Thursday, March 31, 2005

 

An Outrageous Plea Agreement

Clinton Administration shenanigans now span 13 years

It seems the permanent campaign has become the permanent cover-up:
....Mr. Berger insisted that he had removed the classified material inadvertently. But in the plea agreement reached with prosecutors, he is expected to admit that he intentionally removed copies of five classified documents, destroyed three and misled staff members at the National Archives when confronted about it, according to an associate of Mr. Berger's who is involved in his defense but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plea has not been formalized in court. (Emphasis mine.)
How can anyone consider this a misdemeanor? Especially when it concerns the worst attack America has ever experienced? And after three years, he could conceivably be in a position to do this again! Unbelievable.

Here's hoping this utterly outrageous plea deal is never finalized in court.

Hindrocket, Michelle Malkin and Captain Ed have more.

Update: More here, including this:
The terms of Berger's agreement required him to acknowledge to the Justice Department the circumstances of the episode. Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

 

College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds

...and water is wet.


College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.


I think it is about time that teachers on all levels get back to teaching instead of trying to indoctrinate. Given this study, and numerous others which support this point, is it time for our state legislators to step in and encourage the hiring of people with various points of view in the interest of education? Armavirumque?


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

 

The U.N. wants to govern the internet

Power grab demonstrates threat to freedom UN poses

The unaccountable, corrupt orgainzation which believes its a prospective world government actually thinks it should wield power over ordinary commerce and people's everyday lives:
The International Telecommunication Union is one of the most venerable of bureaucracies. Created in 1865 to facilitate telegraph transmissions, its mandate has expanded to include radio and telephone communications.

But the ITU enjoys virtually no influence over the Internet. That remains the province of specialized organizations such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN; the Internet Engineering Task Force; the World Wide Web Consortium; and regional address registries.

The ITU, a United Nations agency, would like to change that. "The whole world is looking for a better solution for Internet governance, unwilling to maintain the current situation," Houlin Zhao, director of the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said last year. Zhao, a former government official in China's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, has been in his current job since 1999.
Via Captain Ed, who gets it right:
All one needs to do is to look around the General Assembly to understand which government rules will get "more respected". The UN mostly consists of dictatorships and autocracies, which have little use for the free speech and open information that the Internet provides people all over the world. A free Internet threatens their power and their oppressive regimes. Nothing would please them more than to get their hands on the engines of the Internet in order to suppress the information that would inspire their subjects to throw off their shackles and claim freedom for themselves.

Let me put it to all in this light. Will we trust the same organization that put Libya and Cuba in charge of human rights and Syria in charge of counterterrorism to manage the Internet and safeguard free speech?
The internet is now vital to the functioning of the US economy. It also plays an incresingly important role in our election process. As long as there isn't a Clinton in the White House, the notion that the US will cede anyone - especially a Chinese Communist - any power to influence the US economy or electoral process is ridiculous. This absurd power grab should be quashed immediately. It is further proof of the danger the UN poses to the concept of freedom and another in a lengthening list of reasons that the UN should be destroyed.

 

US offers to help India become “major world power”

It's an offer that's apparently too good to refuse

An interesting article (via windsofchange) about the evolving alliance between the world's two largest democracies. I'm glad to see the US is actively seeking to expedite India's inevitable rise as a world power. The Indians seem to have accepted the US offer.

 

Starving isn't such a painful death



Medical experts say it typically brings on euphoric feelings

LiveAid? What a farce. Do they know its Christmas? Probably not, because they are blissfully starving to death. Don't worry, they're not.

Maybe now that Sir Bob has some free time he might try create some music. I have an idea for a song, She don't need calories.

The feeding tube beside her bed
Gets pulled because were told
Terri can't understand what we say
She won't ever leave the home
And a lot of us don't understand it
Michael is such a choad
'Cause he gives no reason
and there are no reasons
What reason can he show, wo, wo, wo, wo

Tell me why
She don't need calories
Tell me why
she don't need calories
Tell me why
she don't need calories
beca-use, ah ah ah, ah ah-ause
Mike doesn't want her alive

 

Ceasing Food and Fluid Can Be Painless



Hey, let's starve this guy to death. If starvation if pretty much painless than why not have it as an option for executing prisoners. It would save the state money for last meals and drugs for lethal injections. No one person would be responsible for the death so there is no possibility of fellings of guilt later on for the executioner.

But medical experts say going without food and water in the last days and weeks of life is as natural as death itself. The body is equipped with its own resources to adjust to death, they say.


See, going without food and water is natural especially in the last weeks of life. Time to get in touch with our representatives and get this law on the books. Now that we have the liberals on record saying death by starvation can be '...quite blissful and euphoric.'

Update:

Is this fair? You be the judge, I just thought it was a really good photoshop.

I was trying to think of this movie because this whole situation seems so similar. Let's hope it turns out as well:

An extremely non-religious friend of mine told me today that this all reminded him of the movie, The Seventh Sign - remember the last sign? The death of innocence? I think the Bible actually refers to it as "Martyrdom." But the movie manifested this as the execution of a retarded kid that wound up being the straw that broke the camel's back and lead to the coming of the apocalypse.


Bookworm points to Steyn on Schiavo.

Dusty questions what is driving this story.

Pluto's Dad finds humor in the contradiction of euphoric starvation:

Researchers Discover More Pain Means More Euphoria

Scott B. points out that this case is not open and shut. Michael's testimony about Terri's wishes is hearsay.

