A question of corruption 0

 Power Line aptly comments:

Eric Holder has come in for considerable criticism from conservatives for his role in the pardon scandal at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term. And properly so. But conservatives have had little to say about substantial allegations of corruption on the part of Hillary Clinton throughout the Clinton presidency.

All but our youngest readers will recall the particulars – Whitewater (which led to the appointment of an independent counsel), cattle futures, and the White House travel office scandal. In fact, Clinton was nearly indicted by Ken Starr’s office for giving testimony inconsistent with what the prosecutors had learned from other key witnesses and that the prosecutors were convinced was false.

Hillary Clinton was also involved with the pardon scandals that may come back to haunt Holder. Her brother Hugh Rodhamreceived $400,000 for working on two pardons, one of which was granted and the other of which resulted in commutation of the sentence. (Hillary claimed that she was unaware of the transaction, and Rodman apparently returned the money). Tony Rodham, another brother, also received financial consideration in connection with another of the Clinton pardons.

Bill Clinton also pardoned the FALN terrorists, pardons that have led to criticism of Holder because federal guidelines were circumvented. But the impetus for the pardons seems to have been Hillary’s race for the Senate, a number of prominent Hispanic politicians from New York having pushed on behalf of the terrorists. Absent such political calculation, it is almost impossible to understand why Bill Clinton would have pardoned this lot, the members of which apparently had not even asked to be pardoned (two of the terrorists refused their pardons). Hillary backed away from the pardons at the last minute, but her fingerprints are on them nonetheless.

Why are we hearing so much criticism of Holder and so little of Clinton? One explanation might be that Holder has been nominated to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and Hillary has not. But this is hardly a satisfactory basis for giving Clinton a pass; having a corrupt Secretary of State is no small matter.

It’s also possible that conservatives are holding their fire because they are reasonably happy with the Clinton nomination for substantive reasons, considering the alternatives. But Clinton is hardly the only mainstream liberal Democrat Obama could have selected, and it’s become clear that Obama has no interest in offering high profile positions like Secretary of State to someone from the far left wing of the party.

In any event, it’s not as if conservatives can block the nomination of Clinton (or, for that matter, of Holder in all likelihood). The point in both cases should be to raise legitimate questions, and the questions about Clinton seem at least as legitimate as those about Holder. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Sunday, November 30, 2008

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The name of the evil 0

 Mark Steyn writes:


We’re in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It’s the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK-47 and shoot up a hotel lobby. Or, if active terrorists are a bit thin on the ground, whether you can count at least on some degree of broader support on the ground. You’re sitting in some distant foreign capital but you’re of a mind to pull off a Mumbai-style operation in, say, Amsterdam or Manchester or Toronto. Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological front organizations. You’ve already made landfall.

It’s missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the "Deccan Mujahideen" or the ISI or al-Qaida or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That’s a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It’s not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That’s what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the central Asian ‘stans to Yorkshire, and co-opted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.

And the name of the ideology is Islamism. Or simply Islam. How does Islamism differ from Islam if at all?  

What should we do about it? Inform ourselves about it thoroughly. Examine it critically. Argue against it insistently. Make it as unacceptable to the civilized world as Nazism, which it closely resembles.  

When its ideologues use violence, fight them actively.

Be aware of their encroachment by stealth, and resist, every step of the way, their continual efforts to subvert our system of law and government. 

 

 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, November 29, 2008

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The thrill of savagery 0

 Look at the face of the terrorist in this picture. His expression is one of extreme enjoyment. He is having the time of his life gunning people down, at random, in cold blood. 

The screen grab picture and the following comment is from Power Line:

 

2008_11_27t192235_450x371_us_india_mumbai_shootings.jpg

Reuters’ caption for the photo begins: "A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station in Mumbai November 26, 2008."

Notice the object the terrorist is holding in his hands. It’s a gun. He isn’t a "suspected gunman," he’s a "gunman."

This kind of silly political correctness infects reporters and news services world-wide. They think they’re being scrupulous–the man hasn’t been convicted of being a gunman yet!–when in fact they’re just being foolish. But the irrational conviction that nothing can be known unless it has been determined by a court and jury isn’t just silly, it’s dangerous. For example, I believe that this kind of confused thinking lies behind liberals’ indignation that terrorists can be held in Guantanamo Bay "without being charged"–as though they were criminal defendants.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, November 28, 2008

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Biochemical truths are not politically correct 0

Looking after our health and getting medical treatment when we need it is our own responsibility, like getting food, clothes and shelter, and should not be the business of the government. Now medical research finds that treatment for many diseases needs to be  tailor-made for individuals, and ethnicity and gender can make a difference.

