The beverage-spew-inducing line of the day goes to Al Gore for calling pro-illegal alien amnesty, Harriet Miers for Supreme Court-nominating, Medicare entitlement-expanding President Bush a "renegade right-wing extremist."
-- Michelle Malkin.
Yowza. If Al Gore thinks Bush is a renegade right-wing extremist, were I to become president Al would have a heart attack faster than I can say "flat tax."
Screw your global warming very much. Thanks.
Of the global warming debate Time magazine recently but disingenuously said, "...the serious debate has quietly ended. Global warming, even most skeptics have concluded, is the real deal, and human activity has been causing it." Meanwhile, protesters plan to picket National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offices and demand they "stop covering up the growing scientific link between severe hurricanes and global warming." Quick, call Oliver Stone, I smell a blockbuster.
Gosh, where to start? Well, Time "forgot" to ask a myriad of scientist skeptics including Fred Singer of SEPP.org (Science and Environmental Policy Project), Robert Balling Jr., Fred Seitz, for starters.
Does Time know that it was warmer in the Medieval period than today? Do these protesters recognize that the "Little Ice Age" began after that, and that we're only now coming out of it? Does Time purposely ignore history - that Vikings fled Greenland because it was too cold. That ice core samples of Greenland found cycles of warmer and cooler eras? That, as Dr. Dennis Avery pointed out, "Melting around the edges is exactly what the Vikings saw on Greenland 1,000 years ago when they named the island for its green coastal meadows"?
Columnist Jason Steorts sums up some facts Time forgot, including:
-- Time makes no distinction between land and sea ice sheets. The latter "is already in the water, so its melting doesn't raise ocean levels."
-- University of Virginia climate scientist Patrick J. Michaels: "What has happened is that Antarctica has been gaining ice." Only the Antarctic Peninsula (2 percent) has been warming, 98 percent of Antarctic has been cooling.
-- Peter Doran's 2002 Nature study found two-thirds of Antarctica got colder from 1966 to 2000.
-- Curt Davis' 2005 Science study found Antarctica gained 45 billion tons of ice per year between 1992 and 2003.
-- Richard Lindzen of MIT: "If you're [Time magazine] just going to look at what’s falling off the sides and ignore what’s collecting on top, that’s not exactly kosher."
-- Pro-warming scientific studies are contradicting themselves: Science found between 1992 and 2003 Antarctica gained 5.4 centimeters of elevation per year (74 cubic kilometers of ice per year).
-- Jay Zwally of NASA published that it would take "a millennium to gain 5 centimeters, and a full 20,000 years to rise by a meter."
-- Using Greenland as the measure, almost every decade within 1915 to 1965 were even warmer than the past 10 years. The rate of warming from 1920-1930 was 50 percent higher than today; meaning that the most significant warming in the past 100 years took place before the mass burning of fossil fuels.
-- Fred Singer: "we have historic [temperature] records in Europe going back a thousand years. It was much warmer then than today. The Arctic was much warmer a thousand years ago than it is today. Polar bears survived. The ice caps survived."
Dr. Robert C. Balling Jr. blasts Al Gore's new "An Inconvenient Truth" movie. Al Gore is to Environmentalist scare mongering what Michael Moore is to 9-11 conspiracy. Balling published some "inconvenient truths" for Gore:
(2) Gore discusses glacial and snowpack retreats atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, implying that human induced global warming is to blame. But Gore fails to mention that the snows of Kilimanjaro have been retreating for more than 100 years, largely due to declining atmospheric moisture, not global warming. Gore does not acknowledge the two major articles on the subject published in 2004 in the International Journal of Climatology and the Journal of Geophysical Research showing that modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro was initiated by a reduction in precipitation at the end of the nineteenth century and not by local or global warming.
...4) You will certainly not be surprised to see Katrina, other hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods, and many types of severe weather events linked by Gore to global warming. However, if one took the time to read the downloadable "Summary for Policymakers" in the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), one would learn that "No systematic changes in the frequency of tornadoes, thunder days, or hail events are evident in the limited areas analysed" and that "Changes globally in tropical and extra-tropical storm intensity and frequency are dominated by inter-decadal and multi-decadal variations, with no significant trends evident over the 20th century."
(5) Gore claims that sea level rise could drown the Pacific islands, Florida, major cities the world over, and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. No mention is made of the fact that sea level has been rising at a rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past 8,000 years; the IPCC notes that "No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected."
Balling exposes Gore for the hypocrite he is.
H. Sterling Burnett debunks the latest poster-animal for the global warming scaremongers: possible extinction of the polar bear. Scaremongers generally point to the a World Wildlife Fund study in 2002. But as with many of these studies the findings contradict the post-study opinions. Of 20 distinct polar bear populations, 2, or 16.4 percent of the total population, are decreasing, while the another 12, 59 percent, are stable or increasing (the final 6, or 25 percent, are unknown). But the headlines use the least likely result, not the most likely.
As for the media, they cannot seem to get their story straight. Guess it depends on who is president. When the Senate rejected Kyoto 95-0, and when then Vice President Al Gore persuaded Bill Clinton to open the oil reserves, being skeptical of global warming was just fine.
According to the Business and Media Institute, the NY Times "has warned of four separate climate changes since 1895," cold to hot, and cold to hot again. This includes the May 21, 1975, headline "Scientists Ponder Why World's Climate is Changing; A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable." Well, which is it?
In Europe only the Scotsman editorial board seems rational:
"What are the facts about global warming? The only honest answer is: we do not know. Nor is our knowledge advanced by scientists who are not climatic experts issuing sensational pronouncements. Detailed temperature records date only from 1860. These show that between then and 1915 there was no change in the northern hemisphere. Between 1915 and 1940 there was a rise of 0.4C, countered in the following 35 years by a fall of 0.2C. During the remainder of the 20th century there was a rise of 0.4C, making an overall increase of 0.6C over the century.That is hardly grounds for panic in the streets, especially when we recall that Britain had almost tropical temperatures in the Roman period and was at least as hot as today in the Middle Ages.
Must have been all those Roman SUVs.
The point is, there are plenty of facts and scientists that nullify warming arguments. Time, and the warming scaremongers, just choose to ignore them. Besides, who needs facts when you can just protest?
Admirers of the House Republicans can only sit in stunned amazement watching what is an increasingly disastrous spectacle over the FBI’s execution of a search warrant on the congressional office of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D., La.).
This now includes not only an overwrought hearing convened Tuesday by House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R., Wi.), but ominous bombast at that hearing from Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Ca.), who thought it appropriate to remind everyone that the Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to impeach the attorney general.
This is crazy talk. But it does bring up a salient point: The House also has the power to impeach Rep. Jefferson.
Issa evidently thought it was worth broaching the I-word in connection with an attorney general who, after being stonewalled for ten months on lawful grand-jury subpoenas (which Congress has long known about), finally went to a federal judge to seek court authorization for a search - only after the Justice department designed an elaborate screening procedure in deference to speech-and-debate concerns.
For that we should talk about impeachment - but not for Jefferson?
Well, let’s look at the record on that one.
The videotaped $100,000 bribery happened in July 2005 - fully ten months ago.
-- Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.
Today's news that US Marines opened fired on a vehicle speeding towards a checkpoint and killed a pregnant woman comes on the heels of reports that Marines may have killed civilians in Haditha, Iraq. (That Marines fired warning shots or posted signs are of no concern to the media, whose lives are not in daily danger). The rush to judgement on both incidents is telling.
On Fox News last night Sean Hannity pointed out that our soldiers deserve the benefit of the doubt. Extreme examples of Abu Ghraib are just that, and not the norm; and the media often gets the story wrong (Richard Jewel, for example).
HANNITY: A year ago, Bob, [USMC 2nd Lt.] Ilario Pantano was charged with two counts of premeditated murder and other war crimes related to his service in Iraq. And he and -- he wrote this piece in the Washington Post. They painted him as he said as a monster, until an autopsy blew away this case out of the water and the Marine Corps dropped all charges against him.
You know, I don't know what evidence they have now, but nobody's been charged, and we don't know the facts [about Haditha]. Is it not unfair for an American congressman [John Murtha] to go out and say that these guys are killing innocent civilians like this in cold blood?
