Saturday, March 31, 2007

Defeat, whatever the cost!

The liberal approach to foreign policy is remarkably consistent over the decades. Consider Speaker Pelosi's approach to Al Qaeda in Iraq and the approach advocated by the New York Times toward to the Khmer Rouge in 1970s:
Indochina Rerun

February 17, 1973, Saturday

Page 30, 548 words

The news from Laos and Cambodia is beginning to show distressing similarities to the diplomatic deadlock of December that delayed the Vietnam cease-fire and provoked temporary intensification of the war....

There is one point which the Vietnam evolution these past three weeks has confirmed: no legalistic niceties are worth delaying an agreement on a cease-fire, for no diplomatic language on a signed paper can enforce provisions that one side or the other wishes to evade. [emphasis added]

It is interesting how concern for the lives of the 7 million inhabits in Cambodia as the Khmer Rouge approach power is neatly reduced to mere euphemisms like "legalistic niceties" and "diplomatic language." Also, while the NY Times acknowledges that "signed papers" are unenforceable, they are at the same time advocating no "delay" on reaching a "cease-fire agreement" which is itself just an unenforceable "signed paper." This seems consistent with the usual liberal position that reaching "agreement" is far more important than actually solving any problem.

UPDATE: William Shawcross, former NY Times reporter of Cambodia's "Killing Fields" fame, has learned the lesson about the human cost of US defeat.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Can we file a class action suit against nature?

Trees have been cut down and "water in Alhambra Creek is at a standstill," reports the Contra Costa Times, and environmentalists demand action. The evil act here was not caused by some Bush-loving capitalist Republican. The trees were chomped down by beavers who used them to make a dam in the Alhambra creek. The government is ready to take action:
City officials say the beavers' handiwork will have to be removed. The California Department of Fish and Game has agreed to permit that.
Separately, there is a pollution crisis in San Luis Obispo:
[A] study by the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District found that persistent winds blowing off the ocean from the northwest are picking up fine sand particles and carrying them onto the [Nipomo] Mesa.

The result is that the Mesa regularly exceeds state and federal air pollution standards for coarse and fine particulate matter, said Larry Allen, county air pollution control officer. A state standard for coarse particulates was exceeded on a quarter of the days sampled.

So ocean winds are blowing up sand from the beaches and this causes a violation of "state and federal air pollution standards."

Previously, a post noted that most of the water pollution of the Potomac river was due to natural sources. Nature simply does not obey the rules that environmentalists think that it should.

Via BotW.

Consistently on one side

Speaker Pelosi has considered the Iranian capture of British hostages and, the AP reports, Speaker Pelosi is reluctant to intervene in foreign policy:
Pelosi's spokesman Brendan Daly said the speaker was reluctant to weigh in on the incident without knowing that such a message would do more good than harm. .... "The leadership discussed it and agreed that inserting Congress into an international crisis while ongoing would not be helpful," Daly said. [emphasis added]
This is, of course, the same Speaker Pelosi who intervened in foreign affairs this week to provide Al Qaeda with a date-certain for victory in Iraq. It is certainly an accident that in both actions, Iran hostages and Iraq war funding, her actions appeared to favor the radical Islamists.

UPDATE: Apparently the thing about not "inserting Congress into an international crisis" was so last week. This week, the Speaker is visiting the middle-east and talking with leaders of Syria, Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. While supporting the British hostages remains off her agenda, AP reports that "Pelosi said Sunday she will raise the issue of two Israeli soldiers captured by the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah and a third captured by Palestinian militants last year with Syrian President Bashar Assad."

Are mankind's best days behind us or ahead of us?

Dr. Helen Smith discusses a new study of 22,000 people over 50 years which shows that women are angrier than men. Dr. Helen writes:
The researchers speculate that women's anger is prompted by feelings of powerlessness caused by "entrenched sexism in modern society." As opposed to what, less sexism in ancient society? When sexism was more prevalent, women were even more "ladylike."
The myth that "modern" times have faults that were not present in earlier times is one that we have heard often and, as Dr. Helen points out above, seems to persist despite the lack of any facts to support it. It certainly dates back at least to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778, and his concept of the noble life of savages:
In his early writing, Rousseau contended that man is essentially good, a "noble savage" when in the "state of nature" (the state of all the other animals, and the condition man was in before the creation of civilization and society), and that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society. He viewed society as "artificial" and "corrupt" and that the furthering of society results in the continuing unhappiness of man.

Rousseau's essay, "Discourse on the Arts and Sciences" (1750), argued that the advancement of art and science had not been beneficial to mankind. He proposed that the progress of knowledge had made governments more powerful, and crushed individual liberty. He concluded that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of sincere friendship, replacing it with jealousy, fear and suspicion. [emphasis added]

The myth of a virtuous earlier time is so persistent in human thought and is so easily believed despite the lack of supporting evidence that it must be built into the wiring of the human brain.

Human Rights, UN Style

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of the non-governmental-organization UN Watch, spoke to the UN Human Rights Council. He pointed to a long record of the UN covering all human rights abuses except for Israel's alleged abuses. The council president was not happy, ruled the "tone" unacceptable, and ordered Mr. Neuer's remarks stricken from the record.

