Monday, July 31, 2006

Media still can't get the story right.

The Mel Gibson hate outburst about Jews continues to be in the news. I say that with reservation. Some news outlets are still refusing to say what it is that Gibson said. They continue to sanitize his comments by refusing to report on them. The bizarre thing is that the have continued to do so even while reporting that he apologized for making them. So the apology is reported but not the offense. How strange.

Of course attention is still on how the Sheriff's Department tried to help cover up for Mel. As we reported Gibson has had a close relationship with the department and the sheriff. Remember that a spokesmn for the department got up in public and said that Gibson was arrested "without incident". This after Gibson tried to run away and was grabbed and handcuffed by the arresting officer. This after Gibson went into his tirade against Jews and after Gibson had threatened to ruin the arresting officer. Now the whole coverup is being investigated and the spokesman who made the "without incident" report is sticking by his words except he's doing a verbal shuffle by redining what the term means.

Steve Whitmore, who made the remark now defines it this way: "Without incident means without force, without a significant use of force." Now there is no "incident" until there is significant force. Apparently even a small amount of force doesn't even qualify.

Meanwhile the people who exposed the truth about the arrest are now reporting that Gibson had two previous incidents with the Sheriff's Department as well. They say" Mel Gibson has been stopped for reckless driving two other times in Malibu but he was allowed to leave without a ticket or arrest." In at least one of those incidents the deputy who pulled him over wondered whether Gibson was sober or not. No wonder Gibson went ballistic when he was arrested. He may well have expected to be able to walk away again.

TMZ, who broke this story confirm that the deputy who arrested Gibson was told to eliminate all references to Gibson's conduct from his report. "Sources tell TMZ that Lt. Crystl Mirand told the arresting deputy that Captain Tom Martin talked to Sheriff Lee Baca who expressed concern that the explosive report might leak to the media and that it needed to be re-written in a sanitized form."

They also mention something that is important and which others have observed. The alcohol content of Gibson's blood was not sufficiently high to cloud his ability to act rationally. He says he ws "out of it" but he had not consumed enough alcohol for that to be the case. And TMZ sys that, "Sources connected with the case tell TMZ that Gibson was drunk but was in control of his senses." In other words he knew what he doing even if his driving would have been impaired.

I would also like to clear up some false reports. Sandy Cohen, of Associated Press reported,, and newspapers around the world reported, that Gibson is a "devout" Roman Catholic. He is not. He helps fund a break away sect from Catholicism of which his father is a leader. His father has said that the Vatican was taken over by "a Masonic plot backed by Jews" with the intention of pushing one world government. The senior Gibson says the Jews "are after one world religion and one world government. That's why they've attacked the Catholic Church so strongly, to ultimately take control over it by their doctrine. Gibson has poured millions, at least $14 million, into the sect his father helps lead. He said: "My dad taught me my faith and I believe what he taught me."

But Gibson is not a Roman Catholic as reported. Nor is he a "fundamentalist Christian" as other media outlets have claimed. He has paid to build one of these breakaway churches near his home and another in West Virginia, where his father lives. The elder Hutton has said the Pope in Rome is not a Catholic. And neither of these churches is affiliated with, or recognized by, the Roman Catholic Church.

Gibson's has now entered a rehabilitation program for his drinking. The program may or may not help his problems there but it does nothing regarding his bigotry. Nor can it. The Anti-Defamation League has said that Gibson's apology was "not a proper apology because it does not go to the essence of his bigotry and his anti-Semitism." Of course not. What does the ADL expect? Gibson can be forced to apologize but he can't be forced to mean it. He may fear the results of his bigotry becoming public knowledge. He may even make a film about the Holocaust (though I doubt that will happen now). But the threat of sanctions don't change a man's mind only his public expressions. Rehab may keep Gibson from saying what he believes. The threat of retaliation from others may keep him silent. But neither will change the man's mind. Only Gibson can do that.

The Scotsmen reports that the ADL asked for an investigation in whether or not Gibson comitted a "hate crime". But I don't believe this is the case though I could be wrong. The paper also falsely reported that Gibson is a fundamentalist Christian so their ability to get the facts right is suspect. I think the report wrong because the only evidence they use to support this claim is a quote from the ADL saying there ought to consequences to bigotry. But the full quote, reported in other sources, indicated the consequences they spoke of was private sanctions with people in the film industry refusing to work with Gibson. That is not a hate crime investigation. In addition the paper forgets that in the US there is no hate crime for expressing an opinion alone. Gibson is free to engage in tirades against anyone he wishes without fear of the sanction of the law. At least for now speech, in the US, on this issue is free.

It would be absurd to call for an investigation into whether Gibson's remark were a hate crime when no legislation allowing such a measure exist -- nor should it exist. Gibson has done more harm to himself through his remarks than any court sanction could possibly do. Let's be honest here. When The Passion of the Christ came out the media missed the real story. They concentrated on whether the film was or wasn't anti Jewish -- I think it was. But they ignored Gibson's ties to his father. Even the few feeble attempts to ask about this issue were easily shrugged off by Gibson and no one dared press the matter. It too a bit of Tequila to loosen Gibson's tongue and his real opinions flowed. Now he will suffer the consequences.

But even now the media reported this badly. When we first discussed this story almost all the major media outlets reported the drunken arrest but said nothing about the anti Jewish rant. Even when Gibson apologized for the bigoted remarks media outlets reported on the apology but left their audience in the dark as to the actual remarks. Surely if a simple blogger, albeit one who has written for professional media, can find out the facts then full time journalists should be able to do so. I reiterate that no major media outlet to date has reported the full facts behind Gibson, the church he supports and Daddy Gibson's theology/political beliefs about Jews. I suspect if they do they will find plenty of evidence to verify that Mel Gibson is fully in tune with his father's beliefs. And while the threat of the loss of millions in revenue may force him to retract and apologize it can't force him to change his opinions. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

The photo is of Hutton Gibson, the self-proclaimed expert on the Jewish plot to control the world.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Old thoughts, new truths.

"Where there is one common over-ridding end, there is no room for any general morals or rules... where a few specific ends dominate the whole of society, it is inevitable that occasionally cruelty may become a duty; that acts which revolt all our feeling, such as the shooting of hostages or the killing of the old or sick, should be treated as mere matters of expediency; that the compulsory uprooting and transportation of hundreds of thousand should become an instrument of policy approved by almost everybody except the victims; or that suggestions like that of a conscription of women for breeding purposes can be seriously contemplated. There is always in the eyes of the collectivist a greater goal which these acts serve and which to him justifies them because the pursuit of the common end of society can know no limits in any rights or values of any individual." FA Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, 1944

As we suspsected.

Mel Gibson is trying to save his career after his hateful tirade about Jews. First, he confessed he was drunk. Let me repeat his words and then dissect them a bit.

"After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the LA County Sheriffs. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person. I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said, and I apologize to anyone who I have offended. Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry. I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health.”

He is no doubt telling the truth when he says "after drinking alcohol" but this makes it sound like it was one glass. He was drunk. For a man his size that meant several glasses. Second, he says, "I have battled with the disease of alcoholism..." I don't buy that one bit. It is not a disease but a choice. He choose to buy the booze. He choose to pour it or had someone pour it for him. He picked it up and put it is his mouth. And he swallowed. And he did it again and again until he was drunk. It was a condition he inflicted upon himself. Come on Mel, at least take responsibility for it. No germs caused him to drink. There is no physical condition that forces people to become alcoholics. It happens when people make choices. It is not a version of the flu. You can't "catch" alcoholism in a crowded elevator. You don't spread it by sneezing on someone, kissing them or shaking hands. It has none of the hallmarks of a disease but it does have all the traits of individual choices. It is not a health issue Mel it is a character issue.

Secondly he says he said things "that I do not believe to be true and which are despicble." He said exactly the sort of things his father taught him. Gibson is the one who says his father has "never" lied to him. So Daddy Gibson says the Jews are in a conspiracy to set up one world government, and he has never "lied", then Mel must believe the statements to be true. It is my experience that drinking drops the inhibitions of alcoholics. They will say mean and hurtful things but they will say what they really think but normally have the resolve to keep bottled up inside of them. I am convinced that Gibson does buy the anti Jewish theories of his father and that the alocohol loosened his tongue enough for him to speak his mind.

