but part of the curriculum.

According to another Daily Mail article from some weeks ago, kids in at least one UK school district (a rougher or lower-class one, I assume) are now allowed to cuss in class. And I'm not just talking about the occasional "jackass" or "damn." I mean the Full Monty of curse words... You know the one. It starts with an "F."

The new policy - which is designed to IMPROVE teenagers' behavior (exactly how, I couldn't say) - allows 15- and 16-year-olds to drop the F-bomb up to 5 times per class, with a running tally kept on the chalkboard... The flipside of the program are what school officials are calling "praise postcards."

These are notes sent home to alert parents to their kids' GOOD behavior, instead of the traditionally scathing missives when a child cuts up in class (or cuts class).

Hmmm. Discouraging poor behavior by allowing it, and making up a disciplinary system which treats good behavior as an exception to be rewarded, rather than a standard not to be let down.... Sounds like the U.S. criminal justice system, don't you think? And we both know how well that works.

I wonder how long it'll be before this model hits our schools. They already do most everything else backward...

Ruing Brittania, William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

Sunny D-plight

Back in April (Daily Dose, 4/18 and 4/21) I reported about the dangerous levels of toxic benzene found recently in several types of diet sodas. Levels were high enough in some cases to be deemed unsafe for human consumption - resulting in large quantities of product being pulled from store shelves. But apparently, even this petro-chemical can't hold a candle to the awesome toxicity of... Sunny D (formerly known as Sunny Delight). According to a recent UK Daily Mail article and other sources, a large-scale spill of the ingredients in this drink (advertised for its healthiness, although it's really nothing more than sugar-

water fortified with a little orange juice) has threatened to wipe out an entire river system in rural England. Around 4,000 gallons of the raw juice leaked out of a split in an underground fiberglass storage tank at a manufacturing facility and into a small stream in Somerset. Six tons worth of acidic (but natural) additives to this "health" drink caused a massive fish-kill in the creek and triggered a "Category 1" environmental emergency - the highest level categorized by the UK's equivalent to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The incident spurred a massive cleanup effort to try to keep the juice from reaching the River Parrett, the main river system that the contaminated creek flows into. According to the article, this effort met with success. This, at least, is good news. I saw photos of this spill, and it was incredible to behold. It looked like a river of pure orange juice.

According to spokespersons from the Gerber Foods Company (the makers of Sunny D), the spill was from "substandard" juice scheduled to be disposed of - the right way, I'm sure... Just goes to show you - too much of a "good" thing can kill. Fish, and people too. As for the sugar-water, liquid candy Sunny D, a major UK supermarket chain has pulled it from the shelves - not because of toxic ingredients, but because of lackluster sales. Apparently, the drink is hanging by a thread here in the U.S., too. Just as well. It's no better for kids than full-sugar Coke or Pepsi.

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

Who's Afraid of Saturated Fats?

In my ongoing quest to defeat junk science, here is the latest from John Herring (a rather tasty fish!)

For decades, you've been told that saturated fats - especially animal fats - are the cause of today's chronic diseases, it's simply not true. And here's further evidence...

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that women with heart disease improved their condition by eating saturated fats. It also revealed that saturated fats boosted their HDL (good cholesterol) and lowered triglycerides (blood fat). Just the opposite of what mainstream medicine claims to be true.

Saturated fats are an important part of your overall fat intake. Every cell in your body needs some saturated fat to stay healthy. So instead of fearing what man has eaten for millions of years ... enjoy. But if you do choose to eat eggs, meat, and dairy, in particular, choose products that are organic and come from animals raised on their natural diet - like grass-fed beef.

And if you really want to reduce your risk of heart disease, avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, and the ubiquitous vegetable oils.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sen. Inhofe: NAS Report Refutes Global Warming Theory

NewsMax.com WiresFriday, June 23, 2006
A Congressionally commissioned review by the National Academy of Sciences refutes the so-called "hockey stick" study that supposedly confirmed the existence of global warming.

The hockey stick study, by Dr. Michael Mann and his colleagues, was thus named because of a stick-shaped graph that plotted global temperatures against time.

The hockey stick graph purported to show that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere remained relatively stable over 900 years, then spiked upward in the 20th century.

Al Gore showed hockey stick depictions of temperature rises in his global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

But the NAS's report "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2000 Years" noted in its summary that there were "relatively warm conditions centered around A.D. 1000 (identified by some as the ‘Medieval Warm Period') and a relatively cold period (or ‘Little Ice Age') centered around 1700."

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, said in a statement Thursday:

"Today's NAS report reaffirms what I have been saying all along, that Mann's ‘hockey stick' is broken. Today's report refutes Mann's prior assertions that there was no Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age." The NAS report also stated that there are "substantial uncertainties" regarding Mann's claims that the last few decades of the 20th century were the warmest in last 1,000 years.

The report further chastises Mann by declaring: "Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that ‘the 1990's are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium…'

"This report shows that the planet warmed for about 200 years ... when we were coming out of the depths of the Little Ice Age where harsh winters froze the Thames and caused untold deaths.

"Trying to prove man-made global warming by comparing the well-known fact that today's temperatures are warmer than during the Little Ice Age is akin to comparing summer to winter to show a catastrophic temperature trend."

As the special report "Al Gore Spins Global Warming" in the July issue of
NewsMax Magazine points out, the Northern Hemisphere apparently cooled from around 1940 until the late 1970s, despite rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

"An Inconvenient Truth" makes no mention of this inconvenient event that shatters Gore's depiction of a world relentlessly heating as greenhouse pollution increased.

Murtha's Second Act

By Robert Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday,
Rep. John Murtha repeated his call for "redeploying" U.S.
troops from Iraq with something new -- and disturbing to
fellow Democrats. Asked by moderator Tim Russert about
sites for redeployment, Murtha replied: "We can go to
Okinawa. ... We can redeploy there almost instantly."

When Russert expressed doubt about "a timely response" from
Okinawa to meet a Middle East crisis, the 16-term congress-
man from western Pennsylvania and new national security
spokesman for his party stumbled: "Well, it -- you know,
they -- when I say Okinawa, I, I'm saying troops in Okinawa.
When I say a timely response, you know, our fighters can
fly from Okinawa very quickly. And -- and -- when they
don't know we're coming."

In fact, a Pentagon spokesman says it would take "under a
month" to prepare and send a 4,500-man Marine Expeditionary
Force 6,000 nautical miles from Okinawa to Bahrain and then
600 more miles to Baghdad.

Murtha's Okinawa answer embarrassed Democratic House
members who would not dream of criticizing publicly the
former backroom pol who became an icon to the party's
antiwar base last November by calling for an immediate
troop withdrawal. His performance on "Meet the Press"
reinforced dismay inside the party that Murtha, at age
74, has announced his candidacy for majority leader if
the Democrats regain control of the House in the 2006

Jack Murtha proves there are second acts in American
politics. I had forgotten that federal prosecutors
designated him an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam
investigation 26 years ago. I was reminded of it after
Murtha became a candidate for majority leader, not by a
Republican hit man but a Democratic former colleague in
the House. In a long political career, Murtha has made
bitter enemies inside his party who are alarmed by his
new stature.

Murtha got into politics in 1968 as a 36-year-old highly
decorated Marine and in 1974 became the first Vietnam
War veteran elected to Congress. By 1980, Murtha was a
lieutenant of Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill and was
moving to the top in the House when the FBI named him as
one of eight members of Congress videotaped being offered
bribes by a phony Arab sheik.

The other seven congressional targets took cash and were
convicted in federal court. The videotape showed Murtha
declining to take cash but expressing interest in further
negotiations, while bragging about his political influence.
Murtha testified against the popular Rep. Frank Thompson
in the Abscam case, which created lifelong enemies in the
Democratic cloakroom. The House Ethics Committee exonerated
Murtha of misconduct charges by a largely party-line vote,
after which the committee's special counsel resigned in

That salvaged Murtha's political career but limited his
public exposure. The current Almanac of American Politics
says: "He speaks for attribution to few national or local
reporters, hardly ever appears on television and rarely
speaks in the House chamber." That reticence has disappeared
the last seven months, as he became one of the party's most
visible faces.

Murtha now wears his heroic combat record like a suit of
armor. In recent House debate over the Iraq war resolution,
Murtha dominated the Democratic side -- compensating for a
lack of articulation with vehemence. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a
freshman Republican from Texas, had the temerity to suggest
that had Murtha "prevailed after the bloodbaths in Normandy
and in the Pacific ... we would be here speaking Japanese
or German." Murtha pounced on Gohmert, asking whether he
had been in Normandy, Vietnam or Iraq as a combat solider.
The Republican had not, and he meekly thanked Murtha for
"all that he has done with the wounded."