In 1923, the NY Times was hoping that a "head of the [international] family" would emerge. Many in the Democratic party now regard that head as the UN. To others, the UN, like the League of Nations before it, does not seem the least bit worthy of the position.

For more on this, see here and here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

That was then, this is now

Senators Biden and Hagel are now both leading advocates of the preemptive surrender strategy in Iraq. This makes it curious to review an op-ed that they wrote, published December 20, 2002 in the Washington Post, that advocated ten-year effort to rebuild and stabilize Iraq:

By Joseph R. Biden and Chuck Hagel

The United States will face enormous challenges in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, as well as broad regional questions that must be addressed. ....

Although no one doubts our forces will prevail over Saddam Hussein's, key regional leaders confirm what the Foreign Relations Committee emphasized in its Iraq hearings last summer: The most challenging phase will likely be the day after -- or, more accurately, the decade after -- Saddam Hussein.

Once he is gone, expectations are high that coalition forces will remain in large numbers to stabilize Iraq and support a civilian administration. That presence will be necessary for several years, given the vacuum there, which a divided Iraqi opposition will have trouble filling and which some new Iraqi military strongman must not fill. [emphasis added]

So, when they voted for the war, they were well aware that it would take a long effort, a "decade," to maintain the peace and rebuild. They had estimates of the number of troops needed that were somewhat low but not drastically off:
Various experts have testified that as many as 75,000 troops may be necessary, at a cost of up to $ 20 billion a year. That does not include the cost of the war itself, or the effort to rebuild Iraq
They did however know about the risks, even comparing Saddam's ethnic cleansing policy to Kosovo:
The northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk is an example of the perils American forces may encounter. It sits atop valuable oil fields and is home to a mixed population of Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds. In recent years, Saddam Hussein has expelled Turkmen and Kurds as part of an "Arabization," or ethnic cleansing, campaign. We toured a refugee camp housing 120,000 displaced people and heard countless stories of brutality and the loss of loved ones. Kirkuk could become the Iraqi version of Mitrovica, the volatile city in Kosovo where the U.N.-led administration has faced the dilemma of forcibly resettling people from various ethnic communities who have been evicted from their homes
The reach a conclusion:
[T]here is no escaping the fact that we face several related, interlocking crises in the region. [emphasis added]
The only difference now is that they want to escape.

Via BotW.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bureaucracy as an Ideal

Sen Clinton is promising to return to an old issue:
"We're going to have universal health care when I'm president — there's no doubt about that. We're going to get it done," the New York senator and front-runner for the 2008 nomination said.
Her efforts would not make the Cato institute happy:
Under the Clinton plan, the government would have taken control of nearly one-seventh of the U.S. economy. It would have established the world's largest government program -- dwarfing even Social Security -- created a huge new bureaucracy and required massive tax increases. The entire idea behind the Clinton health care plan was that government knew best -- better than businesses, better than doctors, and better than patients. The Clinton plan would have required every business in America to provide health care coverage to its employees, regardless of cost. The mandate would have devastated small businesses and cost thousands of jobs.
Why would Democrats want to trust their health care, their lives really, to a government bureaucracy? Because they expect a lot from a bureaucracy. Consider, for perspective, a 1911 publication, "Socialism and Religion," claiming how, when the socialists run government, the government will become perfectly intelligent and reasonable:
[The modern class-dominated state] still leaves room for religion, because it maintains ignorance and confusion by its structure and contradictions and because religion is fostered as a handmaiden of class rule. .... [Socialism will provide] an intelligently organised society. The matter has been put in a nutshell by Marx in the chapter on "Commodities" in Capital, volume 1:
"The religious reflex of the real world can, in any case, only then finally vanish, when the practical relations of everyday life offer to man none but perfectly intelligible and reasonable relations with regard to his fellow men and to nature.

"The life process of society, which is based on the process of material production, does not strip off its mystical veil until it is treated as production by freely associated men, and is consciously regulated by them in accordance with a settled plan.

"This, however, demands for society a certain material groundwork or set of conditions of existence which in their turn are the spontaneous product of a long and painful process of development."

It is, therefore, a profound truth that Socialism is the natural enemy of religion. Through Socialism alone will the relations between men in society, and their relations to Nature, become reasonable, orderly, and completely intelligible, leaving no nook or cranny for superstition. The entry of Socialism is, consequently, the exodus of religion. [emphasis added]
Like Sen Clinton and the Democrats of today, the socialists of 1911 believed that a government bureaucracy would be "intelligent" and " reasonable," at least if run by the right people, that is, respectively, Democrats or socialists. The idea that a humans can make a perfect bureaucracy seems so against history and experience that the belief itself would appear to be a religion.