Of course it is. It's dishonesty to the core and the mainstream media is a willing accomplice to it. Regarding Ilario Pantano, by the way:
[Wikipedia] He was cleared of all charges, and forensic evidence from an autopsy of the Iraqis supported Pantano's version of the events. The government's sole witness, Sgt. Daniel Coburn, a member of Pantano's platoon, testified that Lt. Pantano shot the two Iraqis in the back, but recanted this testimony on the witness stand.
Yet liberals never seem concerned with fairness or truth, only agendas and half-truths. Thus the damage to Pantano is done. The reports of his alleged but false murdering were on page one. His vindication? Page 18.
That's why prominent Democrats can breathlessly claim that "100,000 civilians have died in Iraq" without ever having to produce evidence to back it [As Fred Kaplan labeled the Lancet study, "This isn't an estimate. It's a dart board.]. That's why they can say that human energy consumption and carbon emissions are causing a "planetary emergency," and there's a "climate crisis" and that "there's no doubt global warming is real."(Al Gore)
Nobody is around to challenge their baseless statements except some Fox News, some conservative radio, some blogs and a handful of editorial pages. The problem is that the alphabet soup of liberal media has an audience that dwarfs any alternative viewpoint.
Here's Pantano's May 28 letter to the Washington Post in full (You'll note Pantano gets to print his story on page B6, while Murtha and Democrats make A1.)
Mr. Murtha's Rush to Judgment
Sunday, May 28, 2006; B06
A year ago I was charged with two counts of premeditated murder and with other war crimes related to my service in Iraq. My wife and mother sat in a Camp Lejeune courtroom for five days while prosecutors painted me as a monster; then autopsy evidence blew their case out of the water, and the Marine Corps dropped all charges against me ["Marine Officer Cleared in Killing of Two Iraqis," news story, May 27, 2005].
So I know something about rushing to judgment, which is why I am so disturbed by the remarks of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) regarding the Haditha incident ["Death Toll Rises in Haditha Attack, GOP Leader Says," news story, May 20]. Mr. Murtha said, "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
In the United States, we have a civil and military court system that relies on an investigatory and judicial process to make determinations based on evidence. The system is not served by such grand pronouncements of horror and guilt without the accuser even having read the investigative report.
Mr. Murtha's position is particularly suspect when he is quoted by news services as saying that the strain of deployment "has caused them [the Marines] to crack in situations like this." Not only is he certain of the Marines' guilt but he claims to know the cause, which he conveniently attributes to a policy he opposes.
Members of the U.S. military serving in Iraq need more than Mr. Murtha's pseudo-sympathy. They need leaders to stand with them even in the hardest of times. Let the courts decide if these Marines are guilty. They haven't even been charged with a crime yet, so it is premature to presume their guilt -- unless that presumption is tied to a political motive.
The writer served as a Marine enlisted man in the Persian Gulf War and most recently as a platoon commander in Iraq.
I don't think it can be disputed that Bush has had to endure far greater hardships than Clinton, yet Bush rarely receives credit for an otherwise good economy.
For the record, during his eight years Clinton averaged a low monthly unemployment rate of 5.204 percent, but Bush is thus far averaging 4.968 percent [Bureau of Labor Statistics, DOL], some .236 points lower than Clinton!
Bush is averaging about a point lower on quarterly average gross domestic product (GDP) at 2.8 percent; Over 8 years Clinton was 3.7 percent [Bureau of Economic Analysis, USDOC]. However, the Bush economy had to overcome Clinton's weak economic finish (Clinton's last 4 quarters averaged just 2.3 percent GDP), and 9-11 economic aftershock, just three months into his presidency.
Indeed, Bush's last 12 quarters of economic growth average 4.0 percent to Clinton's 3.8 percent.
In other words, Bush's economy is just as strong as Clinton's despite the weak Clinton finish, 9-11, corporate fiascos, the dot com bust, and damaging hurricanes.
Don't expect your mainstream media to highlight this, however. Who needs facts when there's half-truths. And remember the media's new rule - Good News is No News.
Here's an analogy and an example of the above:
If you had $11278.18 in your savings account and the next day you had $11,094, or spent $184.18, would you breathlessly report that that your savings account "plunged," "skidded" or "plummeted" out of control? Probably not. Indeed, you might figure your account had $377 more than the close of last year, or perhaps that you had $2,753 more than 2002, when the post-9-11 economy sapped your resources.
Yet, our hysterical media reports:
NEW YORK (AP) - Higher oil prices and sliding consumer confidence sent stocks plunging Tuesday as a weak sales report from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) raised concerns about discretionary spending. The Dow Jones industrial skidded almost 185 points... According to preliminary calculations, the Dow plummeted 184.18, or 1.63 percent, to 11,094.43, giving back all of the 180 points it gained in last week's runup.
MEDIA: The sky is falling! The sky is falling! (MEDIA: Unless the president is a Democrat, in which case the economy is excellent)
I would have thought it neither believable nor possible had someone told me a few years ago that the Republican party would win every presidential and Congressional election from 2000 on; successfully implement a democratic government in Iraq with three straight important and legitimate elections; go through that entire time without one single terrorist attack on the homeland since 9-11; engineer an economy that posted an average of 3+ point gross domestic product (not great, but certainly good, and despite 9-11 and Katrina, et. al.) and Clintonesque unemployment numbers; yet nonetheless be so mired in disunity and abandoning their conservative principles on core issues that its base feel completely alienated.
Yet here we are.
I suppose the only thing we have going for us is that the liberal Democrats may be in an even worse position.
Economically, we've had Bush and Congressional republicans betray basic economics and pander to the misguided liberal beliefs on steel tariffs, global warming, CAFE standards, spending tax money, labeling tax cuts as a "cost," ignoring immigration problems, spying on international calls to al Qaeda (which the press calls "domestic spying", data mining (again, legal precedent), and so on.
To me the straw that added insult to the camel's already broken back was when House Speaker Dennis Hastert, hand in hand with Nancy Pelosi (D., CA), ridiculously attacked the Fed's raiding of Rep. William J. Jefferson's (D., La.) Congressional office, implying it violated the Constitution.
Jefferson is hardly the poster-boy Hastert and House Republicans should be elevating - he's on video accepting a $100,000 cash bribe and unethically using National Guard troops to protect his home during Hurricane Katrina. Nonetheless, today House Judiciary Chairman James F. Sensenbrenner (R., Wi.) delivered a silly address called "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?"
It's not just Congress. People traditionally dedicated to conservative principles, such as over at the Wall Street Journal editorial board (as they were with immigration), seem more concerned with misinterpreting the Constitution or making empty and witless arguments. It's pretty simple to me: Jefferson refused to go to grand jury, the FBI got a search warrant... what's the problem? The defense by Hastert (and the WSJ) that the Feds should have first alerted Congress is asinine - why give Jefferson the opportunity to discover he was going to be raided and allow him time to hide something?
On principle, moreover, Hastert and Journal conservatives are wrong. Andrew McCarthy, hardly a liberal, explains:
The speech-and-debate clause (Art. I, Sec. 6) is all the shield an honest public servant should ever need. It ensures that if a member of Congress is tending to legislative business - not just by speeches on the floor but through engagement in any legitimately legislative activity - that member need never fear prosecution or other legal fallout based on anything said or done. No resulting remark or action, however egregious - and no matter how quickly a similar transgression would subject a private citizen to crushing liability - can be used to threaten jail time or damages against one of the people’s representatives.
For congressional leaders, however, that is not enough. When it comes to their perks, nothing ever is.
They demand, instead, to be immunized from even being investigated. With stunning hauteur, they insist that "their" office space-space that actually belongs to the American people, and in which legislators enjoy the high privilege of serving the American people - has somehow transmogrified into their very own private felony safe harbor: An exclusive, members-only club, where evidence of bribery, fraud, obstruction, and any other violations of law and betrayals of the public trust can be hidden beyond the prying eyes of the public’s enforcement officers.
Talk about trampling the Constitution! This is a blatant distortion of Article I, which, immediately before immunizing speech and debate, expressly recognizes that members of Congress may be prosecuted for crimes.
...Before they went anywhere near Jefferson’s office, the Justice Department served the congressman with a grand-jury subpoena, giving him the opportunity to turn over the evidence on his own. For you or me, a grand-jury subpoena is court process with which we must comply, no matter how inconvenient or embarrassing. Jefferson, however, decided he was above such laws.
Pause over that. The congressman did not march into federal court like an ordinary citizen must do if he believes a subpoena has been issued illegally or violates some valid privilege against producing evidence. He did not argue his point and wait for the judge to rule. He thumbed his nose in contempt. Congressional leadership has been deafeningly mum on that - something worth bearing in mind as they bellow about separation-of-powers.
