Sunday, May 31, 2009

Abortion Doctor Gunned Down at Church

Expect all pro-lifers to be tarred by the evil act of one man.

The gunman, Scott Roeder, was a member of the Freemen, a radical anti-government group. He was convicted in 1996 on possession of bomb parts.

Other expectations:

1. All pro-lifers will be proclaimed happy Dr. George Tiller is dead, regardless of their statements.

2. The report on "rightwing extremism" to be cited many times.

3. All pro-life protests only lack the will to be this violent.

4. All tea party supporters will be proclaimed violent.

My condolences to Tiller's family, and particularly his wife, who was singing in the choir when the event occurred. I cannot imagine anything worse than watching your spouse gunned down in cold blood.

Good video here (excluding the first part, since we know who did this now):

Typical moonbat responsehere.

H/T: Jill Stanek.

UPDATE: Another view on Tiller's murder.

UPDATE x2: An analysis that should make both sides uncomfortable.
While the shooters in such cases obviously ought to be arrested and tried, it's less clear what the responsibility is of anyone who believes that Dr. Tiller was not just a murderer but an especially heinous one. The reality is that in past incidents killers of abortionists have not so much been acting from considered moral positions but out of insanity, like John Salvi, and/or, have been so indiscriminate as to threaten the innocent themselves, as Eric Rudolph. Were we on the juries considering what to do with such actors it would be a simple enough matter to determine that they needed to be locked away.

Suppose though a Valkyrie scenario, where a decent man or men, for noble motives, acted so as to stop an evil man and try to save lives? Wouldn't we be obligated to act as nullifying jurors refusing to vote for a conviction?

And given the very real possibility that the climate of violence against abortion providers had a salutary effect on the willingness to provide the procedure can the life-saving component of such violent acts be dismissed out of hand?

Ideas, as conservatives are fond of noting, have consequences, and we need to be honest about confronting the consequences of our own even if the Left won't do likewise. Dr. Tiller believed some of us should be killed for the good of others. It is quite possible that he died today because someone agreed with him on the principle, but differed on the application. His is a death that raises difficult questions for all of us.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

No Freedom of Speech on Porkapalooza


Well? What did you expect from a guy who can't take criticism?

Ted Rall: Obama Should Resign Now

I've been waiting for the unhinged Left to call for Obama to resign/be impeached. The TOTUS has done plenty to enrage both Right and Left; his staggeringly expensive "stimulus" bill, ordering the closing of Guantanamo Bay (and flip-flop thereon), his handling (or not) of North Korea, his extreme and urgent call for rushing through a myriad of huge changes to the American economy (from cap and trade to car emissions to capping executive compensation to health care "reform"), and the controversial release of certain memos (and the redacting of same). So, it's with a little amusement that I read this column by Ted Rall, wherein he froths at the mouth that Obama should resign.

From health care to torture to the economy to war, Obama has reneged on pledges real and implied. So timid and so owned is he that he trembles in fear of offending, of all things, the government of Turkey. Obama has officially reneged on his campaign promise to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. When a president doesn’t have the nerve to annoy the Turks, why does he bother to show up for work in the morning?

Obama is useless. Worse than that, he’s dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now — before he drags us further into the abyss.

Oh, dear. When an Alinsky-ite like Obama pisses off Ted Rall, what is left for him? This will surely provide cover for certain critics to argue about Obama's "centrist" leanings (a load of what Dana calls "bovine feces" if there ever was one), but such political machinations are nothing of the sort. Obama feels free to stretch the influence of the federal government in all sorts of new directions when he has the opportunity. The only place Obama feels any tugs to the right is in the area of national security, where he knows his left-leaning rhetoric of the campaign is unrealistic and dangerous in a world filled with people who can and will fly airplanes into American office buildings just to kill a lot of civilians.

But for Rall, that is precisely the problem. Rall is furious about Obama's proposed "preventive detentions."
In practice, Obama wants to let government goons snatch you, me and anyone else they deem annoying off the street.

Well, that's not quite true. The government might force you into bankruptcy and give away your assets, but I don't believe we're headed for jack-booted thugs banging on your door.

Admittedly, if the feds were to go around rounding up American citizens and disappearing them (as leftwingers hysterically accused the Bush administration of desiring to do, but showing no evidence of same), I would probably be more alarmed. But that's not what Obama is talking about. He's actually trying to figure out what to do with the dangerous criminals rounded up in Iraq and Afghanistan who can't be released but can't be charged, either (see the Uighurs for the most pressing example).
In democracies with functioning legal systems, it is assumed that people against whom there is a “lack of evidence” are innocent. They walk free. In countries where the rule of law prevails, in places blessedly free of fearful leaders whose only concern is staying in power, “tainted evidence” is no evidence at all. If you can’t prove that a defendant committed a crime — an actual crime, not a thoughtcrime — in a fair trial, you release him and apologize to the judge and jury for wasting their time.

Rall's naive and law enforcement approach to terrorism is what got us here in the first place. The problem with law enforcement is that it typically swings into effect only after a crime is committed, not before. Even Obama realizes that sacrificing American lives because we want to wait for terrorists to incinerate us is an unacceptable risk, either politically or morally. Rall may be more concerned about the rights of the accused terrorist, but most of us (even Barack Obama) recognize that preventing another 9/11 is more important than allowing thugs caught on the field of battle to be freed to attack us again.

Texas Dems Gain Support from Houston Chronicle

Great post at Lone Star Times on the gutless lying and sleezeball behavior by Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg.

Falkenberg outright lies about procedures Republicans used to bring the voter ID bill out of committee where it could be voted on. Best part of the post is this chart which shows wide voter ID support from Texans:

Democrats talked the bill to death, complaining that the bill would prevent lots of eligible voters from voting. That's just a lot of malarky, since legal voters would still be able to vote. It's the illegal ones we want to eliminate.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shutting Down the Marketplace of Ideas?

Muslim Group Shuts Down Conservative Conference

The manager of a prominent Nashville hotel cancelled a contract with a conservative foundation to hold a conference this weekend on radical Islam, apparently after learning that the group would feature a keynote address by controversial Dutch parliamentarian and filmmaker, Geert Wilders.

Muslim groups succeeded in preventing Wilders from screening “Fitna,” his 15-minute movie on radical Islam, in the House of Lords this February, on claims it was insulting to Muslims, and dogged him during a recent U.S. tour as well.

Thomas A. Negri, managing director of Loew’s Vanderbilt Hotel and Office complex in Nashville, told Newsmax on Wednesday that he had taken the extraordinary step of cancelling the conference at the last minute “for the health, safety and well-being of our guests and employees.”...

In a written statement to the conference organizers, Negri said that the hotel had “not received any information related to a specific security threat concerning this event,” and declined to provide any justification for cancelling it at the last minute.

One of the conference organizers told Newsmax on Wednesday that the group was considering a lawsuit against Negri and the Loew’s hotel chain for “unlawful breach of contract.”

Negri also serves on the board of advisors of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, TIRRC, an activist group that states its mission “is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice” and “defend their rights.”

The group boasts of having helped to defeat an “English only” amendment this January that would have required all Nashville government communications to be in English.

They'll win the breach of contract claim, but the damage is done.

Wrong Sotomayor Opposition

With Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, there are reasonable concerns about her judicial philosophy and then there are stupid and sexist concerns.

(G. Gordon) LIDDY: Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then.