Flashback: "Warning Signs of a Possible Return to Glacial Period" says New York Times

The Earth's climate is complex but the New York Times has always managed to find the politically trendy headlines for their science articles, as in this example from 30 years ago:
SCIENTISTS SEEK DATA ON CAUSES OF ICE AGE; Such Information Seen Providing Warning Signs of a Possible Return to Glacial Period

April 21, 1977, Thursday

Page 13, 816 words

Using heavy hydrogen in ancient wood as an indicator of past climate, scientists at the California Institute of Technology have concluded that at the height of the last ice age, ice-free areas on the North American hinterland were warmer in winter than they are today. ....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It is too bad they didn't think more carefully before the act became law.

Maybe you purchased a movie on a DVD and you would like to watch it on your video ipod. However, transferring it from your DVD to your ipod is a crime, thanks to the anti-consumer 1998 DMCA act. A decade after the act was passed, Bruce Lehman, the architect of the DMCA and the WIPO Internet Treaties, now reportedly has second thoughts: "Our Clinton administration policies didn't work out very well" and "Our attempts at copyright control have not been successful."

Valiant Fight Against an Imaginary Foe

Marie Coyle, the Feminist Outreach Coordinator of "One in Four: American Women United Against Eating Disorders," takes a stand:
I am, and will continue to be, aggressively and unapologetically anti-eating disorders. I am definitely trying to attack this problem. I want to be supportive of those who are suffering, but I refuse to say that I am anything but opposed to their sickness. I am not in any way blaming people who have eating disorders; this is absurd. When I say I am furious about eating disorders, I mean that I am furious at their existence, not at the people whose lives are being ruined by them. I have nothing but sympathy and compassion for the hundreds of people on this campus that are suffering. I want to do everything I can to improve their lives. I really cannot stress enough the distinction between being against eating disorders and being against people who have eating disorders.
She never gets around to mentioning who the people are who are supposedly "pro" eating disorder or whether they really did ask her to apologize. In this way, she is similar to "anti-war" activists who imagine that their opponents are "pro-war."

Via BotW.

Pres. Bush, the omnipotent?

Liberals have suggested that the capture by Iran of British soldiers while in Iraqi waters was orchestrated by Pres. Bush as an excuse to go to war against Iran. This is similar to the 9-11 conspiracy theories in that it ascribes to Geo. Bush extraordinary powers to orchestrate world events.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Quick links on press bias

The New York Times Magazine wanted a cover story on the suffering of female combat veterans of the Iraq war. So, they interviewed women undergoing psychiatric treatment and published their horror stories about duty in Iraq. This included Amorita Randall's harrowing description of brain injury and rape while in Iraq. Her story, which the unbiased NY Times accepted and printed, turned out to be mere delusion. One might think that the fact that they were interviewing psychiatric patients might cause them to check their facts. Apparently, not.

In a hit-and-run attack, the Minneapolis Star Tribune found an anonymous comment left at and insinuated that the lawyers at Power Line blog were responsible.

UPDATE: The Star Tribune has now issued a correction.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Iran and Blaming America First

In light of Iran's capture of British soldiers from Iraqi waters, Pat Dollard reminds us MSNBC's view of Iran:
In this year’s State of the Union address, President Bush warned Iran to stop killing American troops in Iraq or face the consequences. At the conclusion of his speech, Anti-American MSNBC commentators Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews turned to each other and said “Can you believe he’s dragging Iran into this?”. [emphasis added]
Between the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and the 1996 Khobar Towers attacks, it should be obvious that Islamist Iran is an aggressor. To US liberals in recent decades, however, the US is guilty until proven otherwise. Jeanne Kirkpatrick famously illustrated this with many examples that were current when she spoke about this in 1984:
They said that saving Grenada from terror and totalitarianism was the wrong thing to do - they didn't blame Cuba or the communists for threatening American students and murdering Grenadians - they blamed the United States instead.

But then, somehow, they always blame America first.

When our Marines, sent to Lebanon on a multinational peacekeeping mission with the consent of the United States Congress, were murdered in their sleep, the "blame America first crowd" didn't blame the terrorists who murdered the Marines, they blamed the United States.

But then, they always blame America first.

When the Soviet Union walked out of arms control negotiations, and refused even to discuss the issues, the San Francisco Democrats didn't blame Soviet intransigence. They blamed the United States.

But then, they always blame America first.

When Marxist dictators shoot their way to power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don't blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies, they blame United States policies of 100 years ago.

But then, they always blame America first.

Michael Barone continues on this topic with these observations:
In their assessment of what is going on in the world, they seem to start off with a default assumption that we are in the wrong. The “we” can take different forms: the United States government, the vast mass of middle-class Americans, white people, affluent people, churchgoing people or the advanced English-speaking countries. Such people are seen as privileged and selfish, greedy and bigoted, rash and violent. If something bad happens, the default assumption is that it’s their fault. They always blame America — or the parts of America they don’t like — first.

Where does this default assumption come from? And why is it so prevalent among our affluent educated class (which, after all, would seem to overlap considerably with the people being complained about?).

This matches the common liberal scenario/psychological complex which goes as follows: "We (our group/tribe/country) are guilty. But we (a subgroup/faction) are not really guilty. It is those others (the 'affluent educated class', Reagan, Bush, Republicans) who are guilty. We (the good liberals) are embarrassed to be associated with them and we should apologize to the rest of the world." I have discussed the embarrassment/urge-to-apologize issue before here, here, and here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Nations: children who won't grow up?