...Which brings us, finally, to complaints about the FBI’s purportedly unguided ransacking of Jefferson’s office. This specious claim insults not only Justice Department officials, who plainly went the extra deferential mile out of respect for Congress, but the federal judiciary. It is the last refuge of those pretending to some higher cause than closing ranks around a public official allegedly videotaped accepting a $100,000 bribe (most of which was later found in his freezer), and in connection with whose corruption two people have already pled guilty to bribery charges.
Before he could authorize the search warrant, federal district judge Thomas Hogan had to make three findings that, naturally, congressional leaders prefer to ignore. There had to be (a) probable cause that a crime had been committed, (b) probable cause that evidence of that crime was inside the office, and, significantly, (c) particularity. This last owes to the Framers’ revulsion against so-called "general warrants" and "writs of assistance" which permitted indiscriminate searches of private property. The Fourth Amendment calls for search warrants to describe specifically the premises to be searched and the items to be seized.
[Associated Press] Senate Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.
Reid took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.
He defended the gifts, saying that they would never influence his position on the bill and he was simply trying to learn how his legislation might affect an important home state industry...
The graf for me but not for thee defense... gotta love that. Even better, the gifts were from former lobbyist Jack Abramoff's crew. To date, naturally, Democrats would have you believe that the Abramoff scandal was exclusive to the Republican Party. Once again they overplayed their hand.
Meanwhile, for all my McCain complaining, I'll toss him a bone on this:
Several ethics experts said Reid should have paid for the tickets, which were close to the ring and worth between several hundred and several thousand dollars each, to avoid the appearance he was being influenced by gifts.
Two senators who joined Reid for fights with the complimentary tickets took markedly differently steps.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) insisted on paying $1,400 for the tickets he shared with Reid for a 2004 championship fight. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) accepted free tickets to another fight with Reid but already had recused himself from Reid's federal boxing legislation because his father was an executive for a Las Vegas hotel that hosts fights.
Enjoy your crow and side of hypocrisy, Harry.
Ahmadinejad: Well, then we have stirred up a very concrete discussion. We are posing two very clear questions. The first is: Did the Holocaust actually take place? You answer this question in the affirmative. So, the second question is: Whose fault was it? The answer to that has to be found in Europe and not in Palestine. It is perfectly clear: If the Holocaust took place in Europe, one also has to find the answer to it in Europe.
On the other hand, if the Holocaust didn't take place, why then did this regime of occupation come about? Why do the European countries commit themselves to defending this regime?
...Look here, my views are quite clear. We are saying that if the Holocaust occurred, then Europe must draw the consequences and that it is not Palestine that should pay the price for it. If it did not occur, then the Jews have to go back to where they came from.
That's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in his interview with Germany's Spiegel Magazine.
In the interview Ahmadinejad elevates hair-splitting and distortion to a new level. Ahmadinejad claims that the Holocaust hasn't been thoroughly researched (has there been any more researched a subject than WWII or the Holocaust? Perhaps the Civil War, if that); and that "Five million Palestinians have not had a home for 60 years." No, they had a home. But they chose not to live it in peace. They chose to detonate themselves in Israel. Furthermore, if Iran or any other Arab/Persian state was so very concerned for Palestinians they could have admitted them at any time. But they didn't because they'd prefer keeping Palestinians angry and ignorant and attacking Israel.
Ahmadinejad sidesteps every question regarding nuclear intentions; compares his illiberal, oppressive theocratic regime's desire for nukes with liberal, democratic Europe's possession of them; and outright lies regarding his country's relationship with the IAEA.
This guy puts the "Mad" in Ahmadinejad. His interview is filled with logic half-circles: in the end he answers no question, but assures the West he's as dangerous as we suspect.
Really, the only thing more maddening is Der Spiegel's interview - why legitimize Ahmadinejad? Would, in 1938, Der Spiegel have given Hitler an interview too?
Just yesterday the world was excoriating the Bush administration for its unilateralism -- on Kyoto, the ABM Treaty and most especially Iraq -- and demanding that Washington act in concert with the "international community.'' Just yesterday, the Democratic candidate for president attacked Bush's foreign policy precisely for refusing to consult with, listen to and work with "the allies.''
Another day, another principle. Bush is now being pressured to abandon multilateralism and go it alone with Iran. Remember: In September 2003, after Iran was discovered cheating on its nuclear program, the U.S. wanted immediate U.N. action. The allies argued for a softer approach. Britain, France and Germany wanted to negotiate with Tehran and offer diplomatic and economic carrots in return for Iran giving up its nuclear weapons program. The U.S. acquiesced.
After two and a half years of utter futility, the EU-3 had to admit failure and acknowledge the obvious: Iran had no intention of giving up its nuclear ambitions. Iran made the point irrefutable when it broke IAEA seals and brazenly resumed uranium enrichment...Entering negotiations carries with it the responsibility to do something if they fail. The EU-3 understood that when they took on the mullahs a couple of years ago. Bilateral U.S.-Iran talks are the perfect way to now get Europe off the hook. They would pre-empt all the current discussions about sanctions, place all responsibility for success on U.S.-Iran negotiations and set America up to take the blame for their inevitable failure.
It is an obvious trap. We should resolutely say no.
The bill forbids the federal government to use any information included in an application for amnesty in national-security or criminal investigations. Any federal agent who does use that information would be fined $10,000 - which is five times more than an illegal alien would have to pay to get the amnesty. The Senate, on a tie vote, defeated John Cornyn’s (R., Tex.) attempt to rectify these provisions.
When Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.) offered an amendment to require that enforcement be proven to have succeeded before the amnesty or guest-worker provisions could take effect, he was voted down, 55-40. For most senators, enforcement is just boob bait for the voters. They are not willing to demand it before getting what they, for various reasons, really want: an amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) wanted to deny illegal immigrants the earned income tax credit. It is one thing to legalize them, went the argument, and another to subsidize them. He, too, was voted down, with Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) flippantly suggesting that the amendment was akin to requiring illegals to ride in the back of the bus. (No, senator: They’re in the front of the line, at least for legal residency in the U.S.)
Not a day goes by that our elected representatives don't moan about high energy prices. But faced with an opportunity earlier this month to do something about it, they drilled another dry political hole.
A bipartisan coalition voted to maintain a ban on offshore oil and natural-gas exploration in the 85% of the Outer Continental Shelf that has been off limits since 1981. The ban extends from three miles offshore, where federal jurisdiction begins, to 200 miles, where U.S. territorial waters end. "Our coasts are too valuable to risk this," said New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone, invoking the usual aesthetic and environmental concerns. The vote on allowing oil and gas exploration was 279 to 141, with 94 Republicans joining nearly every Democrat.
Where to begin? Katrina was the most destructive hurricane in decades, yet it caused not a spill of oil in coastal waters. As for natural gas, it doesn't spill; it's a gas. Yet a separate measure in the Interior Department appropriations bill to allow drilling only for gas was stripped out by a vote of 217 to 203, with 59 Republicans voting to maintain the ban.
As the nearby chart shows, this kind of restriction on U.S. gas exploration has a real impact on prices, and thus on American economic growth. Unlike oil, natural gas is a not a global commodity with a single world price. Unless gas can be transported by pipelines, it must be chilled into liquified form and shipped. Yet only 3% of the world's gas is currently shipped -- which means that gas prices vary based on local supply and demand. So limits on U.S. exploration directly affect U.S. natural gas prices.
Overall natural gas demand has been surging, in part because environmentalists gave it their blessing as a "clean" fuel 20 years ago. American electric utilities use 41% more natural gas than they did a decade ago, and that trend is set to continue. Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton said recently that 90% of the power plants due to come online in the next five years will be gas-fired. This is due largely to a big push to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation. All of this will put further pressure on prices.
Natural gas is also an important feedstock in cosmetics, plastics, fertilizers and the rest of the chemical industry. That fertilizer is, in turn, used to grow the crops that the bio-mass movement wants to turn into "renewable" fuels. But 90% of the cost of fertilizer is tied to the cost of natural gas, so the U.S. fertilizer industry is moving overseas in search of cheaper raw materials; capacity is down 36% from its highs.