Monday, March 28, 2005

 

High court: Juvenile death penalty unconstitutional



You see! You see what happens when these punks aren't held responsible! It's a youth crime wave!

The Terri Schiavo deathwatch is so depressing to watch that I am trying not to. But it is difficult to turn away. I was just wanted to find something to laugh about and I was reading someone on the left give the usual "..but what about your support for the death penalty..." argument with regards to this case and I thought of this. I am just so depressed I am trying to find something to laugh about right now to make this less painful.

 

US Sen John Cornyn on Courts & Foreign Law

He is absolutely right:
Today the Court considers whether to take yet another step down this path (of relying upon the legal judgments of foreign courts). The case involves the state of Texas, and I have filed an amicus brief asking the Court to respect its own precedents and to defer to the people of Texas in their administration of criminal justice consistent with the Constitution. The other side in the case argues in effect, however, that the International Court of Justice can effectively overrule a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and of the Texas government. In Breard v. Greene (1998), the Court made clear that criminal defendants, like all parties in litigation, may not sit on their rights and then bring up those rights later as a stalling tactic. That basic principle of our legal system, the Court explained, is not undermined just because the accused happens to be a foreign national covered by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Yet even this basic principle of American law may be reversed, after today's oral argument in Medellin v. Dretke.

This is — to put it lightly — not how our legal system is supposed to work. To the contrary, our Founding Fathers fought the Revolutionary War precisely in order to stop foreign governments from telling us what our laws say. The Declaration of Independence specifically complains that the American Revolution was justified because King George "has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws." It was "We the People of the United States" who ordained and established a Constitution of the United States, one that includes a mechanism by which only "We the People of the United States" can change it if necessary. And of course, every federal judge and justice swears an oath to "faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me...under the Constitution and laws of the United States."

I fear, however, that today some judges may be departing so far from American law, American principles, and American traditions, that the only way they can justify their rulings from the bench is to cite the law of foreign countries, foreign governments, and foreign cultures — because there is nothing in this country left for them to cite for support. What's more, citing foreign law in order to overrule U.S. policy is especially offensive to our constitutional democracy, because foreign lawmaking is in no way accountable to the American people.

Friday, March 25, 2005

 

Kudos to Bolton for telling it like it is

Mark Stein gets it right:

None of Bolton's detractors is worried that his bluntness will jeopardize the administration's policy goals. Quite the contrary. They're concerned that the administration has policy goals -- that it isn't yet willing to subordinate its national interest to the polite transnational pieties. In that sense, our understanding of "diplomacy" has become corrupted: It's no longer the language through which nation states treat with one another so much as the code-speak consensus of a global elite.

For much of the civilized world the transnational pablum has become an end in itself, and one largely unmoored from anything so tiresome as reality. It doesn't matter whether there is any global warming or, if there is, whether Kyoto will do anything about it or, if you ratify Kyoto, whether you bother to comply with it: All that matters is that you sign on to the transnational articles of faith. The same thinking applies to the International Criminal Court, Darfur, the Oil-for-Fraud program, and anything else involving the U.N.

That's what Bolton had in mind with his observations about international law: "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so -- because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States." Just so. When George Bush Sr. went through the U.N. to assemble his Stanley Gibbons coalition for the first Gulf War, it may have been a "diplomatic triumph" but it was also the biggest single contributing factor to the received wisdom in the decade and a half since that only the U.N. has the international legitimacy to sanction war.


Bill C: Take a listen to the end of the Democracy Now! broadcast in this post which discusses why Bolton is such a horrible (great) choice for UN ambassador. My only question is which side of Mt. Rushmore for Chimpy McBushitler's face?

MattO: Recent WSJ article has a good quote:

Right now, the U.N. is beset by two great crises. The first is of efficacy. Over the past few years, the world has seen a depressing series of demonstrations of everything the U.N. can't do. It cannot prevent mass killing in Rwanda, Bosnia and now Darfur . It cannot competently (never mind ethically) administer an Oil for Food program. It cannot speedily deliver assistance to the victims of natural catastrophes. It cannot enforce its own Security Council resolutions. It cannot stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It cannot even define terrorism.

I think assigning Bolton sends the signal that diplomacy for the sake of diplomacy is over. The UN has been, and continues to be, little more than a self-aggrandizing debate club.

This move by Bush can save the UN from complete irrelevence; whether or not that's a good think I'm not sure.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

 

On the Border

Michelle Malkin has been blogging about the southern border problem and a has an interesting post about the Minutemen Project (site was not accessible at time of posting). While I like their stated purpose:

We will seal the border by our presence, but will not violate anyone's civil rights, and will not abuse anyone from any country. By legal means we will observe ILLEGAL immigrants on trails heading north. We will alert border patrol to the location of illegals, and wait for USBP to come and pick them up. We will follow illegal aliens from a distance and continue spotting them until authorities answer our cell phone and/or back-pack radio calls. All spotting, calls for assistance, and the response from the appropriate authorities will be chronicled and provided to any media representative.

I think there is a line they need to be careful not to cross. If only everyone would respect such lines. Bush opposes the Project but has nothing to say about the problem. I'm not sure what he is hoping to gain by ignoring it. I don't think it is as simple as the hispanic vote.