Is foreign policy just like kindergarten? The liberal/left seems to think so. This was discussed here as an explanation of Sen. Clinton's foreign policy pronouncements. Interestingly, a 1923 Sunday New York Times Magazine article explicitly uses the same unruly-child-in-need-of-a-parent analogy to explain foreign policy, at least as seen by the article's author:

February 25, 1923, Sunday


Section: The New York Times Magazine, Page SM1, 2866 words

THE task of saving the world lies heavy on the heads of statesmen of all nations. They realize that the greatest political opportunity in the outline of history is within the grasp of some bold hand. But whose? And how? In what Parliament hides the harmonizing genius, the Pied Piper who will entrance all the spoiled and snarling children of the world out of their own discordant houses into some peaceful family of nations?


Great Britain has never blinked the fact [sic.] that some marriage of convenience, or necessity, would eventually force us all, unwilling and frightened stepchildren, into some kind of family of nations. She has never doubted who would be the head of that family. Experienced in heading a good-sized family of her own, and, with all her mistakes, the most successful stepmother of nations in human history, she had reason to believe that no one in the world seriously question her claims or her qualifications. [emphasis added]

This world-as-family analogy would be merely an amusing rhetorical device except that, 80+ years later, as we have seen, and despite some disastrous consequences, it is still the way that liberals think of foreign policy. Indeed, for 15 years after Ms. McCormick wrote this article, liberal world leaders treated Mussolini and Hitler as children to be placated rather than as serious enemies.

The liberal belief in the concept of an international "head of family" is also unchanged. Now, despite its decades of failures, the United Nations is assigned that role. As Ms. McCormick noted, Great Britain had previously had that role.

Liberals also apply the the child-in-need-of-parent concept to domestic politics, as discussed within this post.

A possible relationship between liberalism and childhood pain was noted here. The connection between the family analogy and foreign policy may have been taken too far by Democratic presidents who, however seriously, make a show of asking their children for foreign policy advice.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What if the minumum wage were $500/hour?

Donald J. Boudreaux, chairman of the economics department at George Mason University, explains the minimum wage among economic oddities here.

In ideology, size matters

Russell Roberts notes a curious similarity between Sen. Gore and Mao. Quoting from James Taranto's summary:

Mao More Than Ever
Blogger Russell Roberts has a fascinating juxtaposition, starting with the following, from an Associated Press report on Al Gore's congressional testimony:

Gore advised lawmakers to cut carbon dioxide and other warming gases 90 percent by 2050 to avoid a crisis. Doing that, he said, will require a ban on any new coal-burning power plants--a major source of industrial carbon dioxide--that lack state-of-the-art controls to capture the gases.

He said he foresees a revolution in small-scale electricity producers for replacing coal, likening the development to what the Internet has done for the exchange of information.

Sound familiar? Probably not, but check out this Wikipedia description of Red China's "Great Leap Forward":

In the August 1958 Politburo meetings, it was decided that steel production would be set to double within the year, most of the increase coming through backyard steel furnaces. Mao was shown an example of a backyard furnace in Hefei, Anhui in September 1958 by provincial first secretary Zeng Xisheng. The unit was claimed to be manufacturing high quality steel (though in fact the finished steel had probably been manufactured elsewhere). Mao encouraged the establishment of small backyard steel furnaces in every commune and in each urban neighbourhood. . . .

Huge efforts on the part of peasants and other workers were made to produce steel out of scrap metal. To fuel the furnaces the local environment was denuded of trees and wood taken from the doors and furniture of peasants' houses. Pots, pans, and other metal artifacts were requisitioned to supply the "scrap" for the furnaces so that the wildly optimistic production targets could be met. Many of the male agricultural workers were diverted from the harvest to help the iron production as were the workers at many factories, schools and even hospitals. As could have been predicted by anyone with any experience of steel production or basic knowledge of metallurgy, the output consisted of low quality lumps of pig iron which was of negligible economic worth.

As Roberts notes, "Giving up the economies of scale we currently use for energy production is going to be very expensive."

In a free enterprise solution, small-scale power producers would be allowed to compete with large-scale producers, with both subject to similar environmental rules, and the consumer decides who wins. In liberalism, either the Gore or Mao variety, the winner is to be decided instead by ideology.

Moderate Muslim Group Speaks Out

CAIR, the pseudo-civil-rights organization, is suing on behalf of the six imans ejected from a US Air flight for their bizarre behavior. A chilling possibility is that the suit may be extended to sue the individual passengers who reported the behavior. However, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy is offering to raise money to defend the passengers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Those foreign "moderates"

One of the repeating left/liberal ideas in foreign policy is that a leader of an enemy is actually a "moderate" and we should not push him too hard because his country would then fall to the more extreme contingent. We heard this about the USSR under Brezhnev, Andropov, and Gorbachev. We have heard this occasionally about the leadership of Iran, although not about Iran's current president who does not even pretend to pose as a moderate. A terrorist like Arafat and his successor, Abbas, have both succeeded in convincing liberals that they are "moderates." This left/liberal idea is not new. In 1933, the New York Times was playing Hitler as a moderate who might lose control to the extremists: A July 23, 1933 article by Anne O'Hare McCormick was entitled "HITLER THREATENED BY EXTREME NAZIS; OUTBREAKS FEARED" [caps in original]. The NY Times to the contrary notwithstanding, history shows that Hitler was not threatened by extreme Nazis. Rather, Hitler was an extreme Nazi.