Murtha disqualifies adversaries who have not tasted combat,
which includes the vast majority in the Congress. He
repeats the comparison between civilian officials in "air-
conditioned chambers" and soldiers carrying "70 pounds
every day facing IEDs." On "Meet the Press," Murtha referred
to presidential adviser Karl Rove "sitting in his air
conditioned office with his big, fat backside, saying,
'Stay the course!'"

The transfer of Murtha's tough-guy rhetoric from the back
row of the hall of the House of Representatives to national
television may not be what Democrats want communicating
their side of the Iraq debate. It is why Murtha's candidacy
for majority leader is cause for concern among serious

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Who Lied?

Based on a recently declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, coalition forces in Iraq have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions containing degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.

Apparently, weapons of mass destruction have indeed been discovered since 2003, and more weapons are believed to exist. This is particularly interesting since the general, media-fed impression after a 16-month search conducted by the Iraq Survey Group was that the evidence of continuing research and development of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction was insignificant.

Senate Republicans are now working on the declassification of the entire report. I, for one, am looking forward to the particularly intricate contortions that would need to be performed by some prominent political obtusionists should these findings be corroborated further...

Can the Fed Really Control Inflation?

From Newsmax: As more and more factors contribute to a rise in inflation, many experts say that the Fed is essentially helpless to stop it - and that their primary weapon, interest-rate hikes, will do little stop it, especially in the short term.

So what is generating the higher inflation?

"Some economists say rising energy prices are bleeding through to affect the broader economy," according to CNNMoney.

"Others point to the rise in housing prices during the recent real estate boom. Some even say that due to a quirk in how the government measures housing prices, a weaker real estate market can actually make inflation seem higher."

The article cites energy, housing, a weaker dollar and wages as primary inflation generators.

At the last Fed meeting, the group stated that rises in prices of energy and various commodities had not seriously affected core inflation - but many experts claim that is a simple way of looking at the situation."Even indirectly, energy has an impact (on core inflation), especially when it goes up this much," David Wyss, chief economist with Standard & Poor's, tells CNN. "And there's a lag there. We still haven't fully adjusted to $70 oil."

In terms of housing, while home prices and mortgage rates have risen from a year ago, these data are not even included in calculating the official Consumer Price Index or other inflationary barometers."Instead, government statisticians measure housing costs using something called owners' equivalent rent,' which estimates how much it would cost home owners to rent their own homes," reports CNN, which says that figure has risen 3.3% in the last year, marking one of the largest jumps in a CPI component - discounting the fact that the real estate market has cooled.

Another real influence on inflation is a falling dollar, which is down 6% so far in 2006 relative to other global currencies.Meanwhile, Paul Krugman - a columnist for The New York Times and professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University who also served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers - says he is worried about inflation also.

But he says he less concerned with price increases and more worried about the Fed's response to those rises. And he is especially concentrating on wages.

"Fed officials now seem worried that we may be seeing the start of another round of self-sustaining inflation. But is that a realistic fear? Only if you think we can have a wage-price spiral without, you know, the wages part," says Krugman in his column.

"The point is that wage increases can be a major driver of inflation only if workers consistently receive raises that substantially exceed productivity growth. And that just hasn't been happening."

The UN Wants To Be a Global IRS?

Over 60 years since its founding, the United Nations may have, on balance, done some good. But objective observers would be hard pressed to create a short list of major UN accomplishments. Most recently the UN has been mired in the Iraq oil-for-food corruption scandals, with millions of dollars stolen reaching to the highest levels of the UN.

Instead of cleaning up, the UN has tried to cover up.

Too often the UN, spending millions on its own bureaucracy and its endless meetings and reports, has been a waste of time and money. And most of that cash comes from American taxpayers. So you shouldn't be surprised, (especially because we've been warning you since 2002), that the UN wants to become an international tax collection agency - a global IRS.

Those worthies at Babel on the Hudson want to impose on the already burdened taxpayers of the world, a new round of direct "global taxes" to finance the UN and its pet programs. This tax would supplement annual assessments of dues from each nation. In 2002, we reported about a UN conference held in Monterey, Mexico, that we called "the tax collectors meeting from Hell" where the UN made plans for a UN "international tax organization."

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has renewed our warning about this dangerous UN plan. He advises us to "hold on to your wallets, because the UN now wants to impose a whole new level of global taxes on us. UN bureaucrats think rich nations like America ought to give more money to poor nations - a lot more - simply because we're rich. The UN mindset blames the western world for poverty everywhere, assuming that our relative wealth must have come at the expense of the third world."

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, is the cheerleader for this biggest power grab yet - independent tax raising powers. The UN is deeply committed to establishing this "sovereign" power for itself, without scrutiny and direction of its large aid donors (namely the U.S.). It wraps this up in what one writer calls the "boring globo-speak of 'enhanced dialogues on tax co-operation' and 'new innovative funding mechanisms.'"The UN wants to tax everything from airline tickets to aviation fuel and carbon emissions. Not to mention each and every international currency transaction.

The last time this came up for debate in the UN, the Bush administration position was made clear by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman who said: "Global taxes are inherently undemocratic. Implementation is impossible." The U.S. also refused to sign or agree to a UN declaration endorsing global UN taxes.

Rep. Paul says: "Rest assured that the UN is absolutely serious about imposing a global tax. In fact, it has been discussing a global currency tax for years." As a precaution, the U.S. House of Representatives last week adopted Rep. Paul's amendment that prohibits the U.S. Treasury from paying UN dues if the UN attempts to implement or impose any kind of tax on U.S. citizens. As Ron Paul says: "Given the stated goals of the UN, it would be foolish to believe the idea of a global tax will go away."

The UN is just one of the global bureaucracies undermining fiscal sovereignty. The Paris based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) targets tax havens and so-called "harmful tax competition" and the European Union enthusiastically backs "tax harmonization." In both cases they want more and higher taxes.

As Heritage Foundation tax expert Dan Mitchell says: "There is an understandable temptation to dismiss these UN proposals as silly. After all, the U.S. can veto any bad initiatives. But this passive approach is a mistake." We agree. You should educate yourself thoroughly about these dangerous proposals and let your elected national officials know your strong opposition.

It's bad enough to be forced to pay high taxes in one's own nation without also having to finance the worldwide loony Left as well.


The True ACLU

From IBD:
Posted 6/21/2006

Free Speech: There seems to be no end to the hypocrisy and extremism of the American Civil Liberties Union. But it may now be running into trouble with the law — for violating its own absolutist dogmas.

Seldom does a week go by when an ACLU lawyer doesn't bully a school, business or local government for committing some sacrilege against the radical organization's beliefs.

Last week, these self-styled champions of free speech worked closely with Nevada's Clark County School District to prevent the valedictorian of Henderson's Foothill High School from using the name "Christ" in her commencement address.

As if Brittany McComb lived in a dictatorship, officials read her speech ahead of time — as did their consigliere, Nevada ACLU general counsel Allen Lichtenstein. They then decided to remove at least six of her references to God and two references to the Bible.

The spirited Miss McComb refused to be intimidated, however, and proceeded to read her speech her way.

But before she could say "Christ," which the district and ACLU deemed verboten, the authorities turned off her microphone, spurring prolonged booing from her fellow graduates at the gag order.

It's the kind of treatment you'd expect in Castro's Cuba. Outrageously, it's also what happens in an America in which ACLU ideology permeates the federal courts.

The ACLU peddles the mythology that it's the guardian of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution. Its real purpose is to use the courts to enact a left-wing political agenda. And it doesn't let free speech stand in the way of that agenda, going to great lengths to muzzle members of its own board critical of ACLU positions.

Proposed rules against free speech were blasted by at-large board member Mary Ellen Gale, who told The New York Times:

"I cannot vote for these proposals, as I have violated them nearly every time I have written an op-ed piece or spoken to the press."

New Mexico board member Bennett Hammer called the rules yet another of "the things that have made us a laughingstock with the public."

The ACLU is even considering a policy of systematically destroying the taped records of its board meetings — a surreal spectacle for an organization that during Watergate filed an amicus brief to make sure President Nixon didn't destroy his tapes.

In celebrating the Supreme Court's ruling that the Communications Decency Act was unconstitutional, the ACLU quoted Justice John Paul Stevens' pronouncement that "the interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship."

When it comes to imposing censorship on its own members, the ACLU sees plenty of benefit.

Trip To The Middle On Immigration

From IBD:
Posted 6/21/2006

The Border: House Republicans are hitting the road to hear from voters and make a point about compromise — namely, that the Senate and president need to bend. Step One is to drop the citizenship track.

The Republican leaders' plan to hold hearings on immigration reform in congressional districts this summer is (pick one) a stalling tactic, a power play, a kickoff of re-election campaigns or all of the above.

In any case, it's smart. The enforcement-focused House members will hear the public's views, and they are likely to find most of the public on their side, especially on the question of granting eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants.