Meanwhile, those exploitative capitalists in Cuba are now exploring for gas in its territorial waters, some of which lie just 45 miles off American shores. But American companies cannot drill on the U.S. side of that line. Canadian companies drill for natural gas in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes, but once again the American side is off-limits. The absurdities of our current policy go on and on.
Congressman John Peterson (R., Pa.) is sponsoring another bill to lift the moratorium on natural-gas exploration (but not oil) for waters 20 miles or more from shore. That would put any rigs safely out of sight of land. His bill already has more than 160 co-sponsors, and he hopes that removing the aesthetic objection that gas rigs ruin the ocean view will attract more votes. We wish him luck, but on the evidence so far Congress simply isn't serious about expanding American energy supplies.
-- Wall Street Journal
Would the Associated Press purposely edit Osama bin Laden's recording to hide admission that Camp Gitmo houses Sept. 11 terrorists? You betcha.
Sometimes one must wonder who's side our media is on...
[Captain's Quarters] The AP ran an earlier story on the Osama bin Laden tape that included an admission implicating two Gitmo detainees in the 9/11 attack. However, the the AP later ran "excerpts" of the Bin Laden tape, that admission curiously went unreported -- even though it would have a significant impact on the debate over the fate of Gitmo detainees.
This is what ran in the original piece by Maamoun Youssef, which I have also cached here:
The terror mastermind did indicate that two suspects had links to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon: "All the prisoners to date have no connection to the Sept. 11 events or knew anything about them, except for two of the brothers," bin Laden said [emphasis mine -- CE]. But he did not provide names or elaborate further and it wasn't possible to determine if or where they were held.
However, that passage cannot be found in the AP excerpts. It does, however, include this:
"And then I call to memory my brothers the prisoners in Guantanamo - may Allah free them all - and I state the fact, about which I also am certain, that all the prisoners of Guantanamo, who were captured in 2001 and the first half of 2002 and who number in the hundreds, have no connection whatsoever to the events of September 11th..."
Note the strategic appearance of the ellipses at the end of the quote in the later article. The AP wants to cut off Osama before he admits that Gitmo holds two accessories to the 9/11 attacks. One would think that a news organization might have found that somewhat, oh, newsworthy.
Meanwhile, over at News Busters they have a clip of a shocked, yes shocked, CBS co-host Harry Smith discovering that the Iraqis he's interviewing actually love America... to the point that one of them says his name is Bush.
Another Harry Smith post here.
We're deep into the trial of DC Snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. The Washington Post has some of the terrible details, including plans that were fortunately never executed because of their arrest.
-- For 30 days Muhammad planned to kill six people each day in the Washington DC area.
-- In "Phase II," they would blow up schools, school buses and children's hospitals.
-- "For the sheer terror of it," Muhammad attempted to target pregnant women in Baltimore.
-- Muhammad planned to kill a police officer and then detonate a bomb at the officer's funeral.
-- Malvo claims to have often played Russian roulette in order to escape Muhammed.
-- "Muhammad introduced Malvo to the Nation of Islam and spoke to him about race and socioeconomic disparities. "The white man is the devil," Malvo said, summing up Muhammad's thinking."
-- Malvo was an illegal alien.
-- The killings were a precursor to kidnapping Muhammad's natural children, in Virginia.
-- Muhammad welcomed 9/11, and blamed the event on American policy [sounds like Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, etc.]
The apologists and moral equivilists would have you believe that Muhammad's earlier indoctrination into the Nation of Islam is irrelevant to the angry and wicked person he became. Don't believe that for one second. The Nation of Islam was founded on a principle of racism: that, to quote its founder, Wali Farad Muhammad aka Wallace Dodd Fard, "Allah is God, the white man is the devil and the so called Negroes are the Asiatic Black People, the cream of the planet earth."
One feels some pity for Malvo - a 15 year-old horribly perverted by the only authoritarian father-figure ever in his life. But he too cannot be allowed to escape his justice. He shot and wounded a 13-year-old kid, and murdered two other people.
Leave it to the Congressional Republicans to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats must be thrilled that House Speaker Dennis Hastert has managed to move the headlines from a bribery investigation of Rep. William Jefferson (D, LA) to the Bush White House. Indeed, the left-leaning mainstream media is already spinning Republican protest of the raid of Jefferson's Capitol Hill office as proof that they must likewise disagree on wiretapping of international communication, NSA phone record databases, et. al.
The FBI has video of Jefferson accepting a cash bribe of $100,000, of which $90,000 was impounded by FBI from his home freezer. The investigation is a year in the making. The next natural step was to find evidence in Jefferson's office. Now, here Democrats have for months tried to persuade the American public that corrupt politicians are only of Republican garb, and are served up a plate of crow in the form of red-handed bribery, yet the Republicans gift wrap them a free pass. Amazing. Just incompetence at its best.
[The Hill] House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) told President Bush yesterday that he is concerned the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) raid on Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-La.) congressional office over the weekend was a direct violation of the Constitution.
Hastert raised concerns that the FBI’s unannounced seizure of congressional documents during a raid of Jefferson’s Rayburn office Saturday night violated the separation of powers between the two branches of government as they are defined by the Constitution.
...Calling the Saturday-night raid an "invasion of the legislative branch," House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted the case would eventually be resolved in the Supreme Court and hinted that Congress would take further action. The majority leader said Hastert would take the lead on the issue because he is the chief constitutional officer in the House.
...In the Speaker’s lengthy statement, Hastert complained that the seizure of legislative papers, no matter how innocuous, was a violation of the "the principles of Separation of Powers, the independence of the Legislative Branch, and the protections afforded by the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution."
Hastert also singled out Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in that statement: "It would appear that the Attorney General himself was aware that Separation of Powers concerns existed - because in seeking the warrant the FBI suggested to the judge procedures it would follow to deal with Constitutionally protected materials."
Cry me a river already.
Perhaps Gonzales could have warned Hastert or Congressional leaders of the impending raid. Then again, given the number of leaks within the federal government I'm sure the FBI and Gonzales justifiably worried that someone might tip off Jefferson and ruin a year's worth of work. There was probable cause, there was a warrant, end of story.
So what's Hastert really upset about? The obvious answer is that all these Capital Hill politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, could give one rat's bottom about reforming their corrupt image. Boy, it makes one wonder what percentage of Capital Hill is on a bribery payroll. Just so happens that ABC News says Hastert might himself be involved. We'll see.
Personally, I hope this does go all the way to the Supreme Court, because I'd wager Hastert, and not Gonzales, would be holding his hat in his hand and humbled by the end of that day.
Anyway, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy is all over this like white on rice - he points out that constitutionally Congressional members are not immune from investigation, only from arrest, assuming the charge is not treason, felony or Breach of Peace. Guess what? Bribery is a felony.
McCarthy: "I defy [Rep. John] Boehner to explain where in the Constitution it says that crooks who happen to be congressmen are free to use office space that belongs not to them but to the American people in order to hide the proceeds of their violations of the public trust from agents conducting an investigation on behalf of the American people."
Amen. They're all the same. They're all bums, Congressional Republicans and Democrats both.
Six words: Constitutional amendment for term limits. Now!
Now that I've commended Senator John McCain on his commencement address (from 5/22) I'll take him to task for some silly comments he reportedly made behind the cameras during his visit to New York. According to the Jason Horowitz article in the New York Observer:
"One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, ‘Stop the bullshit,’" said Mr. McCain, according to Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, an invitee, and two other guests.
Well, good luck with THAT, senator. Seriously? That's McCain's answer? I'm sure the Shiites and Sunnis, combatative rivals since the death of Mohammed (632 A.D.), will take kindly an elitist American politician telling them to "just get over it." This brought to you by the same senator who previously advocated more troops as a magic bullet in Iraq, even though the generals present, from John Abazaid to Tommy Franks before him, to the vast majority of those under them, do not believe it would have changed anything except increased the death rate. When discussing troop footprint the law of diminishing returns applies, else, tell me senator McCain how half a million troops didn't conquer South Vietnam?
He cautioned against ghettoizing immigrants, which he noted has brought about disastrous results in France, and criticized elements in his own party as "nativist" before lambasting the punditry of Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs and Michael Savage for helping to "fuel the problem," according to two of the sources.
Ah, I see -- the problem isn't 12 million illegal aliens streaming across the border, the problem are those darned pundits! More ridiculous, McCain clusters Limbaugh, Dobbs and Savage together when all three's political views are as different from one another as cats to dogs to canaries. Ironic that McCain discussed the importance of debate in a free society in his commencement address, but tells his immigration opponents to just shut up.