Also, it seems some are protesting the Project. I wonder if they are volunteers.

Bill C: Here is a video of Malkin talking about the border and the gang, MS-13, on Fox.

Also, if you want to volunteer for something, how about this.

 

Greetings Moonbats, from your pals in the Middle East



Why not drop the pretense and greet each other in the manner which is most fitting considering your views?

Militants of the Palestinian ruling Fatah (news - web sites) party salute during a pre-election rally for the students council at the Al-Quds university in the West Bank town of Hebron Monday March 21, 2005. Tensions are increasing between Fatah and the Hamas Islamic group, which scored a decisive victory in student elections at Hebron University last week, and Hamas is expected to fare well in the Palestinian parliamentary elections set for July.


Meanwhile in L.A.:

The crowd in Los Angeles swelled despite the morning rain. It took more than 30 minutes for the demonstration, marching on very wide streets, to enter the final rally area near Hollywood and Highland. The LA march included contingents from the labor movement, youth and students, Palestinian and Arab American community, the Philippino community, Cuba and the Cuban Five, immigrant rights movement, the women's equality movement, and many other organizations and communities.


I think the saying is that if you sleep with dogs you will catch fleas. Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of support from totalitarianism coming from many different camps. Afterall, persecution of the Jews is not limited to the fascists. What I am trying to say is that a lot of the leftist causes are coming to the same old conclusions, it's the Jews fault. You guys really need to police your own. I don't think you support anti-semitism so distance yourselves from those that do. Otherwise it is hard to not draw the conclusion that you are part of the same crowd, especially when you march in the same crowd.

 

The Fed creates credit not money, the Wal-Mart economy

I promised to write about deflation and depressions a long time ago. Frankly, the subject is daunting and after giving it some thought I would rather take it in bite sized chunks.

There is a common misperception about the way the Federal Reserve (Fed) works in our economy. It is due to the terminology that is common among people throughout the worlds of banking, finance and academia. The Fed does not create money, it creates credit. Even this is misleading. The Fed makes credit available to the banking system, the banking system makes credit available to its customers. But the customers do not have to use that credit/borrow that money if they don't think there is anything worth buying/investing in. This is important to understand because it is the way that an economy can suffer from deflation.


First to define deflation: A persistent decrease in the level of consumer prices or a persistent increase in the purchasing power of money because of a reduction in available currency and credit. Simple enough. "Why not just print more money/offer more credit to reflate the economy," you might say. Good question. (Patting you on the back) The problem is that deflation is in our collective minds. We create deflation when we have the expectation that prices will continue to fall and then we postpone purchases or demand lower prices before we buy. Those of you over 35 probably remember the inflation of the seventies. Inflationary expections pushed demands for higher wages, etc. Fed head Paul Volcker raised interest rates and this is credited for breaking the back of inflation. Back to back recessions in the early 80's caused people to stop expecting higher prices. It is hard to demand a raise when you don't have a job.

Just like inflation, deflation is the result of people having certain expectations. I should explain something else before I go on. There are two types of inflation. There is commodity/consumer price inflation (1970's) and asset price inflation(1990's). During the late 80' and 90's the U.S. economy was in a period of what economists called disinflation. Prices of consumer good's and commodities were not rising as quickly as they had in the 1970's. Economists are people, too, and people have a tendency to emphasize the problem that is last on their minds. With consumer prices not rising quickly and the quality of many products increasing substantially because of technological innovation we were in the best of all possible worlds by the standards of the 1970's.

What everyone ignored was that we were experiencing inflation in the 90's, asset price inflation. Of course, this inflation tended to benefit a substantial portion of the population so what's the problem? Nothing, except for the fact that asset price inflation sets the stage for deflation. You see deflation is always the outcome of an asset price bubble. Bubble is the other term used to describe an asset price inflation that carries values too high. I should say that "too high" is a question open to debate. Alan Greenspan gave his irrational exuberance speech back in 1996. (Just for fun you should go and look at the levels of the Dow and Nasdaq back then) Obviously, saying that something is overvalued is not enough to cause the price to go down.

The Fed can make credit available at very attractive levels and not have a consumer price inflation. (I will discuss why one type of inflation is prevalent versus the other some other time) Instead, asset prices rise and rise and everyone who owns stocks and bonds and houses is happy. Everyone who doesn't...well screw the proles.* So let's say the Fed sees asset price deflation in the form of a falling stock market and they make lots of credit available to the public, what will happen? (Hint, this is exactly what happened starting in late 2000) What can happen is that people will switch from watching CNBC to watching real estate ads in their local paper. I cannot complain about this. I bought a home in 1999 and sold it last year for a healthy 64% profit. It seems that the public has switched from speculating in stocks to housing. This is not all that different from the 90's when one stock sector would get hot and then cool then another. What really made me smile was that the last really hot stock sector of the bubble was biotech stocks. If you remember, these same stocks were very hot in 1993-94 before fizzling.

One thing you should know is that the Fed has made credit available pretty much throughout the 90's and 00's. I think Easy Al, see Fleckisms, learned a bad lesson during the crash of 1987. Make credit available during a crisis and you will avoid the crisis. Sounds good but it teachs those that take risks that if they take a big enough risk the Fed will bail them out. The public learned this lesson well and we had been buying stocks with wild abandon until 2000.