In the eyes of most House Republicans, any citizenship track for illegals amounts to "amnesty." It may be true that the plan in the Senate reform bill (supported in general terms by President Bush) is something less than amnesty as the dictionary defines it, but it does reward people who broke the law.

Whatever you call it, any bill that gives illegals a shot at citizenship while forcing the law-abiding to wait their turn is a moral stumbling block.

House members can expect many of their constituents to speak out against this "amnesty" in the August field hearings, but they have probably heard these views plenty of times already. The real impact will be on others, such as Bush and most senators, who may have underestimated the depth of public feeling. If they listen well this summer, they may come to see just what's standing in the way of compromise.

Then, if they want a bill by November, they'll be ready to meet the House halfway.

The basic requirements of such a compromise are no mystery. The first step is to set aside the idea of granting eventual citizenship to most of the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants who are in this country. The scheme approved by the Senate, which would sort the illegals into three levels of eligibility according to how long they have lived in the U.S., would not be workable even if the public approved of it. The Senate also needs to accept the House's priorities.

Whatever is done as part of a comprehensive plan, nothing can go forward unless the border-security provisions are in place.

For its part, the House needs to accept the need for a guest-worker program. A strict rule against hiring illegal immigrants is unworkable (and will be widely ignored, as was the 1986 reform law) without some provision to meet the labor needs of industry and agriculture.

Rep. Mike Pence, the influential chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, has already put one such plan on the table, and there may be others. Pence's plan would have illegal workers go across the border to privately run "Ellis Island" centers to be matched with employers who need their services.

After that, they could work here legally for three years, with the possibility of renewing their legal status for another three years as long as they've learned English.

This is not "amnesty" by any reasonable definition, though some may still see it that way. It would convert most working illegal immigrants to strictly temporary residents and leave the reward of citizenship to others.

Bush ought to find such a plan acceptable, since he has been pushing for a guest-worker program all along. At least a few Senate Democrats would probably make the same decision, if only out of political prudence.

After all, if the Republicans close ranks around a reform plan without a citizenship track, Democrats can only stop it with a filibuster. In the process, they would be obstructing a border-security bill that clearly carries out the public's wishes.

Only those in the safest of safe seats would try something that reckless.

Europe's Challenge

From IBD:
Posted 6/21/2006

U.S.-EU Ties: How sad it is to see President Bush greeted by protests every time he sets down in Europe. Sad, because he and America are Europe's last, best hope to avoid irrelevance in the 21st century.

It isn't hard these days to find evidence of European scorn and even hatred for all things American. A recent Pew poll found that, on average, favorable opinion of the U.S. has plunged to 45% from 68% since 2000.

Britain, France, Spain and Russia now think the U.S. presence in Iraq is a greater danger to world peace than Iran's drive to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Bush's arrival in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday for a summit with EU leaders revealed how strained U.S.-EU ties have become. Throngs of Austrian protesters took to the streets, which is nothing new. But their display of arrogance and ignorance was reflected in the comments of EU leaders.

"America is moving in our direction, and this is positive," the summit's host, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, told the Financial Times.

America moving in the direction of officially neutral Austria? Toward appeasement and isolationism? Not likely, Herr Schuessel.

Then there was this, from an unnamed EU official: "We have nothing to learn from the U.S. in promoting democracy. We have been doing it for a lot longer."

Such bombast, increasingly common from the EU, would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. This is the continent that in the 20th century alone gave us Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy, Francisco Franco in Spain and, more recently, Slobodan Milosevic in the Balkans. "Nothing to learn?"

Yes, the U.S. wants and needs Europe's help in dealing with global problems ranging from free trade to national security. And yes, we are grateful that the assembled EU leaders offered their support in dealing with the nuclear threats posed by Iran and North Korea. It's at least a start.

But behind the talk at this summit of a "newly confident" Europe lurk some disturbing issues.

One is that EU leaders, who boast of their generosity and devotion to democracy, have paid just $3.5 billion of the $13.5 billion they pledged to help rebuild Iraq.

Another — and this is a big reason the U.S. is in such bad odor — is that the EU is in slow-motion crisis from which it desperately needs America's help to emerge.

Let's face it: Europe is weak and irresolute; the U.S. is strong and decisive. The EU knows that, if attacked or bullied, it still depends on us. It found that out in the mid-1990s, when European troops deployed in the Balkans couldn't halt the genocide that was taking place. It took U.S. air power to do it, and the humiliation, though forgotten by us, still stings.

But patience is called for. Europe has lots of problems. Its economy seems perpetually stagnant. Russia looms as a threat. Iran might soon have nuclear weapons. Great European cities have become terrorist targets. But it would be worse if the U.S. hadn't gotten rid of Saddam and the Taliban.

Moreover, a fast-growing Islamic population — now 5% to 10% of Europe's total, but rising fast— means Europe, as a distinct civilization with a Judeo-Christian heritage, might cease to exist in the next century.
The unnamed EU official we quoted earlier has it dead wrong. The EU has a lot to learn from us — and better do so fast. Europe's post-modern, post-Marxist culture has become so steeped in moral relativism that its leaders can barely make a positive case for why European civilization should exist.

As such, maybe it's appropriate the summit is in Vienna — the place where, in 1683, Europe rolled back the challenge from an expansionist Ottoman Empire and kept its civilization intact.

Maybe it also doesn't matter what happens at this summit. The fact that we still care about Europe — Bush is the first president to visit Vienna in 27 years — should speak volumes to the Europeans. But are they listening?

Al-Qaida Weighs In

From IBD:
Posted 6/20/2006

Iraq: The men who just murdered two American soldiers may not be watching this week's Senate debate, but there can be no doubt how they would vote — for U.S. withdrawal, the sooner the better.

Indeed, al-Qaida already has voted in its typical way, through an atrocity clearly designed as a political message. The bodies of two U.S. servicemen kidnapped last week — Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston and Pfc. Thomas Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore. — were recovered on Tuesday.

A statement posted the same day on a terrorist Web site said the men were "slaughtered" by the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, the Egyptian Abu Hamza al-Muhajer.

The message didn't say exactly how Menchaca and Tucker were killed, but it used the same Arabic term used in the past to denote beheadings carried out by Muhajer's predecessor, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

So one political message is reasonably clear: Muhajer wants the world to know that he is following in Zarqawi's footsteps, both as leader of al-Qaida in Iraq and as butcher in chief of the terrorists. He also needed to show that al-Qaida is still alive (and capable of taking revenge) after Zarqawi's killing on June 7 in a U.S. airstrike.
Another message is probably not intended, but it comes through loud and clear to us. This murder is a grisly antidote to any moral ambiguity Americans may be feeling about this war.

It also unmasks the hypocrisy of those who condemn the U.S. for the acts of a small number of its troops — against its rules, and prosecuted accordingly — while ignoring the barbarities committed by the terrorists as a matter of policy.

It's too soon to tell how the American public will react to the killing of two young men serving their country and the cause of freedom. In wars past, such an act would have inspired outrage and a renewed commitment to destroy the enemy.

But with much of the media and the Democratic Party constantly looking for reasons to quit the Iraq mission, Americans see their elites divided and are divided themselves. Do these deaths give us new reason to stay or to leave?

There's no such confusion for al-Qaida.

As internal documents seized after the Zarqawi raid make clear, the U.S. is beating al-Qaida in Iraq, and al-Qaida knows it. Also, al-Qaida sees that the Americans can win by staying the course. As one of the documents puts it, "Time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance."

Al-Qaida's only hope is to somehow get the Americans to leave prematurely. Best of all (for the terrorists) would be a definite deadline for U.S. withdrawal, an idea being pushed by Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Russ Feingold, two men with presidential ambitions. Al-Qaida would simply have to hide out and wait for its most dangerous enemy to leave the field of battle.

The more soft-focus withdrawal plan proposed by Democrats this week and being debated in the Senate also would serve al-Qaida well.

Though it calls for a "phased redeployment of U.S. forces" starting this year rather than a pullout by a certain date, withdrawal under such conditions would have the same look of surrender. Al-Qaida could boast it has outlasted the U.S., and it would be right.

We do not accuse leading Democrats of intentionally aiding America's sworn enemies. But mindlessness can be as deadly as malice. The Democrats seem so zealous to exploit the war's unpopularity for political gain that they've blinded themselves to the potential consequences of their actions.

You can bet that al-Qaida sees more clearly.

Friend Or Foe?

From IBD:
Posted 6/21/2006

Iraq: The grisly deaths of two American servicemen show how hard it is to fight a war in which the enemy knows no rules and civilians can't be distinguished from combatants. Maybe it's time to make it easier.
There's a method in the madness of those who kidnapped, tortured and murdered Pfcs. Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Thomas Tucker, 25, who were manning a Baghdad checkpoint with a comrade who was killed in the assault.