"FRANKFURT'S BANKS STILL RUN BY JEWS" says New York Times headline, 1933

Another installment in our should-you-trust-the-MSM series: Hitler was not so bad says the 1933 New York Times. Thus, in a story printed on June 20, 1933, the Times wrote of German Jews: "Many Under Ban Look on Hitler as Less of an Evil Than Threatened Bolshevism." The NY Times reporter calls the physical attacks on Jews "only a dark detail." The Times says that Hitler's proposal to remove Jews from all bank directorates has been "already scrapped."

This story was written by the same reporter who earlier claimed that "Mussolini [was] eager to maintain peace."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Muzzled by the White House?

You may remember news headlines about the White House "silencing" or "muzzling" NASA scientist James Hansen.  His congressional testimony sheds some light on the issue
  • He did manage to give 1,400 press interviews during his "silencing."
  • He also clarified the nature of the silencing: "It was an oral threat made to a public affairs person in New York and relayed to me." In other words, all those newspaper headlines were based merely on Hansen's interpretation of a second hand description of a phone call!
  • Dr. Hansen received a $250,000 grant from Sen Kerry's wife. (This is not particularly interesting except that global warming enthusiasts are always quick to allege that influence from impure funding sources is what motivates climate change skeptics.)

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Buddha of the Kremlin

How would you describe Joseph Stalin? tyrant? mass murderer? If so, the New York Times would likely not have hired you. On Nov. 20, 1927, their reporter, Ms. McCormick who had just returned from a trip to the USSR, called him the "buddha of the Kremlin." She praised him as "calm" and "steady."

This is the same reporter who, six years later, would praise Mussolini's devotion to the "cause of world peace."


The news media assure us that Iraq is a disaster and that the UN represents the scientific consensus on global warming. The news media's accuracy is easy to assess in retrospect and it isn't good. Consider this New York Times headline from Jun 5, 1933:
Yes, this NY Times story, written by Anne O'Hare McCormick, claimed that the great fascist was "eager" for peace. The story ($$) continues:
Mussolini, the conciliator, is no longer the flaming captain who headed the young armies of blackshirts in the march on Rome. Rather, he is the sober statesman, striving to calm and reassure panicky nations which are as jumpy as a man with a toothache. ....

No one who meets him today can doubt his conversion to the cause of world peace.

If you believe that the news media are unbiased and have layers of editors and fact checkers, then you should believe that 1930s fascists were dedicated to the cause of world peace.

Quick Press Bias Links

The L.A. Times, seemingly on purpose, misstates the facts in the firing of US Attorney Carol Lam to make it seem like the firing was retribution for targeting a Republican house member. Additional misrepresentations on the attorney firing issue are detailed here. Contrast this with how the "unbiased" media treated Pres. Clinton's firing of the attorney who was investigating the whitewater scandal.

American deaths in Iraq have declined since the surge begin.  The NY Times bizarrely finds a way to spin this as a negative.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Childhood pain and liberalism

It is often observed that Democrats are more depressed/pessimistic than Republicans. Part of this could be due to childhood experiences. Consider Sen. Obama who wrote about his childhood:
I kept finding the same anguish, the same doubt, a self-contempt that neither irony nor intellect seemed able to deflect,
Barack Obama's family situation must have been quite painful, at least if we believe the (UK) Daily Mail's research into Sen. Obama's father:
At 18, [Barack's father, Obama Sr.] married a girl called Kezia. But Obama Snr was more interested in politics and economics than his family and his political leanings had been brought to the notice of leaders of the Kenyan Independence movement. .... At the age of 23 he headed for university in Hawaii, leaving behind the pregnant Kezia and their baby son.

Relatives say he was already a slick womaniser and, once in Honolulu, he promptly persuaded a fellow student called Ann - a naive 18-year-old white girl - to marry him. Barack Jnr was born in August, 1961.

Two years later, Obama Snr was on the move again. He was accepted at Harvard, and left his little boy and wife behind when he moved to the exclusive east coast university....

...Ann divorced her husband after she discovered his bigamous double life. She remarried and moved to Indonesia with young Barack and her new husband, an oil company manager.

Obama Snr was forced to return to Kenya, where he fathered two more children by Kezia. He was eventually hired as a top civil servant in the fledgling government of Jomo Kenyatta - and married yet again.

Now prosperous with a flashy car and good salary, his third wife was an American-born teacher called Ruth, whom he had met at Harvard while still legally married to both Kezia and Ann, and who followed him to Africa.

A relative of Mr Obama says: "We told him[Barack] how his father would still go to Kezia and it was during these visits that she became pregnant with two more children. He also had two children with Ruth."