Certainly other statments by Gibson, in the past, have, at best, been border line in their anti-Semitism.

Third, Gibson's statements proves the police reports issued to the press were a cover up and a lie. The BBC quoted a police spokesman who claimed the arrest took place "without incident" yet now Gibson apologizes for his "belligerent behavior". Gibson says he was acting like "a person completely out of control". And the police say it was "without incident". In fact the arresting officer originally wrote a report outlining how bad Gibson got and now Gibson has confirmed it. The police had the officer withdraw it and change the story to save Gibson from humiliation. Now the sheriff's department says "Nothing will be sanitized." A bit late. What they originally told the media was false. They already tried to sanitize the incident to cover up for Gibson and they got caught with their fingers in the cookie jar.

An investigation is supposedly now under way to determine if, and why, Gibson was given special treatment, including the altering of reports to make him look good. The Los Angeles Times reports: " On Friday, a Sheriff's Department spokesman told reporters that Gibson had been arrested that day in Malibu "without incident." But the website alleged that evening that supervisors at the Malibu-Lost Hills sheriff's station tried to downplay the actor's behavior by omitting his most offensive actions in an abridged version of the arresting deputy's report, which has yet to be made public. " Mike Gennaco, head of the Officie of Independent Reviews says: "I'd like to see if there was a legitimate law enforcement reason for asking that the report be altered." The paper also reports something I didn't know: "Gibson has had a close relationship with the Sheriff's Deprtment. He served in 2002 as a 'celebrity representative' for the L.A. Sheriff's Department Star Organiztion, a group tht provides scholarships and aid for the children of slaim police officers." Gibson himself gave $10,000 to the cause and filmed a fund appeal wearing a department uniform.

Some of the media is reporting the full story but others are still hiding the facts. The Chicago Tribune mentions the apology but never informs readers about the anti Jewish outburst from Gibson. The Chicago Sun-Times also leaves the remarks out of the story.

Church refuses theocratic temptation. Republicans walk out.

The New York Times has run a fascinating story about one of the evangelical megachurches. Gregory Boyd has been pastor of the church for 12 years. When he founded the church it had 40 members and he built it up to over 5,000 members. But Boyd did something that most evangelicals didn’t do. He resisted the urge to jump into the Republican Party and advocate “taking over America for Jesus”.

The newspaper says he was constantly approached. “Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?”

And each time he refused. Then he preached a series of sermons outlining his positions. It wasn’t that he advocated abortion or even supported gay marriage. He argued that the church was losing it’s message and being turned into an arm of a political party instead. Whether one supports the church’s message or not you can’t argue that the American evangelical church has been turned into an arm of the Republican Party. Or perhaps the Republican Party is now an arm of the evangelical church. It is hard to distinguish who controls whom.

Boyd’s message was simple: “When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses. When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.” The idea of putting religion ahead of political power did not sit well with his congregation. Even as he preached theocrats in the congregation got up and walked out. All in all some 1,000 people decided to go somewhere where the pastor was promising them political power. Mary van Sickle works for the church and says she lost 20 volunteers from the Sunday School because of the sermons: “They said, ‘You’re not doing what the church is supposed to be doing, which is supporting the Republican way.’”

Boyd has just published a new book, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church to explain his position. And Boyd is not alone. Pastor Brian McLaren of the Cedar Ridge Community Church says the “dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right” has gone too far. “You cannot say the world ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the world ‘Christian’ and you certainly can’t say the world ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people. Because people think, ‘Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro war rhetoric, or complaining about ‘activist judges.’”

In his sermons Boyd “laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek ‘power over’ others—by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars.” He said “America wasn’t founded as a theocracy” but was founded “by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.”

Boyd’s church is affiliated with one of the Baptist denominations. Yet is is often forgot that Baptists once stood for separation of church and state. One of the most prominent Baptists in American history was John Leland, an ally of Thomas Jefferson. And he frequently spoke out with a message similar to Boyd’s. Here are some quotes from Leland. You will see his consistent support for freedom. Something most evangelicals today don’t do.

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever...Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians."

“Disdain mean suspicion, but cherish manly jealousy; be always jealous of your liberty, your rights. Nip the first bud of intrusion on your constitution. Be not devoted to men; let measures be your object, and estimate men according to the measures they pursue. Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. It converts religion into a principle of state policy, and the gospel into merchandise. Heaven forbids the bans of marriage between church and state; their embraces therefore, must be unlawful. Guard against those men who make a great noise about religion, in choosing representatives. It is electioneering. If they knew the nature and worth of religion, they would not debauch it to such shameful purposes. If pure religion is the criterion to denominate candidates, those who make a noise about it must be rejected; for their wrangle about it, proves that they are void of it. Let honesty, talents and quick despatch, characterise the men of your choice. Such men will have a sympathy with their constituents, and will be willing to come to the light, that their deeds may be examined. . . .”

“The work of the legislature is to make laws for the security of life, liberty and property, and leave religion to the consciences of individuals .”

“Christianity... has suffered more injury by its pretended friends, who have undertaken to regulate it by law, than it has from all its enemies.”

“What leads legislators into this error, is confounding sins and crimes together -- making no difference between moral evil and state rebellion: not considering that a man may be infected with moral evil, and yet be guilty of no crime, punishable by law. If a man worships one God, three Gods, twenty Gods, or no God -- if he pays adoration one day in a week, seven days or no day -- wherein does he injure the life, liberty or property of another? Let any or all these actions be supposed to be religious evils of an enormous size, yet they are not crimes to be punished by laws of state, which extend no further, in justice, than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor.”

For those so inclined you can listen to Boyd’s sermons that so offended the theocratic Republicans. They are:

Taking America Back for God
The Difference Between the Two Kingdoms
Abortion: A Kingdom of God Approach
Is the Church the Guardian of Social Morality?
Be Thou My Vision
In But Not of the World

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mad Mel's anti-Semitism: will he get another free pass?

In February, 2004 our sister website ran an article dealing with the controversy over whether or not Mel Gibson’s graphic torture film The Passion of the Christ was antiJewish or not. The point of the article was that no one was paying attention to Gibson’s own affiliation with antiJewish ideas, many expounded by his own father who speaks around the world exposing what he calls a Jewish conspiracy to impose one world government.

Hutton Gibson, the father, is also a leader of a break away sect of Catholics who believe the Jews have taken over the Vatican. Mel donates millions to this sect. The 2004 article said: “Gibson may well be the most high profile bigot in Hollywood and his connections with this antiJewish sect should be considered and investigated. But that is not happening.” But Gibson got a free pass. When he was asked about his father’s antiJewish speeches and tracts he told the interviewer “Don’t go there.” And she didn’t. She just dropped it in spite of Mel giving millions to the cause.

Mel has had a drinking problem in the past and apparently the past is not exactly over. He was pulled over again and arrested for being drunk while driving. His response was an outburst of antiSemitic tirades. The police report says that Gibson screamed: “Fucking Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson supposedly demanded to know if the police officer was a Jew. The office wrote up a detailed report of the incident. Copies of severl pages of the report were obtained by TMZ which discusses the incident. You can read the report yourself in pdf format here.

The officer says Gibson “blurted out a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks” and threatened to “fuck” him up. He says that Gibson, at one point, tried to run for his car and had to be subdued and cuffed. “Gibson almost continually threatened me saying he ‘owns Malibu’ and will spend all of his money to ‘get even’ with me.” The officer was concerned about the threats and anti Jewish remarks and reported the indicent to the main station which sent out a sergeant to meet them. He also brought a video camera to record any further incidents with the drunken actor.