Good God. Can people please come up with an argument that doesn't sound like the kind of moronic crap girls heard in seventh grade?

Interesting take on language used to describe assertiveness in women and men here.

UPDATE: Republican Hispanic strategists are worried about how these boneheaded attacks will affect their outreach to Latinos. And it's no wonder.

Recession Ending--Huh?

How the hell can MSNBC spin 6.78 million unemployed into an end to the recession? By burying that information under some pretty tepid upswinging stats, of course:

(T)he Commerce Department reported Thursday that orders for durable goods like appliances, heavy machinery and aircraft posted their biggest one-month gain in 16 months, up 1.9 percent from March. But March orders were revised downward to a decline of 2.1 percent, leaving the two-month total at nearly a wash...

Other positive signs this week have come from the housing sector. Sales of new homes rose a tiny 0.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000 from a downwardly revised rate of 351,000 in March...

Sales of existing homes, a far larger part of the market, were up 2.9 percent in April, a trade group reported Wednesday. But prices are still showing steep year-over-year declines for both new and existing homes.

The median sales price of new homes sold last month, at $209,700, was down 14.9 percent from a year earlier.

Emphasis mine.

But down in the bowels of this story, we get the unemployment news, which is all bad.
But the number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits rose to 6.78 million — the largest total on records dating back to 1967 and the 17th straight record week, according to data released Thursday. The figures for continuing claims lag behind initial claims by one week.

What is wrong with this reporting? Liberals will tell you that they aren't "talking up" the economy, but I can't help but wonder how these stories would be presented if George W. Bush were still president.

The bottom line is that nearly 4 million jobs have been lost since Obama became president, and there doesn't seem to be any end to the shedding of jobs in this economy. No matter how MSM spin this story, the number of unemployed keeps rising.

UPDATE: For those of you arguing that the recession is ending, it wouldn't be because of Obama's stimulus, anyway.

The Right Kind of Minority

This post expresses something I always think whenever I hear the "compelling" story of someone we're supposed to admire who started life in poverty but ended up getting an Ivy League education and a marvelous career.

Like my reader, and I'm sure a lot of other Americans, I get mighty annoyed by the unspoken implication in a lot of commentary that anyone not a member of a Protected Minority must have grown up in a twelve-bedroom lakeside mansion and been chauffered off to prep school with a silver spoon in his mouth. Judge Sotomayor was raised in public housing? So was I. Her mother was a nurse working late shifts? So was mine. When did white working poor people disappear off the face of the earth? Where are the eager listeners to their "compelling stories"?

Nobody cares about the white working poor's "compelling stories." If you're white, you don't overcome adversity, discrimination or poverty. You were full of racist horseshit for having the audacity to think you struggled to succeed. Ugh.

O'Reilly vs. Hot Air

The other night, Bill O'Reilly confused blog posts with comments with regards to the popular conservative site Hot Air.

Michelle Malkin and crew were understandably upset by this, and it showed how little O'Reilly understands the whole blogging thing that he confused the two. It's one thing to point out that the sorts of regular commenters one gets can be a reflection on the sort of blog one runs, but no blogger is responsible for what commenters say.

Last night, O'Reilly apologized for his error, then proceeded to lecture Michelle Malkin and the Hot Air crew for not policing the comments better. Allahpundit responds by saying such back-checking wouldn't be cost effective, but I think a better argument is that people should be allowed to make fools of themselves (see Jeromy Brown's attempts at legal analysis for a terrific example) on the web without much interference. It's one thing if the person says truly vile things, but if someone wants to play the Hussein card, then that's their problem.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On the Lighter Side, Part 2

100 best movie lines in 200 seconds. Stolen from Ann Althouse.

Wasn't She Paying Attention?

Obama: Buyer's Remorse

Admittedly, I was one of the moderate conservatives who was wooed by Obama during his PR campaign to become the country's next president. Sadly, even though I was still unsure of my vote until the week before the election, I know better now. I truly had no idea he would turn out to be the radical tax and spend liberal he's revealed. Since the beginning of his presidency, Obama seems more interested in making policies and decisions that grab headlines than those in the best interests of the country. The announcement of his whopping $3 trillion budget, trailing the $800 billion bank bailout, was shocking and yet the media seemed to rally around him. The president wants to do everything at one time, national healthcare, economy, taxes (wealth redistribution), clean energy, infrastructure, education and more. He acts very king-like, expecting Congress to endorse everything he floats their way...

It's not like she wasn't warned that this was the man she was electing. And he has to try to get everything now because he won't have the same cooperation from Congressional Democrats in 2010 as we head into the midterms. If Republicans win enough seats, he won't get any of the things he wants after that.

Hugging Is the New Handshake

I had to laugh at this article on the teenage trend du jour: hugging.

There is so much hugging at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, N.J., that students have broken down the hugs by type:

There is the basic friend hug, probably the most popular, and the bear hug, of course. But now there is also the bear claw, when a boy embraces a girl awkwardly with his elbows poking out.

There is the hug that starts with a high-five, then moves into a fist bump, followed by a slap on the back and an embrace.

There’s the shake and lean; the hug from behind; and, the newest addition, the triple — any combination of three girls and boys hugging at once.

Every generation has its particular greetings and this generation likes to hug. Of course, as the mother of a teenage girl, I'm not too keen for boys to be hugging all over my daughter. Even if girls see it as platonic, virtually every man I've talked to says boys hug cute girls because they're girls.

It's funny watching the adults trying to tamp down the hugging thing, but hugging will die out for them once they enter the work force where they'll discover the term "sexual harassment." Until then, it seems like a funny thing to call a "trend."

Enemies List

What is it with Democrats and enemies lists? We all know about Richard Nixon's famous list, but it seems like Democrats are the ones always wielding the power of the presidency to crush their GOP enemies.

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton had hundreds of FBI files secreted away, many dossiers on high ranking Republicans. Now, the cherry-picking of Republican donors for car dealership closings is raising some debate.

For all that George Bush was supposedly shredding the Constitution and taking away our civil liberties, there didn't seem to be much in the way of political payback to Democrats. Elections have consequences, indeed.

UPDATE: More on the partisan slant of dealership closings here.

UPDATE x2: Liberals say there's no there there. But if stats don't lie, we have to wonder why 25% of the closing dealerships aren't owned by Democrats.

UPDATE x3: The Other McCain has an interesting take on what Dealergate says about the conservative approach to the MSM.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Study in Contrasts

Remember when one's Catholicism was a big deal when a person was nominated to the Supreme Court? There were even stories about the influence of a Catholic majority on the court (the scare quote of this story is in the headline; the story itself is really fairly objective). There were even concerns that seating Catholics on the Supreme Court would mean other groups didn't get represented (horrors!)

After Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said that women, Latinos and people of "other religions, not to mention nonbelievers" would be underrepresented on the court, William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, quickly fired back.

"Smeal didn't whine when Jewish nominee Stephen Breyer was slated to join Jewish Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. No, it's only when we have too many practicing Catholics that people like her complain," he said.

Well, no, Smeal didn't complain. She probably agreed with this cartoon, as well:

But we aren't hearing a lot of talk about nominee Sonia Sotomayor's Catholicism, either. Maybe Smeal will be assured that a Latina Catholic is acceptable, since she's not just a Catholic. Or maybe liberals in general (and feminists in particular) aren't worried that Sotomayor's faith will have any influence whatsoever on her judicial philosophy. My understanding is that Sotomayor hasn't dealt with a lot of abortion cases, so maybe liberals take that to mean she's pro-choice. Or it could just be that the court is already a quasi-5-4 status on abortion, anyway.