The jihadists want to give momentum to those in the U.S. such as Rep. John Murtha and Sen. John Kerry who want to bring the boys home either now or by a certain date.

The terrorists want to create the impression that despite the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the establishment of a new and permanent Iraqi government, nothing has changed. It's no coincidence that news of the brutal murders hit just as Democrats pressed the U.S. Senate to endorse a hasty retreat from Iraq.

But there's another purpose in their sick minds — to create a sense of mistrust and uncertainty between U.S. servicemen and Iraqis, to accentuate the already omnipresent reality that any Iraqi a U.S. soldier may encounter might be the one who's going to kill him or her. The more suspicious our troops become, they reason, the greater the likelihood of innocent civilians being shot. And the more likely a premature withdrawal.

We don't know the details of the kidnappings and torture/murder of Tucker and Menchaca. But the situation they faced at their checkpoint is not unlike the situations faced by the Marines being investigated for an alleged massacre at Haditha or the Marines who were shackled at Camp Pendleton for allegedly dragging a 52-year-old man from his house in Hamandiya and killing him.

This is a war where terrorists routinely kill innocent civilians and booby-trap their bodies so others will die as well. They use civilians as shields and masquerade as civilians, hoping overly cautious Americans will become their next prey. They follow no rules. They wear no uniforms. They could be behind any door. They could be the next person you see. They could be the last.

As war critics mourn three jihadist suicides at Gitmo, we have three dead soldiers who might have met their fate simply because, after Hamandiyah and Haditha, they took too long to determine if their kidnappers were friend or foe. If they'd killed their assailants, would they now also be accused of killing "innocent" civilians?
We recently reported on the case of U.S. troops being cleared of murder charges in Ishaqi, 60 miles north of Baghdad, during a raid that captured an al-Qaida cell leader and an Iraqi involved in making roadside bombs and recruiting terrorists. In the firefight, civilians were killed, but the soldiers were found to have properly followed the rules of engagement.

We've also written about the case of Marine 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, who was found innocent of murder charges for killing two terrorists fleeing a bomb-making house.

Innocent civilians have and will probably continue to be casualties of this war, as they've been in every war ever fought. But when terrorists kill innocents, they are proud of it. And what they did to our three soldiers they'd do to us all if they had the chance.

We may have to revise our rules of engagement as well as our sensibilities. We may have already lost too many in a war where soldiers are daily forced to make split-second decisions involving life and death. And if they make the wrong one, they should not be charged with murder.

Friday, June 16, 2006

"Disorder" in the courts

Boy, I'll tell you - I've heard of outrageous tales involving criminals and the luxuries some states accord them in prison, but this story out of Boston may just take the cake... According to an Associated Press article from May 30, a 57-year-old man who has been serving a life sentence since 1990 for the strangling murder of his wife is now demanding that the state of Massachusetts pay for his SEX CHANGE OPERATION.

Claiming that keeping him trapped in a man's body is the equivalent of "cruel and unusual punishment," Robert Kosilek has sued in Federal court to force the state to foot the bill for the sex reassignment both he and at least one psychiatrist testifying on his behalf claim he's (she's?) entitled to under state law. What's just as appalling as the notion of using tax dollars to swap out some psycho's sex organs is what taxpayers in Massachusetts have already footed the bill for on this kook's gender-bent behalf. In accordance with a 2002 federal court decision that determined Kosilek was indeed entitled to treatment for his gender identity disorder,

"Michelle" (what Kosilek prefers to be called) has received:
- Extensive psychotherapy
- Female hormone treatments (which caused him to develop breasts)
- Even laser hair removal to make him appear more feminine!

Pardon me for being hard-boiled, but I thought prisoners (especially murderous lifers with no chance at parole) were "entitled" to only the bare minimum of necessary care and consideration -- not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of state-sanctioned help in becoming the opposite sex...

I though the whole point behind prison was that you DON'T get what you want (it's kind of like a punishment that way, you know?), and that you were kept from being a menace to society with as little burden to taxpayers as possible.

But I guess I'm just "old school." According to the AP article, Robert/Michelle Kosilek is suing the state on the grounds that at least two of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections own expert psychiatrists have examined him in the past and concluded that the sex-change operation is "medically necessary" and entitled under the state's statutes.

At least one of these has testified that Kosilek will kill herself if she doesn't get her way...

Here's the real kicker in all this -- besides the waste of tax money and blatant bastardization of our criminal justice system, I mean... Giving Kosilek the sex-change surgery might solve one person's problem (sort of), but it would create problems for just about everyone else, according to the DOC's attorneys.

Think about it: If the Kennedy state caves in and turns this creep's "outie" into an "innie," where would they put him -- er, her? If they stick her back in with the men, she'd be in constant danger of sexual assault, owing to her new, virginal juicy bits. And if they put her in the women's prison, they'd be endangering the lives of the inmates by penning them up with a chromosomally male criminal with a known history of murderous violence toward women!

There's just no precedent for this sort of thing -- and the only solution would be to create a new prison system solely for gender-confused crooks... Yeah, I'm sure THAT would be popular with the taxpayers.

Here's what I think should happen: First, they should deny this crackpot his wish, strip him of his hormone treatments, graft all the hair back onto his body, shave his head, take away his makeup and razors, then force him to serve out his sentence as the beast they convicted.

In light of the current situation, that would be money well spent... Problem solved.

After, all, it's supposed to be PRISON, not therapy.

Never "confused" about what prisons are for,

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Quote of the Day

While the left and their environmental wacko would have you believe that man-made global warming is now generally accepted as fact by the scientific community, the truth is quite the contrary:

“Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention.”
- Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, Australia, June 14, 2006

The Best Model of a Conservative Government

When one needs a model to see the affects of the Democratic Party's socialist agenda, they need only look at countries like Sweden, France, Germany and, closer to home, Lousiana to see the devastating conditions created by an overly intrusive government, bankrupt social programs and a growing dependent class that is under-educated, illiterate and generally unemployable for most jobs beyond Burger King.

So where then do we look for the alternative? Where is the model of limited government, freedom and self-reliance that real conservatives long for? The US? Hardly, you have to travel almost to China to find it.

The proposal to rescind America’s “estate tax” fell three votes short on the Senate floor last week.

Most citizens don’t care, and for good reason. The estate tax generates a little more than 1% of all U.S. tax revenue. The tax only affects 0.5% of Americans.

But those affected care a great deal. They potentially face a 55% levy on transferable assets. And a majority of this money has already been taxed in one form or another.

Think of it this way… Warren Buffett, whose net worth is estimated at $40 billion, faces a $22 billion dollar bill from the IRS at some point in the not so distant future. Now it’s pretty well known that Buffett frowns upon the practice of passing great fortunes from generation to generation. It’s also worth noting that steel magnate Andrew Carnegie supported the estate tax as well.

But many of the world’s wealthiest families don’t share this sentiment. In fact, they spend great sums of money avoiding it. According to the House Joint Economic Committee, “The $23 billion in revenue it raises is illusory, since estate tax avoidance activities likely generate equally large revenue losses under the income tax.”

“Teddy Roosevelt argued that the transmission of vast fortunes between generations threatened to create a permanent aristocracy and, moreover, ruined the characters of the undeserving heirs.”1

Say what you want. Personally, I could not care less if an heir or heiress (you can enter a name here) can buy 10 Porsches or 100. It doesn’t affect my daily life all that much... unless, of course, I own Porsche stock.

But if you’re interested in an investment vehicle that may capitalize on the substantial market of circumventing government-imposed wealth redistribution, consider this. Money will flow where it’s treated best. And I think you’ll be hard pressed to find any other place in the world that treats money better than Hong Kong.

The highest tax bracket comes in at 17%. Individuals are only assessed on annual employment income. Dividends and capital gains are not taxed. Like many progressive tax systems, Hong Kong grants allowances for certain deductions like charitable contributions. When you consider that Hong Kong provides arguably the world’s greatest municipal services in a relatively crime-free environment, you are unlikely to find a more favorable tax policy anywhere in the world.

And like the low personal tax rates, Hong Kong’s estate tax holds a maximum rate of 15% on assets exceeding US$1,350,000. So when Li Ka-shing, the world’s tenth richest man, looks to pass on his $18.8 billion, he’ll do so under very favorable circumstances.

And here’s the kicker…

Hong Kong recently repealed its inheritance tax on property. Consequently, many Hong Kong property owners (U.S. citizens who own Hong Kong property are still taxed under U.S. inheritance laws) are now able to pass down real estate assets without any tax liability whatsoever.