It is alleged that Ruth finally left him after he repeatedly flew into whisky-fuelled rages, beating her brutally.

Friends say drinking blighted his life - he lost both his legs while driving under the influence and also lost his job.

However, this was no bar to his womanising: he sired a son, his eighth child, by yet another woman and continued to come home drunk.

He was about to marry her when he finally died in yet another drunken crash when Obama was 21.

Alexander Hamilton was also abandoned by his father. Between the ages of 10 and 14, young Alexander was not only abandoned by his father but also his mother died, his cousin, who cared for Hamilton after his parents left, committed suicide. Also during these same years, Alexander's aunt, uncle, and grandmother died. [Src: Ron Chernow's book, p.26]. A conservative might think that abandonment by a father would lead a person to distrust authority. However, both Mr. Obama and Mr. Hamilton adopted a political belief in giving central governments more power and authority.

In contrast, while we know relatively little about the childhood of Hamilton's opponent, Thomas Jefferson, what we do know points to a relatively uneventful childhood in a stable family with none of the pain and instability that either Mr. Obama or Mr. Hamilton endured. Mr. Jefferson was early America's leading advocate of small and decentralized government.

Paranoia strikes deep

The Washington Post reports:
"Ladies and gentlemen, what happened in New Orleans could happen anywhere," [Mayor] Nagin said at a dinner sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group for newspapers that target black readers. "They are studying this model of natural disasters, dispersing the community and changing the electoral process in that community." [emphasis added]
Sometimes the left tells us that Pres Bush is dumb. At other times, he is supposed to be at the center of a vast political intrigue that involves control of the weather for the purpose of harming minorities. Whether it is 9-11, hurricane Katrina, or the JFK assassination, the left believes in huge secretive conspiracies.

Civilization to collapse says global warming alarmist

The apocalypse is coming:
"If humans pursue a business-as-usual course for the first half of this century, I believe the collapse of civilisation due to climate change becomes inevitable." --from The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, [emphasis added]
Tim Flannery is a field zoologist. That is closer to being a hard scientist that sociology.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Democrats listen to the children

In 1980 during the presidential candidates debate, Pres. Jimmy Carter infamously explained that he had asked his daughter for advice on nuclear weapons policy. Two decades later, Pres. Clinton, in front of stunned middle east leaders, asked his daughter for her opinion on peace plans. Earlier this year, the Vermont legislature asked 6th grade students for their opinion on global warming. Well, they do say the children are our future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Abandoning superstition

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Ca) is apparently the highest ranking atheist in the American government. One might hope that such a person who had abandoned ancient superstitions would be a model of the new enlightened scientific man. Rep. Stark, however, does not seem to be such a model. In 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle reviewed his behavior:
Stark, 71, added to his legend of buffoonery last week when he called Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., "a little wimp" and a "little fruitcake" -- and suggested the two should step outside. Capitol police were called to the hearing.

It was reminiscent of the 2001 debate when Stark made a reference to the children of Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., all being "born out of wedlock." It was not only insulting, it was -- as Watts pointedly told Stark in a face-to-face confrontation -- not true.

And there was the time he accused Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., of being a "whore for the insurance industry." Stark once brought up President Bush's personal battles with alcohol during a debate on federal funding of faith- based programs.

Yes, this is the same Pete Stark who in 1990 suggested former Health and Human Services Director Louis Sullivan, an African American, was a "disgrace to his race."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Today's global warming scare from AP

The AP has a frightening story on the effects of global warming:
The harmful effects of global warming on daily life are already showing up, and within a couple of decades hundreds of millions of people won't have enough water, top scientists will say next month at a meeting in Belgium.....

"Things are happening and happening faster than we expected," said Patricia Romero Lankao of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., one of the many co-authors of the new report.

So, you might ask, what are Ms. Lankao's qualifications for writing about how fast the climate is changing? Google her and you find that she is a sociologist.

Democrats: "Do as I say, not as I do"

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) smokes. After the Democrats have spent decades waging a war against tobacco, there are few public places for him to smoke now. At the Capital Hill Club, where Republican legislators hang out, smoking is illegal under D.C. law. So, Rep. Boehner has to travel to the National Democratic Club which, unlike the Republican's club, has exemption to get around the District's new smoking ban.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Who cares about genocide?

Which country has an ongoing genocide "10 times greater than Darfur's and more than twice as large as Rwanda's"? That would be Zimbabwe according to a well-researched article by James Kirchick in The New Republic online. That the usual politically-correct sources have expressed little concern over this is possibly due to the socialist/communist pretensions of Zimbabwe's president Mugabe.