It's only been 24 hours or so since Obama's announcement, so, there's plenty of time for liberals start protesting about another Catholic on the Supreme Court. But I don't really expect her Catholicism to be a problem for them.

Special thanks to Chuck, who brought this to my attention.

UPDATE: While looking for liberals' reactions to John Roberts's nomination, I came across this amusing screed by Ted Rall, who swore up and down that Roberts on the court would make abortion all but disappear. Four years later and we haven't had Armaggedon yet.

UPDATE x2: Here's the first fear-mongering non-story I've seen about a "super majority" of Catholics on the Supreme Court. The money quote:
But Sotomayor, who is said to attend church for family events, may not be easily lumped together with the Court's other five Catholics: John Roberts Jr., Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr.

Emphasis mine. Translation: she's not a real Catholic, so we don't have to worry about her.

UPDATE x3: What we need is transparency. Just like with the interrogation memos.

UPDATE x4: Oh, noes! Could Sotomayor be a closet pro-lifer? I don't believe it for a minute, but it's funny watching pro-abortion supporters act uncomfortable about it, particularly since Sotomayor is a woman and a Hispanic! Double bonus! Supposedly, Obama didn't ask her about abortion. Yeah, riiight.

Elections Have Consequences

Texas Democrats kill voter ID bill.

Early Summer Boredom at Iowa Liberal

You have to laugh at the clowns from time to time, but this supposed "smackdown" of me is a full clown car of goodies. I hear Jeromy is a newly married man and you'd think he'd have better things to do that waste time and energy pretending he knew what he was talking about, but I guess the missus has better things to do.

What's most amusing is their insistence that "The people who saw heads off don’t worry about legalities" somehow means that *I* don't care about legalities. If someone is going to pretend they "smacked down" another blogger, that person should at least attempt to read what's been written, instead of projecting all the things one wishes had been said.

My answers were deliberately short, which seemed to really bother Jeromy a lot. You could tell he had run out of things to spew when he decided to declare victory and go home. Must be pretty lonely.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Question of the Day

Why does context matter only when liberals say stupid things?

When Fleecing the Rich Goes Bad

Maryland is learning the painful lesson of what happens when rich people decide they don't want to pay their "fair share."

Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it."

One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.

It's unlikely all "the rich" are going to move out of the U.S. when Democrats get around to making them pay "their fair share," but President Obama should learn one thing from Maryland's pain: when people think they're getting fleeced, they will use every loophole available to avoid paying taxes. At lower rates, this doesn't happen.

California Court Upholds Prop 8

The California Supreme Court held today that, yes, voters can actually amend the California Constitution by the initiative and referendum process. Like is outlined in the Constitution.

It's stunning, I know, for a court to decide that a document means what it says, rather than just making up something else. The answer for gay marriage supporters to to create another referendum, get the signatures, put it on the ballot, and get enough voters to vote for it. Again, a stunning observation.

Over at Pandagon the nutroots are going berzerk. The comments are crazy, with poor Dana getting attacked for actually using logic when confronted with indignant harrumphing from the lunatics. Here was my favorite exchange:

Magis wrote:

Then to make matters worse the gays that are married can stay married. But new gay marriages can’t be performed. Is that sane jurisprudence. How can you manage not only to create two disparate classes but create them out of the same subset of people?

Easily enough. If a state allowed first cousin marriage, and then changed the law to restrict marriage to people no more closely ralated than second cousins, the previous first cousin marriages would still be considered legal marriages. Similarly, a state which allows marriages no closer than between second cousins will still not normally fail to consider legal first cousin marriages from another state as legal in the first state.

This has a current application, in that New York state recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries, even though it does not recognize such as being legally performed in New York.

This was an easy enough analogy. All states have some limitations on consanguinity, determining how close relatives can be to get married. It's an analogy that should be easily understood, even by the Pandagonistas. Yet they came unglued that such an analogy would be used!
Before anyone gets upset, I’m sure that Dana isn’t trying to imply that marriages between blood relatives (which are generally considered taboo on the basis of genetic science) are somehow analogous to marriages between same-sex couples (which are generally considered taboo on the basis of superstition). That would be stunningly moronic.

Right, Dana? Just tryin’ to help ya out here.

What was stunningly moronic was that any human being would complain that Dana's analogy was, somehow, a slur against homosexuals, rather than simply an object lesson into how state laws can invalidate certain marriages while recognizing others.

I suppose expecting the Pandagonistas to act normal, as opposed to hysterical ninnies, is expecting too much, since they are incapable of civil behavior under the best of conditions. But attacking Dana? Dana? The man who never tells them to STFU on his own site? Who allows Blubonnet to hijack every comment thread with 9/11 Truther garbage? The guy who doesn't ban reprehensible trolls? It just really shows what's wrong with Pandagon.

Obama Picks Sotomayor for Supreme Court Slot

President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court today, but I just can't work up any outrage over the matter.

In the first place, Sotomayor is not, in fact, the most radical candidate Obama could have picked. She didn't, for example, compare pregnancy with slavery like some other Obama nominees.

But having said that, there are a few problems with the Sotomayor pick. It is disturbing to note that she thinks Latina women make better judges than white men because of their experiences. Or something like that. This line of thinking--that one cannot understand and make judgments without personal experience--is a red herring of the worst sort. I doubt if a white male judge stated that he made better decisions than Latina women because of his life experiences that we would be expected to agree with it.

But unlike some who think Republicans should Bork her, I disagree entirely. Except for some rumors that she has a high rate of being overturned on appeal (I couldn't find evidence supporting this statement), I'm not sure how or why Republicans could come out of such a fight looking better to Hispanics and not being painted as both racists and sexists.

More to the point, unless Sotomayor's "Latinas make better judges" statement is seen as disqualifying, there is no reason for Republicans to fight the appointment. Presidents have the right to nominate what ever type of judge they wish, and traditionally, Republicans have honored this prerogative (unlike Democrats who have require fealty to Roe to consider a candidate fit for the Supreme Court).

Republicans will have to wait until 2010 before they will have much of an opportunity to thwart any Obama judicial appointments, and there's no sense wasting the gunpowder before then.

Twisted Logic

People hate lawyers for good reason. They typically have to deal with lawyers during unpleasant times in life such as divorce, bankruptcy, and death. There are a few less painful times, such as setting up contracts or adopting a child, but, for the most part, lawyers are a real pain in the ass. Especially when they start speaking lawyerese, a.k.a., bullshit.

I often tell people that everybody hates lawyers who use the technicalities of the system until they need a lawyer who knows how to do it well. Such a person is worth hundreds of dollars an hour.

Of course, the only thing people hate more than lawyers are lawyers who become politicians. Then they bring the bullshit factor up exponentially. Have you seen the way laws are written these days? For all the talk of simplifying the law so that laymen can read it, politicians seem bent on making it more complicated, giving them more room for lawyerly arguments.

I was thinking about this when I read about Obama's C-SPAN interview in which he argued that "we're out of money," and the reason is health care costs.

SCULLY: You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?

OBAMA: Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we've made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we've seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.