What causes bubbles to pop? Very easy, people change their minds about buying and borrowing. This is what I want to you to know. There is no way to know when that will happen and there is no way to get people to switch their mindset once the collective A-ha moment occurs and the masses decide that owning Yahoo, Sysco Systems, Xillinx ;-) or three condos in Florida is a bad idea. You can tell them that there are objective measures of value which show that a particular stock or the stock market in general is too expensive and that it will almost certainly be a poor performer for long term investors but that does not matter. We are wired to look for short term pleasure and a rising price is good enough excuse to buy. We think linearly and we love to extrapolate trends into the future to the point of ridiculousness. When the speculation stops and prices start to go down people will grow increasingly more pessimistic. At the bottom you will hear a lot of people question whether the United States can survive. That would be a good time to buy stocks.

I will tell you what is going to happen, the Fed will continue to make credit available but no one will want to borrow it. For one, many people have borrowed to the hilt leveraging real estate. They own assets with debt and they will not have enough income to service that debt. For those of us who might have money readily available or good credit ratings, we are going to sit back and watch prices fall. Like in a Wal-Mart store you will pick up the paper and see stock prices with minus signs next to them and houses with the magic word "reduced" in the real estate section. Watch for falling prices will be the slogan for this era. If you do not need to buy stocks or housing then you will not be inclined to buy them for an investment when the price keeps falling month after month, year after year. The opposite cycle of expectations will keep people from buying as prices fall.

When? Your guess is as good as mine. I just know that it will.



*A lot of people I knew, including myself, missed a good portion of the 90's housing bull market. For young people who were priced out of assets in the 90's they have good reason to be unhappy about a housing bubble that carried real estate prices well beyond any increase they saw in their incomes. That is a societal inequity which results from a fiat currency. Prices of assets do not reflect the value to those who consume them. It is the reason the Fed is tasked with maintaining price stability. I do not know why asset price stability is not part of that other than the political pressure to avoid clamping down on easy credit. (see Laurence Kudlow who has laughingly accused Al.com of being too tight with credit) Stable prices allow people to plan for the future because they can save and invest knowing that they will get a fairly certain return on the
ir money. The Federal Reserve was supposed to be beyond politics, it isn't. I hope that now we can see the deletrious effects of rampant speculation that the people of this country will demand a stable currency and banking system which does not feed this frenzy.


Monday, March 21, 2005

 

More UN Piecegetters



Yup, more instigating!

Suggested caption from Gagdad Bob on Littlegreenfootballs:

U.S. out of the U.N., U.N. out of Timorese boys!

Now it's your turn!

 

UN Piecegetters

I have googled and technoratied the term piecegetters and I am sure that Dusty is the first person to coin it. Let it be known that UN peacekeepers shall hence for be called piecegetters.

Great job Dusty!

"...such as the "zero tolerance" for UN piecegetters UN peacekeepers..."


This cracked me up when I read it, I actually snorted. Let the power of the internet carry it far and wide! Get posting!

Update:
Jordanian UN Peacekeepers Draw Guns on Aussies

 

Volokh on cruel and unusual punishments

John O's reasoning behind his desire to see capital punishment stopped in Illinois is similar to Eugene Volokh's determination that cruel and unusual punishment would be difficult for our political and justice systems to handle.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

 

Voices in the Wilderness and Kathy Kelly

In this post's comments section armavirumque mentions the name Kathy Kelly who is the director of Voices in the Wilderness (VITW):

Ouch, that's a fairly harsh view of Corrie. I wonder what you have to say about someone like Kathy Kelly who remains a personal hero to a lot of us because she has always lived a life of conviction (yes, even when it happened to result in income tax evasion or arrest). And you'd be pretty hard pressed to dismiss her as so easily as just some secular leftist. If the world loses her because of the cause and the people she fights for and is dedicated to, will her life and accomplishments be dismissed so readily?

As armavirumque might know, Kathy Kelly taught me religion at a Chicago area high school for two years and I am fairly positive she would remember me if not for my name at least because I was an active participant in class. Ms. Kelly has been a consistent supporter of the peace movement so if that is why you admire her then you are correct to do so. What I don't think you realize is the harm the Kelly's organization has done to the people it purports to want to help. How does VITW positions hurt people? Well, first I will tell you why.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being for peace and against war seems like a perfectly reasonable philosophy except that it means you askew using force when it serves to protect the weak from the strong. In fact, VITW has turned a blind eye towards the violence that Saddam visited on his own people since its existence for the sole reason that mentioning any Iraqi human rights abuses would have prevented VITW from entering Iraq and becoming mouthpieces for Saddam Hussein. From a Yesmagazine.org interview of Kelly:

Carolyn: Were there any alternatives to war that would have addressed the human rights abuses of Saddam Hussein’s regime? How might we address other situations where there are abusive regimes?

Kathy: ...Before the war, I was often in touch with the Iraqi technocrats at a low level of government. Many of them were decent people. You wouldn’t call them collaborators with an atrocious, evil government. They were people trying to solve a myriad of problems. I think that people like that, given time, would have been able to wean the government away from the control of the human rights abusers. They would have needed some measure of prosperity to maintain a middle class. And they would have needed to have social services sufficient so that people had time to think about their government. And they would have needed communication. But 11 years of economic sanctions did precisely the opposite. They wrecked social services, the education system, and the communications infrastructure. Iraqis didn’t have communication within the country nor from outside Iraq. They couldn’t analyze their situation as well as we could because they didn’t have access to the materials we were reading. So they kept blaming whomever was closest, which was their affluent classes and Saddam Hussein, but they didn’t even realize the extent of what was being done to them at the hands of the United Nations and the U.S.-led sanctions. At the same time, Iraqis didn’t have any sense of anybody really wanting to help Iraq...


