Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Obama puts nation at risk with CIA investigation

President Barack Obama has made another horrid decision, deciding not to put an immediate stop to the dangerous probe into activities of the CIA in working to protect the United States from terrorist attacks during the Bush administration.

Attorney General Eric Holder launched a preliminary investigation in August into some old cases that had already been reviewed by the Justice Department and determined to be without merit. The reviews were performed by career employees who are non-partisan and have no ideological or political motives.

In a letter to the president, seven past directors of the CIA – representing the administrations of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon – asked that the investigation be dropped, and, Mr. Obama’s own CIA chief, Leon Panetta, has also voiced opposition to the investigation.

“Those men and women who undertake difficult intelligence assignments in the aftermath of an attack such as September 11 must believe there is permanence in the legal rules that govern their actions,” the former director’s wrote. And they told the president that reopening these cases “creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy,” which will inhibit CIA officers in their efforts to thwart terrorist activities.

The investigation will make them less willing to take risks and will damage relationships with foreign intelligence agencies that assist US efforts, the former directors said. The investigation requires the CIA officers to obtain expensive legal counsel, and distracts them from their important work. Now, instead of working to prevent attacks by fanatics who want to kill Americans, they will be defending themselves against politically-motivated attacks from the government they have successfully defended from terrorism for the last eight years.

So how did the president respond to the former CIA directors request to put the kibosh on this reckless and partisan investigation? The White House said Mr. Obama – who didn’t hesitate to take over an auto company and some banks, and wants to take over your health care – doesn’t involve himself in these activities.

Perhaps President Obama and his followers believe the terrorist threat isn’t real. After all, 9-11 was eight whole years ago. Maybe they believe the terrorist threat and the entire War on Terror were cooked up by George Bush and Dick Cheney as an excuse to encroach on the freedoms of the American people, and to illegally imprison innocent Muslims in that hell-hole in Cuba where they must endure three square meals of special food, accommodation on religious issues, and American-quality health care. That is, however, a very dangerous position, given the recent discovery of three separate home-grown terrorist cells. The US is absolutely under attack by terrorists.

Much credit is due to the FBI in uncovering these terrorist activities on our own soil, but we must understand that it had help from folks like the CIA employees the attorney general wants to investigate. Ideally, we want to find the terrorists at work here in America before they kill people, and we want to find their support networks overseas, and for that to happen, the CIA has to be at the top of its game. By his equivocation on stopping the investigation, Barack Obama has insured that the CIA will not be at the top of its game, and that puts every American at increased risk of being a victim of terrorism.

At the root of this inquisition are political motives, an obsession with destroying George W. Bush, and a naïve view of war and how to win. This is the attitude that caused the United States to lose in Vietnam; we cannot afford to lose this one.

There are abundant quotes from famous people about the inhuman and evil nature of war. These ideas are certainly noble, and worthy of being held up as goals for mankind. But they ignore the reality that some people think differently and will eagerly indulge in violence to achieve their goals. Those are the sort who attacked us on September 11, 2001, and are determined still to bring us down.

When Aristotle said, “We make war that we may live in peace,” he was saying that when confronted by an enemy, if you want to survive, you have to defeat him.

We must defeat our terrorist enemies by capturing or killing them before they act and kill innocent Americans, and we will accomplish that through the intelligence work of the CIA. We cannot allow it to be shackled by goofy platitudes and high-minded but self-defeating policies that protect the enemy and put Americans at risk. And to do this we must have the assistance of foreign intelligence organizations, but if they are afraid to work with us because our president behaves stupidly and puts their lives in jeopardy through ill-advised and dangerous policies, we will lose their assistance.

Through his recent actions Mr. Obama appears to believe that our CIA presents a greater danger to the country than the terrorists the CIA is fighting. Can our country survive this type of leadership? Community organizing may be a useful skill set in our cities, but it is a poor substitute for the wisdom of warriors when you are in a war.

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The drug price issue is ripe for demagoguery

Politicians love issues that get voters upset and they use them to attract votes. One of those is the cost of drugs and the evil, greedy pharmaceutical industry. People think they’re being ripped off when pills cost more than a few cents each, and some enterprising politician will likely use that issue to his or her advantage.