I suppose Obama's correct taht we're operating in deep deficits not because of health care. We're operating in deep deficits because he and a Democrat-run Congress had to pay off a lot of cronies and spend money they didn't have on things we don't need, all in the name of "stimulating" the economy. As Glenn Reynolds notes, the chart is still true:

And none of that has anything to do with health care costs.

Carney talk like this makes even your average ambulance chaser and political hack look good. How does he say these things with a straight face? This "former law professor" (NOT) should know a tapdance when he sees one, but, I suppose, he's been given a free ride so long by the MSM that he doesn't think anyone will notice this sort of sophistry.

Robert Stacy McCain explains how Obama's deficit spending affects the bond market, which, in a nutshell, ain't happy.

Quote of the Day

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."

--George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

Monday, May 25, 2009

Don't Speak Out?

Evidently, that's what business leaders are saying.

Call it paranoid. Call it smart business. But how can anyone ignore the way the Obama administration attacks those who displease it? After watching what President Obama did to Chrysler's creditors, and his promises of skyrocketing electricity prices and bankrupt power plants, how could any businessman not be concerned?

We were told that George Bush was the dictator we needed to fear, that he was "shredding the Constitution" and "taking away our civil liberties." Yet it's hard to compare treatment of terrorists to the way the POTUS wants to treat ordinary American business owners. You know, the ones that employ people. Except that the President doesn't seem particularly concerned about unemployment.

More at Tigerhawk:

Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress have expressed an intention to intensively regulate, in one fashion or another, virtually the entire private economy. The only defense is to hope that they cannot shoot at all the targets before their political strength begins to wane, so the goal is to keep your business or industry as far down their list as possible. There is an enormous premium on keeping your head down, more than at any time since FDR went to war against American business in the 1930s.

For those who have forgotten what FDR did to American businesses during the Depression, the National Industrial Recovery Act forced businesses to comply with thousands of regulations (such as wage and price controls) and strongarmed whole industries into unionizing. In the famous Schechter Poultry case, the Supreme Court invalidated industrial codes of fairness competition, and that the NIRA ceded too much power to the executive branch.

But Democrats, who love the New Deal, see no problems with the type of "fairness" advocated by government control. Which is why business leaders are concerned.

UPDATE: Thomas Tallis sneers at the idea that business owners are being treated on par with terrorists. The difference, of course, is that business owners haven't attacked the United States. But who can blame company owners for being a little paranoid when the car dealerships which were shuttered gave largely to the GOP?

Wait, Aren't We Against Rendition?

I thought for sure it was torture, but then I saw this and realized that rendition is A-OK with this president!

The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to current and former American government officials.

The change represents a significant loosening of the reins for the United States, which has worked closely with allies to combat violent extremism since the 9/11 attacks but is now pushing that cooperation to new limits.

In the past 10 months, for example, about a half-dozen midlevel financiers and logistics experts working with Al Qaeda have been captured and are being held by intelligence services in four Middle Eastern countries after the United States provided information that led to their arrests by local security services, a former American counterterrorism official said.

"The past 10 months" includes Barack Obama's administration, for the slow kids in the back of the class.

Allahpundit notes that this isn't quite rendition.
A clever move in how it kills two birds with stone, avoiding further headaches for Obama over how to dispose of terrorists in U.S. custody while leaving jihadis in the possession of people willing and able to go the Mancow route for emergency information if need be. But, er, how is this significantly different from rendition? The only difference that I can see is that instead of grabbing these people ourselves and handing them over to Jordanian or Pakistani intel for interrogation, we’re leading their guys to the suspects and letting them take it from there.

Makes sense to me. That way, we don't end up with useless discussions about prosecuting lawyers for giving legal opinions.

On Memorial Day

It Is The Soldier

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

-- Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, United States Marine Corps

H/T: Brothers Judd

The Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate... we can not consecrate... we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government : of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

North Korean Nuclear Claim Draws Global Criticism

Because we know words deter dictators.

President Obama is outraged. That'll stop 'em!

Are liberals going to apologize to John Bolton? Don't hold your breath.

Don Surber has the line on lefty outrage, which reminds me of this (sorry for German subtitles):

Politically Correct Censorship

Interesting article on the problems of santizing the English language. My favorite:

My personal favorite is the use of the term “passing,” instead of calling death what it is. Why must it be labeled as a social faux pas to say an elderly person in a convalescent home recently died? After all, that’s what humans do: die. Why must we refer to death in such euphemistic terms as “passing?” Once again, it seems excessive and untruthful.

Death is uncomfortable, but pretending people don't die, but merely "pass" is ridiculous and, in a sense, dishonorable.

As a journalist, I was taught early on to use simple and direct language to describe things. Always use "said." Not "discussed," "retorted," "responded," "laughed," or any of the other hundreds of ways of saying "said." Why? Because said is the most direct and objective way of describing verbalization.

The same can be said of "dying." Let's face it, all the flowery language doesn't change the facts when a loved one dies. And, as someone with plenty of experience in this area, I can assure you that saying someone "passed" doesn't make their death less painful.

The problem with the whitewashing of our language (in an effort to spare feelings) is that it makes it less precise and less meaningful. It lumps in the simply offensive with the truly reprehensible. So, "disabled" is lumped in with "nigger." There is (and should be) a distinction between them.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Feminist Outrage...Not

Rightwingsparkle notes the difference in experience between two women politicians.

I think I get what all the liberals were squawking about when talking about "certain woman politician" we all know. You know the one. The one who didn't graduate from an Ivy league college. The one who was a "breeder" of five kids and barely had ANY experience. Imagine her being 2nd in the line of succession the Presidency??! The ridiculous woman who spends $150,000 on her clothes.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did you think I was talking about Sarah Palin? Oh no. I was talking about Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi is second in line for the presidency (after Wonder Pet Joe Biden). She graduated from a Catholic college, got married, had five kids, then did nothing, apparently, until she was elected to Congress in 1987.
By the time Sarah Palin was 44 yrs old, not only had she had five children, she was running for Vice President of the United States. After a career in journalism and running a small business, she started her career in politics at the age of 28. She was elected mayor and then Governor.

This is just another example of the feminist double standard. Or maybe I'll call it the IOKIYSA standard. That stands for It's OK If You Support Abortion. Because feminists will forgive all sorts of personal failings as long as the person involved supports unfettered abortion on demand. Feminists are particularly hard on women who are pro-life. Take any abortion thread at Pandagon or Feministe and you'll see what I mean. If a woman is pro-life and she is excoriated in the press, she must have asked for it. Sounds like certain arguments feminists hate about rape, if you ask me.

On Being Poor

Oooh, boy. This post is probably going to get me in trouble, but here goes.

The Washington Post has an article up on the high cost of poverty. I guess it's aimed at all those rich Washington Post readers who have never bought generic vegetables.

You have to be rich to be poor.

That's what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don't understand.

Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don't often explain.

The articles goes through a laundry list--including laundry--of what poor people pay more for than rich people. This includes groceries (from a convenience store), doing laundry, cashing checks and more.
"The poor pay more for a gallon of milk; they pay more on a capital basis for inferior housing," says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). "The poor and 100 million who are struggling for the middle class actually end up paying more for transportation, for housing, for health care, for mortgages. They get steered to subprime lending. . . . The poor pay more for things middle-class America takes for granted."