TMZ says: “Deputy Mee [the arresting officer] then wrote an eight-page report detailing Gibson's rampage and comments. Sources say the sergeant on duty felt it was too "inflammatory." A lieutenant and captain then got involved and calls were made to Sheriff's headquarters. Sources say Mee was told Gibson's comments would incite a lot of "Jewish hatred," that the situation in Israel was "way too inflammatory." It was mentioned several times that Gibson, who wrote, directed, and produced 2004's The Passion of the Christ, had incited "anti-Jewish sentiment" and "For a drunk driving arrest, is this really worth all that?" “We're told Deputy Mee was then ordered to write another report, leaving out the incendiary comments and conduct. Sources say Deputy Mee was told the sanitized report would eventually end up in the media and that he could write a supplemental report that contained the redacted information -- a report that would be locked in the watch commander's safe.”

And the santized version appears to be the version released. The New York Daily News makes no mention of the outbursts. Neither does the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Mail, ABC News, the London Times, CNN or a host of other news outlets. There it is nothing more than a routine DUI arrest. The BBC went even further saying the arrest was without incident. The daily media simply doesn't research and thus are easily manipulated. Numerous reports refer to Gibson as a "devout Catholic" when in fact he is member of a group that denounces Roman Catholicism as being in the clutches of "the Jews".

Gibson got a free pass last time. And it looks as if he may get a free pass this time. The DUI story has now run. And if the report released by TMZ is proven accurate (which I suspect it will) the same outlets won’t report the story a second time. They don’t like to admit they left out the real news the first time around. And if it does get out Gibson will either deny it or claim he didn’t mean it and that he was just drunk. But drunks prone to such outbursts often claim they don’t mean what they say when under the influence. I think their inhibitions are down and that means they say precisely what they mean unlike when they are sober.

Calling a spade a spade.

I well remember the first time I saw Pieter-Dirk Uys in performance. In fact he wasn’t in performance just giving a speech. But I roared with laughter and for the life of me I don’t know why. Half the time the punch line was in Afrikaans and I couldn’t understand what he said. But whatever it was he said it funnier than anyone else I could think of.

Uys is a rare performer who used biting humour to ridicule the authoritarian apartheid regime of South Africa. And the first time I heard him he was speaking to an anticensorship conferences immediately after the African National Congress took over the country. He made a telling closing remark: “I will see you all in ten years at the next anticensorship conference.” How right he was.

But it feels wrong to refer to Pieter as he since he is best known when he goes in drag as Evita Bezuidenhout. He single handedly created, quite literally, the best known white woman in South Africa. For instance Evita became the ambassador from South Africa to the black homeland of the Republic of Bapetikosweti. The border of this fictional homeland mimicked the borders South Africa set up and then some. In Evita’s case the border ran through the middle of her dining room table. Of course it didn’t exist and neither did Evita but it was easy to forget that as one rolled in laughter. While the ANC was lobbying bombs at evil Pieter-Dirk was assaulting them with some far more deadly, satire. And the National Party hated every minute of it.

But Pieter-Dirk was no unthinking Leftist. He is committed to human freedom across the board. And often used his alter ego to voice statements the very opposite of what he himself believed. I remember one particularly funny incident when Pieter-Dirk in full drag as Evita appeared as a member of a panel. Evita was seated next to a fundamentalist minister with the anti liberal African Christian Democratic Party. Like most fundamentalists the ACDP was quite openly hateful toward homosexuals.

The subject of gay rights came up and Evita commented about how as an Afrikaans woman she could not endorse this immoral behaviour of men dressing up as women. Of course the audience was in stitches because it was well know to everyone, well most everyone, that Evita ws precisely a man dressed up as a woman. But the icing on the humour came when the host next turned to the ACDP minister who apparently was the one person in South Africa who didn’t know that Evita was really Pieter-Dirk Uys. In all sincerity the good reverend said: “I agree with the lady next to me.” It was a moment to live in television history --- at least for me. I was in hysterics watching this. Alexander Games, theatre critic for the Evening Standard in London wrote: “Uys has never shied away from putting on a dress to make a point.”

And apparently Games had the same experience I did. He watched a performance of Uys in London, no doubt packed with South African expats, and reported: “It's slightly disorientating, but rather exciting to sit in a theatre and hear unfamiliar cultural references whizzing over one's head straight to their target. I couldn't, for example, say what was funny about "toyi-toying with sacred cows", though it provoked a roar of laughter from more informed audience members.”

Uys has never been politically correct. And when the new South Africa emerged and brought with it the tyranny of political correctness he responded. The “N” word is not used in South Africa but the “K” word (kaffir) is. Uys entitled his show on the New South Africa “Dekaffirnated: Calling a Spade a Spade.” And only he could get away with it and get applauded. No one escaped Pieter's sharp eye and Evita's sharper tongue. One character he played was a "kugel", the South African equivalent of a "Jewish American Princess". This woman is one of those faux liberals that one finds all to often -- liberal but only on the surface. Uys has her say, as part of his show: "There are just two things wrong with South Africa. One is apartheid and the other is blacks." After Thebo Mbeki was elected Evita told the world: "I did all the catering for his inauguration. Well, I had to, there was no one left in the kitchen -- they were all in parliament."

Evita has been embraced by Mandela and kissed by Bishop Tutu. In one show she said Nelson Mandela didn’t mind imprisonment so much. “He’s very grateful we kept him from Winnie all those years.” And Evita likes to tell of the young black man who told her: “We fought for freedom and all we got was democracy!”

Very true. And often the point of Evita’s biting wit is about freedom not democracy. And so few people today understand the difference. Pieter does and he explains the difference using humour. But yet he manages to remain a gentleman (and a real lady) while doing so.

If you are ever down in the Cape Town vacinity head out to the little town of Darling and pay Evita a visit at her dinner theatre.

Friday, July 28, 2006

PC PCs ignore yobs bother widow.

The crime rate in England has been going up. One reason is that the police there are nigh unto useless and more interested in political correctness than fighting crime. I have just reread the book Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple which dissects the values of the British underclass that create most the problems they face. He also discusses how the social elites encourage these values with some stupid PC ideas they push. One problem that Dalrymple dissects is how the police ignore violent offenders routinely or make excuses for them. Even when assaults are witnessed by others the police merely tell the violent offender to be good and leave him to go on with his crime spree once the cops disappear. Yet, says Dalrymple, they have plenty of time to investigate people for not being politically correct. So yesterday I finish reading the book for a second time. And then today I read a story in the London Telegraph which confirms the book.

Just recently a couple police constables paid a visit to an elderly widow. Jean Grove, 77, was visited because of a sign posted on her gate 32 years ago by her late husband. It seems that in 1974 the family was enjoying Christmas Day when some Jehovah's Witnesses, who don't celebrate the holiday, interrupted the family get together in the hopes of coverting them. To make it clear that the family didn't want to be disturbed by missionaries the late Gordon Grove posted a sign saying: "Our dogs are fed on Jehovah's Witnesses." And for 32 years the sign sat there though it did disappear once and police, in less PC days, helped recover it.

Now the police show up and demand that Mrs. Grove remove the sign because it was distressing, offensive and inappropriate. But someone should note it is not illegal. The widow removed the sign and immediately reposted it after the police left. She said: "I couldn't believe it. The police put my name and address in their little black book and everything." The only dog in the house is a small pup which isn't a threat to anyone.

A spokesman for the local Jehovah's Witnesses said: "If we see signs like that we turn around and walk away." Clearly it serves it's purpose. He didn't seem particularly concerned about the matter. But the local police were upset. However the chairman of the local parish council found this "quite surprising and complained that the police apparently don't show the same concern "to what many people feel are more pressing matters in the village, such as vandalism nd trouble with yobs."

Mrs. Grove said something sensible: "It's only a lark and it's staying there. I don't see what the fuss is bout. Don't people have a sense of humour any more?"

Perhaps this story will join be in any sequel that Mr. Dalrymple writes.

The Congresswoman from DC is roasted live.

Stephen Colbert does some of the funniest interviews you will ever see. His ability to ask hilarious questions to major politicians is astounding and to watch the befuddlement on the faces of our "leaders" is hysterical. Even if you don't understand American politics (join the crowd) you will find his interviews completely amusing.