It’s no wonder 21 billionaires call Hong Kong home. Hong Kong is the land of the rich. And I’m not just talking a few scattered billionaires. One in seven adults living on Hong Kong Island can claim the exclusive title of being a HKD millionaire. In fact, according to a Citibank-commissioned survey reported in the South China Morning Post this February, Hong Kong millionaires have roughly $4 million ($512,821 USD) in liquid assets, on average. And of those assets, one-third of that amount sits in common, low-yielding bank accounts.

Hong Kong is still the gateway to China. And over the long run, it should continue growing in step with China’s projected growth for decades.I believe Hong Kong will become a tax haven for the new class of super rich. Its skyline competes with Manhattan, its weather compares with Miami, Disney has just moved in across the harbor, and Macau – the Las Vegas of Asia – is just a 45 minute boat ride away.

What’s not to love?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Why Do Rising Commodity Prices Intensify International Tensions?

One of my first experiences of shortages leading to belligerent behaviour was during my childhood. When the Suez Crisis broke out in 1956, everyone in Switzerland, including my mother, stocked up on food and other necessities from grocery shops, fearing that a closure of the Suez Canal would lead to serious shortages.

I witnessed housewives fighting like hyenas over whatever they could find on the shelves of stores. Another childhood experience relates to boarding the train that carries skiers from Wengen to the Kleine Scheidegg during the Christmas holidays. (Some trains then go on to the famous Jungfrau Joch through the Eiger — well-known among accomplished climbers for its North Face.)

Since between Christmas and New Year the demand by skiers for seats on the Wengen– Kleine Scheidegg train vastly exceeded the available number of seats, as soon as the train pulled into the station the skiers would engage in real fights, using their fists and skipoles, in an attempt to board the train first and secure a seat.

Simply put, when markets are glutted and over-supplied, no one is going to fight in order to satisfy his demand. Conversely, when markets are characterised by acute shortages, people will fight and go to war in order to secure their required supplies, particularly when the shortages that might arise or that have already arisen threaten the physical and economic survival of the groups or countries involved. This pattern can be observed throughout history.

In primitive societies, if there was a shortage of women the members of one tribe would attack another tribe and kill the men, in order to secure the women. And even in more advanced societies (for example, the Easter Islands), shortages of resources — in particular, food — led to cannibalism. (Incidentally, Easter Island — a worthwhile place to visit — is a good example of the fact that natural resources can run out. A more recent example is the island of Nauru.)

Rising commodity prices are a manifestation of shortages. So, when commodity prices rise and shortages threaten to undermine economic development and growth, countries that require a steady or increasing supply of resources from foreign sources do tend to become more belligerent. An interruption of supplies could cause enormous damage to such a nation’s economy, society, and military prowess. But it’s not only the commodity-importing nations that become more belligerent when shortages drive prices higher.

The commodity producers themselves find they are in a sweet spot and become more aggressive in their relationship with their clients — the resource-importing nations.

So, whereas we have seen that in the 1980s the balance of power in the world began to shift towards the industrialised nations as commodity prices fell, today it would appear that the balance of power has already shifted back to the resource producers — especially the oil producers.

This shift of power to the resource producers is particularly pronounced when new countries and regions become involved in the “trade network”, as Kondratieff observed, because the demand from the traditional sources is, as a result of the entry of new countries into the global economy, gradually displaced by the incremental demand of nontraditional and new sources.

In this respect, I should mention that 1994 marked a milestone in economic history and geopolitical trends in as far as China became, for the first time in modern times, a net importer of crude oil.

In a situation characterised by shortages and rising commodity prices, the producers of resources tend to play out the established buyers of their resources against their new clients (China, India), who, in order to satisfy their growing domestic demand, bid very aggressively for those resources that are in short supply.

But there is another reason for the shift of power towards the resource producers when shortages emerge. Money!

Suddenly, the governments’ coffers of the resource producers swell because prior trade deficits caused by falling commodity prices are, in an environment of rising prices, replaced by robust trade and current surpluses, which allow the resource producers to become geopolitically more active and to build their military capabilities (for example, Hugo Chavez, Amadi- Nejad, and Vladimir Putin).

In this regard, it is interesting to note that for the first time in recent history, even Latin America has a trade and current account surplus with the United States. Remarkably, the US now has a trade deficit with every region of the world.

Marc Faber-Taken from Marc Faber’s Gloom, Boom and Doom Report.

Not above the law

by Robert Novak Townhall.com

WASHINGTON - Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a low-profile second- term Republican from Florida, last Thursday introduced a resolution repudiating the stand of her leader, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

It avows that a "Congressional office may be subject to searches and seizures" in an "ongoing criminal investigation" of a House member. It would be hard to find any colleagues who now disagree with her, even though most want to forget the embarrassing subject. "I didn't know if I would be getting an office in the basement [after introducing the resolution]," Brown-Waite told this column.

Like other lawmakers, she got an earful from constituents during the Memorial Day recess. Voters in her heavily Republican district northeast of Tampa and St. Petersburg, she told me, "were irate" over Hastert's criticism of the FBI raiding Democratic Rep. William Jefferson's offices. She found fellow Republican House members also had been "read the riot act" by constituents.

At the same time, the Justice Department and FBI reaction to Hastert's criticism was arrogant and undisciplined. Senior officials at the White House have not spoken out publicly, but they are appalled by Justice-FBI leaks. Nobody escapes from this episode untarnished, including President George W. Bush's decision to seal for 45 days the evidence obtained from Jefferson's office under court approval. Naturally, Republicans prefer to have heard the last of the sorry affair, and that's what makes the Brown- Waite resolution inconvenient.

Hastert, usually cool, was in a rage in demanding that documents taken from Jefferson's office in a May 20 Saturday night raid be returned to the congressman. Some of the speaker's closest associates in the Republican leadership, who do not want to be identified, had urged him to stay away from this issue.

But Hastert was strongly influenced by his predecessor as speaker, Newt Gingrich, who opposed the raid on constitutional grounds. While Hastert is now depicted as flying alone, the Associated Press on May 24 reported "Democrats and Republicans together in a rare election-year accord" criticizing the raid.

A closed-door conference of House Republicans, according to participants, split evenly on the issue. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, House Judiciary Committee chairman, led the argument that the raid threatened the Constitution's prohibition of the executive branch questioning members of Congress on their "speech or debate" in either house. Sensenbrenner convened a hurry-up hearing May 30 in which self-described constitutional scholars claimed violation of the "speech or debate" clause.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration was imploding, with ABC News reporting Hastert is under investigation in the Jack Abramoff scandal. The administration informed the speaker there was no truth to the report, but bitterness continues. A senior White House aide told me he believes the FBI leaked false information about Hastert in retaliation, though the president's aides are unlikely to pursue this ugly story.

Even more troubling were reports, never officially denied, that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty threatened to quit if the Jefferson evidence were returned.

There is strong feeling among the Capitol Hill Republicans that the two Justice Department officials should have been given their walking papers at that point. All that preceded the shock Republicans in Congress encountered on recess when outraged constituents told them Congress should not be above the law.

That included several members of the speaker's inner circle, who, after going home, felt Hastert had committed a blunder of far reaching political consequences but still do not want to be quoted. That desire is not shared by Ginny Brown-Waite, a little- known backbencher.

After an unproductive meeting with Hastert, she prepared her resolution. Going into the weekend, Brown-Waite had collected 20 Republican co-sponsors (ranging across the party's full ideological spectrum) and had not yet circulated it among Democrats. "If anything comes up that I can attach it to, I will," she said.

When I asked for the Speaker's view of the Brown-Waite amendment approving searches of congressional offices, a spokesman said: "We agree with it, and believe it should be done in a constitutional way. We are working on that process."

If Hastert had said that a week earlier, he would have saved himself and his party from more embarrassment in a difficult period.

Stockholm Syndrome

Wake up and smell the coffe, Socialism only works on paper, in practice it creates a dependent class that is forever beholden to a "bureacratic monarchy". Can anyone say "New Orleans"?

From IBD:
Posted 6/12/2006

Welfare State: The architects of the cradle-to-grave Swedish system said that if it couldn't work there, it wouldn't work anywhere. Well, it didn't and it doesn't.

Sweden was supposed to be the model for the soft-socialist state. The left has cited it as the paradigm that every nation should copy. It's been hailed as the Third Way, a cross between free-market capitalism and the redistributive state that nurtures the public and treats its ills.

And Sweden didn't disappoint, performing relatively well from its inception in the 1930s. In 1970, it had the world's fifth-largest GDP per capita.

For a while, it performed well for the very reason that its master planners, Nobel Prize winners Gunnar and Alva Myrdal, thought it would: that Sweden was the ideal country to try the welfare state experiment.

"The Swedish population was small and homogeneous, with high levels of trust in one another and the government," Johan Norberg, a Swede himself, explains in the current issue of The National Interest.
Other factors, Norberg writes, included: an honest, efficient civil service; an ingrained and culturally supported Protestant work ethic that drove people to work hard even as taxes rose and welfare spending grew; and productivity fueled by a well-educated population and a strong export sector.