You can make the argument that a drug that is effective in treating a serious medical condition is worth whatever it costs, but that argument often collapses when someone thinks about how a bunch of powder formed into a tablet can cost more than a few cents.

In fact, pills aren’t expensive to make, so that argument is correct, as far as it goes. But as is so often the case with political issues, there’s a lot more to it.

The thing that drives the cost of medicines so high is the enormous up-front costs of research and development, and testing to get the drug approved by the government.

Pharmaceutical companies develop several drugs simultaneously, looking for the right combination of ingredients to most effectively deal with the medical need, and most of these efforts are unsuccessful. According to, “it takes an average of 12 years for an experimental drug to [get] to your medicine cabinet … Only 5 in 5,000 drugs that enter preclinical testing progress to human testing. One of these 5 drugs that are tested in people is approved. The chance for a new drug to actually make it to market is thus only 1 in 5,000,” and a U.S. State Department publication says that the cost of developing a new drug varies from $800 million to nearly $2 billion per drug.

Okay: one drug in 5,000 actually makes it to market, and it costs between $800 million and $2 billion to get it there. The company has to sell enough of that one drug to pay not only for its development, but also for the development of the ones that didn’t make it through the process, and to have enough left over to finance new research and development.

Like other inventors, drug companies patent their ideas. A patent is issued for 20 years from the date of filing, and filing usually occurs early in the development stage to prevent other drug companies from moving in on the idea. If it takes an average of 12 years to get a drug to market, the pharmaceutical company has on average only eight years to sell enough of the drug to recoup the $800 million to $2 billion in development and approval costs, plus money to finance new research. At the end of the patent period, any other drug maker can make a generic form of the drug and sell it for a lot less. Since all the work has already been done and paid for, all they have to do is just make the pill.

So, when you do the math for a drug at the low end of the cost spectrum, with development costs of $800 million, produced by a company we’ll call PharmX, you find that if PharmX charges a quarter a pill, it will have to sell 3.2 billion pills in eight years just to break even. If PharmX charges $1 a pill, it will have to sell 800 million pills in eight years, and if PharmX charges $2 a pill, it will have to sell 400 million pills in eight years, just to break even. And that pays for the pill that made it through to the market, but not the ones that didn’t. If PharmX’s costs were $2 billion, those numbers more than double.

Another aspect of this issue is when drugs made by US companies cost more at home than they do in Canada and other countries. It doesn’t seem right that Canadians can buy American drugs cheaper than Americans can. But what is the drug company supposed to do when the Canadian government, or another government, wants to buy millions of dollars of its product at lower than market price when it is trying to recoup millions or billions in costs? There are other drugs made by other companies that treat the same disease that these governments could buy instead, so should the drug company pass up that opportunity, leave the millions of dollars on the table, and perhaps suffer financially as a result, while a competitor sells millions of dollars of its product to Canada?

It’s a natural reaction to want to punish the “greedy” drug companies, maybe by removing patent protection or shortening the protection period. However, doing something like that puts at risk the continued research and development of new drugs to fight and cure disease, and even if most Americans don’t understand the economics of producing pharmaceuticals, they do understand that American companies produce some of the best and most effective drugs in the world.

Let’s hope they also understand that we would be much worse off by tinkering with this process, except to speed it up and make it less costly, and that they will tell the politicians to not to make things worse.

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , ,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Important energy deadline approaching

The nation has been consumed with health care reform, politicians not listening to the people’s concerns, the ACORN scandals, and rampant racism among critics of the new president, but the world continues to move on around all that chaos.

One of those other things is the extended deadline for commenting on the Draft Proposed Program on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) energy development, which expires September 21, 2009, after which time the Minerals Management Service (MMS) will analyze comments and make recommendations regarding offshore energy development.

Some very good information about this process and the possible effects, either positive or negative, to the nation’s domestic energy program can be found at Energy Tomorrow.

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , ,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Boobus Maximus: Kanye West

I do not suffer fools gladly. The name “Kanye West” has intruded on my consciousness twice in the last few years – two times too many – and both times it was associated with idiocy.

The last of those was when KW charged onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards and interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance remarks by yanking the microphone from her hand to complain to the world that someone he liked better hadn’t been selected.

Gross stupidity arouses curiosity, sometimes, and this was one of those times. I figured if this dope managed to do something stupid enough twice to get my attention, maybe I should at least know who he is. So I looked him up.