So good to hear it said.

Just because it was so good to have it said now if only someone would say this in Congress and not just on some fictional television show.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Keeping "them" out? Or us in?

Sometimes governments want to have things in contradictory ways. Consider an email briefing from Nick Sinatra of the White House Office of Public Liaison. He sent out a self-praising email informing people just how wonderful the federal government is. This one is entitled “Border Security Efforts Are Working.”

How does he know they are “working”? He starts out with a quote from Associated Press saying, “The number of illegal immigrants caught trying to sneak into the United States has dropped since President Bush ordered the military to help tighten the border...”

Now why is he quoting Associated Press since the wire service themselves are only quoting a federal official. But listing AP as the source, instead of another bureaucrat, makes it look all that more reliable. It is certainly an old trick used by environmental extremists as well. They make scare-mongering claims to the media which writes up their “concerns”. The media has no other source except the environmentalist in question. But then the environmental group quotes the article to prove their case and no one seems to notice that they are merely quoting themselves once removed. So in this informative email the government quotes a publication which is only quoting the government. And ring around the circle we go.

Everyone assumes that closing the border, which means locking others out and locking Americans in so that no one can move without government permission, is due to the 9/11 attacks. Of course all the terrorists in that attack had the approval of the federal government to come to the US. Not a one of them entered the US illegally. Secondly, everyone assumes the purpose is to keep people from arriving. Of course it could just as well be intended to keep people from leaving. The wall in Berlin certainly did keep West Germans from entering the Soviet dominated East but it also kept Easterners from escaping to freedom.

It may well be the Bush Administration’s desire to keep Americans stuck. They are now closing the last non-US territories that Americans could visit without a passport. For the moment an American can visit Canada or Mexico or various Caribbean islands without a document book from the feds. That will change shortly. In addition Americans can’t take out $10,000 of their own money without reporting it to the feds. If they do they risk imprisonment for not snitching on themselves. And if they can take it out they will find more and more US government regulations that are making it impossible for US citizens to open bank accounts overseas. Even the much talked about Swiss bank accounts won’t touch Americans now. Again it’s supposed to stop the war on terror. Rubbish. The only people it regulates are US citizens not terrorists. So each step of the way the US government, to crush an “enemy”, is actually stripping away the freedom of Americans to travel. And as Mr. Sinatra brags the US is now stationing troops on the border. Personally I take these things as signs that one ought to leave before that option is entirely shut.

But there is another aspect to this self-congratulating email. And it is odd. Consider another bad government idea: the war on drugs. In that “war” they measure success by how many arrests they make. If arrests go up they brag about it and say it shows their policies are working. But when it comes to would-be dishwashers, subverting the American way by working cheaply, a decline in arrests is touted as success.

The email didn’t say that there is actual evidence that fewer people got in illegally just that fewer were caught. Pretend that in May there were 100,000 people entering the US illegally of whom 80,000 were caught. In June another 100,000 attempt to come in and 50,000 are caught. The arrest rate declined but the number of illegal entries increased. If success is measured by how few people are arrested then Bush could declare victory tonight simply by ordering the end of all arrests. It wouldn’t stop the flow of workers, seeking to better their lives without government permission, but it would take the arrest rate right down to zero. And by the logic of the email that would be a great victory.

Rotten trees from little acorns and windy politicians

Chicago has long been known as the Windy City and today people usually assume it is weather related. But that is not the case. Chicago is not that particularly windy. The term was first used to describe the “wind” emitted by local politicians.

When it comes to politicians in Chicago the general rule has been that they are corrupt and stupid. The city is a one party state and like all one party states it attracts the worst quality of elected officials. Of course two party states don’t do much better.

Now the blithering brigade of braggarts and brigands that infest that city, like cockroaches in a kitchen that has never been cleaned, have decided to repeal gravity, legislate that the winters be warmer and require the waves to part on Lake Michigan to allow tired swimmers to walk back to shore. No? Well, not quite, but they have done something equally stupid.

The politicians of Chicago, no doubt the products of the inept Chicago school system, have decided that it is within their powers to repeal facts of reality. The bright sparks in the city council have passed a law establishing a new minimum wage but only for businesses of a certain size. To qualify you must be more than 90,000 square feet in size and owned by company grossing more than $1 billion annually. The legislation, which is not properly called “law” here as “law” has some basis in reality, is discriminatory and meant to appeal to envy by attacking only a handful of stores because they are successful. The law can not mandate that workers be worth that wage only that they be paid it.

In the tradition of the gaseous fools that plagued the city’s politics, Alderman Joseph Moore inhaled precious oxygen and wasted it on absurd claims like: “This is a great day for the working men and women of Chicago.”

One of the intended targets is Wal-Mart, which is hated by the moonbats on the Left because it is successful. Consider this: anytime any business grows large through success the moonbats will attack it. They are envy ridden and not ashamed of their vandal mentality. Vandalism, in any form, destroys the property of others without bringing any real benefit to the vandal. It is more of the mindset that says, “If I can’t have it, then no one can.” And since the moonbats tend to be abject failures in life, they reap what they sow, they are consumed with a hatred for success and a desire to destroy it.

The new law says these big stores, and only the big ones, must pay $10 per hour in wages plus $3 worth of fringe benefits per hour. The average pay at Wal-Mart, all things considered is $11 per hour so the law would basically demand wages increase by 20%.

Now it takes no intelligence to work at Wal-Mart. I’ve shopped in Wal-Mart and was glad they were there. When my budget was very tight being able to buy jeans for $12 a pair was a real blessing. And I’m sure lots of people without much money are glad that Wal-Mart exists. But to help “poor working people” the politicians of Chicago are forcing up prices for all poor people including the many in Chicago who have no job. So to benefit one small group of workers, in one specific kind of store, the politicians are going to force up prices for all poor people in the city. The idiots call this compassion. Of course the idea is to really drive these stores out of business. Their high priced, smaller competitors aren't required to pay the new minimum "living wage". For some unexplained reason their employers supposedly can live on less. You can bet the competititors, realizing it would drive up the costs of the big stores while leaving them untouched, were quite in favor of the new law. The measure is anti-competitive, precisely what bad businessmen want.

Now most politicians are failures at actually earning a living. They are too incompetent to earn a profit in the market and thus end up floating around the political septic tank like huge chunks of excrement. They really stink things up in general and they are dangerous to one’s health and should be flushed out of the system as often as possible. But the amazing thing is that these rent-seeking lifers feel they have the ability to micromanage the businesses of others.

Wal-Mart and other “evil” big, low price stores really ought to pack up in Chicago and move. Leave the premises empty, leave the employees unemployed, this is what the wind bags in city hall apparently want. A left-wing group, meaning riddled with the envious and economically illiterate, was behind the measure. They were founded by one Wade Rathke, a Left-wing radical and activist. While Acorn, like all Leftists, says it works on behalf of “workers” the group has stridently opposed efforts to unionize their own employees. And the National Labor Relations Board has found that the group used “union-busting tactics against its employees.”

The ACORN conglomerate is run like a corporation and a well oiled one too. It supposedly has a budget somewhere between $30 and $40 million dollars per year and is tightly controlled by Rathke and his family. Money is shuffled around within a network of Rathke-run groups making it hard to follow. For instance the group, Citizens Consulting, which is run by Rathke’s brother received over half a million dollars from ACORN for “lobbying” between 1998 and 2004. ACORN run labor union SEIU (Service Employees International Union) local 100 and 880 had transactions with other Rathke run operations totaling $623,829 according to the Department of Labor. Rathke’s Project Vote paid ACORN and Citizens Consulting $1.7 million in just three years. That's only the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

ACORN pushes a fallacious concept called a “living wage”. They claim it is is based on wages necessary for a worker to keep his family of four out of poverty. But few workers have a family of four, with average sizes well below that, and most such families have a second income as well. When one ACORN representative was asked how they determine the wages they demand she said: “We just made that number up....” Of course them themselves pay less to their employees than they demand be legislated for others. ACORN even sued the state of California claiming it should be exempt from paying minimum wages at all. They complained that “the more that ACORN must pay each individual outreach worker... the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire.” What is true for ACORN is true for Wal-Mart. Unless Wal-Mart employees become more productive they aren’t worth $13 per hour, if they were they would be paid that especially considering the low unemployment rate in the US. ACORN is only going to destroy some jobs to increase wages for other jobs. And they may unemploy all the employees of these large stores in Chicago if the stores do the sane thing and move out of this hostile climate.