So you see if only those good and decent mid-level Baathists had been given a chance to wean the government from the upper level Baathists then everything would have been alright. Sounds like she was encouraging coup. Wean: " To detach from that to which one is strongly habituated or devoted." So the habit of violently suppressing a population is a lot like smoking. Maybe someone can create a despot patch. Saddamoderm.

In the eyes of Kelly, the real culprit is the sanctions, not Saddam Hussein. She wants to teach the Iraqis that it wasn't Saddam that was oppressing them, it was the United States and the sanctions. Do I need to go any further or is this as ridiculous to you as it is to me? But you know what, in Kelly's defense, she is being consistent. Consistently blaming the U.S. for real and imagined atrocities. A former member of VITW wrote about his epiphany that the group was not interested in the welfare of the people of Iraq so much as it was interested in promoting its agenda. From David Horowitz's Frontpagemag.com:

"To be perfectly frank, we were less concerned with the suffering of the Iraqi people than we were in maintaining our moral challenge to U.S. foreign policy. We did not agitate for an end to sanctions for purely humanitarian reasons; it was more important to us to maintain our moral challenge to 'violent' U.S. foreign policy, regardless of what happened in Iraq. For example, had we been truly interested in alleviating the suffering in Iraq, we might have considered pushing for an expanded Oil-for-Food program. Nothing could have interested us less. Indeed, we even regarded the paltry amounts of aid that we did bring to Iraq as a logistical hassle. When it suited us, we portrayed ourselves as a humanitarian nongovernmental organization and at other times as a political group lobbying for a policy change. In our attempt to have it both ways, we failed in both of these missions. We were so preoccupied with our own agenda that we didn't notice or care that the regime made use of us. When critics asked us whether the group was being exploited by the Iraqi regime, we obfuscated, and in so doing put Saddam and his minions on the same level as the U.S. government."


What is apparent in Kelly's approach to Iraq is blindness to any evidence that Saddam was the cause of the problem. Is denial a characteristic required of a peace activist? Does non-violence have any meaning if it covers up the atrocities of dictators? Corrie was young. Maybe she did not understand who she was involved with. That terrorists were not beyond using the naivete of the left to further their cause. But Kelly is not young and she should know better than attribute the suffering in Iraq to the sanctions. She should have known that VITW was repeating Iraqi propaganda.

Is Kelly a dupe? I will leave that up to you. Does it matter? Not to me. You can decide for yourselves where the line at complicity is drawn. All I would ask of you is to answer the questions do we excuse VITW because they are true believers? Do you absolve yourself for supporting policies that result in the death or disfigurement of people because it is in the name of peace? I will defend the U.S. invasion of Iraq because it was in the interests of my country and also in the interests of the Iraqi people. I cannot deny the death of innocent civilians caused by the U.S. military and I support every effort to avoid these deaths. But the peace movement refuses to own the damage and death their support of Saddam Hussein has caused. Conviction to a cause which is blind to injustice is nothing to celebrate so I suggest that you learn more about VITW and decide if they are consistent in the cause of human liberty and life.

More on Kathy Kelly and VITW.



Friday, March 18, 2005

 

Chicago Improv Network open thread

Keep it civil.

 

BANNED, again

This is the third time I have been banned from the Politico board at the Chicago Improv Network. (Poltico requires password) Like my previous bannings this came without warning. As you might have guessed most improvisers, at least the ones that are vocal, are on the left. Sometimes really far to the left as I have posted before on this blog. Imagine turning on your family for no other reason than you have different political beliefs than they do. I am absolutely positive that these people were indoctrinated in college or university by the likes of Ward Churchill. More proof that intelligent people can be blinded by ideology. (I am currently reading this book)

The difference with this banning is that I am banned completely from the site. I can view the boards, except politico, as long as I don't log in but I cannot post anything on the site. I must have really p.o. somebody and I think I know why. One of my previous bannings came when I posted something derogatory about Rachel Corrie immediately after her death. I said that she was a useful idiot and her death is a shame but she put herself in harms way. I have little regard for her actions or her cause. In honor of the second aniversary of her death I posted the same and added that I thought she was a saint in the secular religion which is leftism.

You must be asking why bother debating anything on the internet, I know Bill O has told me his opinion on the subject: it's a waste of time. There were a couple of liberals who were reasonable. A couple of the bigger moonbats had left the board I would like to think because they did not want to deal with someone challenging them. In all, I could ignore the worst of it or give back as good as I got and I must admit I enjoy the challenge of forming arguments and debating. It was good fun for me.

I am sure what tipped it this time was my disdain for Ms. Corrie/St. Pancake. There are certain subjects you could not broach and her death was considered a tragedy emblematic of everything wrong with the U.S. foreign policy. Each of these young heads full of mush could see themselves in Ms. Corrie. Her martyrdom taken for granted. And I think they are right. She was exactly what is wrong with our educational system. What kind of schools produce zealots who hate their country? The schools to which you are sending your kids! Thank God for Ward Churchill. Every new detail about his life the lying, manipulation, threats of violence, everything is a huge advertisement for our politicized secondary education system. If you have ever wondered why your grandson is such a sullen little brat. Why can't stand your bourgeouise attitude then look no further than the little Churchill's who teach him to hate this great country. (I really hate that this turd of a human being has the same last name as Winston)

I think I will use this opportunity to mention Studentsforacademicfreedom.org. Only you can stop a brainwashing in the guise of an education.