I found that he is a rapper, which gets him no plus points from me, given that rap is musically inferior, and so much of it is vile, vulgar, and misogynistic. I also learned that he released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004, and his second album Late Registration in 2005. The titles say a lot.

In 2005, during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina relief, KW lost another bout with idiocy and deviated from the script he was reading to announce his opinion that then-President George Bush didn’t care about black people. He later appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine as Jesus with a crown of thorns on his head.

In response to his latest doltish episode, he told Jay Leno that the reason he was a jackass at the awards show was that he hadn’t fully gotten over his mother’s tragic death a while back. Right.

As nearly as I can determine, KW has provided zero positive energy for humanity. He is obviously one of the many self-absorbed boneheads that litter the world and hasn’t yet realized his own insignificance. He is fortunate to live in a time where bad behavior is not punished, and, indeed, is often celebrated. Had he done these things in the 40s and 50s, he would have been ostracized and never heard from again. Oh, for the good ol’ days, when character counted, and was expected.

Here’s a little advice that KW will never see, and is unlikely to take even if he saw it: Grow up. You’re over 30 years old; you’re not a child anymore, and you’ve not earned the right to behave like a troll.

KW should apologize to the world for the last several years of living, and exile himself to the North Pole where he can busy himself protecting the ice cap and bears from the ravages of global warming, and spare the rest of us from the misery of observing his screwed-up life.

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Government Can - Tim Hawkins

This is excellent on many levels!!!

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , , ,

What Obama could have said
to bring bipartisan effort to health reform

Those anticipating leadership and clarity from President Obama in last week’s address to Congress on health care reform were disappointed.

He could have shown us that he had at last started listening to what most Americans were telling him and the Congress to do, and outlined proposals to address the weaknesses of the current health care system, the one that provides the highest level of care in the world.

He could have endorsed several needed reforms, ones that Republicans support, which would change this Democrat crusade into a bi-partisan effort, changes like tort reform to lower malpractice and health insurance rates and the tendency of providers to prescribe procedures and tests that are needed only to protect them from predatory lawyers and their clients.

He could have said he would work with states to remove the barriers preventing insurers from offering their policies in all states, thereby increasing competition, improving policies, bringing premiums down and increasing the number of Americans with coverage.

He could have committed to reducing expensive and unnecessary regulation.
And as someone who keeps telling us how wonderful government healthcare is and will be, he could have promised to get Medicare and Medicaid to pay their fair share to doctors and hospitals, eliminating shifting costs to insured patients.

He might have renounced the half-truths and outright distortions of fact he and fellow liberals have been using to scare people into accepting the idea of a single payer, government-run health care system that ultimately will result from his idea of reform.

He could have cited the actual number of people without health insurance, the number that omits the 12 million illegal aliens, as well as the millions with enough money to buy insurance but who voluntarily decline to, and those who are without coverage for three months or less; a number that is a mere fraction of the 46 million so frequently cited.

But he didn’t.

What we heard instead was more of the same tired rhetoric Mr. Obama has relied on to create the greatest divide in the American people we have seen in the last 40 or more years, on a subject that has frightened and angered those that oppose any additional government influence in how health care is provided in the country.

This time his speech threatening those who have the temerity to oppose him and his ideas was angrier and more petulant, accusing his critics of spreading "lies" and saying opponents want "to do nothing.”

It was the “All about Barack Hour,” “I” this, and “me” that – 68 times he said “I,” “my,” or “me.” “I will protect Medicare,” and “I am directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services … ,” and “I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business ... I just want to hold them accountable.”

Mr. Obama continually said things that simply weren’t true, and that got the better of many in the House Chamber, who groaned and emitted other sounds of disapproval, including an unfortunate interjection by South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, who screamed out “You lie!” after one of the president’s misstatements of fact. (Isn’t it curious that the House has had a rule in existence for a hundred years prohibiting members from calling any president a liar? Mr. Wilson is apparently not the first to have done so.)

However, crude as Mr. Wilson’s comment was, he wasn’t wrong on the facts. So how do we accurately characterize the president’s factual misstatements?

A lie is when someone deliberately passes on information known to be false. But sometimes people say things they don’t realize are false. They haven’t lied; they were just wrong.