True, raising minimum wages reduces employment and that means fewer jobs. Now lets go back to Wal-Mart for a second. Anyone who has shopped there knows that the employees are really unskilled workers and not exactly bright. They show up, move merchandise around and take the money. Ask them for help and see the blank looks on their faces. I know, I’ve done it. Most Wal-Mart employees have few real skills. The sad fact is that their productive effort is minimal and not worth $13 per hour. But it doesn’t have to be. They have to do the minimum work required to move products. And they do. And the beneficiaries of that are people who don’t operate with the kind of budget that Rathke is used to spending.

Wal-Mart customers come from the lower end of the economic ladder. And they are damn glad that they can buy what they need at low prices --- an option that ACORN and dumb politicians want to take away from them. Surely such measures are anti-poor. Of course if Chicago really wants to improve the lives of poor people in the city it could lower it’s 9% regressive sales tax which penalizes the poor most of all. Rathke knows Wal-Mart caters to low income customers. He bragged that he was one of them when he was poor. “They had me. I wasn’t making 2 cents to put together.”

For an example of Rathke’s own tactics to secure “social justice” read this press release by ACORN workers attempting to unionize.

They claim that almost 100 percent of the staff of ACORN in Washington state tried to join the Industrial Workers of the World but that ACORN refused to recognize the union. Employees wanted the following: “a 40 hour work week, paychecks on time and in full, a sexual harassment policy, safety on the job, and lunch breaks.” Radical stuff! The press release says ACORN employees have filed claims with of Unfair Labor Practices in Philadelphia, Dallas and Seattle. And they say that striking workers were all fired and replaced. One ACORN affiliate, the Missouri Wages Campaign, told employees they are responsible for “working up to 80 hours over 7 days” or more than double normal working hours. Rathke’s multi-million dollar organization can afford to pay more. Perhaps the do-gooders in the Chicago City Council should pass an ACORN law requiring ACORN affiliates only to py $10 per hour plus $3 in benefits per hour and require them to respect current labour laws regarding work hours..But don’t expect the Left to rush out and lobby for the legislation.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Not quite a defection

Michael Steele is the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. He is also a Republican (see photo on left from happier days). Like many other Republicans he has realized that George Bush is an albatross hung around his neck. Steele said that his run for the US Senate in Marylnd is going to be tough because he's a Republican. He admitted: "If this race is about Republicans and Democrats, I lose."

When asked if he will have President campaign for him he said: "to be honest with you, probably not.

Republicans historically have run on the issues of local contol instead of federal control, balancing the budget, fiscal restraint, and small government. They can't do that anymore as Bush has openly destroyed each of those principles. They got some traction on the war on terror but have lost that as Bush has bungled Iraq and the only results the war on terror has generated is to spy on Americans and harass them when they try to fly. That leaves one last category: bashing gays. But that is a relatively new Republican position and not one accepted by a large number of Republicans --- worse yet the public doesn't seem to go for it either. All in all the Republicans have been destroyed from within by their own leader.

Even William F. Buckley has come out swinging against the Bush agenda. He says Bush lacks any "effective conservative ideology". Asked what Bush's legacy would be he said: "I think his legacy is indecipherable." The interview from CBS with Buckley is below.

When will we ever learn?

A music video that notes how men die for politicians. Dream of a world without politics.

Monday, July 24, 2006

And when the children grow up?

A few hours ago I posted about Israel's apparent policy of bombing refugees attempting to flee their attacks. Now the New York Times has published a horrific article of another such incident. The Shaito family were holed up in their village of Tireh trying to escape the air assaults. They wanted to flee but were terrified to do so. Finally they were so terrified that they decided to follow the orders from Israel and leave the area.

The family and an employee got into their minivan and headed for Beirut where they hoped they would be safe. They flew a white flag from the vehicle to signal they were non-combatants. But apparently Israel, like Bush, has reserved the right to call anyone a combatant as they see fit. It appears that an Israeli helicopter fired a rocket into the vehicle and into the family. Three members of the family were murdered immediately: an uncle, the grandmother, and the employee. Israel is safer today. It killed another grandmother.

Another uncle, Musbah Shaito, said: "They said leave, and that's what we did. This is what we got for listening to them." The "them" is Israel.

The paper reported that ambulance drivers for the Red Cross "complained about narrowly avoiding Israeli fire themselves..."

In nearby Mansoureh two families, named Suroor and Zabad, attempted to flee to Tyre. The Zabads saw a wonded man on the road and stopped to pick him up. Later they came across two other men who had been attacked riding motorcycles and picked them up. Israel sent a missle into the family's sedan. Father Mohammed was killed as ws another relative. Eight-year-old Mahmoud was severely burned and his two brothers and sister were wounded.

The Zabads drove past the Suroors and headed for a hospital hoping for safety. Israel attacked these refugees as well. A missile narrowly missed their car but set it on fire. If you look at this photo from the New York Times you will see the faces of two of the children from the Shaito family. The attack on them is another blow for the war on terror. That is until these children grow up, remember what Israel did to them, and join Hezbollah.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the number of civilian casualties is so high that mass graves are being dug to handle the bodies. In Tyre: " The government hospital had run out of room for human remains by Friday. More than 100 bomb-wrecked bodies were already crammed into poorly refrigerated container trucks, and more corpses were pouring in daily." It tells of another convoy of refugees callously attacked by Israel. "Soubiha Abdullah... had come to indentify and bury 24 members of her family, including her sister and her sister's nine childre. They died trying to escape village: Israeli planes had attacked the road as they drove."

Qasim Chaalan of the Red Cross says that the number of deaths are far higher than reported as many victims are still buried beneath bombed out buildings. Firemen have the rescue equipment but won't go in the area for fear of Israeli attacks. Chaalan says one of their ambulances was targeted by an Israeli missle as well.

As one trench filled with the dead is filled with earth an old man looks at the coffins and yells: "This is what Bush wants! This is what this dog wants. It's full of children."

An Israeli official at their embassy in Washington said "We have been using precision-guided munitions in order to neutralize the military capabilities of Hezbollah and to minimize harm to civilians." This explains a series of attacks on refugee convoys. If, as this official claims, they are using "precision-guided" weapons the attacks could only be intentional. Meanwhile the Lebanese media is reporting that the US has taken the unusual step of rushing more bombs to Israel when Israel requested them.

It isn't enough that America is supplying the bombs. It isn't enough that America hands Israel billions every year to wage these attacks. Now the drones in the US Congress get involved and pass a resolution supporting the attacks. A resolution supporting Israel's attacks was supported by a vote of 410 to eight. Congressman Ron Paul, one of the few to oppose the resolution said: "The policy of interventionism, which I object to, really doesn't work. It is well intended, and we have these grandiose plans and schemes to solve the problems of the world, but if you are really honest with yourself and you look at the success and failure, it doesn't have a good record."

In a speech before the House Paul quoted from Ronald Reagan's autobiography. Reagan had sent troops to Lebanon and a suicide bomber destroyed the barracks of the Marines killing 241 Americans. The attack caused Reagan to reconsider his policy. He wrote: "In the weeks immediately after the bombing, I believe the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 marines would be alive today."

Congressman Paul said: "
There is nothing wrong with considering the fact that we don't have to be involved in every single fight. That was the conclusion that Ronald Reagan came to, and he was not an enemy of Israel. He was a friend of Israel. But he concluded that that is a mess over there. Let me just repeat those words that he used. He said, he came to the conclusion, 'The irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there.' I believe these words are probably more valid now even than when they were written."

Israel pushes US for more bombs.