Peter W Huber writes (read his whole article here):


No privacy-protecting, discrimination-banning law, no promise that someone else will pay, will ensure that a drug that suits others will suit your genetic profile too… 

This is where diversity blather gives way to the rigorous diversity science that’s taking over the medical show. Drugs supply almost all the real health care these days, because human hands are too big to grapple with the microscopic things that cause most of our problems. Eugenic drugs reflect how biochemically separate and unequal people are. Some, indeed, target genes that track sex, race, or ethnicity; their FDA licenses affirm truths unmentionable in polite society and approve conduct illegal in every other sphere of commerce and public life. All are terrible news for anyone determined to pull people together, pool medicine’s costs, equalize its benefits, and lose diversity in the crowd. The doctors of equity promise universal access to the Mayo Clinic, where the real doctors now brew discriminatory cures and card your genes at the door…

The patient’s chemistry matters as much as the drug’s. Americans are biochemically diverse. Only so much can be learned at the Mayo Clinic; the rest has to be learned from patients whose chemistries weren’t invited to the trial. Trying to invite them all leads to quagmire and stifles learning before it begins. Getting from where we are now to universal care at the pharmacy will involve far more information than Washington can ever hope to assimilate.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, November 27, 2008

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Ill treatment at Guantanamo 0

 Ann Coulter writes:

Far from being sodomized and tortured by U.S. forces – as Obama’s base has wailed for the past seven years – the innocent scholars and philanthropists being held at Guantanamo have been given expensive, high-tech medical procedures at taxpayer expense. If we’re not careful, multitudes of Muslims will be going to fight Americans in Afghanistan just so they can go to Guantanamo and get proper treatment for attention deficit disorder and erectile dysfunction.
    
After being captured fighting with Taliban forces against Americans in 2001, Abdullah Massoud was sent to Guantanamo, where the one-legged terrorist was fitted with a special prosthetic leg, at a cost of $50,000-$75,000 to the U.S. taxpayer. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, Massoud would now be able to park his car bomb in a handicapped parking space! 
    
No, you didn’t read that wrong, because the VA won’t pay for your new glasses. I said $75,000. I would have gone with hanging at sunrise, but what do I know? 
    
Upon his release in March 2004, Massoud hippity-hopped back to Afghanistan and quickly resumed his war against the U.S. Aided by his new artificial leg, just months later, in October 2004, Massoud masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in Pakistan working on the Gomal Zam Dam project. 
    
This proved, to me at least, that people with disabilities can do anything they put their minds to. Way to go, you plucky extremist!
    
Massoud said he had nothing against the Chinese but wanted to embarrass Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for cooperating with the Americans. You know, the Americans who had just footed – you should pardon the expression – a $75,000 bill for his prosthetic leg.
    
Pakistani forces stormed Massoud’s hideout, killing all the kidnappers, including Massoud. Only one of the Chinese engineers was rescued alive.
    
As a result of the kidnapping, the Chinese pulled all 100 engineers and dam workers out of Pakistan, and work on the dam ceased. This was bad news for the people of Pakistan – but good news for the endangered Pakistani snail darter!
    
In none of the news accounts I read of Massoud’s return to jihad after his release from Guantanamo is there any mention of the fact that his prosthetic leg was acquired in Guantanamo, courtesy of American taxpayers after he was captured trying to kill Americans on the battlefield in Afghanistan.
    
News about the prosthetic leg might interfere with stories of the innocent aid workers being held captive at Guantanamo in George Bush’s AmeriKKKa.
    
To the contrary, although Massoud’s swashbuckling reputation as a jihadist with a prosthetic leg appears in many news items, where he got that leg is almost purposely hidden – even lied about.
    
"Abdullah Massoud … had earned both sympathy and reverence for his time in Guantanamo Bay. … Upon his release, he made it home to Waziristan and resumed his war against the U.S. With his long hair, his prosthetic limb and impassioned speeches, he quickly became a charismatic inspiration to Waziristan’s youth." – The New York Times
    
He’s not a one-legged terrorist – he’s a freedom fighter living with a disability. I think we could all learn something about courage from this man.
    
"He lost his leg in a landmine explosion a few days before the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in September 1996. It didn’t dampen his enthusiasm as a fighter and he got himself an artificial leg later, says Yusufzai." – The Indo-Asian News Service
    
Where? At COSTCO?
    
"The 29-year-old Massoud, who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion while fighting alongside the Taliban, often used to ride a horse or camel because his disability made it painful for him to walk long distances in hilly areas." – BBC Monitoring South Asia
    
Side-saddle, I’m guessing. And you just know those caves along the Afghan-Pakistan border aren’t wheelchair accessible.
    
"He was educated in Peshawar and was treated in Karachi after his left leg was blown up in a landmine explosion in the Wreshmin Tangi gorge near Kabul in September 1996. He now walks with an artificial leg specifically made for him in Karachi." – Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
    
Karachi? Hey, how do I get into this guy’s HMO?
    