For the love of disaster

With the global warming disaster scenario so much in the news, it seems useful to review past popular disaster scenarios. Michael Fumento reviews a past king of disaster predictions, Paul Ehrlich. History has proven Mr. Ehrlich wrong again and again. Yet his popularity and fame only grow. In 1996, Mr. Fumento wrote:

Ehrlich, a butterfly specialist, began his spectacular doomsaying career back in 1968 with his best-selling book "The Population Bomb." Among his predictions then and since:

  • "The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines . . . hundreds of millions of people (including Americans) are going to starve to death." (1968)
  • "Smog disasters" in 1973 might kill 200,000 people in New York and Los Angeles. (1969)
  • "I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." (1969)
  • "Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity . . . in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion." (1976)

Yet today: 1) Food production is well ahead of population growth and obesity now kills 300,000 Americans a year, 2) the air in New York and L.A. is cleaner than it has been in decades, 3) with two years until 2000, England's odds are looking mighty good, and 4) there are no key minerals facing depletion. Almost all of them, along with raw materials in general, are far cheaper now relative either to the Consumer Price Index or wages.

But have Ehrlich's preposterous predictions hurt his reputation? Far from it - they've made him both celebrated and rich.

In one year - 1990 - he published a sequel to "Bomb" called "The Population Explosion," received the MacArthur Foundation's famous "genius award" with a $345,000 check, and split a Swedish Royal Academy of Science prize worth $120,000.

Just a few months ago, the New York Times published an Op-Ed by Thomas Homer-Dixon who, despite everything, claims that maybe Ehrlich will somehow turn out to be right after all. From Malthus to Ehrlich to Gore, whether the cause is pollution or population or divine retribution, many people seem to have a need to believe in the coming apocalypse.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Peace activists turn violent

On Monday, three peace protesters were arrested for third-degree assault. This is not unusual. Last month, a peace protester was arrested for assault against suspected Republicans. In 2002, a march of 1500 peace protesters in Belgium turned violent and 29 were arrested. In 1968, 200 were arrested in a violent peace protest in London. Historically, if peace protesters favor peace, it is only as an end not as a means.

UPDATE: James Taranto has two more current examples (scroll to "They love to hate hate") of peace protesters getting violent.

My enemy's enemy is my friend?

Newsweek profiles Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of the bestselling book Infidel, who is now living in exile. Christopher Hitchens finds that Newsweek has turned the facts upside down:
Accompanying the article is a typically superficial Newsweek Q sidebar, which is almost unbelievably headed: "A Bombthrower's Life." The subject of this absurd headline is a woman [Ayaan Hirsi Ali] who has been threatened with horrific violence, by Muslims varying from moderate to extreme, ever since she was a little girl. She has more recently had to see a Dutch friend butchered in the street, been told that she is next, and now has to live with bodyguards in Washington, D.C. She has never used or advocated violence. Yet to whom does Newsweek refer as the "Bombthrower"? It's always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it's the victim of violence who is "really" inciting it. [emphasis added]
The behavior of Ms. Ali's critics, as described by Mr. Hitchens, fits a familiar pattern in which America's enemies, or maybe more precisely Geo. Bush's enemies, are imagined to have all manner of good qualities that all could see if only America, or Pres. Bush, or, in this case, Ms. Ali, would stop misbehaving.

In mosques in London's Islamic community, there are lectures on the proper way to beat your wife. They preach death to gays. Liberals would find all of this repulsive if they were not busy defending it against the perceived criticisms of Ms. Ali or Mr. Bush. Instead, Newsweek describes that London muslim community with lovingly PC terms like "thriving," "modern," and "diverse."

UPDATE: Bret Stephens has much more on the strange socialist-islamist alliance.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Is bin Laden just like one of us?

Similar to the New York Times piece discussed below, Sunday's Washington Post has an Op-Ed by Alberto Mora and Thomas Pickering bemoaning the lack of terrorists rights and its effect on our "reputation":
Our country's detention policy has undermined its reputation around the world.... [emphasis added]
Why would reputation be important? They see it this way:
The United States cannot expect other nations to afford its citizens the basic guarantees provided by habeas corpus unless it provides those guarantees to others.
This pleasant theory, though, does not pass a reality check. In the past 70 years, American POWs have been held by North Vietnam, North Korea, Saddan's Iraq, and Japan, none of which followed international standards. All tortured US POWs with real torture, not the panties-on-the-head "torture" that so concerns liberals now. Our "reputation" was irrelevant. More recently al Qaeda has captured Americans. Can anyone honestly imagine al Qaeda deciding to extend legal rights to prisoners before videotaping their beheading? Of course not because al Qaeda is philosophically opposed to all Western ideas of civil rights.

In Mora and Pickering's world, however, the enemies of America shares the same goals and dreams as liberals and decide how to treat prisoners after considering America's "reputation" for civil rights. This is like Sen. Murray imaging that bin Laden shares her passion for daycare centers. (More examples here.) This liberal view may not be rational but it is one that many hold consistently.

Fretting over America's image

A New York Times editorial proposes a terrorist bill of rights. Some of the well-qualified lawyer-bloggers have, in my opinion, long ago shown the legal arguments and 'facts' claimed by the NYT to be specious. Below, I excerpt the emotional arguments. The NYT seems to think what others think of us is very important, as if the world was one big high school:
[Habeas corpus] is essential to bringing integrity to the detention system and reviving the United States’ credibility. ....

[The Military Commissions Act that] Mr. Bush triumphantly announced ... was a defeat for America’s image around the world. ....