There is a big opportunity in comedy for conservative points of view. I think I will use my time away from the trenches on the politico board to write that great musical exposing hypocrisy on the left. I have always believed that a sign of the right's emergence as the political majority will be when you start seeing really good conservative satire. We have started but there is a lot more out there that needs to be ridiculed.

 

Socionomics Part II

About a month ago I wrote this post on socionomics. After that I was contacted by Gordon Graham who is the director of the Socionomics Institute. Mr. Graham politely pointed out some mistakes and mischaracterizations I had made concerning this new field. He offered to correct my effort and the result is below. I thought it would be a great disservice to my readers to not offer the best explanation and reading Mr. Graham's revision I can see that I did not do a very good job. Please note that Mr. Graham was extremely kind and I am flattered that he would consider our blog worth his time. IMHO, this reflects his desire to give the public a better understanding of a new approach to economics, sociology, finance, etc. from which the world will greatly benefit.


Socionomics is a new theory of social causality that offers fresh insights into collective human behavior. Its primary hypothesis is that humans unconscious and pre-rational impulses to herd lead to the emergence of social mood trends, which in turn shape the tone and character of all social action, including economics and finance. In general terms, social mood motivates social action and not the other way around as is commonly assumed.

Below are a few examples of the difference in causal perspective between socionomics and conventional theories:

Standard View
Recession causes businessmen to be cautious.
Talented leaders make the population happy.
A rising stock market makes people increasingly optimistic.
Scandals make people outraged.
Happy music makes people smile.

Socionomic View
Cautious businessmen cause recession.
A happy populationi makes leaders appear talented.
Increasingly optimistic people make the stock market rise.
Outraged people seek out scandals.
People who want to smile choose happy music.

This is completely contrary to the way that classical economics and the efficient market hypothesis look at the world. The following list from the November 2004 Futures magazine contrasts the two perspectives as they apply specifically to economics/finance:


Economic model

Objective, conscious, rational decisions to maximize utility determine financial values
Financial markets are random
Financial markets are unpredictable
Financial markets "tend toward equilibrium" and "revert to the mean"
Investors' decisions are based on knowledge and certainty
Changing events presage changes in the values of associated financial instruments
Economic principles govern finance

Socionomic model

Subjective, unconscious, pre-rational impulses to herd determine financial values
Financial markets are patterned
Financial markets are probabilistically predictable
Financial markets are dynamic and do not revert to anything
Investors in financial markets typically use information to rationalize emotional imperatives
Investors decisions are fraught with ignorance and uncertainty
Changing values of financial instruments presage changes in associated events
Socionomic principles govern finance

As you might have guessed, this has profound implications for the way we view finance. What should have immediately caught your eye is the claim that "financial markets are probabilistically predictable." The chief proponent of socionomics is a man by the name of Robert Prechter who began as a market analyst in the 1970's when he discovered the works of Ralph Nelson Elliott. Elliott's Wave Principle is a model of the markets that breaks market movements down into fractal patterns. (All long before fractals were "discovered") Prechter used Elliott's Wave Principle to predict the markets and achieved the title of "market guru of the decade" in the 1980's. Prechter took the next logical step with socionomics. It was a case of the useful tool being discovered before the science that could explain how it worked. If markets are fractals, does this say something about humanity? Socionomics is the answer.

Why am I writing about this? I want to give you an idea of what might be coming to the US economy in the near future which will not be very pretty. Rather than present my predictions in a vacuum I thought you would better appreciate what I have to say if you understood from where my prognostications are derived. One more thing I want to address. I am sure that some of you look at this as an attempt of some sort of predetermination. It is not at all. Probabilistically predictable means that you can look at a chart of prices and make a better than random, but not certain, guess at what the next move will be. If you study the Wave Principle you will find that there are times when it is simply impossible to make a determination with confidence. And you will find that there are times when it seems like the market is screaming, "I am about to go up/down right now!"

My next post on this subject will make the case for deflation and depression. For more on the socionomic perspective, please see: http://www.socionomics.net/what_is/what_is_insight.aspx.



 

Edwards mum on his political future



Former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards declined to say Thursday whether he ever promised to stay out of the campaign for president in 2008 if his former running mate, Sen. John Kerry, seeks the party's nomination again.

Via NRO's Beltway Buzz (Hattip: Viking pundit)

"Personal, confidential conversations between Sen. Kerry and myself are going to stay personal and confidential,'' Edwards said in an interview with The Chronicle following a Thursday speech to the San Francisco Bar Association.

Gee I wonder why? Maybe neither one of them wants the outside world to hear Kerry call Edwards a backstabbing, viperous, ambulance-chasing shark. Of course, Kerry is not known for having a massive sense of entitlement, so they might be good buddies. Yeah.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

 

Run with the Fox...

...but keep him on his side of the fence.

The southern border issue has been making news lately (including here) but nothing is being done. I thought after the election Bush might face the political heat and erect a wall/fence along the entire southern border. He passed on an opportunity immediately following 9/11 and has done nothing since.