They can’t lick leprosy in Karachi, but the Gulf News tells us Massoud got his artificial leg at one of their specialty hospitals.
    
Anyone who thinks the Guantanamo detainees can be released without consequence doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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Government’s plan could bring economic ruin 0

 At The Daily Beast, Arthur Laffer (‘Reagan’s economist’) writes

Why the proposed $700 billion stimulus plan could drive the country to economic ruin.

As you read this, our government is committing enormous sums of money above and beyond normal spending, solely to stimulate the economy and prop up failing companies and markets. These additional sums are huge by any reasonable measure, with estimates as high as $3 trillion in an economy with a GDP of about $15 trillion.

Here’s the bottom line: Instead of making things better, increased spending will only drive our economy further into the ground.

And there is still a lot more spending to come. First it was a $170 billion stimulus package in February of 2008, then material add-ons to both the housing and agricultural bills, followed by Federal Reserve asset swaps with Bear Stearns and a bailout of AIG (which, by the way, isn’t over yet) and then came the debt guarantees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

There is no tooth fairy. Every dollar given to someone comes from someone else.

Shortly after that, the administration anted up $700 billion in a bailout package, and now Obama, Reid, Pelosi and Bernanke want another stimulus package of $300 billion. Just this week the powers that be are debating bailouts for Michigan’s auto industry. With the slowdown in the economy, tax receipts are now projected to fall sharply. The logic here is totally upside down, and each new measure, far from helping the economy, does enormous damage.

It is true, as the proponents of these stimulus packages argue, that recipients of government checks will spend more than they otherwise would have spent. And, that increased spending will have a multiplier effect increasing spending even further. But this is only part of the story.

The government can only transfer resources; it can’t create resources. There is no tooth fairy. Every dollar given to someone comes from someone else. The government can’t bail some people out of trouble without putting other people into trouble, plus a hefty “toll for the troll.”

In the case of last February’s stimulus package, the government literally borrowed an extra $170 billion and at the same time sent out checks to the transfer recipients totaling $170 billion. The result was a $170 billion increase in the amount of bonds held by the public, accompanied by a $170 billion increase in the current value of future taxes to pay interest and principle on the additional debt.

From the standpoint of accounting, the government is $170 billion further in the red, and taxpayers are liable for an additional $170 billion worth of taxes. Therefore, for every dollar of transfer payment there’s at least an equivalent dollar of future tax liabilities. Those people with the increased tax liabilities will spend less, thereby dis-employing people who had been supplying them with goods they’ll no longer buy. And the reduction in spending of those with higher tax liabilities will lead to a multiplied reduction in total spending equal to and fully offsetting the increase in total spending from the recipients of government checks. There is no stimulus from the stimulus programs!

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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Siren songs 0

 For those who think that Paulson’s ‘bailout’ is good for the country, or that smooth-talking Obama is the right choice for President with his campaign promises to enlarge the welfare state with a national health service and by ‘spreading the wealth around’, here is a cautionary quotation, used as an epigraph  to their book Free To Choose by Milton and Rose Friedman.

It was spoken from the bench by Judge Louis Brandeis in 1928.

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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One European leader worthy of respect 0

 Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, is about to take over the presidency of the EU, which he thoroughly despises. He has declared it to be as dangerous as the old Soviet Union.

We agree with him.

We also agree with him that ‘global warming’ is a myth; and that the US and global economic crisis was caused by too much government ‘regulation’ – ie interference – rather than too little. 

Of course the New York Times is against him. You can find its typically narrow-minded lefty piece on him here.

The Times of London is only a little more objective in its account of Klaus and his opinions.

We doubt that Klaus is ‘close’ to Putin as the reports allege. If he is, it’s one thing about him that we don’t applaud.  But for the most part he is an admirable conservative free-marketeer who values the nation state and knows that  there are worse threats to civilization than the weather. 

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 24, 2008

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One European leader worthy of respect 0

 Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, is about to take over the presidency of the EU, which he thoroughly despises. He has declared it to be as dangerous as the old Soviet Union.

We agree with him.

We also agree with him that ‘global warming’ is a myth; and that the US and global economic crisis was caused by too much government ‘regulation’ – ie interference – rather than too little. 

Of course the New York Times is against him. You can find its typically narrow-minded lefty piece on him here.

The Times of London is a little more objective in its account of Klaus and his opinions.

We doubt that Klaus is ‘close’ to Putin as the reports allege. If he is, it’s one thing about him that we don’t applaud.  But for the most part he is an admirable conservative free-marketeer who values the nation state and knows that  there are worse threats to civilization than the weather. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 24, 2008

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The evil effects of welfare 8

 As a Democratic administration and Congress threaten to turn America into a welfare state on the disastrous European model, this interview from Front Page Magazine is worth noting. 

Jamie Glazov interviews Martin Durkin.