The BBC has published reports on the tactics being used by the Israeli government which ought to disgust anyone committed to western liberal values. The Israeli forces are attacking convoys of refugees attempting to flee the attacks.

One such convoy left the village of Aitaroun heading for refuge in Tyre. It was three cars containing children and old people. The first car was first destroyed by Israeli air strikes. The other two cars tried to escape but the second was destroyed by an Israeli missile. Remember that Israel has the ability to pick specific cars and destroy them. These are not accidents. These are intentional attacks. Israel has no reason to assume the cars contain anyone who has attacked Israel.

The family in the third car fled on foot only to be pursued by Israeli planes that dropped bombs on them. The grandmother from the family was killed and. A young girl, her mother and her grandfather were injured. Strike a blow for the war on terror.

A doctor told the BBC that Israel is bombing any vehicle that moves closing the road to ambulances which can't help the civilians wounded by these attacks. It was reported the Rmeich, a Christian village was also bombed. Yet Israel claims the attacks are against Hezbollah, a Muslim group unlikely to be in a Christian village. The city of Sidon has never before been attacked by Israel so it acted like a magnet attracting refugess seeking safety. This time Israel attacked this city after 42,000 refugees sought safety there.

Jan Egeland, the UN chief for emergency relief says he was shocked by the extent of civilian damage inflicted by Israeli attacks. He says that "block after block" of civilians housing was destroyed in the attacks and that the attacks are a "disproportionate response" and in "violation of international humanitarian law." He says that they need safe access to help refugees but that Israel is refusing to provide it. UK Foreign Minister Kim Howells said that Israel is targeting "the entire Lebanese nation."

Israel has warned people to leave villages but destroyed surrounding roads making it difficult for the refugees to get out before further attacks. Meanwhile Israel is pressuring the Bush regime to speed up the delivery of more bombs, bombs they "purchase" with several billion dollars in internationl welfare from the US government which they receive every year! Total US aid to Israel over the years is hard to calculate as much of it is hidden in various programs but it is safe to say that it now totals over $100 billion. This is a primary reason that when Israel attacks refugee convoys that anger gets directed at America. About half the funds taken from US taxpyers is used directly to finance weapons, including weapons of mass destruction. Israeli groups spend over $15 million per year to lobby the US Congress to press for more hand outs.

Economist Alvin Rabushka, of the Hoover Institution, has pointed out that this aid also pushes Israel down a socialist path, something that is directly harming Israelis. He notes that the massive welfare payment "has supplied between 10 and 15 percent of Israel’s gross domestic product and has amounted to the equivalent of some 20 percent of government spending. This sum is sufficient to bail out or prop up every money-losing socialist institution in the country, provide hefty pay raises for government employees, and even leave some money left over for investment." He believes that aid has lowered Israeli economic growth and made everyone poorer. It certainly has made Americans poorer.

Hezbollah will no doubt be hurt by these attacks militarily in the short run while only increasing public support for them. But any harm to the group will be temporary as Israeli attacks on civilians will replenish the ranks of Hezbollah with new recruits. The attacks will weaken the Lebanese government, one of the few in the area that is sympathetic to the US. And America will face increased hatred from the Arab population of the world for funding this assault. Like the pathetically planned and incompetently carried out invasion of Iraq what Israel is doing now will only make the situation worse.

Another freedom snuffed out by Bush

For as long as any of can remember an American could leave the US for someplace like Mexico or Canada without state permission. No passport required. You only needed some form of identification to return home but not a passport. That freedom is about to be snuffed out by that great (sarcasm drips here profusely) advocate of limited government: George Bush, king of the world. The Duluth News Tribune reports: "Starting Dec. 31, a passport will be required for travel by sea or air to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Central and South America. By Dec. 31, 2007, a passport will be needed for all international travel, including land crossings such as the Tijuana, Mexico, border."

Thousands of people travel daily between the US and Canada and between Mexico and the US. Now with passport requirements the horrific lines will only grow worse. More and more people can expect intemperate, authoritarian border brown shirts to order them about. Of course this is to protect America against foreign terrorists --- who already need passports to enter the US. The only people effected by new law will be Americans not foreign terrorists. Ever since 9/11 every time Bush says he is doing something to stop terrorists he strips Americans of rights. Bin Laden is still free but if you are a law abiding American you will not longer be allowed to leave the country without government papers giving you permission to do so.

Here is what is so rich about this restriction. It is part of something called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Now this is not a "travel initiative" at all. It is exactly the opposite --- a measure that restricts travel. But this is typical of the Orwellian double speak of the Bush regime. A measure which guts the Bill of Rights is called the Patriot Act and a measure that restricts free travel by Americans is called a "travel initiative". But then putting theocratic Islamists into power in Iraq is called "liberating" the country.

By the way this is also a money making scheme for the regime. It costs about $100 to get a passport and if you need it soon it will cost another $60 on top of that.

What is fascinating is that so many conservatives and Objectivists don't seem to comprehend that every move Bush makes strips Americans of more freedoms. Americans are becoming the most regulated people on the planet with hardly a peep out of them. This measure takes away the right to leave America without a document giving you permission to leave. And even public buses, and of course flights, now require you to present some form of government documentation proving who you are before you are allowed to travel. You can't drive without a state permit and if a police officer demands ID from you when you are walking if you don't produce it, or have it, you can be arrested.

It seems to me that this is just another warning shot letting people know that perhaps the time to get out of the US is now. Hopefully I'm wrong. I pray I'm wrong. I fear I'm right.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

War and the Friedmans

Certainly the most famous libertarian alive today is Milton Friedman. And his partner in life and ideas has been his wife of almost 70 years, Rose. Recently the Friedman's were interviewed and Milton, although opposed to the Bush big spending plans, said that "What's really killed the Republican Party isn't spending, it's Iraq. As it happenes, I was opposed to going into Iraq from the beginning. I think it was a mistake, for the simple reason that I do not believe the United States of America ought to be involved in aggression."

Rose dissented saying: "This was not aggression." Milton responded: "It was aggression. Of course it was!"

Ilya Somin, on The Volokh Conspiracy, said: "The dissension in the Friedman family would be unimportant if not for the fact that it mirros a broader split within the libertarian community over the war." My view is that this is overstated. I don't find the split to be as broad as some think. This is not to say that some libertarians or libertarian-leaning conservatives have not favoured the war. Some have. But among the libertarians I deal with the pro-war faction is a clear minority. And most of them seem to be people who are closer to being Objectivists than being libertarians.

Certainly most libertarians I know, and almost 100% of those I respect, oppose the war. And while the Friedman household looks evenly split one should not forget the opinions of David Friedman, their son, who teaches in both the law and business departments at Santa Clara University. David posted a comment on Volokh Conspiracy site saying he is an anti-war libertarian as well. He wrote: "My basic argument in favor of a generally noninterventionist foreign policy, sketched later in the same book, is that a badly done interventionist policy is usually worse than no interventionist policy. Instead of getting other people to fight your wars with their blood and treasure you fight theirs with yours. Our foreign policy is being run by the U.S. government, so I expect it to be run badly. The Bush administration has given me no reason to change that opinion. "

He said a second reason for opposing the war is "that war tends to increase government power." True. It does increase it and it also offers a pretext for the power hungry to grab more power. George Bush has done that in spades. David notes that a counter argument offered is "the lesson of Munich" but he notes that "at the time of Munich, England and France had an interventionist foreign policy -- that was why Hitler had to get their permission to annex Czechosolovaki. Munich was an example, not of a non-interventionist policy, but of n incompetently run interventionist policy." David also said he was recently surprised to learn that "Hitler's first attempt to annex Austria was blocked, not by France or England but by Mussolini..." Also true. In fact France and England basically encouraged Hitler who was not prepared for the venture and surprised by their encouragement. (Anyone wishing to read one book on the topic ought to make use of A.J.P. Taylor's The Origins of the Second World War.)

And for good measure we shouldn't forget the views of Patri Friedman, son of David, grandson of Milton and Rose. He notes that the only valid argument for attacking Iraq was that it was a threat to the US but says this doesn't hold up. "Iraq had no WMD's, almost nothing to do with 9/11, and no real capability to hurt the USA."