And Mr. McCain, a Vietnam War hero and strong supporter of the invasion of Iraq, criticized the Bush administration’s lack of candor about the current situation there.
I'm willing to give McCain the benefit of the doubt here. implies the "Bush lied paint brush" paint brush (using the innocuous term "candor") as McCain's sentiment. Yet, the reporter uses no quotes or examples. Why? Probably because McCain didn't say anything worth quoting.
It's obvious McCain is testing the water for a presidential run. But he gives conservatives who lament Bush's often lack of conservativism nothing in return. What's the difference? What have we to gain in choosing McCain? At least the Bush enacted tax cuts - McCain voted against making the tax cuts permanent (also called a tax increase). McCain flirts with the global warming scare mongers. And he still defends that awful campaign finance legislative ruse.
At the core of the illegal immigration problem is that, by our own witting and unwitting system, we do not create disincentives which might slow the illegal flow - indeed, we often create incentives to immigrate illegally!
Tom Bevan at the RPC Blog finds this little gem:
Now look at this from item #2 on Senator Charles Grassley's list of the "Top 10 Flaws" in the Senate immigration bill: "Under the bill, illegal aliens get an option to only have to pay three of their last five years in back taxes. Law-abiding American citizens do not have the option to pay some of their taxes. The bill would treat lawbreakers better than the American people."
You can find Senator Grassley's full list here.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated it will cost the US taxpayer about $6 billion a year to provide entitlements (Social Security, Medicare), low-income tax credits, and so on, to immigrants under the proposed Senate immigration bill. However, the Heritage Foundation recently released a study claiming that estimate would be $16 billion annual. The Wall Street Journal has an article today contrasting these two different estimates.
The CBO report is being touted by those who favor the Senate bill, including the Republican Party's business wing and Democrats. It estimates that legalizing immigrants now here illegally, and offering visas to thousands more workers each year, would cost $54 billion in benefits between 2007 and 2016, and would add 7.8 million people to the U.S. population.
But offsetting that, the CBO says, would be $66 billion of new revenue that those workers would add to the treasury from income and payroll taxes, Social Security withholding, and fines and fees required by the law.
"These aren't going to be poor people," says Leighton Ku of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington research group. Under the Senate bill, immigrants would qualify for permanent legal residence after about six years, and citizenship after another five, and meanwhile must hold a job and pay taxes.
The Heritage estimate, though, has rallied opponents of the Senate bill, including cultural conservatives and the Republican Party's national-security wing. It predicts tax payments would increase by $3,000 for each legalized-immigrant household, but that federal benefits for those households would increase by $8,000 -- totaling about $16 billion a year in new costs.
It also estimates that immigration would increase by 66 million over the next 20 years as guest workers arrive and settle in, and as legalized immigrants bring their families. At that rate, says Robert Rector, the Heritage domestic-policy researcher who wrote the report, yearly immigration would triple and "we really can't assimilate."
...Heritage's Mr. Rector paints a bleaker view of new immigrants, which explains some difference in his estimates, but he also says the true costs of the bill won't begin showing up until long past the CBO horizon. He points to lower education rates among immigrants and higher out-of-wedlock births among Hispanics, who make up the bulk of U.S. immigrants, than among the nation generally -- two predictors of poverty, he says.
Who's the CBO fooling? Say what you want about borders, numbers and costs, but does anyone really believe that the vast majority of immigrants "aren't going to be poor people"? Has Leighton Ku ever been to California, New Mexico, or Arizona (let alone Miami or Orlando, FL). People who don't know English, and who likely will never attempt to learn it, aren't exactly setting themselves up for prosperity.
But to my point: I cannot predict whether or not the Heritage study is accurate; but we can say with a very high level of confidence that the CBO forecast will prove to be widely off the actual cost. We can say this because the CBO is historically inaccurate, and often egregiously so. One would be hard pressed to find an incident where the CBO was correct. From tax cuts to Medicare to budget projections the CBO is on record of being just plain wrong. Yet for some reason politicians and media continue to quote them without laughing.
The reason the CBO is perpetually inaccurate has much to do with their forecasting models; to wit: they use static, not dynamic (aka reality-based), economic models to compute their forecasts. 40 free-market advocates put it this way in a letter to the Bush administration last September:
But these [static models] estimates assume that tax policy changes - regardless of their magnitude - have no impact on the economy's performance. As such, these "official" estimates commonly overstate both the amount of tax revenue that will be generated by tax increases and also exaggerate the amount of revenue the government will "lose" because of tax rate reductions. This "static" methodology has been widely criticized because it provides policy makers with inaccurate numbers and creates a bias against lower tax rates. Dynamic analysis - sometimes referred to as "reality-based scoring" - acknowledges that taxes do affect the economy. Dynamic scoring recognizes, for instance, that higher tax rates discourage work, saving, and investment, and therefore will not raise the amount of money suggested by static estimates.
Newt Gingrich once described it as thus: "The Congressional Budget Office, which was created to serve as Congress' budget and economic adviser, has long used outdated models to analyze the costs of proposed legislation. These models ignore the economic growth, efficiencies and cost savings that result from implementing pro-growth policies. The result has been that members of Congress end up proposing legislation they think the CBO will "score" favorably -- however inaccurate that score might be -- rather than pursuing good policies... Congress need look no further for evidence of badly needed reforms than the CBO's grossly inaccurate revenue forecasts. Just this past summer, in yet another adjustment to an earlier estimate, the CBO revised its budget deficit projections for this fiscal year. In less than six months, it was off by nearly 12 percent. The projection from the Office of Management and Budget was even worse. It missed the mark by 21 percent -- off by nearly $100 billion in just six months."
Indeed, according to Library of Congress records the CBO, from 1990 to 2001, was off by $686 billion in its one-year budget projections.
So if you believe nothing else about immigration, believe that between the CBO and Heritage estimate the CBO one is most likely to be the most inaccurate.
To me, the critical reason why Bush's job approval rating is so poor is that they are poor at public relations.
Well, maybe Tony Snow, recently hired by the Bushies to revitalize their press secretary role, is responsible for a great and concise rebut to the critics of the war in Iraq, by Peter Wehner, the director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives. If they're smart they'll run similar rebuttals on the war, surveillance, tax cuts, etc., from now until Bush leaves office.
Antiwar myths about Iraq, debunked.
BY PETER WEHNER
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Iraqis can participate in three historic elections, pass the most liberal constitution in the Arab world, and form a unity government despite terrorist attacks and provocations. Yet for some critics of the president, these are minor matters. Like swallows to Capistrano, they keep returning to the same allegations--the president misled the country in order to justify the Iraq war; his administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments; Saddam Hussein turned out to be no threat since he didn't possess weapons of mass destruction; and helping democracy take root in the Middle East was a postwar rationalization. The problem with these charges is that they are false and can be shown to be so--and yet people continue to believe, and spread, them. Let me examine each in turn:
The president misled Americans to convince them to go to war. "There is no question [the Bush administration] misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq," according to Ted Kennedy. Jimmy Carter charged that on Iraq, "President Bush has not been honest with the American people." And Al Gore has said that an "abuse of the truth" characterized the administration's "march to war." These charges are themselves misleading, which explains why no independent body has found them credible. Most of the world was operating from essentially the same set of assumptions regarding Iraq's WMD capabilities. Important assumptions turned out wrong; but mistakenly relying on faulty intelligence is a world apart from lying about it.
Let's review what we know. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the intelligence community's authoritative written judgment on specific national-security issues. The 2002 NIE provided a key judgment: "Iraq has continued its [WMD] programs in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."
Thanks to the bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission, which investigated the causes of intelligence failures in the run-up to the war, we now know that the President's Daily Brief (PDB) and the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief "were, if anything, more alarmist and less nuanced than the NIE" (my emphasis). We also know that the intelligence in the PDB was not "markedly different" from that given to Congress. This helps explains why John Kerry, in voting to give the president the authority to use force, said, "I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." It's why Sen. Kennedy said, "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." And it's why Hillary Clinton said in 2002, "In the four years since the inspectors, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program."
Beyond that, intelligence agencies from around the globe believed Saddam had WMD. Even foreign governments that opposed his removal from power believed Iraq had WMD: Just a few weeks before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Wolfgang Ischinger, German ambassador to the U.S., said, "I think all of our governments believe that Iraq has produced weapons of mass destruction and that we have to assume that they continue to have weapons of mass destruction."