The poor also get assistance in lots of ways, large and small, to try to make their burdens lighter. And nowhere in this article does it discuss why so many things cost so much more if you are poor. To put it bluntly, the poor are much bigger risks for businesses and credit lenders because they are much more likely to not pay. There's also far more crime in poor neighborhoods, leaving businesses more vulnerable. And if a business doesn't make money, it doesn't stay in business very long.

The article contains a lot of interesting information for those who have never lived poor. I say "lived poor" because you can live in a poor way without actually being considered poor. And the problems, which are well-documented in the article, are manifold, from poor food choices to lack of banking resources to the use of time over money.

And not to be mean here, but the article didn't talk about the higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse in poor neighborhoods, or the inordinate number of smokers in poverty areas. Those habits cost lots of money, and taxing those habits is one of the least controversial ways of raising revenue, even though it hurts the poor disproportionately.

The best way to get out of poverty, of course, is never to be there in the first place, but that is an option plenty of people don't have. The second best way is to be smart and frugal. Don't buy your groceries at the convenience store. Take the bus to the food store. Don't buy soda pop or packaged foods; buy fresh or frozen and make your own (another time robber, btw). Save your pennies which add up to dollars. Don't use rental stores which rip people off. Save your money and buy the item outright. Find a way to use a bank close to home or work so you don't use check cashing places.

In many respects, you can't get ripped off by the system if you don't use it. Check cashing stores, money order places, rental offices--they exist because people will use them instead of thinking ahead, pinching pennies and denying luxuries until one can afford them.

Don't buy what you can't afford isn't a popular meme. The article doesn't really spend any time examining why people live in poverty, because to do so would be to criticize people for bad choices, and that would be mean. But the clues are all over the article. One woman lives with her boyfriend and child. She makes $15 an hour, well above the poverty level. Yet there's no discussion about why she isn't married (which tends to significantly raise the standard of living for all involved) or if her boyfriend works and contributes to the household.

Another man talks about using a check cashing place because he lost his driver's license and can't use a regular bank. Why not go get a new ID? Even the lost time and money for that would be cheaper in the long run than getting ripped off by the check cashing place.

A third man uses a check cashing place to mail his phone bill. He says it would be cheaper to mail it on time but "sometimes you don't have the money ahead of time." Did he call the phone company to explain? Will they work with him to pay the bill? The article never says, but I know from experience that many creditors (including big ones like the electric and water companies) will do just that.

A fourth guy gets pissed off at a grocery store because he only has 40 bucks for groceries and his cart totals $52. He puts back a bottle of soda, some paper towels and $9 worth of hot wings. Then curses out the clerk for the price of groceries. Yet, you can take a calculator (or pencil and paper) to the store with you to get only what you can afford. The items he put back weren't necessities like medicine. They were luxuries, however small the luxury may be.

This is not to excuse usurous rates for lending and borrowing. I'm not defending stores that gouge the poor or take advantage of the less fortunate. But not all poverty is beyond one's ability to prevent or handle.

Nowhere in the article are charities discussed. Most communities have churches and other nonprofit entities that help the poor with everything from food vouchers to fixing cars to rent subsidies and legal help. Recognizing and utilizing such agencies can help when one is in a bad way.

But complaining about a bottle of soda? Not so much.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

6.66 Million

That's the number of unemployed in the U.S. But that's not the spin of the story. The story is excited that only 631,000 newly unemployed filed for benefits last week. But 6.66 million is a record.

We have a generation of Americans who have never looked for work in a 9% unemployed environment. Yet President Obama and the Democrats are using gimmicks to push legislation they haven't even read--legislation that will increase dramatically the expenses of operating a business. That's not leadership.

Those Stupid California Voters

What is it with stupid California voters? Don't they know what's good for them? First, they vote for traditional marriage, when every smart person knows that's just wrong. Now, they vote against tax hikes! What is wrong with you people?

The Sacramento Bee gets it. Well, they did until a bunch of soon-to-be-ex readers complained. Then they pulled an Obama.

I just don't understand. Haven't we all been told that outspending your opponent 10 to 1 ensures victory, which was why we needed to take the money out of politics at the national level?

What's wrong with you people?!

"No moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist

"From unpleasant things."

Sorry, Blogger cut off the rest of the quote. I suppose it's too long for the headline function. In any case, former Vice President Dick Cheney gave an amazing speech today, knocking down those critics of the War on Terror Overseas Contingency Operations and our treatment of terrorists manmade disasterists.

Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.”

It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one way or the other.

Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.

Certain people have argued that our treatment of manmade disasterists have led to the creation of more disasterists. Yet, as Cheney points out, those inclined to attempt to destroy America have always had a laundry list of complaints, any and all of which suit their purpose. To say that waterboarding three hardened disasterists has caused their zeal is folly.

Not to be upstaged by Darth Vader, Teh One also gave a speech on national security. Unfortunately, his sounded circular and illogical. From Hot Air:
In a nutshell: We must look forward while also remembering that everything is Bush’s fault, and we must not abandon our core ideals unless doing so would make things too difficult for The One.

This really is the essence of Obama's philosophy: we must stand firm unless standing firm hurts my approval ratings. Then I can be flexible.

Is there a terrorist disasterist out there who won't read the TOTUS's speech as weak?

Sanity Returns

Republicans drop effort to rename Democrats "Socialists."

Can we please return to the business of crafting policy instead?

Preventive Detention?

If George W. Bush had proposed this, the moonbatosphere would be in flames. Granted, it's early, but I haven't seen any posts on this at the leftwing blogs I read. Of course, pointing out facts is considered whining by some people, but I'm willing to risk that scorn.

President Obama is proposing "preventive detention" for terrorists considered dangerous to Americans, but for whom trials can't be held. Perhaps Obama read the memo about one in seven detainees heading back to kill Americans. Couple this with the backtracking on closing Guantanamo, and you have to ask yourself, how is President Obama's policy on terror any different from President Bush's? And is this why Americans think Obama is moving us in the right direction?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Liberal Compassion

Liberal Joe Klein is trying to backtrack from a quote he gave the Politico, in which he said, of conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer,

"He became ground zero among the neo-cons, but he's vastly smarter than most of them," said Time's Joe Klein, an admirer and critic who praised Krauthammer's "writing skills and polemical skills" as "so far above almost anybody writing columns today."

"There's something tragic about him, too," Klein said, referring to Krauthammer's confinement to a wheelchair, the result of a diving accident during his first year of medical school. "His work would have a lot more nuance if he were able to see the situations he's writing about."

Plenty of friends and fellow conservatives have taken Klein to task for the callous comment, and Allahpundit has the best lines:
If he did mean it the way it sounds, then it looks like a derivative of the chickenhawk smear. He can’t rightly accuse a hawkish pundit who’s handicapped of being too gutless to lace up the boots, so instead he turns it into faux sympathy for how poor Charles can’t help but be blinkered as a prisoner of his condition.

Klein is now backpedaling as quickly as possible away from the comment, arguing, not that he was taken out of context exactly, but that, well, someone might construe his remarks as insensitive, and he apologizes for offending that someone.

Really? That's the best he can do?

Well, I suppose if you are Joe Klein, it really is the best you can do. After all, Klein goes back to reiterate the point that you have to see the war to understand the war. Even though he doesn't think it hampered FDR in any way, not seeing the war and all.