Patri also gave a basically Hayekian argument against the war as well: "I also find it laughable that libertarians, who normally believe the government is notoriously incompetent at even simple tasks, are calling for it to handle a massive, complex, difficult, multilayered task like eliminating worldwide terrorism. I wish that poverty could be eliminated - but I don't trust the government to do it. Same for infectious disease, lack of education, and all the other things that make the world an imperfect place. Why is terrorism any different? Is it really so much worse than the other problems facing the world that its worth putting resources into this horribly wasteful, inefficient, plodding piece of crap that is government?"

So the Friedman household is not quite as divided as the interview indicated. Of the four Friedmans prone to make public comments on various issues three are opposed to the war and one was in favour.

Judge orders consent.

Starchild Abraham Cherrix is not a lucky 16-year-old. He has an aggressive case of Hodgkin's disease. A year ago he had chemotherapy and things improved but now the disease is back and worse. He decided to ignore the best medical advice offered and seek out some "alternative" therapy in Mexico based on herbal remedies and organic food.

There is zero evidence that the alternative treatment has any validity. As far as I am concerned Mr. Cherrix has basically choosen a death sentence. But he replies: "This is my body that I'm supposed to take care of. I should have the right to tell someone what I want to do with this body. I studied. I did research. I came to this conclusion that the chemotherapy was not the route I wanted to take."

Fair enough. It was not a good study. It was not accurate research but it is his body and it is his decision. The courts ruled otherwise. They deemed that the boy is not capable to make the decision nd his parents are negligent in not seeking the best treatment. Now it is hard to face that logic. I do believe that the boy has indicated he is not capable of reaching an informed decision based on the fact that he clearly made a wrong decision. But I think he is capable of making a right decision. That is he has the mental faculties to make the decision and if he is wrong he must live (or in this case, die) with it.

Precisely what Judge Jesse Demps ruled is not out yet as the judge sealed most of it. When the boy sought out alternative therphy a social worker got involved and took the case to court in order to force the boy into treatment.

I have real problems with Cherrix's decision but not with his right to make a decision especially since his parents support his decision. Personally I don't put much stock in their ability to think rationally --- after all they named the boy Starchild. But I should note he has the sense to prefer to be called Abraham.

When a child is young and clearly incapable of weighing options rationally, and the parents refuse proper medical treatment, I don't have a major problem with the state taking temporary custody in order to save a child's life. And if the treatment offered has an established record of helping I consider it an open and shut case.

Normally the treatment Cherrix is undergoing works well. But in this case it didn't work well for him the first time and thus has a reduced likelihood of working this time. So the outcome is a bit more up in the air. And Cherrix is not so young as to be unable to think rationally even if he failed to do so here. Nor is this simply the parents imposing something on a child. It is his decision and his parents support it.

So I conclude the court was in error here. Do I think it a dangerous precident which puts the custodial rights of all parents at risk? No. This ruling does not break any new ground. The law still stands as it has for a very long time. I do think it was a borderline case but I still think the law should have sided with Cherrix as I believe the evidence lies more in his favor to make this decision.

I hope the chemo works this time. I fear that if it does the so-called alternative theraphy will receive all the credit and if it doesn't work the chemo will sustain all the blame. Whatever the outcome I think Mr. Cherrix should have been given the right to make his own decision.

I find the courts baffling and inconsistent. Certainly if Cherrix were a pregnant 16 year old girl the right to choose an abotion would be assumed. If the 6'1" Cherrix killed someone in a vicious way I have no doubt he would be tried as an adult. In much of the US he is deemed capable of dropping out of school, capable of operating a motor vehicle endangering the lives of others, and able to consent to sex. In a few months time he could join the Marines and get sent to Iraq to fight and perhaps die. So given the realities I think he should think he ought to have this right to decide for himself.

One of the really strange concepts from the case comes from a news story that reported: "On, Friday, Judge Jesse E. Demps of Accomack County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court agreed with Social Services and said Abraham's parents were to deliver him to [the hospital] by 1 p.m. Tuesday and give there consent to whatever treatment the hospital deems necessry."

It would seem impossible to order consent. Consent by definition requires free choice and the Judge in this case has denied the parents free choice. If a man ordered a woman to consent to sex or face a punishment it would still be deemed rape. Any judge who thinks he can order consent really ought not sit on the bench.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Destruction, bought and paid for by the American taxpayer.

This blog is no fan of Pat Buchanan. And Pat is no friend of freedom. He is a rather authoritarian conservative. But it is said that even a stopped clock is right twice a day and sometimes Pat gets it right.

Israel has been planning an attack on Lebanon for sometime now and was just waiting for the excuse. Of course with Bush in the White House Israel feels emboldened because Bush has shown that any tactic, no matter how offensive to Western liberal values, is acceptable. And the war hawks in Israel feel the Bush presidency has unleashed them to do what they want whenever they want.

Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and have told Israel that they want a prisoner exchange. Israel refuses to negotiate the return of the soldiers and instead chose to slaughter hundreds of people who had nothing to do with the capture. Israel justifies there intentional infliction of destruction to innocent civilians by saying that the Lebanese government has to disarm Hezbollah. But Buchanan notes that in 18 years of occupation of Lebanon by Israel they were unable to disarm Hezbollah and they have the best weapons American tax money can buy. So Israel, when it held Lebanon, could not disarm Hezbollah but it insists that a much weaker Lebanese government accomplish that goal or face, as one top military officer in Israel put it, having Israel "turn back the clock in Lebanon 20 years."

Buchanan said Israel has the right to defend itself. Yet he also points out that "what Israel is doing is imposing deliberate suffering on civilians, collective punishment on innocent people, to force them to do something they are powerless to do: disarm the gunmen among them. Such a policy violates international law and comports neither with our values nor our interests." Tom Palmer, of the Cato Institute wrote, "The Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure throughout the country and the destruction of the lives of innocents are simply unconscionable."

It is often overlooked that Israel intentional destroys the capacity of other governments to do what they demand and then uses their non-compliance as an excuse for further attacks. When the PLO was unable to stop Hamas the Israeli authorities destroyed the Palestinian government's infrastructure starting with the police force --- the very people who would need to stop Hamas. To me this is an indication that Israel simply does not want peace and as long as she lives off of American welfare she had no incentive to rethink her policies. Foreign aid has always been destructive, at least more destructive than beneficial. But in the case of Israel the handouts from American taxpayers only encourages more war, conflict and death. Israel needs the incentive to moderate and only the cessation of all American government handouts will do that.

The airports of Lebanon are being destroyed. So too are the highways, bridges, fuel tanks, etc. Israel is doing what it said it would do -- set economic progress there back 20 years just as Lebanon was starting to prosper again. By destroying the infrastructure of Lebanon Israel is making Hamas stronger not weaker and making the Lebanese government, which is pro-American, weaker. It is fuelling the forces of Islamic fundamentalism and undoing one of the few democratic nations in the Arab world. I have a hard time believing that Israel wants peace. I suspect the hundreds of innocent civilians killed by Israel, and the tens of thousands of grieving relatives will hold anything but contempt for Israel after this. I have a hard time faulting them for that. Not now.

Wingnuts on the Right.

One of the typical theocon candidates for the Republican Party is Jason Atkinson who wants to be Governor of Oregon. Now there is nothing to bring Atkinson to the attention of this blog except part of his "war on crime" package that he promises voters. He says that as governor he will "reverse Oregon's reputation for being 'terrorist friend,' and will use his office to insure all Oregon cities work closely with federal authorities to share information about potential terrorist threats."

Now who knew that Oregon was "terrorist friendly"? This may explain why George Bush can't even capture Osama bin Laden. Instead of looking in Afghanistan (if they are even bothering) he should be checking out the Starbucks in Portland.

I suspect that "terrorist friendly" is used by the authoritarian Right to describe any state that won't trample the Bill of Rights ala George Bush.

Or were there a series of terror attacks in Oregon that I didn't hear about?