In addition, no serious person would justify a war based on information he knows to be false and which would be shown to be false within months after the war concluded. It is not as if the WMD stockpile question was one that wasn't going to be answered for a century to come.
The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments. Earlier this year, Mr. Gore charged that "CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House . . . found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases." Sen. Kennedy charged that the administration "put pressure on intelligence officers to produce the desired intelligence and analysis."
This myth is shattered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's bipartisan Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. Among the findings: "The committee did not find any evidence that intelligence analysts changed their judgments as a result of political pressure, altered or produced intelligence products to conform with administration policy, or that anyone even attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to do so." Silberman-Robb concluded the same, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. . . . Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments." What the report did find is that intelligence assessments on Iraq were "riddled with errors"; "most of the fundamental errors were made and communicated to policy makers well before the now-infamous NIE of October 2002, and were not corrected in the months between the NIE and the start of the war."
Because weapons of mass destruction stockpiles weren't found, Saddam posed no threat. Howard Dean declared Iraq "was not a danger to the United States." John Murtha asserted, "There was no threat to our national security." Max Cleland put it this way: "Iraq was no threat. We now know that. There are no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons programs." Yet while we did not find stockpiles of WMD in Iraq, what we did find was enough to alarm any sober-minded individual.
Upon his return from Iraq, weapons inspector David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), told the Senate: "I actually think this may be one of those cases where [Iraq under Saddam Hussein] was even more dangerous than we thought." His statement when issuing the ISG progress report said: "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities" that were part of "deliberate concealment efforts" that should have been declared to the U.N. And, he concluded, "Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and other insiders who worked in his military-industrial programs, had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction."
Among the key findings of the September 2004 report by Charles Duelfer, who succeeded Mr. Kay as ISG head, are that Saddam was pursuing an aggressive strategy to subvert the Oil for Food Program and to bring down U.N. sanctions through illicit finance and procurement schemes; and that Saddam intended to resume WMD efforts once U.N. sanctions were eliminated. According to Mr. Duelfer, "the guiding theme for WMD was to sustain the intellectual capacity achieved over so many years at such a great cost and to be in a position to produce again with as short a lead time as possible. . . . Virtually no senior Iraqi believed that Saddam had forsaken WMD forever. Evidence suggests that, as resources became available and the constraints of sanctions decayed, there was a direct expansion of activity that would have the effect of supporting future WMD reconstitution."
Beyond this, Saddam's regime was one of the most sadistic and aggressive in modern history. It started a war against Iran and used mustard gas and nerve gas. A decade later Iraq invaded Kuwait. Iraq was a massively destabilizing force in the Middle East; so long as Saddam was in power, rivers of blood were sure to follow.
Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization. "The president now says that the war is really about the spread of democracy in the Middle East. This effort at after-the-fact justification was only made necessary because the primary rationale was so sadly lacking in fact," according to Nancy Pelosi.
In fact, President Bush argued for democracy taking root in Iraq before the war began. To take just one example, he said in a speech on Feb. 26, 2003: "A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interests in security, and America's belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq. . . . The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. And there are hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East. . . . A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region."
The following day the New York Times editorialized: "President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. . . . The idea of turning Iraq into a model democracy in the Arab world is one some members of the administration have been discussing for a long time."
These, then, are the urban legends we must counter, else falsehoods become conventional wisdom. And what a strange world it is: For many antiwar critics, the president is faulted for the war, and he, not the former dictator of Iraq, inspires rage. The liberator rather than the oppressor provokes hatred. It is as if we have stepped through the political looking glass, into a world turned upside down and inside out.
Mr. Wehner is deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives.
What a bargain: At a cost of a mere $100,000 or so, a northeastern college can take your child and transform him into a delicate flower incapable of handling opinions at odds with his own. It can close his mind and vacuum-seal it against opposing views. And it can, as a bonus, perhaps make him rude and incorrigible.
These have been the benefits of liberal education on display this commencement season, as graduating students have risen up against the affront of having to listen to the U.S. secretary of State or a distinguished war hero for a half-hour or so. Students complain that Condoleezza Rice and Sen. John McCain don’t represent them. But since when has it been a requirement that speakers on campus be representative of - in the sense of totally agreeing with - student views? If there were such a requirement, few commencement addresses would ever be given by anyone to the right of filmmaker Michael Moore.
...It’s not surprising that students are sophomoric, even if, as graduates, they are supposed to be beyond that. But faculty at both schools joined in the agitation. The opposition to Rice at BC was jump-started by a faculty letter, and some New School faculty turned their backs on McCain. It is these sort of professors who set the tone at top colleges. They act like a medieval guild protecting a monopoly on thought. Dissenting points of view send them into an angry, defensive crouch.
And just think: For a substantial fee, they will mold the mind of your child.
As I’ve written before, virtually all of the gripping stories from Katrina were untrue. All of those stories about, in Paula Zahn’s words, "bands of rapists, going block to block"? Not true. The tales of snipers firing on medevac helicopters? Bogus. The yarns, peddled on Oprah by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the New Orleans police chief, that "little babies" were getting raped in the Superdome and that the bodies of the murdered were piling up? Completely false. The stories about poor blacks dying in comparatively huge numbers because American society "left them behind"? Nah-ah. While most outlets limited themselves to taking Nagin’s estimate of 10,000 dead at face value, Editor and Publisher "the watchdog of the media" ran the headline, "Mortuary Director Tells Local Paper 40,000 Could Be Lost in Hurricane."
In all of Louisiana, not just New Orleans, the total dead from Katrina was roughly 1,500. Blacks did not die disproportionately, nor did the poor. The only group truly singled out in terms of mortality was the elderly. According to a Knight-Ridder study, while only 15 percent of the population of New Orleans was over the age of 60, some 74 percent of the dead were 60 or older, and almost half were older than 75. Blacks were, if anything, slightly underrepresented among the dead given their share of the population.
This barely captures how badly the press bungled Katrina coverage. Keep in mind that the most horrifying tales of woe that captivated the press and prompted news anchors to scream - quite literally - at federal officials occurred within the safe zone around the Superdome where the press was operating. Shame on local officials for fomenting fear and passing along newly minted urban legends, but double shame on the press for recycling this stuff uncritically. Members of the press had access to the Superdome. Why not just run in and look for the bodies? Interview the rape victims? Couldn’t be bothered? The major networks had hundreds of people in New Orleans. Was there not a single intern available to fact-check? The coverage actually cost lives. Helicopters were grounded for 24 hours in response to media reports of sniper attacks. At least two patients died waiting to be evacuated.
And yet, an ubiquitous media chorus claims simultaneously that Katrina was Bush’s worst hour and the press’s best. That faultless paragon of media scrupulousness Dan Rather proclaimed it one of the "quintessential great moments in television news." Christiane Amanpour explained, "I think what’s interesting is that it took a Katrina, you know, to bring us back to where we belong. In other words, real journalists, real journalism, and I think that’s a good thing."
But in the race to prove the federal response incompetent, the "real journalists" missed some important details. As Lou Dolinar exhaustively documents, the National Guard did amazing work in New Orleans. From the Superdome, the Guard managed some 2,500 troops, a dozen emergency shelters, more than 200 boats, 150 helicopters (which flew more than 10,000 sorties moving 88,181 passengers, 18,834 tons of cargo, and saved 17,411 survivors), and an enormous M*A*S*H operation that, among other things, delivered seven babies.
Also left out of the conventional tale of Katrina is the fact that the hurricane hardly singled out New Orleans. Obviously, the flooding there was worse because of the levee breaks. But, as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour noted, the people of his state and Alabama and Florida have the same federal government. And despite awesome destruction, they managed to do okay.
None of this is to say that the federal government and the Bush administration didn’t make mistakes. But, if we’re looking for poster children for arrogant incompetence in response to Katrina, there are better candidates than George W. Bush.
You know, if you're going to have the "courage" to portray yourself on the cross at least have the courage to be nailed to it as well.
I'd pay a lot of money to see Madonna nailed to a cross on her next tour. I'd empty out my bank account if one of her roadies, dressed as a Roman guard, then stuck her in the side with a spear.
It's not every day I agree with John McCain. Indeed, should he make a run for 2008, I don't know if I can support a so-called conservative that: authored the speech-infinging piece of rotten legislation called Campaign Finance "Reform"; voted against extending the tax cuts (historically, a yard stick of who is or is not conservative); and otherwise seems to follow populism from the war (like the "shoulda sent more troops in Iraq" brigade) to the (dubious) science of global warming.