I don't know how much longer the border chaos will be tolerated but I don't see any changes on the horizon. Perhaps it will take another disaster to wake some more people up.

 

The Chapin Nation

New addition to the blogroll

Bernard Chapin of Gangsta Island fame has a blog. Check it out and you will see a picture of yours truly on his wedding day. Mr. Chapin writes about gender issues, education and just about everything under the sun. That plus the tasteful pictures of scantily clad women make his blog a must see! I am beginning to sound like a movie critic.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

 

End Capital Punishment in Illinois

The state is just too corrupt to have it

I have always been a big supporter of capital punishment. But recent events have caused me to rethink things.

Yesterday the Chicago Tribune editorialized (registration required - see BugMeNot) in favor of a bill pending in the Illinois House which would "require that jurors determine they have no doubt about a defendant's guilt before they sentence him to death." The editorial begins:
Illinois came dangerously close to executing some innocent men. That knowledge was so frightening that the governor imposed a moratorium on capital punishment and the legislature moved to eliminate doubt about the guilt of those who face a death sentence.

Most of the reforms enacted in recent years have focused on changing the practices for investigating and prosecuting a crime.

But just how much have those practices really changed? One day earlier, the Trib ran a front page story concerning political interference in a murder investigation:
The Illinois attorney general is seeking a review of allegations that state police officers investigating a Downstate double-murder were thwarted by their supervisors because a potential suspect had made hefty political donations.
(For those who don't know, there are no limits on donations to political campaigns in Illinois and the few regulations that cover the practice are not enforced. For instance, disclosure of the donor and the ammount is required, but quite a few Illinois politicians have been embarassed when information regarding sizable "loans" they had received became public knowledge.)

The article continues:
Three high-ranking Illinois State Police officials have made sworn statements backing the allegations made by Lt. Michale Callahan, and those depositions will be among the documents brought to the attention of the governor's executive inspector general.

Callahan has filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was demoted because he doggedly pursued the investigation of a 1986 double murder in Paris, Ill., and later accused two superiors of telling him to back off.

The decision by Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan's office Monday to make Gov. Rod Blagojevich's inspector general "aware of the pleadings in the case" came just hours after the attorney general lost a bid to have Callahan's case tossed out of federal court.
Though I'm not sure, I think Illinois is unique in that nobody in state government is seriously expected to investigate allegations of political corrption. Instead, the Attorney General (who is the daughter of the Illinois House Speaker) was trying to have this particular case tossed out of court. Indeed, it was business as usual here in Illinois as the only way these type of allegations get to see the light of day is if they somehow make it into federal court.

Perhaps, as the Tribune editorial suggests, former Governer Ryan imposed a moratorium on capital punishment because the thought of executing an innocent person really did frighten him. Perhaps. But does anyone seriously doubt that he commuted the sentences of all death row inmates because his scandal plagued administration desperately needed the positive publicity along with the civic and international accolades that such a move would surely elicit? The manner in which the whole clemency process was milked for the maixmum publicity and political effect was truly revolting. It was an transparently cynical move by a Governer who, against stiff competition, was the most corrupt governor in Illinois history.

Since there isn't any way to completely seperate or eliminate politics from the judicial system, and because politics in Illinois is so thoroughly and fundamentally corrupt, this state should not have capital punishment. Period. This level of corruption is just so corrosive of public trust that the justice system is inevitably compromised. It is no accident that so many people were wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death in this state. The disposition of every capital murder case is affected in some way by the taint of corruption, even if it is only indirectly. (For one prominent example, consider all of the cases in which the trial judge who acquitted mob hitman Harry Aleman was involved. Though it was obvious at the time what had happened, it wasn't until Operation Greylord came to fruition nearly a decade later that the rotten truth behind the acquittal was exposed. Could that judge have been exceedingly tough on some other murder defendants throughout his career because he had something to prove?)

I'm still a supporter - all be it a reluctant one - of capital punishment when it is carried out by a responsible government. But Illinois government is just too corrupt. Capital punishment shouldn't be an option here until this somehow changes.

 

Have 200,000+ Recently Quit The Chinese Communist Party?

This curious article from the Epoch Times claims more than 200,000 have resigned from the Chinese Communist Party since late last year. I got this link via Daniel Drezner, who isn't sure what to make of the story. I don't know what to make of it either.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

 

Financial aside...

I'll take a break from our usual political fare to bring up a subject near and dear to my heart lately- long term interest rates. Since I'm shopping for a home I've been following the rate on the US 10-year note with fervent interest. Most mortgage loans are tied to the 10-year in one way or another and I've been watching painfully as the 10-year has gone from 3.98% to 4.55% in about 5weeks! That's almost a 15% increase in a very short period of time. It was torture to watch as my likely future mortgage payments increased day after day.

So, today friends I bring you a quote referenced in my favorite financial newsletter and ask you to guess when it was uttered:

The fiscal history of Latin America...is replete with instances of
government default. Borrowing and default follow each other with almost
perfect regularity. When payment is resumed, the past is easily forgotten
and a new borrowing orgy ensues. This process started at the beginning of this past century and continued down to this present day. It has taught
nothing.

(The citation is in the comments section.)