See, because the truth is that Klein isn't concerned if he offended disabled people--and their loved ones--or not. That's just another casualty in the smear war the Left plays against anyone who has the temerity to agree with our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those with disabilities live with these backhands all the time. You're pretty smart...for a guy in a wheelchair. You do good work but it's not the neatest...because of your handicap. You have done a brilliant job...for someone who can't walk/see/hear.

Most people aren't as stupid as Klein, though. They leave out the part I italicized. It's just implied. The best is the guy on hand crutches whose wife is pregnant, and all the people who act amazed that he can have children. The old fashioned way. Who knew?!

I suspect Allahpundit was correct when he said Klein was attempting a slight spin on the chickenhawk smear. After all, it would be unseemly to attack someone because of an immutable characteristic, right?

UPDATE: Donald Douglas has a wonderful post examining the Krauthammer-Klein controversy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Democrat Fundraising Scandal Not Covered; In Other News, Water Still Wet, Sun Still Shining

Lone Star Times points out that if this were about Republicans, it would be big news.

Longtime fundraiser Norman Hsu was convicted Tuesday of violating campaign finance laws in a case that became an embarrassment to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other prominent Democrats he courted.

But a Democrat? *crickets*

Maybe this just means that Democrats breaking laws isn't big news. Kind of a dog-bites-man story, if you will.

More Moderate Direction for Texas Legislature

We hear a lot about how conservative Texans are, but you wouldn't know it if you went by what the Texas Legislature has been doing. It's been downright moderate.

The House demonstrated its newfound moderation under first-term Speaker Joe Straus by passing a series of bills last week that probably would have struggled to emerge from the chamber under former Speaker Tom Craddick.

One of those bills would make more families eligible for the Children's Health Insurance Program. Another would impose new spending restrictions on corporations and unions in political campaigns. One would lay the groundwork for reversing a major worker's compensation decision by the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, and another would create a commission to investigate wrongful criminal convictions

The reason such bills are being passed? Moderate committee chairs.

Granted, liberals love SCHIP, union strong-arming, high taxes and government control, but Texans have traditionally spurned such practices. If you want to know why conservative legislation isn't passing, remember that this is what moderates give you.

Girl Scouts: Indoctrination in Liberal Ideas?

Via Hot Air, comes this story "outing" the Girl Scouts and their unfortunate, liberal agenda.

When many parents think of Girl Scouts, they imagine young girls in uniform selling Thin Mints and Tagalong cookies – not learning about stone labyrinths, world peace, global warming, yoga, avatars, smudging incense, Zen gardens and feminist, communist and lesbian role models.

But that's exactly what many of 2.7 million Girl Scouts will learn about with a new curriculum called "Journeys" released last year.

Let me start by saying I'm a huge Girl Scout fan. Both my girls have been involved in the organization. I was a Girl Scout in elementary school, and I've been a leader, assistant leader, and Cookie Mom for most of the last 10 years.

But when Girl Scouts introduced its Journeys curriculum last year, alarm bells started sounding for me.

For Brownies, the Brownie Quest book centers on three girls, none of whom are being raised in a traditional, two-parent family.
Campbell--lives with her mother and sister.

Jamila--lives with her father and brother.

Alejandra--lives with her parents and grandparents.

Alejandra comes the closest, since both a mother and father are represented in her life. But the Brownie Quest spends little time talking about Alejandra's parents; at best, her grandfather plays a small role. And the emphasis of family life is on the girls with single parents.

While my "feelers" went up with the introduction to the girls, my skepticism only grew over the course of the year. The girls spent little time doing anything; most of the time was spent, books open, discussing the storyline. And the girls didn't like it. It felt too much like school for them. Other mothers were no happier with the curriculum than I was.

"What happened to earning badges?" asked one.

"Why aren't the girls going camping or to other activities?" asked another.

Indeed, I asked people at the council about this, and was told that Girl Scouts was moving in a different direction because girls weren't as interested in earning badges and singing Christmas carols at nursing homes.

But are girls really interested in learning about pacifism, union-building and lesbianism? That's where Girl Scouts leads girls as they enter junior high and high school.
In "Amaze: The Twists and Turns of Getting Along," girls from the sixth to the eighth grade will read a quote from Buddha and be encouraged to explore mazes and stone or dirt labyrinths – symbols rooted in pagan mythology and popular within the New Age movement as meditation tools...

In the next age group, for teens in the ninth and tenth grades, girls are taught about wage disparities between the sexes, and a lack of assets and senior management positions held by women.

"Girltopia" poses the questions, "When women don't earn enough, what happens to their children?" and "How could everyone help create a Girltopia?"...

When teens reach their junior and senior years in high school, they begin a Girl Scouts curriculum called "Your Voice Your World: The Power of Advocacy." It encourages young women to begin "raising their voices as advocates" and follow the examples of other young people who are speaking out on causes such as global warming, universal health care, racism and child poverty.

The curricula are filled with heroes from the left, including Jane Addams, Rigoberta Menchu, Ethel Mary Smyth, Barbara Jordan and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Only three women of faith are mentioned (Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Mother Teresa), and few men. Why so many radicals and lesbians?
WND asked (Girl Scouts USA spokeswoman Michelle) Tompkins why Girl Scouts USA has chosen to focus on lesbians, radical feminists and controversial figures as role models instead of other significant female pioneers.

"There was a council of people who worked on the 'Journeys.' They tried to figure out who would be profiled," she said. "It came out from lots of discussions. I think the change the world message has been part of Girl Scouts since the beginning. It's not a radical agenda at all."

I don't mind including certain of these women on the list, even if I disagreed with their politics. Hillary Clinton's political campaign was a milestone for women's rights, and one can find non-controversial things to mention about Barbara Jordan and Jane Addams. But many of the others were open Communists, pacifists, pro-abortion supporters and more. Were there simply no "non-radicals" the Girl Scout council could find to include as noteworthy? How about Condoleeza Rice or Sarah Palin? What about Phyllis Schlafly? Or Sandra Day O'Connor?

The leftward march of the Girl Scouts has been documented over the years, and it's no wonder membership has been in decline for a decade as GSUSA places less and less emphasis on girls learning useful skills through earning badges, camping, and cookies, and more about liberal activism.

The Collapsing GOP

No big surprise here:
Republican Losses Span Nearly Every Demographic Group.
Robert Stacy McCain has another sparkling analysis here. The long and the short of it is that Republicans trampled on every value and principle that got them elected. Why wouldn't voters look to HopeNChange?

Coalition Wants Bush Lawyers Disbarred

File this in the "They Can't Let Things Go" category, a leftwing coalition is seeking the disbarment of Bush administration lawyers for performing their jobs. That is, they were giving legal analysis to past cases determining what constitutes torture and what is merely interrogation.

The complaints, filed with State Bars in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania, seek disciplinary action and disbarment. The others named in the complaints include former Office of Legal Counsel lawyers John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury; Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division; Alice Fisher, also a former head of the Criminal Division; former Defense Department lawyers William Haynes II and Douglas Feith; former deputy White House counsel Timothy Flanigan; and David Addington, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney...

The complaints allege the lawyers violated the Constitution, domestic law and international treaties. As reported here by The Washington Post, the bar counsel would face steep hurdles in trying to sanction the lawyers. The state regulators, which are often strapped for resources, would have a difficult time gathering witnesses and evidence and would have to show lawyers violated their duty to a client. And it's unclear whether regulators in Pennsylvania, where Yoo is barred, could even initiate an investigation.