Even with all that, "the Swedish model is rotting from within," Norberg writes. "Ironically, the unique social and economic foundation that first allowed Sweden to construct its political edifice — and which makes it such a difficult model for other countries to emulate — has been critically weakened by the system it helped create."

Norberg's analysis will no doubt meet with denial. For us, though, there's no surprise. Free-market capitalism and the welfare state, particularly one where the labor market is as highly regulated as it is in Sweden, are incompatible — an inconvenient truth, as it were, that we might one day have to relearn the hard way.

Funding the welfare state is a massive strain on a free economy. Entitlements and the administrative bureaucracy to manage it must be paid for.The only way to do that, aside from printing more currency, is to tax and tax again the wealth-, prosperity-creating private sector. That's a recipe for stagnation, not growth.

Sweden's slope became most slippery from 1960 to 1980, when public spending increased from 31% of the economy to 60% in order to keep the Swedes rolling in the government payments they have become dependent on and to fund the bloated public sector.

That was deadly to the private sector and contributed to an economic erosion, the effects of which are still being felt. Once thought to be the promised land, Sweden today ranks about equal with the fifth-poorest U.S. state in per capita income. Likewise, among the wealthy nations that make up the OECD, it slipped from fifth in income in 1970 to 15th in 2004.

There's not much optimism for a turnaround, frankly. Norberg believes that as "old attitudes about work and entrepreneurship" fade and dependence on the public sector grows, the country's once-vibrant economy will continue to fall behind.

The rot is alarming, not only for Sweden, but also for the U.S. If it's not careful, the U.S. will take the same well-trod path to stagnation as Sweden. That's especially true if it doesn't rein its growth in entitlement spending, bureaucracy and regulations.

Take The Pledge

From IBD:
Posted 6/12/2006

Iran: With the American public seemingly reluctant to go to war, some would-be national leaders may be tempted to play the appeasement card. So can Tehran just dig in and wait for the U.S. to go wobbly?

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has no doubt asked himself that question. And the latest word from Tehran suggests that he and the mullahs think the answer is yes.

Following the U.S. offer of direct talks — but only if Tehran halts its nuclear enrichment — Iran has not come close to meeting that condition.

Instead, it suggests it will deliver some kind of counteroffer, and it stands by what a spokesman on Monday called its "absolute right" to nuclear fuel technology.

The Iranian strategy may become clearer in coming days as it decides whether to take the U.S. offer or take its chances with the United Nations Security Council.

At this point, Tehran talks as if it's happy to choose the latter. And we'll give the regime this much: It may be crazy, but it's not stupid. It knows that any unity displayed by the U.S., Western Europe, China and Russia is fragile and probably temporary.

What's more, in a little more than 2 1/2, the Bush presidency will be over. Iran may be figuring that it will have the best of both worlds by then — a nuclear weapons program too advanced for the rest of the world to stop, plus a new U.S. government with no stomach for a fight.

If that's Iran's hope, now is the time to squelch it with with a clear, bipartisan statement of resolve. Anyone with a serious shot at becoming president should take an anti-appeasement pledge, making it clear that, if elected, he or she would do whatever is necessary to keep Iran's regime from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons.

And if asked whether "whatever is necessary" includes military action, the answer should be affirmative and clear.

At this point, most Republicans angling to succeed President Bush would probably take the pledge without a second thought. About the Democrats we have more doubts, not just because they're inclined to oppose Bush in every way they can, but also because public opinion puts temptation in their way.

First there is the pacifism of Democratic activists who will do their best to bar even moderately hawkish candidates (such as Hillary Clinton, who has voiced support for a possible Iran military strike) from the 2008 nomination.

But the urge to appease rather than attack is not just a left thing. Surveys of the general public, including the latest IBD-TIPP Poll, suggest that most Americans don't want a fight — at least not yet.

In the IBD-TIPP Poll taken June 5-9, 55% of the respondents said the U.S. should not take military action against Iran "if negotiations between the U.S., its allies and Iran fail to persuade Iran to stop its uranium enrichment activities." Only 34% thought an attack would be appropriate.

At the same time, most of those surveyed had little hope that the U.N. would be effective: 63% said they were "not very confident" or "not at all confident" in the U.N.'s "ability to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons."
Such numbers reflect an attitude dangerously close to resignation: Iranian nukes are inevitable, so let's make the best of a bad situation and try to avoid conflict.

Such may be the thinking of a public in denial about the seriousness of a threat, as was Europe in the 1930s — and, by all accounts, as is Europe now. It's all too easy for would-be leaders to exploit this attitude rather than work to change it.

Iran needs to see instead that America has real leaders, including those of both parties aspiring to high office, who won't trade the national interest for short-term political advantage.

Tax Cuts Work

Ask your representative to explain this when they tell you they cannot make the Bush tax cuts permanent in the name of "fiscal responsibility".

The U.S. ran a $42.8 bil deficit in May, above views, due to the timing of various benefits payments. But in the first 8 months of fiscal '06, the deficit is off 16.8% vs. a year ago to $227 bil. Tax revenues are up 13.9%, with huge gains from business and the rich. President Bush may meet his vow to halve the budget deficit to 2.25% of GDP — and 3 years early.

Gimme Drugs, Gimme Drugs...

It seems that old habits are hard to break. For the worst generation in American history, it started with pot and acid and has moved to prescription drugs. Can you say "comfortably numb"?

The scary thing is that they're trying to indoctrinate their own kids. Starting with ADD and ADHD as early as age 5, they quickly push teens who are simply dealing with the natural change into adulthood, into mind melting drugs like paxil and prozac. Now, we even have seasonal "afflictions" to medicate. The FDA approved the use of Wellbutrin XL for treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which causes depressive episodes in the fall and winter. It's the first drug to be approved for treating SAD.

Since it is this generation that is running the government, is it unreasonable for us to demand full disclosure of all the prescription drugs that our elected officials are currently taking? It would certainly explain a lot of the lunacy that we've seen over the last 15 years.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Democrats Cobble A Contract

From IBD:
Posted 6/9/2006

Politics: Congressional Democrats love to rail against partisanship. That explains why they walked out on Republican Tom DeLay's parting celebration of partisanship. They work too hard at it themselves.

The former House majority leader, in a Thursday farewell to his colleagues, refused to reminisce about "across-the-aisle camaraderie."

He just couldn't do that, he said: "For all its faults, it is partisanship—based on core principles — that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders."

For all the indicted Texan's faults, he was accurately following the prescription of the nation's founders, who, though mindful of the perils of "faction," saw the clear benefit of clarifying debate. Beware the high-minded partisans who deny their interests and muddy their principles.

The Democrats might ponder that and what psychologists call paradoxical intention. If they actually focused on solid principles first, they might then perform as more competent partisans.

Since 1992 they have been transparently envious of the Newt Gingrich-inspired "Contract with America," which, by stressing a rollback of government, vaulted the Republicans into control of Capitol Hill.

Consequently, for months we've been hearing about the apparently aimless efforts of Reid, Pelosi & Co. to cobble together their own version of a contract with voters. This past week a draft, curiously called "6 for '06," finally seeped into the blogosphere:

1. A minimum wage increase.

2. Repealing the portion of the Medicare prescription drug law that prevents Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices.

3. Implementing all of the 9-11 commission's homeland security recommendations.

4. Reinstating pay-as-you-go budget rules.

5. Making college more affordable.

6. A sixth plank that has not yet been settled on.

The draft was posted the other day by ABC News' well-sourced blogger Jake Tapper, who welcomed it as a sign of Democratic vitality. What struck us, however, was just how substantively stillborn the effort might be.

Last first: Thinking there's something magical in the number six in this sixth year of the century, Democratic numerologists came up short. Memo to Dems: Consult your core principles, elusive as they might be. You might, just might, find something, anything. Comb through the European Union's constitution if you must.

Back to the top: Increase the minimum wage? In other words, above all, shore up labor union support. And ignore the near-global view of economists that mandated wage hikes are job killers, especially for the unskilled and minority youths.

Let bureaucrats negotiate drug prices? Why not empower patients by lifting anti-competitive restrictions on pharmaceutical research, manufacturing and marketing?

Implement the 9-11 commission's security recommendations? So why does the nation's security come third? There's much to be debated about this, but why does it sound too easy, a cheap panacea designed to take the politicians' minds off the hard work?

Back to pay-as-you-go budgeting? A nice way to hoist Republicans by their own petard, but do high-spending Democrats have credibility? Any credibility?

Universalize formal schooling at taxpayers' expense? Why not realize the late Russell Kirk's burlesque of the educrats and have Behemoth U bestow a doctorate upon every child at birth? Or is our view of the merits of post-secondary schooling too uneducated?