Therefore, if the president made statements he didn’t know were untrue, he is poorly informed; but if he made statements he knew were untrue, he lied. Neither is acceptable.

There is an element of fantasy in Mr. Obama's statements on health care, including that we are going to save money by spending money; that we will solve our fiscal problems with a program that will increase the national debt by $1 trillion over a decade; and, that we will guarantee you can keep your current insurance by passing a bill that encourages your employer to stop offering it.

As the details of Mr. Obama’s Fantasyland ideas meet the light of day, he is losing support among his own party in Congress and among voters. His logical inconsistencies, implausible scenarios and the unacceptable possibility of another government takeover have generated protests by hundreds of thousands of unhappy Americans voluntarily participating in tea party rallies and a march in Washington last weekend.

Barack Obama is a smart man. He has an Ivy League education and he was a constitutional law professor.

So isn’t it curious that so much of what he wants to do isn’t permitted by the Constitution? Things like circumventing the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate and appointing “czars” to manage billions of taxpayer dollars, taking over banks and auto companies and reforming the health care system are not permitted by the Constitution.

Perhaps Mr. Obama needs a refresher course on how the United States actually works.

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Honoring the victims of 9-11

Editors Note: What follows originated in 2006, and is repeated in 2009.
2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers joined together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person payed tribute to a single victim.
We honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

So reads the introductory material on the 2996 Web page. I was assigned James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr. I was the 1357th blogger to sign up for the 2,996 Tribute project.
The name of each 9-11 victim was been assigned to a blogger.
This project was a very moving one for me. In searching for information on Jim Greenleaf’s life, I was deeply touched by who this young man was.

James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr., age 32, native of Waterford, Conn. Mr. Greenleaf was a foreign exchange trader at Carr Futures and died at the World Trade Center. He was a resident of New York, N.Y. Mr. Greenleaf was a 1991 graduate of Connecticut College, he was the son of Mr. And Mrs. James Greenleaf, Sr., and the former husband of Susan Cascio, a 1992 graduate of Connecticut College.

The following was posted by Mr. Greenleaf’s mother on

April 6, 2002

My Dearest Jim,

Almost 7 months have passed and not a day goes by that I don't think about you. Some days I pretend that I just haven't seen you in long time and that you will be visiting soon. I know that it will be a long time till we see each other again, but it does help on the bad days.

Just this week Dad and I received 2 letters from old friends of yours recalling some great times that they spent with you and they wanted us to know what an impact you had on their lives. One letter we received said that she had children of her own and just hoped that some day they might grow up to be the kind of person that she remembers you as being. What a
wonderful tribute to the fine man that you were. You touched so many people and I'm sure that you had no idea of how others thought of you.

I know that I kissed you and told you how much I loved you every time I had the opportunity to, but I wanted to say it to you today again.

I love you so much,


Peter, Bryn and I talk about you all the time and remember all the wonderful times we spent together.
(Patricia Greenleaf, Waterford, CT)

Quilt graphic thanks to Kim at United in Memory

The James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established to honor and remember a dear family member and friend who lost his life as a result of the catastrophe which occurred in New York City in 2001. The fund will be used to provide financial assistance to students attending St. Bernard High School.

Dave McBride also hopes to help others by honoring the memory of his long-time friend with the 5th Annual 5K River Run For The Fund. The race, which takes place this Saturday, May 13th at Ocean Beach Park in New London, is part of the Greenleaf Memorial Foundation, which also incorporates an annual Golf Tournament and a Memorial Dinner. McBride and James Greenleaf were best friends since high school, graduating from St. Bernard in 1987.

Sadly, Greenleaf lost his life because of the terrorist acts that occurred as he was working in New York City on the morning of September 11th, 2001. In a tribute to Greenleaf, his family and friends created the James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Inc., with proceeds used to award full book scholarships for 8th grade students to attend St. Bernard High School. The organization received approximately 30-40 scholarship applications annually, which require a formal essay and teacher recommendations that are reviewed by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The fund also hopes to increase its scholarship offerings either to St Bernard students or other local students who will be attending college.

Leave a message in honor of James Arthur Greenleaf Jr.