Having said that I do not doubt for one minute John McCain's moral clarity and his understanding that this is a literal, and not figurative, war on terror; nor do I doubt that John McCain understands the difference between democracy and a Republic, or peace and liberty.
Here's a key excerpt from his commencement address to the New School in New York:
I believe, as I hope all Americans would believe, that no matter where people live, no matter their history or religious beliefs or the size of their GDP, all people share the desire to be free; to make by their own choices and industry better lives for themselves and their children. Human rights exist above the state and beyond history--they are God-given. They cannot be rescinded by one government any more than they can be granted by another. They inhabit the human heart, and from there, though they may be abridged, they can never be wrenched.
This is a clash of ideals, a profound and terrible clash of ideals. It is a fight between right and wrong. Relativism has no place in this confrontation. We're not defending an idea that every human being should eat corn flakes, play baseball or watch MTV. We're not insisting that all societies be governed by a bicameral legislature and a term-limited chief executive. We are insisting that all people have a right to be free, and that right is not subject to the whims and interests and authority of another person, government or culture. Relativism, in this contest, is most certainly not a sign of our humility or ecumenism; it is a mask for arrogance and selfishness. It is, and I mean this sincerely and with all humility, not worthy of us. We are a better people than that.
McCain was consistently booed by the liberal and self-righteous academics throughout his speech. They are, precisely as McCain labeled them, "arrogant and selfish." They're rude too.
Workers in the underground economy are usually paid cash off the books. Such wages are unreported to the tax authorities and those receiving them are highly unlikely to file income tax returns. Therefore, the income tax is never going to raise much revenue from illegal aliens. Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that illegal-alien households pay only 20% as much income tax as non-illegal immigrant households.
It's not clear why they pay even that much, since most illegal aliens are fairly poor and the poor generally don't pay federal income taxes. Because of the Earned Income Tax Credit and other features of the tax code, one really needs to earn at least $30,000 before starting to pay federal income taxes.
Payroll taxes have broader coverage because there are no exemptions or offsets. So it is not surprising that illegal aliens pay more of these - about 40% of what citizens and legal aliens pay.However, when it comes to federal excise taxes, such as those for gasoline or tobacco, illegal aliens pay close to the same amount of tax as the rest of us. Mr. Camarota estimates that they pay 70% as much of such taxes as all households do.
This stands to reason. It's pretty hard to escape paying gasoline taxes. More than likely, illegal alien households pay almost exactly the same amount of federal excise taxes as those of the native born with the same income and consumption patterns.
Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that when it comes to state taxes, the same sort of pattern holds. Illegal aliens probably pay very little state income taxes, but close to their share of sales taxes. Therefore, states that rely more heavily on sales taxes than income taxes are going to get more revenue out of their illegal aliens to pay for the expenses they incur.
This helps explain why California is burdened much more by illegal aliens than Texas. The latter has no state income tax and raises almost all of its state-level revenue from general and selective sales taxes. In 2005, Texas obtained 79% of state revenue from these sources. By contrast, California raised a majority of its state revenue from income taxes, with just 38% coming from sales taxes.
Thus Texas gets the vast bulk of its revenue from sources that are most likely to be paid by illegal aliens, while California gets the bulk of its revenue from sources that they are much less likely to pay. Interestingly, California and Texas have the same sales tax rate. California's income tax mainly pays for significantly higher spending. In 2004, per capita state spending was 40% higher in California than in Texas. This spending also undoubtedly contributes to California being a magnet for illegal aliens, further adding to their burden there compared to Texas.
Liberals always condemn sales taxes as regressive - taking more in percentage terms from the poor than the rich. However, realistically, such taxes are the only ones that really get revenue from the illegal-alien population to offset the large and growing cost they impose for health care, education and other government services.
All across the country, homeowners are complaining about runaway property taxes. In many places, sharp increases in home values are to blame. But Florida's snowbirds are angry about something else -- an unusual dual-bracket tax system. Florida allows municipalities to set the taxable value of properties at different levels for permanent and seasonal residents. There have been cases of snowbirds paying property taxes 10 times as high as those of permanent residents living nearby.
..At the heart of the debate: Who should pay for the state's rapid growth? Florida gains, on average, about 1,000 new residents a day, according to the state's economic and demographic research office. It is growing at the third-fastest clip in the nation, after Nevada and Arizona...In Florida, one of a handful of states that doesn't tax personal income, such costs are mainly the responsibility of county governments. Increasingly, those counties are passing along the costs to the snowbirds, who don't vote.
Florida's seasonal residents "are getting slammed," says Dominic M. Calabro, president of Florida TaxWatch, a nonpartisan government watchdog group in Tallahassee. There has been "a tax shift" from permanent to seasonal residents, he says. "We're hearing from people from out of state who are getting hit with extraordinarily high taxes. They're mad as heck and not going to take it anymore."
Florida's two-tier system is rooted partly in a "homestead" exemption that dates back many years. The exemption currently provides permanent residents of the state with an automatic $25,000 reduction in the assessed value of their primary homes. In addition, an amendment to the state constitution that went into effect in 1995, called Save Our Homes, caps the annual increase in assessed property values and taxes at 3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. That too applies only to the primary homes of permanent residents.
Anyone who owns a home in Florida can become a permanent resident, no matter how much time the homeowner spends in state. A homeowner needs only to submit an affidavit stating his Florida home is his permanent residence. But many snowbirds are unwilling, because switching permanent residence would mean giving up tax breaks or other benefits they get from their home state or nation.
With great fanfare, USA Today reported last week that AT&T, Bellsouth and Verizon were systematically handing over telephone records to the NSA. People were outraged...their private phone calls were being shared with the government. But there's only one problem.
At least in the case of 2 out of 3 of those companies, it doesn't look like the story is true. Bellsouth has come forward and said their investigation turned up "no contract with the NSA and we are confident that we have turned over no phone records." Oops. So what does USA Today say? They said they contacted Bellsouth a day before the story ran and since the phone company didn't dispute the story, they took it to mean it was true. Guilty until proven innocent.
Now here comes Verizon. They announced yesterday that they did not provide any call records to the NSA. Strike two on USA Today. Verizon went even further, saying any media reports that suggested they did otherwise were completely false...a total fabrication.
USA Today says they are "investigating." It makes you wonder just what else is printed in the paper that's made up.
One more thing. Helen Thomas asked Tony Snow at the White House briefing yesterday if it was true that "that millions of Americans have been wiretapped?" Just where, dear Helen, has that been alleged?
-- Neal Boortz
[Wall Street Journal] THE HAGUE -- Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been threatened repeatedly with "execution" by Islamist extremists. She lives in an apartment with bulletproof windows, and is driven to work at the Dutch Parliament by armed guards, who vary the route to outfox would-be hit men.
But an unexpected menace emerged closer to home: her own neighbors. They have fought to evict her, complaining that the presence of a well-known terrorist target in their luxury apartment tower in this Dutch city has upset their family lives and reduced the value of their property.
"Once this lady leaves, the problem is no longer there," says Ger Verhagen, a retired executive who owns a place two floors above the hunted politician. He says he has nothing personal against Ms. Hirsi Ali. But along with other residents, he wants to banish the fears stirred by the proximity of Holland's most acid -- and most frequently threatened -- critic of Islam.
Yesterday, Ms. Hirsi Ali's neighbor got his wish. Three weeks after a Dutch court ordered her out of the building in response to complaints from Mr. Verhagen and other residents, she resigned from Parliament and said she would leave Holland altogether. Her decision follows a cascade of problems: angry neighbors, a government threat to revoke her citizenship and, more generally, growing public disenchantment with her denunciations of both radical Islam and more conventional Muslim doctrines.
The travails of Ms. Hirsi Ali, 36 years old, raise questions about how Europe, seeking calm rather than confrontation, is grappling with the challenges posed by Islamic extremism in its midst. Born in Somalia and raised in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, Ms. Hirsi Ali says the attitude of her neighbors smacks of World War II-style "appeasement." Others say they sympathize with her predicament but fault her for polarizing society with her attacks on Islamic custom as backward and incompatible with Western values.
This is sooooo very typical of the genuflecting appeasement Euro-Left: Rather than fight to protect someone who dares criticize the extremist Islamic militancy infecting the continent, they instead fight against them.