Indeed, last Tuesday California voters, notoriously sentimental about their children's classrooms, rejected a soak-the-rich scheme to universalize preschool. Will Americans get excited about paying for schooling for all at the other end?

At least the authors of the Republicans' Contract understood the resonant appeal of individual freedom and limited government. It's true that, 12 years into it, the Republicans seem to have forgotten how to restrain spending. But for now, the GOP has the edge.

Maybe that sixth plank, if the Democrats can find one, will clarify things.

Preventable Murder

From IBD:
Posted 6/9/2006

Crime & Punishment: Jerry Buck Inman committed countless infractions while serving 30 years for sex offenses. Yet he was foolishly released after 16 years. And now 20-year-old Tiffany Marie Souers is dead.

We may be kidding ourselves if we think there's any effective substitute for simply keeping violent criminals away from society. Sex registries, for instance, are an innovative idea, but it didn't save Tiffany, whom Inman reportedly admitted strangling to death with a bikini bra.

Inman was registered in Tennessee and Florida, but Kris Rahe, who heads the sex offender unit in Charlotte, N.C., cites a hole in the program. "If a convicted sex offender doesn't register at all, or leaves the area where he is registered, there's no mechanism in place to track him down," Rahe told Charlotte's WSOC-TV news.

At the end of the day, there's simply nothing to replace incarceration. According to the Justice Department, sex offenders are four times more likely than nonsex offenders to be arrested for another crime after leaving prison. And some 40% of repeat sex offenders commit a new offense within a year after release.

Inman was already convicted of crimes including rape, sexual battery, robbery with a deadly weapon, grand motor theft and aggravated assault with a weapon. He tried to escape prison three times. Behind bars, he committed dozens of offenses, including raping a fellow inmate. Yet Florida took 14 years off his sentence.

In South Carolina, where Tiffany was murdered, Republican Gov. Mark Sanford signed "Jessie's Law" on Thursday, allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty for some repeat child molesters. It also imposes a mandatory 25 years of prison for sexual predators.

We could and should get even tougher. Life in prison for a second sexual assault, or even two strikes you're dead — execution — is perfectly reasonable, and constitutional.

And colleges themselves have duties. The narrow corridor leading to Tiffany Souers' Clemson University apartment was dark even in the daytime. For years, educational institutions busied themselves with all sorts of politically correct mandatory sensitivity training. Of more practical use would be:

• A required basic personal safety course tailored to the specifics of the campus and the surrounding area.

• Mandatory self-defense instruction for women students.

• Encouraging women to own weapons, like mace or even handguns. Simply producing a lethal weapon can save a woman's life.

• Adequate security and lighting in parking lots, dorm areas and everywhere predators can corner a potential victim — with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or some other national body imposing penalties for colleges that don't keep their students safe.

• Educating students on the specifics of violent incidents that have occurred on campuses — and the personal safety mistakes that may have led to them.

• A permanent campus crime office in a prominent location, where college security and local law enforcement can provide a constant flow of usable information about suspicious activities and local crime.

Still, there's no surrogate for jail. The bipartisan Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons released a report last week complaining that although we spend $60 billion a year incarcerating 2.2 million people, 67% of former prisoners get rearrested.

The commission is misfocused; the most vital purpose of prisons is not rehabilitation, but the protection of society from criminals.

Amnesty International bemoans America's "overcrowded and underfunded prisons," and for once that consistently leftist organization may be right.

More money to build more prisons and the imposition of longer sentences that actually get served are the steps that will save future young innocents such as Tiffany Marie Souers.

The Iraq Syndrome

From IBD:
Posted 6/9/2006

War On Terror: Those who equate Haditha with My Lai, and Iraq with Vietnam, would do well to remember the last time we gave peace a chance. For millions of innocents, it was the peace of the grave.

Typical of the media mind-set on Iraq was a May 31 editorial by the Los Angeles Times titled "What Happened at the Iraqi My Lai?" It demonstrated not only that the left is still mired waist deep in the Big Muddy, but also that it engages in an almost obscene form of moral equivalence.

The Times liberally quoted Rep. John Murtha, ending with the observation that "when the U.S. condones the deliberate murder of civilians it becomes, as Murtha said, no better than the enemy."

No better than the jihadists who planned 9-11 or sawed off Nicholas Berg's head? Deliberate murder? Did we miss the trial?

If this sounds familiar, go back and reread John Kerry's infamous post-Vietnam testimony. The then-vet-turned-activist described our forces in that war as the heirs of Genghis Khan, who destroyed Vietnam in order to save it, who raped and pillaged, and who earned the left's most famous epithet — "baby killers."

If there's anyone who condones the deliberate murder of civilians, it is not the U.S. government but the anti-war left and its unindicted co-conspirators in the media. Thanks largely to their efforts, we abandoned Vietnam and ushered in an era of mass carnage, boat people and reeducation camps that resulted in more death after the war than during it.

After Saigon's "liberation," summary executions of tens of thousands of South Vietnamese began. Hundreds of thousands more were forced into re-education camps as a million boat people fled on anything that would float. Countless thousands perished in the South China Sea.

And let's not forget the killing fields of Cambodia, where 3 million were slaughtered, a stark reminder of what happens in the absence of both democracy and U.S. power. Angst over My Lai helped make it happen; angst over Haditha could make it happen again.

As David Horowitz, who helped organize the first campus demonstrations against the war at UC Berkeley in 1962, has written: "Every testimony by North Vietnamese generals in the postwar years has affirmed that they knew they could not defeat the United States on the battlefield, and they counted on the division of our people at home to win the war for them."

A 6,000-word letter dated July 8, 2005, from Osama bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, shows our enemies hope history will repeat. "(W)e are in a battle," Zawahiri wrote, "and more than half this battle is in the media."

Iraq is like Vietnam, where U.S. forces never lose a battle on the ground, but where defeat can come at the hands of a loony left, a biased media and a shortsighted Congress. Whether it's an immediate withdrawal or one with a date certain, it would be a signal to the enemy to set their alarm clocks and wait us out till we cut and run.

That's what we did after the bombing of our barracks in Beirut in 1983, and Osama bin Laden was emboldened by the weakness he inferred.

A premature withdrawal would be a death sentence for all who cooperated in building an Iraqi democracy. It could also be a death sentence for Americans — victims of the next 9-11, planned, financed and armed in a jihadist Iraq.

It would be the killing fields all over again.

Roll Them Up

From IBD:
Posted 6/9/2006

Military Strategy: It's time for American forces in Iraq to focus on destroying the insurgency, not to get sidetracked into Baghdad police work.

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was an undeniable moral victory, but is it a model for winning a war? That's a fair question, and armchair generals have not been shy about answering it.

Several of these might be called the security-firsters, for their insistence that the U.S. military make it a top priority to make the Iraqi people feel safe.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page says the next order of business should be to secure Baghdad; thus it implies that chasing down terrorists is a costly distraction.

Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution and Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute sound the same general theme, though they differ on what should be secured and how.

Kagan wants to see "clearing and holding" offensives in Sunni towns north and west of Baghdad. Pollack wants mostly defensive operations, with less focus on the Sunni triangle and more on central and southern Iraq.

As for real generals, they're barred from making their opinions public. But it seems from their actions that they're not quite on the same page with the security-firsters.

If they had thought it right to blanket Baghdad with U.S. troops to restore order to that violent city, they probably would have done so by now. If they had put a top priority on creating safe havens, they might not have tried so hard to track down and kill Zarqawi.

So who's right?

As armchair officers ourselves, we don't believe in deferring automatically to military men. They can be too close to the action to see the larger political context. But the generals in the Iraq war zone have knowledge not available to most of the U.S. punditocracy. They know terrorism and how it works. And as was shown on Thursday, they're starting to track down terrorist leaders.

The death of Zarqawi was not just a triumph for Iraq and the U.S. and a setback for al-Qaida. It also was an argument for the classic principle of taking the war to the enemy. Wars are ultimately won not by securing cities but by destroying the enemy's ability to fight — in this case, by killing leaders and disrupting their networks.

Rolling up all the terrorists will be no simple task. But if the U.S. backs away from this mission — on the principle that it's more important to police the streets of the capital — the enemy will just survive, regroup and wait for the Americans to leave.

It will pounce in full force against an Iraqi government that may still be just finding its legs. The danger in making Iraq's largest and most closely watched city appear safe while giving terrorists the run of the hinterlands is that the American people may see the war as won, when it is only had a change of venue.

Hydrogen And Hybrid Vehicles Latest Better-Mousetrap Efforts

Posted 6/9/2006

Six years after it unveiled its EV1 electric vehicle in 1996, General Motors (
GM) hauled the cars off to an Arizona desert and pulverized them.