I doubt it. It just sounds like another rabid Republican trying to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11 so he can trash the Bill of Rights. But to show how sincere Mr. Atkinson is about weeding out terrorists we have compiled this photo montage of his efforts.

Here Candidate Atkinson is seen flying over Oregon keeping an ever vigilant eye out for bin Laden. At this point we see him double checking that there are no terrorists in the back of the plane. The plane flys in circles as a search pattern but then it must as it only has a right wing and no left wing.

No house is ignored in Atkinson's extensive door to door search to root out all terrorist friendly Oregonians. In this case the home owners were shown to be loyal, God-fearing Republicans and Atkinson is crossing them off his list of potential suspects.

Someone's Gran or terrorist? Only extensive question by Jason Atkinson will allow Oregonians to sleep sound at night knowing that Atkinson and God are ever vigilant.

The chair looks empty but only to the untrained eye. To those dedicated to stamping out the terrorist friendly reputation of Oregon this chair could be weapon of mass destruction.

Every potential terrorist must be interrogated. Such vigilance will make sure that they don't retire in Oregon but move on to California where they belong.

It may appear like a normal fish to you and me. But Jason Atkinson knows that in terrorist friendly Oregon it could be the means to deliver deadly poisons to the water supply. In the new Oregon of Atkinson no fish will go uninvestigated in order to put an end to the terrorist attacks in Oregon. (That you haven't heard of any such attacks is just proof how the media is controlled by Godless liberals.)

When this pheasant couldn't name the winner of the World Series it was deemed to be either a terrorist or an illegal immigrant, both of whom need the stern hand of the law applied to them. Here Candidate Atkinson shows what will happen to any suspect who can't prove their innocence. Justice will be firm and swift.

No terrorism here but those shoes have the crew from Queer Eye cringing in fear.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The march of the neocons.

It sometimes seems as if the neocons and the theocons are in a race with each other to see who can destroy America first. And I can't really tell which is ahead at the moment. Maybe they are neck to neck on this one.

The theocons sometimes tend to be more petty and small minded. They are concerned about how you live, what your believe, what views you express, who you sleep with. They are constantly snooping and prying into the affairs of others, they see themselves as God's busybodies eternally sniffing out sin. So we get assassine issues like the anti-marriage amendments and symbolic attempts to ban flag burning or to forbid the courts from ruling about whether the words "under God" can be still kept in the socialist pledge of allegiance. I suspect they concentrate on such minutia because the theocons tend to have small minds.

But the neocons are thinkers. They are endowed with what Hayek called the fatal conceit, that desire to mould the world. They are the central planners for the new century and have their five year plans to save the world. These are the type of people who championed Marxism, fascism, and Nazism. It is no coincidence that so many of them were in fact Marxists not that many years ago. They believe they have superior intellects to the rest of us and that with the right amount of force they can save the world from itself. That such hubris tends to lead to disaster totally escapes them.

The International Herald Tribune ran an op-ed concerning the neo-con/Bushian central plan to remake the Middle East. It noted: "...Washington's ideological hubris and practical incompetence have succeeded only in setting the region ablaze, awakening extremist and militant voices." We shouldn't forget that one reason Iran is getting uppity in the way it is dealing with the world is because the US, through it intervention in Iraq toppled their main opponent, Saddan Hussein, and in US financed elections replaced him with allies of the Iranians. The editorial concluded by noting that Bush's "errant attempt to impose democracy through force has backfired, only stirring up a hornet's nest and risking a region-wide crisis.
Iraq lies in ruins, Islamist forces are strengthening, and the Palestine-Israel conflict threatens to become a full-scale war. Even more ominously, the Middle East is being polarized along sectarian lines, empowering an Iran with nuclear ambitions. The mistakes of the Bush administration are coming home to roost." Or as John Lennon is repudiated to say: "Everything the government touches turns to shit."

Anyone familiar with the history of central planning can tell you that the plans always go astray but the planners, when they notice, never cease meddling. The solution, they will tell you, is even more planning. Of course that leads to more unintended consequences which need resolution through even more planning. This then is what Hayek called "The Road to Serfdom."

Gene Healey at the Cato Institute quotes the head cheerleader for war, Bill Kristol, as complaining in 1996 that the US didn't have an enemy to fight. Kristol, along with co-author Robert Kegan said: "The ubiquitous post Cold War question -- where is the threat? -- is thus misconceived. In world in which peace and American security depend on American power and the will to use it, the main threat the United States faces now and in the future is its own weakness." And Micahel Ledeen, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute is quoted saying: "Every ten years of so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business." Nice people these neocon central planners.

And now Kristol is itching like crazy to have a new war this time with the enemy his policies emoboldened, Iran. He seems to think that "the right of use of targeted military force" will encourage the people of Iran to overthrow their government. I suspect not. In fact I believe the war in Iraq solidified support for the Iraqi regime which had been quite unpopular. The quickest way to get people to defend their own government is to attack it.

Just remember what happened with 9/11. The United States was being ruled by an upopular, dim-witted, theocratically inclined authoritarian with visions of grandeur. He was widely disliked and with good reason. The attacks take place, he sits dumbstruck in a kindergarten class for what seemed like eternity and then hightailed it into seclusion to hide. Only when assured he was safe did he come out to make some incoherent, garbled speeches. And his popularity soared. It soared not because he had suddenly become a leader but because the American people felt better pretending that he had become a leader.

It took several more years before the public again recognized that the man in the White House is moronic, incompetent and dangerous. If an attack could revive Bush's image it surely could make even President Ahmadinejad of Iran look good. A military incursion into Iran won't solve the problems that the invasion of Iraq created anymore than a new five year plan solved the problems created by the old five year plans.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Even when right he gets it wrong.

George Bush has been a president who never met a law he didn’t like or spending bill for that matter. For six years he has infested the White House with his dogmatic, Christianist agenda. He has made government bigger but not better --- just bigger --- much bigger. He is a believer in total government with all powers centered in himself. Why himself? Because he believes he is ordained by God to remake the world, a delusion that is annoying in most but dangerous in the few who have actual power.

Now the Imperial President has finally discovered that he has the power to veto legislation. And what did he use it on? It wasn’t another one of the Pork Barrel, big spending bills pushed by the Republicans. He loves Pork, he loves spending. It wasn’t to veto some new bill reducing the power and scope of government. He loves powerful, ambitious government. He is the most consistent advocate of big government to sit in the White House since, since... well actually he may be the most consistent advocate of big government to ever sit in the White House. He is certainly giving FDR a run for his money in that race.

If Bush didn’t drool his religion all over the place he could easily be mistaken for a member of the Old Left.

What onerous piece of legislation did Bush finally find to oppose? It was bill that would loosen federal funding of stem cell research. Now I would not support the bill but not for the reason given by Big Government George. I don’t think the federal government has a legitimate function in funding research. That is not what government ought to be about. Big government advocates, however, what government in everything. And so does Bush. He just hates the research. It is not out of a principle of limited government that this veto was born.

Bush vetoed the bill because it violates his Christianist agenda. The theocon President drooled on about how the law would “support the taking of innocent human life.” Rubbish and nonsense. Stem cells are not human life.

Bush displayed young children saying: “These boys and girls are not spare parts.” Nope. They were fully developed, living, breathing human beings. He didn’t hold up a stem cell. He held up a child. But in his theology a cell is the same thing as human being. He claimed the children “remind up of what is lost when embryos re destroyed in the name of research. They remind us that we all begin our lives as a small collection of cells.”

Of course we know that every human cell is potentially a human being. Any cell can be cloned into a human being but that does not mean that every cell is a human being.

The theocrat in Bush is what came out. There is no Reagan here. In fact Nancy Reagan was lobbying in favour of the bill. And even Republicans, realizing that their hobnobbing with the Religious Right is now turning into a liability, had supported the bill though almost all the 37 Senators who opposed the law where Republicans.

It is no surprise that the one thing that Bush got right was done for the wrong reasons. The reasoning behind his veto is what makes Bush so dangerous a president -- he is unthinkingly behind a theocratic concept of government.