The United States should apologize.... [emphasis added]

As noted previously, French law provides for extensive rights to detain suspected terrorists. Will the NYT ever fret about France's need to restore its "image" or "credibility"?

More importantly, will the NYT ever call for bin Laden to "apologize"?

PREVIOUSLY on the subject of "image" over substance: "I don't fall down"

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Channel 4 (UK) to show documentary skeptical of UN's "global warming" spin

On Thursday, Channel 4 (UK) will show a global warming documentary. This summary includes some quotes from the scientists that they interviewed:
I've often heard it said that there is a consensus of thousands of scientists on the global warming issue, that humans are causing a catastrophic change to the climate system, Well I am one scientist, and there are many, that simply think that is not true. -- John Christy, Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center, NSSTC University of Alabama.
As for what does cause climate change, if the human influence is not so large:
Solar activity over the last hundred years, over the last several hundred years, correlates very nicely, on a decadal basis, with temperature. --Ian Clark, Professor of Isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology at the Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa
Separately, Russia has been developing more accurate methods to measure solar activity and Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, believes that solar activity accounts for most of the observed climate changes both here on Earth and on Mars. This result seems to be in line with a Danish study noted here.

Previous posts on this subject are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE: A list of 76 scientists willing to go on the record as skeptical of global warming is here.

UPDATE: Another physics professor, Bjarne Andresen of University of Copenhagen, has expressed doubts about the UN interpretation about the usefulness of the "global warming" concepts and warming's affects on the climate. His study will be published in the Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Cambodia-Iraq parallel

Democrats and the news media seem to have a strong desire to repeat in Iraq the disaster 30-years ago of abandoning Cambodia. Scott Johnson reviews the parallels.

This contrasts strongly with the understanding of history that some Iraqis have, as explained in an interview that Stars and Stripes conducted with Col. MacFarland:

Now, “If you talk to these sheiks, they’ll tell you that they’re in no hurry to see the Americans leave al-Anbar,” he said.

“One thing Sheikh Sattar keeps saying is he wants al-Anbar to be like Germany and Japan and South Korea were after their respective wars, with a long-term American presence helping ... put them back together,” MacFarland said. “The negative example he cites is Vietnam. He says, yeah, so, Vietnam beat the Americans, and what did it get them? You know, 30 years later, they’re still living in poverty.”

Hat tip alphabetcity.

ADDENDUM: Another parallel to Iraq is the US Civil War. As noted here and at Gateway Pundit, the Democrats ("Copperhead Democrats") blamed the Civil War on the North and wanted to settle even if it meant letting the South keep their slaves.

UPDATE: A Commentary article is now online which includes a passage written in 1994 by well-known former-Kissinger-critic William Schawcross discussing press-bias in the 1970s that seems so similar to today's coverage of Iraq:

[T]hose of us who opposed the American
war in Indochina should be extremely hum-
ble in the face of the appalling aftermath: a
form of genocide in Cambodia and horrific
tyranny in both Vietnam and Laos. Looking
back on my own coverage for the [London]
Sunday Times of the South Vietnamese war
effort of 1970-75, I think I concentrated too
easily on the corruption and incompetence
of the South Vietnamese and their American
allies, was too ignorant of the inhuman
Hanoi regime, and far too willing to believe
that a victory by the Communists would pro-
vide a better future.
Scott Johnson has more.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Democrats oppose democracy

Secret ballots have long been recognized as essential to functioning democracy. However, the Democrat-controlled House just voted 241-185 to strip workers of the right to secret ballot elections before a union is recognized. This would remove a right that has been in place since 1935.

Previously on this topic: The skeptics of democracy

UPDATE: More details on the House bill are here.

The Canadian view of global warming

Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Defense Minister, believes that the answer to global warming lies in UFO technology:
I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation ... that could be a way to save our planet....

We need to persuade governments to come clean on what they know. Some of us suspect they know quite a lot, and it might be enough to save our planet if applied quickly enough

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The Joys of Demonization

If the MSM gets a story wrong, what should it do? Blame Matt Drudge. Michael S Malone of ABC News writes about Alan Greenspan's latest comments:
Indeed, the story was so unthrilling that it appears only AP covered it - and, contrary to its current reputation, actually managed to write a balanced and objective story. And, as you might expect, it produced little more than a shrug from the financial markets.

But that's when Drudge stepped in. For no obvious reason, he decided to link to the two day old AP story. He then attached one of his classic scare headlines: "Greenspan warns of likely U.S. recession." Personally, I love stuff like that - it harkens back to the good old days of newspapering and the vastly underrated age of yellow journalism - and if the viewer chose to read the term 'imminent' into Drudge's words, and then link through to the AP story . . .well, bully for Matt. That's his job, and he does it better than anybody.
ABC News got that completely wrong: "Greenspan warns of likely U.S. recession" was not written by Drudge but rather was the AP headline for the story used by several MSM outlets, as can be seen here and here. Drudge merely copied the AP headline. Matt Drudge must make such a fun target that ABC News' "fact-checkers" took a holiday.

Further, despite ABC's claims, the AP story was not "balanced and objective."

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