As I noted here there's plenty of evidence that critics of interrogation haven't even read the memos involved.
The 1994 law was passed pursuant to an international treaty, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. The law's definition of torture is circular. Torture under that law means "severe physical or mental pain or suffering," which in turn means "prolonged mental harm," which must be caused by one of four prohibited acts. The only relevant one to the CIA inquiry was threatening or inflicting "severe physical pain or suffering." What is "prolonged mental suffering"? The term appears nowhere else in the U.S. Code.

Congress required, in order for there to be a violation of the law, that an interrogator specifically intend that the detainee suffer prolonged physical or mental suffering as a result of the prohibited conduct. Just knowing a person could be injured from the interrogation method is not a violation under Supreme Court rulings interpreting "specific intent" in other criminal statutes...

Both memos noted that the legislative history of the 1994 torture statute was "scant." Neither house of Congress had hearings, debates or amendments, or provided clarification about terms such as "severe" or "prolonged mental harm." There is no record of Rep. Jerrold Nadler -- who now calls for impeachment and a criminal investigation of the lawyers -- trying to make any act (e.g., waterboarding) illegal, or attempting to lessen the specific intent standard.

The Gonzales memo analyzed "torture" under American and international law. It noted that our courts, under a civil statute, have interpreted "severe" physical or mental pain or suffering to require extreme acts: The person had to be shot, beaten or raped, threatened with death or removal of extremities, or denied medical care. One federal court distinguished between torture and acts that were "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." So have international courts. The European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ireland v. United Kingdom (1978) specifically found that wall standing (to produce muscle fatigue), hooding, and sleep and food deprivation were not torture.

The U.N. treaty defined torture as "severe pain and suffering." The Justice Department witness for the Senate treaty hearings testified that "[t]orture is understood to be barbaric cruelty . . . the mere mention of which sends chills down one's spine." He gave examples of "the needle under the fingernail, the application of electrical shock to the genital area, the piercing of eyeballs. . . ." Mental torture was an act "designed to damage and destroy the human personality."

The treaty had a specific provision stating that nothing, not even war, justifies torture. Congress removed that provision when drafting the 1994 law against torture, thereby permitting someone accused of violating the statute to invoke the long-established defense of necessity.

Do these jerks even read the laws, legal cases and memos before trying to punish people performing their duties? Apparently not.
The memo to the CIA discussed 10 requested interrogation techniques and how each should be limited so as not to violate the statute...They observed that all the techniques, including waterboarding, were used on our military trainees, and that the CIA had conducted an "extensive inquiry" with experts and psychologists.

Unfortunately, there are those who, even now, are arguing that volunteering for waterboarding doesn't mean it isn't torture, just as consenting to sex makes it not rape (I'm not making this logic up). Of course, the very fact that we train our soldiers to withstand waterboarding is an argument that it is an interrogation technique, not torture. After all, we wouldn't use thumbscrews or other devices that caused permanent physical or psychological injury to our own troops. That is torture.
But now, safe in ivory towers eight years removed from 9/11, critics demand criminalization of the techniques and the prosecution or disbarment of the lawyers who advised the CIA. Contrary to columnist Frank Rich's uninformed accusation in the New York Times that the lawyers "proposed using" the techniques, they did no such thing. They were asked to provide legal guidance on whether the CIA's proposed methods violated the law.

Oddly, the coalition trying to publicly humiliate these attorneys aren't concerned about the complicity of Democrats in the use of interrogation techniques.

There is a term for people who are determined to punish others for doing their jobs, obeying the law, and being from the "wrong" political party: witch hunt.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Supreme Court Supports Common Sense in Pregnancy Case

The Supreme Court's decision in this case is likely to have feminists howling, but it's the right one. Via

The 7-2 decision in AT&T Corp. v. Hulteen focuses on the way in which employers calculated the effect of pregnancy leave on pension accruals before passage in 1978 of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. That law required employers to treat pregnancy leave the same as temporary disability from that point forward, but it was not retroactive. AT&T responded to the law at the time by equalizing treatment of both kinds of leave prospectively, but four employees now say the prior lesser treatment of pregnancy leave amounts to actionable sex and pregnancy discrimination.

Retiring Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, said AT&T's actions were not illegal when done, so cannot now be viewed as discriminatory. The Court's only woman, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote a dissent joined by Justice Stephen Breyer. Ginsburg asserted that AT&T committed a "current violation" of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act "when, post-PDA, it did not totally discontinue reliance upon a pension calculation premised on the notion that pregnancy-based classifications display no gender bias."

Common sense (and constitutional jurisprudence) explain that retroactively enforcing a law is what's known as an ex post facto law, and is prohibited. Just because you don't like what happened in the past, doesn't mean you get to punish someone (including companies) for doing what was legal at the time.

It's astonishing that pregnancy was once treated under law in such a twisted manner as to punish women for having children while being employed, and that's precisely why the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was written in the first place.

I'm sure that various feminist sites will be screaming that all the men on the court (with the exception of Stephen Breyer) are sexist pigs wanting to keep women barefoot, unemployed and pregnant. Or that this is just the latest example of the court system sticking it to working women (like this one). And while the emotion is understandable, the logic of punishing corporations for following the laws of the times is not--how can we say it? Fair. After all, we're supposed to be concerned about fairness, not constitutional arguments, right?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Anti-Conservative Media at Taxpayer Expense

We already have PBS and NPR, supported by taxpayer funds, to blare liberal viewpoints and slants across the fruited plain. Yet, seemingly, that's not enough for some people. The coming demise of the newspaper industry has liberal groups calling for taxpayer funding of news organizations, all of which would, of course, lean left.

The group, which calls itself Free Press, is urging "an alternative media infrastructure, one that is insulated from the commercial pressures that brought us to our current crisis."

However, Free Press didn't say one word about the well-documented liberal bias that has contributed to the decline in readers and viewers for traditional media outlets and has enabled the rise of the Fox News Channel, conservative talk radio, and the Internet. Instead, Josh Silver of the Free Press attacked the "bellowing ideologues" on the air and declared that "The entire dial is empty of local news in many communities."

This was a tip-off that, in order to take conservative radio hosts off the air, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be flooded with complaints that "local news" has been shortchanged by stations airing conservative personalities with national programs such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Michael Savage...

As part of the proposed new "media infrastructure," Free Press is calling for a $50 billion "Public Media Trust Fund" to underwrite the creation of new jobs for journalists and the use of the existing federal AmeriCorps program "to include journalistic activities as part of its mission" in the form of "journalism positions" and "journalism projects." AmeriCorps is a federally-funded national and community service agency.

The group is also urging a direct federal bailout of liberal media institutions, declaring that "The Department of Labor could design a program aimed at keeping reporters employed at existing news organizations or at new outlets." Free Press explains, "If the government were to subsidize 5,000 reporters at $50,000 per year, the cost would be $250 million annually, a relatively modest sum given the billions coming out of Washington."

Don't you love it when $250 million is a "relatively modest sum"? Nowhere does Free Press talk about the fact that taxpayers have to support these projects or that just maybe, they might have other ideas about how their tax money should be spent, rather than throwing it away on leftwing journalists with an agenda. This isn't even addressing the idea of paying $50k a year per journalist, as if most people consider that to be a "modest sum."

The Left still hates the rise of conservative talk radio and the success of Rush Limbaugh and others in gaining audiences. Unlike the left, which needs your tax support to work, conservatives have offered a message in a format that people have been willing to pay for (through audience share, which drives advertising rates). Why should we be forced to pay even more for media we neither want nor need?