Durkin: To most people, I imagine, welfare seems an obviously good thing. But in fact the corrosive and iniquitous side of welfare has been evident for many decades. It’s only now that people are poking their heads out of the trench and daring to say so. You can see the devastating effects of welfare in Britain, for example, in the exponential rise in single motherhood. The figures are astonishing. In the 1950s almost all children in Britain were brought up by their natural parents. Today, only around half the children in Britain are brought up by their natural parents. Half!

FP: Why has that happened? 

Durkin: To see why that happened, let me paint you a picture. In the 1950s, the typical working man and his wife In Britain lived in an income-tax free existence. They kept every penny they earned. For an unmarried teenager, there was no council flat (the ‘projects’ I think you call them), no rent rebate, no rate rebate, no housing benefit or anything else. The burden of looking after her and the child fell on her family, friends or charity. Parents who discovered their daughters were pregnant were understandably furious – because they had to pick up the tab. That’s why Dad stomped round to the family of the boy responsible, to call him to account. They boy’s family understood the full economic implications of making babies and came down on him like a ton of bricks. From the real economic relationships there arose a real moral code – the value and the cost of things were clear. The growth of welfare benefits has been huge since that time. And within that system a pregnant girl gets special treatment (top of the state housing list etc). The fear has gone. The old idea, “Don’t, for heaven’s sake, get pregnant. It would be a disaster” has gone. For many girls, getting pregnant is a ticket to get out of the parental home. This has been the subject of detailed studies. A ten percent increase in benefits, one of them finds, tends to increase the prevalence of single mothers by 17 percent.

FP: How has the Left played a role in this development?

Durkin: This whole trend in social policy was fuelled by the anti-family views of the left. The family was bourgeois. Divorce was even celebrated (at least among the serious Left and among tougher feminists). I suppose they thought they were doing young girls a favor. If they did, they were fatted-headed idiots. The effect is disastrous for all those involved. The levels of depression, violence and criminality among lone parents (and their wayward children and transient partners) is heartbreaking. As one commentator puts it, “The evidence that lone parents – and indeed those who cohabit – are very more likely to be victims of violence is worldwide, consistent and overwhelming.” In Britain single parents are about 20 times more likely to suffer domestic violence. A child of a single parent is 15 times more likely to be abused than a child brought up by two natural parents. A child brought up by their natural mother and a cohabite (non natural father) is at even greater risk – 19 times more likely to suffer violence and 74 times more likely to be killed. It’s awful. To catalogue in detail the full devastating effects of welfare – also for example the crippling effects on men who are out of work – would take ages.

 FP: Ok, but tell us some more negative effects.

 Durkin: Overall, I think in general the bigger evil effects of welfare have been enormously underestimated, even by commentators who regard themselves as more pro-capitalist in their sympathies. Welfare is the basic cause of the deleterious cultural changes we have witnessed in the West over the past 60 years. The Welfare State, pioneered in Britain of course, has corrupted this country to its core. It has transformed the country caricatured by Noel Coward and others – essentially pretty decent, self-reliant, and plucky – into a country which is thuggish, selfish, mindless, dispirited and lost. Gone is the British stiff upper lip. Modern Britons are moaning, self-pitying inadequates. The welfare state has bred a generation of obnoxious, drug-addled criminals and ne’er-do-wells. It has also, incidentally, burdened what was once the world’s biggest, most dynamic economy with the dead weight of an obstructive and vastly expensive state machine. I’m sorry to sound cross about this, but I don’t think people fully realise what’s happened. Britain has, I think, the highest crime rate of any industrialised country in the world. It is twice as high as the US. The violent crime rate is higher in London than New York. Britain has the highest rate of drug abuse, the highest teenage pregnancy rate and the highest rate of sexually transmitted disease in the modern industrial world. What the hell happened?

FP: So what the hell happened? 

Durkin: The logic is inescapable. Each slice of do-gooder social policy has had its own tragic, unintended effects. The weight and quality of evidence leaves no room for doubt. The Welfare State has been an unremitting disaster, beyond any hope of reform. It is not that the welfare state isn’t functioning properly, it is that the welfare state is in essence degrading. In the US, I think much the same can be said of the effects of welfare on the black community. How did we get from the nobility of Martin Luther King, to the sordid, gun-toting, rantings of the gangster rappers? Does the Left imagine that this represents liberation? Larry Elder and others have no doubt what’s to blame. The story goes back to Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, which had people going door to door, encouraging people to get on welfare. Now, I understand, nearly 70 percent of today’s black children are born out of wedlock. It can be demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that the modern ‘cultural trends’ which we lament have an economic cause, and are a direct result of state intervention. The Left do not see economic necessity as a proper reflection of actual human relationships, but some capitalist carbuncle. It’s clear now that in removing economic necessity from people’s lives (which is what welfare does), we risk sinking into barbarism.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 24, 2008

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