What does this have to do with the 10-year? Interest rates for emerging market debt has been falling lately (the 'spread' is very narrow). This will eventually capitulate as market participants wake-up and wonder what they've been smoking that's causing them to give emering market debt such favorable interest rates vis-a-vis US debt. When this happens there will be selling of emerging market and buying of US. This will bring US rates down (b/c price goes up due to increased demand).

So, to make a long, borring story short, I am quite hopeful that we will see decreased mortgage rates in a few weeks. Cha-ching!

Bill C: It is just as likely that U.S. L-T interest rates will rise more slowly than foreign rates. I think you are right about the spread but there is no saying how this scenario will play out. I would lock in as quick as possible.

 

Looting in Iraq

This New York Times article (registration required - see BugMeNot for help) describes certain incidents of looting that took place in the month after Saddam's fall as 'systemic' and 'organized.' Bryan Preston is dumbfounded.
How many "looters" have access to armies of men to operate and carry heavy equipment, not to mention flatbed trucks and cranes to move it all? And what kind of "looter" operates in a war zone, shortly after the fall of a regime--or at least shortly after that regime's retreat into insurgency mode? The "looting" peaked in April and May of 2003--just after Saddam's disappearance but before the Coalition had much of a grasp on Iraq as an entity.
He links to this from Christopher Hitchens:
But obviously, what we are reading about is a carefully planned military operation. The participants were not panicked or greedy civilians helping themselves—which is the customary definition of a "looter," especially in wartime. They were mechanized and mobile and under orders, and acting in a concerted fashion. Thus, if the story is factually correct—which we have no reason at all to doubt—then Saddam's Iraq was a fairly highly-evolved WMD state, with a contingency plan for further concealment and distribution of the weaponry in case of attack or discovery.
James Joyner makes this observation about 'misreporting' by the New York Times:
Apparently, there were simultaneously no WMD programs, which proves Bush was a liar, and the plants housing said program were systematically looted, which proves Bush is an incompetent boob who really didn't care about WMD after all.

It's truly a wonder such a man was re-elected.
The real wonder how the New York Times continues to get things so wrong so often.

Bill C: The best line in the Hitchens article was the description of the use of cranes and other heavy equipment was considered 'organized looting'.

 

Freedom of Expression in Iraq

Directed at those who enable the terrorists

It is nice to see ordinary Iraqis demonstrating how they feel about the complicity of foreign governments in the ongoing terrorist campaign:
Thousands of Iraqis demonstrated their outrage at a Jordain suicide bomber by storming the Jordanian embassy in Bahgdad.
Also:
Some Iraqi shopkeepers are boycotting Syrian products because "the Syrian government is benefiting from trade with Iraq and using the money they get to fund the criminals who slaughter our people."
Good for them.

 

Welcome 'Armavirumque'!

I big wet fish-kiss to long lost perma-liberal Armavirmque! We look forward to your informed and insightful (if not inciteful) repartee.

 

The US/Japanese Alliance

It's about to become broader and deeper.

This Taipei Times article outlines the evolving strategic relationship between the US and Japan.
The critical feature (in the revision of the alliance): The US and Japan will transform their security bond from one of senior partner-junior partner to one of more nearly equals in policy and strategy, even if the military power of the US still overshadows that of Japan.
More on the changes in US strategic thinking here.

Monday, March 14, 2005

 

Escape from Gangsta Island

This is Bernard Chapin's excellent recount of his days working at an alternative High School in the Chicago area. I highly recommend this not only because it is an almost unbelievable trip into the madness of one disfunctional public school but it is extremely well written. The link is the eighth chapter of a serialization which is presented on the website mensnewsdaily.com. Chapin's story revolves around the hiring of an insane Principal who turns a fairly well run school into her private playpen, a monument to her ego.

I urge you to read this from the beginning and I don't doubt you will soon be anxiously waiting for the next chapter just like me.

 

Watch the Border

Al-Zarqawi laments the lack of willing martyrs and reveals troubling plans for the U.S.

Time magazine reports on information coming out of interrogations from captured jihadis in Iraq:

Al-Zarqawi's aide also revealed that his boss, after pondering the absence of attacks in the U.S. in recent years, concluded that a lack of "willing martyrs" was to blame.

The left has often said that Iraq will be a "terror breeding ground" when it has in fact it is a terrorist killing zone. Young men filled with hate have only come to Iraq to meet the world's most advanced army. It has not been pretty. However, all the news is not good.

The bulletin also notes the Iraq-based master terrorist's apparent belief that "if an individual has enough money, he can bribe his way into the U.S.," specifically by obtaining a "visa to Honduras" and then traveling across Mexico and the southern U.S. border.
In Tom Clancy's The Teeth of the Tiger terrorists cross over the Mexican border with the help of a 'mule' who does not question the purpose of their trip. They then proceed to turn a shopping mall into a bloodbath. In my previous post I noted that the Democrats could make inroads with disgruntled Republicans who favor greater control of our borders. If an attack occurred that involved terrorists who crossed the Mexican border the Democrats would lay the blame on President Bush and they would be right to do so. The Republicans need to realize a secure border is not an issue which will hurt their chances with the Hispanic community if it is presented as a security measure. Better to start this now before events force action.

 

Comedian Dave Allen dies

Kind of spooky that we just talked about him.

"Don't mourn for me now, don't mourn for me never - I'm going to do nothing for ever and ever (what Allen said he would like to have inscribed on his tombstone) "

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