Health Care Ad

This ad is from Conservatives for Patient Rights, a patient advocacy group.

I'm amazed at the people who want to give up the health care they now receive for the mythical treasure of universal healthcare. Recently, on Diane Rehm's radio show, Steve Roberts hosted a panel of experts who were discussing health care reform. One of them argued that socialized medicine worked spectacularly well for most people, helping them get treated for serious conditions quickly and for less money. Of course, the man said, "elective procedures" have a bit of a wait.

One of the other men pointed out that "elective procedures" under socialized medicines include a second Pap smear when one comes up abnormal. "You might be told that you have to wait three months or so to get the second one," he said. "Does that sound fast to you? Does the second Pap smear seem like an elective procedure?"

What this boils down to is that most people want great medical care when they need/want it, but they don't want to pay for it. Such a system isn't sustainable, whether it's in the private sector or run by the government. Until Americans accept that socialized medicine means rationing, they won't understand what it is they are asking for.

H/T: The Other McCain.

Coffee Spewer

Frank Rich is always good for a "OMG, did he actually write this crap?", but this column's lede takes the cake.

To paraphrase Al Pacino in “Godfather III,” just when we thought we were out, the Bush mob keeps pulling us back in. And will keep doing so. No matter how hard President Obama tries to turn the page on the previous administration, he can’t.

At what point has Barack Obama ever shown any intention of "turning the page" on the previous administration? Since his inauguration, Obama has made blaming, bashing and smearing George W. Bush a priority higher than either the economy or the War on Terror.

Obama blames George Bush for his own deficit spending. He blames Bush for the economic slowdown. He even blames George Bush for cyberspies. If Obama could figure out a way to blame George Bush for the Dallas Mavericks losing in the playoffs, I'm sure he'd do that, too.

If Rich weren't such a hack, he would acknowledge that Obama has tried diligently not to assume responsibility for anything. As long as he can blame things on George W. Bush, his own flip-flopping, incoherent policies are hidden from view.

The debate over torture memos and photographs are just the latest round. Obama had OLC memos on enhanced interrogation techniques released when he thought the story would help him and smear Republicans. He even approved of "truth commissions" on the subject...until it was discovered that such commissions would backfire and hurt key Democrats who have been left lying and lying ineffectively to cover their own butts.

Why can't Obama "turn the page"? It isn't, as Rich argues, that there's just so much that needs to be rehashed. Rich's talking points about Donald Rumsfeld using Biblical quotes in briefings is a yawner. Who cares? Or his argument that the Defense Department sent retired military officials to defend government positions on television, radio, and newspapers. Except for the ninnies at the Huffington Post, is there a real person in America staying up nights worrying about this? I doubt it.

The fact is that Obama could "turn the page" on the Bush administration by turning the page. That means no more blaming George Bush for every incident in 2009. No more leaking info to harm Republicans, then continuing Bush era policies.

In other words, Obama needs to grow up and be a man. Take responsibility for the government he's supposed to be running. Only then will he "turn the page." But I don't expect Obama to do this any time soon. It would require something sorely missing from this administration to do so: class.

UPDATE: Here is more on Obama not "turning the page" on Bush administration policies. Why? Because they worked.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Critics Should Actually Read the Memos They Discuss

It's a novel idea, I realize, but Victoria Toesing points out that critics obviously never read the memos regarding interrogation techniques, nor the documents the memos were based on.

In the mid-1980s, when I supervised the legality of apprehending terrorists to stand trial, I relied on a decades-old Supreme Court standard: Our capture and treatment could not "shock the conscience" of the court. The OLC lawyers, however, were not asked what treatment was legal to preserve a prosecution. They were asked what treatment was legal for a detainee who they were told had knowledge of future attacks on Americans.

The 1994 law was passed pursuant to an international treaty, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. The law's definition of torture is circular. Torture under that law means "severe physical or mental pain or suffering," which in turn means "prolonged mental harm," which must be caused by one of four prohibited acts. The only relevant one to the CIA inquiry was threatening or inflicting "severe physical pain or suffering." What is "prolonged mental suffering"? The term appears nowhere else in the U.S. Code.

Congress required, in order for there to be a violation of the law, that an interrogator specifically intend that the detainee suffer prolonged physical or mental suffering as a result of the prohibited conduct. Just knowing a person could be injured from the interrogation method is not a violation under Supreme Court rulings interpreting "specific intent" in other criminal statutes.

Emphasis mine.

One of the most frustrating things in watching the blathering from the Left about torture is that they haven't a clue what either the laws say nor what the legal rulings about the laws say. For them, they see a procedure that they find uncomfortable (having a bug put on them) and they immediately conclude that such techniques are "torture." Yet torture has never been merely an act that causes discomfort, stress, or fright. Such methods must be intended to cause prolonged physical or mental suffering.

Here's kind of a Cliff Notes version of the torture test:
1. Forcefeed someone dry rice until they are stuffed, then make them drink water until their intestines explode: torture.

2. Pouring water on someone who thinks they are drowning, even though they are not: not torture.

3. Techniques used simply to inflict pain and suffering, such as using POWs for bayonet practice: torture.

4. Pushing someone against a wall with a rolled towel against his neck to prevent whiplash: not torture.

Whenever idiots start comparing waterboarding known terrorists with Japanese war atrocities, you know they don't have a case to make, other than their virulent hatred of (a) the American government and (b) Republicans.

The U.S. doesn't use harsh interrogation techniques on all prisoners, but there are some who aren't going to talk if you are nice to them.

In the summer of 2002, the CIA outlined 10 interrogation methods that would be used only on Abu Zubaydah, who it told the lawyers was "one of the highest ranking members of" al Qaeda, serving as "Usama Bin Laden's senior lieutenant." According to the CIA, Zubaydah had "been involved in every major" al Qaeda terrorist operation including 9/11, and was "planning future terrorist attacks" against U.S. interests.

Most importantly, the lawyers were told that Zubaydah -- who was well-versed in American interrogation techniques, having written al Qaeda's manual on the subject -- "displays no signs of willingness" to provide information and "has come to expect that no physical harm will be done to him." When the usual interrogation methods were used, he had maintained his "unabated desire to kill Americans and Jews."

The CIA and Department of Justice lawyers had two options: continue questioning Zubaydah by a process that had not worked or escalate the interrogation techniques in compliance with U.S. law. They chose the latter.

Those screaming "Torture! Torture!" would rather we continued using ineffective techniques which produce no intelligence rather than waterboard monsters like Zubaydah. In their eyes, it is better that thousands more Americans die in attacks than a terrorist face discomfort. Is it any wonder our enemies see us as weak?

Worse, as Toesing points out, it is obvious that the critics never read either the legal rulings or the memos in question.
There should be a rule that all persons proposing investigation, prosecution or disbarment must read the two memos and all underlying documents and then draft a dissenting analysis.

Dissenters don't have time to read the memos. They're too busy yelling about "torture."

From Protein Wisdom:
You want to know what torture is? The severe mental anguish born of knowing that there are politicians in your country who, in exchange for increasing their own hold on power, will readily discount the difficulty of your choices in dealing with the prospect of additional unanounced attacks by suicidal fundamentalists and then try publicly to pillory you for making them, all in an effort to win a bit cheap grace.