Why did GM crush EV1? The firm said it couldn't make any money on the product.

Critics said GM carmakers didn't want the vehicle to succeed, since a big success could so radically alter the car industry, the car parts industry, the car maintenance industry and the energy industry.

The company said it spent $1 billion on the product. GM built just 1,134 EV1s, which it leased; 4,500 people were on a lease waiting list when GM crashed the project, says Chelsea Sexton, an EV1 sales manager at the time.

The EV1 is a symbol of the obstacles faced when bringing radical inventions to market. Those obstacles are in play today as automakers develop hybrid vehicles that run on gas and electricity, or fuel-cell engines that run on hydrogen.

The internal combustion engine is 220 years old. But rising fuel prices, political uncertainties in oil-producing nations and the belief there is a finite amount of oil make alternative vehicles an important option.

"There's been incremental improvements in alternative vehicles," said Jack Plunkett, chief executive of auto industry tracker Plunkett Research. "But we need better technology."

California sparked interest in electric cars in 1990, when it mandated that 2% of vehicles sold must have zero emissions by 1998 and 10% by 2003. The state has since changed the mandate to include hybrids and alternative-fuel cars. California even installed electric charging stations to move things along.

There are many theories as to why the electric car flopped. A documentary film due out this month, "Who Killed the Electric Car?," blames oil firms, the car industry and others.

Big Oil didn't want to hand over its car-fuel franchise to electric utilities, according to people interviewed in the movie. "When you're driving an electric car, you never go to a gas station," said Richard Titus, an executive producer of the movie, distributed by Sony. (

The auto industry faced similar issues. The EV1 needed little maintenance and had few of the engine parts that comprise the huge after-market parts and service industry.

Hybrids represent the latest big attempt to produce a new type of car, but they accounted for just 1% of U.S. sales last year, says Plunkett.

"Outside of Toyota (which makes the Prius), car companies are disappointed in the sales of their hybrid efforts," Plunkett said. "And consumers are disappointed in the mileage they get with their hybrids."

Example: The Environmental Protection Agency says the Prius runs 60 miles to the gallon. Many owners say their actual mileage is 35-40.

The Prius is the best-selling hybrid. Toyota (
TM) sold 146,560 units in the U.S. last year. This year, however, Prius sales are running about 10% below year-ago sales, though one reason is a low supply of the cars. Buyers remain on waiting lists.

Plunkett contends the Prius has already attracted the early-adopter "easy" sales. Toyota's challenge now is to attract more buyers.

The Prius has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $22,000. In general, Plunkett says, hybrids cost $2,000 to $4,000 more than their standard counterparts. And with actual mileage not meeting expectations, it would take owners longer to recoup that higher cost by paying less for gas. Plus: The Prius battery system must be improved, some critics say.

Hydrogen fuel-cell cars, meanwhile, remain in test phase. No one can say when they'll go on sale.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element, found in water, fossil fuels, methanol and natural gas. Getting energy out of it requires an electrochemical device — a fuel cell — that produces electricity.

But the technology is proving to be more stubborn than hoped. At issue is how to create, transport and store the hydrogen, says Plunkett.

California is trying to spark progress with programs called Hydrogen Highway and the California Fuel Cell Partnership. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a plan he calls Vision 2010. Its goal is to have hydrogen fueling stations along state highways by 2010.

The state today operates 134 hydrogen vehicles, mostly in Sacramento and Los Angeles. There are 22 hydrogen fuel stations to service these vehicles. This year, the state has budgeted $6 million for more cars and fueling stations, says Catherine Dunwoody, executive director of the Fuel Cell Partnership.

"The benefit of hydrogen is you can make it from so many different sources," said Dunwoody, "but we still need to improve efficiency."

But building hydrogen cars is costly. And though the venture capital industry has started investing heavily in green technologies such as solar energy, it's largely steered away from the auto market.

"That is a game only for the big boys," said Nicholas Parker, chairman of Cleantech Capital Group, a venture and research firm. "There is a venture play here, but the adoption rate is slow and the barriers to entry are high."

Since 1999, U.S. venture firms have invested $8.8 billion in green technologies, but only 3% of that, or less than $265 million, has gone to transportation fields, Parker says.

"Most who thought the hydrogen car economy was coming are now desperately looking for alternative markets," he said. "It's a big challenge for the auto industry."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Gore Leads at Box Office

From Newsmax:

Al Gore's global warming propaganda film based on junk science, lies and denial of the earth's history is finding an audience - in its second weekend in theaters, "An Inconvenient Truth" (a better title would have been "The Absense of Truth") led all films in box office gross per screen.

The movie was shown in 77 theaters and took in $1.34 million - enough to put it at No. 9 in box office gross for the weekend - for an average of $17,615 per screen.

The top box office attraction, "The Break Up," brought in $39 million, but it was screened in 3,070 locations, for an average of $12,760 per theater.

Another beautiful example of how numbers can be manipulted to forward an agenda....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

25 years of AIDS: Have we learned anything yet?

by George Will

"In the period October 1980-May 1981, 5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California. Two of the patients died." -- Centers for Disease Control June 5, 1981

WASHINGTON - Those words 25 years ago announced the arrival of something most Americans thought anachronistic -- an infectious disease epidemic. At first it was called GRID -- gay-related immune deficiency. In September 1982, CDC renamed it acquired immune deficiency syndrome -- AIDS.

Its worldwide toll has already exceeded the 20 million killed by the 14th-century bubonic plague. By 2020, it probably will have killed more than has any epidemic in history, with most fatalities in sub-Saharan Africa, where it probably began about 75 years ago after some people who ate wild chimpanzees in Cameroon became infected with a low-virulence progenitor of the virus that causes AIDS.

An epidemic requires both a microbe and an enabling social context. In Africa, aspects of modernity in a primitive setting became a deadly combination: HIV was spread by roadside prostitutes serving truckers and soldiers travel- ing on modern roads. Africa's wars caused population dislocations; economic development caused migrations of workers across porous borders. Both weakened families and dissolved traditional sexual norms. Jet aircraft integrated Africa into the world flow of commerce and tourism. In 1980s America, the enabling context included a gay community feeling more assertive and emancipated, and IV drug users sharing needles.

AIDS arrived in America in the wake of the Salk vaccine which, by swiftly defeating polio, gave Americans a mis- leading paradigm of how progress is made in public health. Pharmacology often is a small contributor. By the time the first anti-tuberculosis drugs became available in the 1950s, the annual death rate from TB had plummeted to 20 per 100,000 Americans, from 200 per 100,000 in 1900. Drugs may have accounted for just 3 percent of the reduction. The other 97 percent was the result of better nutrition and less urban crowding. Thanks to chlorination of water and better sanitation and personal hygiene, typhoid, too, became rare before effective drugs were available.

Which suggests that the most powerful public health program is economic growth. And the second-most powerful is information.

The 14th-century Black Death killed one-third of Europe's population, but it was in the air, food and water, so breathing, eating and drinking were risky behaviors. AIDS is much more difficult to acquire. Like other large components of America's health care costs (e.g., violence, vehicular accidents, coronary artery disease, lung cancer), AIDS is mostly the result of behavior that is by now widely known to be risky.

The U.S. epidemic, which so far has killed 530,000, could have been greatly contained by intense campaigns to modify sexual and drug-use behavior in 25 to 30 neighborhoods from New York and Miami to San Francisco. But early in the American epidemic, political values impeded public health requirements. Unhelpful messages were sent by slogans designed to democratize the disease -- "AIDS does not discriminate" and "AIDS is an equal opportunity disease."

By 1987, when President Reagan gave his first speech on the subject, 20,798 Americans had died, and his speech, not surprisingly, did not mention any connection to the gay community. No president considers it part of his job description to tell the country that the human rectum, with its delicate and absorptive lining, makes anal- receptive sexual intercourse dangerous when HIV is prevalent.

Twenty years ago a San Francisco public health official explained death's teaching power: Watching a friend die, like seeing a wreck along a highway, is sobering. But after driving more slowly for a few miles, we again speed up. AIDS has a more lasting deterrent effect.

There has, however, been an increase in unsafe sex because pharmacological progress has complicated the campaign against this behavior-driven epidemic. Life-extending cocktails of antiviral drugs now lead some at-risk people to regard HIV infection as a manageable chronic disease, and hence to engage in risky behavior. Furthermore, the decline of AIDS mortality means that more persons are surviving with HIV infection -- persons who can spread the virus. And drugs like Viagra mean that more older men are sexually active.

Still, even with no pharmacological silver bullet, AIDS deaths in America have been declining for a decade. In Africa, where heterosexual sex is the primary means of transmission, the death rate is steady relative to population growth, and the age of beginning sexual activity is rising, as is the use of condoms. Human beings do learn. But they often do at a lethally slow pace.