Europe, the article explains, seeks "calm" rather than confrontation. But as I've written before, what peace without liberty? It is very calm when the extremists have subjugated the rest of us.
The judge claimed to have protected the "human rights" of Hirsi Ali's neighbors. Unlike here, where an individual's rights trump or at least balance the rights of the masses, in Europe "human rights" apparently include the right to not be offended or made to feel uncomfortable.
Sure, it starts with appeasement. It begins with misguided Western politicians criticizing Jyllands-Posten cartoon Mohammeds instead of the thuggish mobs burning cars and killing innocents in response. It's a modern day equivalent of human sacrifice - a Salman Rushdie here, a Theo van Gogh there, then soon after we blame those victims for inciting their own death or threats to their life.
But it's never enough. Pretty soon it isn't just a critical movie or sacrilegious cartoon that "caused" the violence. Next time it's just for being a non-believer. If you don't believe me, go ask a Jew living in Israel, a Christian in Sudan, or a renouncer of the faith in some corner of Pakistan.
Islamic fascists are exporting their reactionary hate to Europe. Don't think it can't cross the Atlantic from there.
Every once in a while I find an op-ed that needs no summarization or intro and that should be published at length.
Inside Guantanamo Bay
By Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which is responsible for detainee operations and intelligence gathering at the camp
Published May 17, 2006
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba -- On Sunday, the Tribune editorial page asked readers: What should the U.S. do with the Guantanamo Bay detention camp? Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, offered this essay in response.
I lead the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians responsible for the safe and humane care and custody of the unlawful enemy combatants held here at Guantanamo--a responsibility we take very seriously.
The question of what to do with enemy combatants--committed jihadists and terrorists--is relevant and important. As the person responsible for the detention of our nation's enemies held here, I appreciate and applaud the Chicago Tribune's posing of this serious question to your readership Sunday. Col. Robert McCormick would be pleased with the Tribune's efforts to address the pressing issues of our day.
The Tribune's characterization of Guantanamo as a "detention camp" is precisely correct. Despite our persistent efforts to correct the record, many mainstream outlets--print, voice and electronic--persist in referring to this facility as a "prison camp." This is not mere parsing of words or semantic folderol. Prisons are about punishment and rehabilitation; Guantanamo is about neither. What we are about is the detention of unlawful enemy combatants--dangerous men associated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban captured on the battlefield waging war on America and our allies, running from that battlefield, or otherwise closely associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban--and, as you correctly pointed out, preventing them from returning to the fight. We hold men who proudly admit membership at the leadership level in Al Qaeda and the Taliban, many with direct personal contact and knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers. We are keeping terrorist recruiters, facilitators, explosives trainers, bombers and bombmakers, Osama bin Laden bodyguards and financiers from continuing their jihad against America.
I do reject out of hand, however, the Tribune's notion that we are somehow delinquent in our moral responsibility to transform the camp and that the camp is "unsatisfactory." This is simply not true. Your editorial is either misleading or ill-informed. Conditions have improved dramatically for detainees since they first arrived in 2002. More important, we aggressively look for ways to build on the "safe and humane care and custody" mission with which I opened this dialogue.
Today, a large number of detainees live in Camp 4, a communal-living facility where they are housed in a barracks setting with access to 12 hours of recreation and exercise per day. We provide ample exercise areas and equipment for them. Additionally, work is nearly complete on our new Camp 6, a $30 million modern medium-security facility that will make life even better for the detainees, while adding safeguards for the troops and civilians who work here. The design of Camp 6 is based on a medium-security facility in the U.S.
All detainees at Guantanamo are provided with three meals a day that meet cultural (halal) dietary requirements--meals which, incidentally, cost three times what meals for our servicemen and -women here cost. We fully meet special dietary needs (e.g., Type 2 diabetics, vegetarians, fish-but-not-red-meat-eaters etc.) of many of our detainees. We provide safe shelter and living areas with beds, mattresses, sheets and running-water toilets. We also provide adequate clothing, including shoes and uniforms, and the normal range of hygiene items, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Even so, many detainees have taken advantage of this--crafting killing weapons from toothbrushes and garrotes from food wrappers, for example.
In good faith
Detainees enjoy broad opportunities to practice their Muslim faith, including the requisite calls to prayer five times per day, prayer beads, rugs and copies of the Koran in their native languages from some 40 countries. Directional arrows pointing to Mecca have been painted in every cell and camp. The American guard force is specifically prohibited from touching detainees' Korans. Some detainees have attempted to use this restriction to their advantage by secreting messages, contraband and the like within their Korans. When prayer call is sounded, the guards set out "prayer cones"--traffic cones stenciled with the letter "P"--for the 30 minutes of prayer call, as a visible reminder for the guards to avoid noise and disruption. This procedure was implemented after it was suggested by a detainee.
We have other camps where detainees who fail to follow camp rules are housed. As with Camp 4, these detainees are provided fair and humane treatment, have ample access to recreation time and equipment, equal access to medical and dental care, equal opportunity to practice their religion and other privileges. As are their colleagues in Camp 4, they are well-cared for and protected from inhumane treatment.
Detainees have sent and received more than 44,000 pieces of mail since February 2002, and our fully staffed detainee library has thousands of books and magazines for their use. Our library team just returned from a book-buying trip, adding nearly 2,000 Arabic titles to the library.
Doctors in the house
We provide outstanding medical care to every detainee, the same quality as what our service members receive. We are improving the health and extending the life span of the detainee population in our charge. Last year, we completed building a $2.4 million camp hospital to treat detainees. To date, we have completed more than 300 surgeries, including an angioplasty, and more than 5,000 dental procedures. We provide eye care and issued almost 200 pairs of glasses last year. We have given nearly 3,000 voluntary vaccinations, including diphtheria, tetanus, mumps, measles and rubella--in many cases they are the first immunizations detainees have ever received--as well as treatment for hepatitis, influenza and latent tuberculosis. We offer complete colon cancer screenings to all of our detainees who are more than 50 years old, and a variety of medical specialists provide preventive and restorative care.
Two weeks ago, a detainee broke his ankle playing soccer--what makes his case extraordinary is that he is a one-legged man! The quality of the prosthetic device he was given and the therapy he receives enabled him to play soccer. I have every confidence that he will soon return to that playing field. That said, many detainees persist in mixing a blood-urine-feces-semen cocktail and throwing this deadly concoction into the faces of the American men and women who guard them, feed them and care for them. Most of the time after such an assault, our guards decline the opportunity to take a day off. After a quick medical checkup and a shower, they prefer to put on a clean uniform and return to duty. And the only retribution they exact on the detainees is to simply continue to serve with pride, dignity and humanity.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which enjoys full diplomatic status, has unfettered access to the detainees. Their reports are useful, meaningful and confidential. They have helped us improve conditions here. I will note that, on April 25, Reuters reported that "detainees are enjoying better treatment at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the Red Cross is satisfied with its access to them ... Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said detention conditions at Guantanamo had `improved considerably' over the past four years ... He called it `extremely regrettable' that the intense media focus on Guantanamo seemed to distract from troubled sites in places like Chechnya and Myanmar, where the ICRC has suspended prison visits over disagreements with local authorities."
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had positive remarks to say about us based on its visit here this past March. As reported by Reuters, Alain Grignard, deputy head of Brussels' federal police anti-terrorism unit, at a press conference following an OSCE visit, said, "At the level of the detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons." Anne-Marie Lizin, chairwoman of the Belgian Senate, told reporters at this same press conference that she saw no point in calling for the immediate closure of Guantanamo.
The U.S. government remains committed to not detaining any person any longer than is absolutely required. We are, in fact, outright releasing or transferring detainees to their home countries and other nations willing to accept them. In my reading of history, simply releasing enemy combatants during the course of an ongoing war is unprecedented.
Despite articles written by defense attorneys and young translators arguing the contrary, these are, in fact, dangerous men in our custody. Make no mistake about it--we are keeping enemies of our nation off the battlefield. This is an enormous challenge. These terrorists are not represented by any nation or government. They do not adhere to the rules of war. That said, we treat them humanely, in full compliance with all laws and international obligations.
The young Americans serving here in Guantanamo are upholding the highest ideals of honor and duty in a remote location, face to face with some of the most dangerous men on the planet. Your readers should be proud of them. I am proud to be their commander.
Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. is commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which is responsible for detainee operations and intelligence gathering at the camp.
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