From: Lisa LaGalia Date: 11/19/2004 Message: Hi babe it me. Still not better without you. Can't you take me there where you are. We should be together
From: Maureen Griffin Balsbaugh Date: 08/29/2005 Message: At every one of your events. We know you are there in spirit....laughing.

This comment was left just a few days ago:

Thank you for posting information on Jim Greenleaf. We went to high school together. During the three years, we played football and ran track together. We ate many lunches together.
With my return to the US in 2007, I have been able to attend the annual golf outing twice. The outpouring of help given by friends of Jimmy is very inspiring. His scholarship is helping many children attend St. Bernard H.S.

Thank you for the great site.

PS As an aside, we lost another high school friend that day, Eric Evans. He was in one of the towers when they fell. Both gone but not forgotten.

Jim Greenleaf, rest in peace.

Click Here to Comment
Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why did Barack Obama hire Van Jones?

Van Jones’ sins are well known at this point: He called conservatives a vulgar name, to the cheers of his radical audience. He accused white people of deliberately polluting black neighborhoods and he signed on to a movement that accused the US government of being behind the 9-11 attacks, or that at least it knew of them in advance.

And, most significantly, he is/was an avowed communist.

Mr. Jones told the East Bay Express in 2005 (from “I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th [1992], and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist. (...) I met all these young radical people of color – I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary.”

It is undeniable, by even the most confused denier, that Van Jones was, during one significant period in his life, a communist. For most of his adult life, according to incontrovertible evidence, he was a radical leftist, and remains one today.

So, Barack Obama certainly knew who Van Jones was before he brought him into the White House. But what were the “inside baseball” reasons to hire him?

Here’s columnist Ben Shapiro’s thinking: “He picked Jones because he is deeply insecure about his racial status. Despite his repeated insistence that he is the culmination of the American dream of racial unity, Obama surrounds himself with racial radicals -- and he has for decades. Obama's associations with black communist Frank Marshall Davis during his teenage years, his apprenticeship to Rev. Jeremiah ‘God Damn America’ Wright during his adult years, and his continuously comfortable relationships with racialists like Cornel West and Van Jones demonstrate his commitment to racial polarization.”

He goes on: “The Van Jones story isn't about another radical federal employee or even about President Obama's addiction to executive authority (he has appointed over 30 czars with whom he meets regularly, but he has held just one cabinet meeting since his inauguration). The Van Jones story is about our president: a man who fills the void in his emotional past with ‘authentic’ black men who have no interior struggle for definition.”

And he concludes with this: “President Obama's pathologies are playing out before us on a national stage. Unfortunately, the policies and appointees his pathologies produce are not merely wrongheaded -- they are dangerous. How much racial polarization and economic and international instability must we endure to fill the hole that Barack Obama Sr. left in his son's heart?”

Joseph C. Phillips believes that the “reason the president surrounds himself with radical leftists like Van Jones is because on this point he is in fundamental agreement.”

And he asks this: “Quick question: how many Marxists, Communists, Domestic Terrorists and raving racialists does the President get to associate with before reasonable people can assume that the president on some level shares their particular vision of America?”

Good question. When, if ever, are good Americans going to demand that Barack Obama behave like a real president should?

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sensible policies, not cap and trade, are the key
to our energy future

The price of oil hit its all-time high in July of 2008, but since then has dropped by nearly 75 percent. Oil prices are now rising again and are likely to continue to climb as the world economy recovers.

Oil man T. Boone Pickens believes that oil prices may reach $300 a barrel 10 years from now. History proves it, he said, and referred to the five OPEC revenue increases in the last five years.

Why did oil prices rise last year to historic highs? And why are they rising again this year? Oil speculators are a favorite villain, but evidence supporting speculators as a major factor in price change is lacking. Speculators get blamed because people really don’t understand what speculators do, and how speculation works.

Ben Lieberman and J. D. Foster of The Heritage Foundation have a good description of the role speculators play in the commodities markets: “Speculators are rewarded for accepting risk if they prove right, and they lose money if they get it wrong. When oil prices began to rise in 2008, some speculators bet that prices would rise further, and they made a bundle. Others bet that prices would rise less or fall, and they lost a bundle when prices jumped up rather than down.”

“Speculators are often easy targets,” Lieberman and Foster continue, “because they seem to make money without working for it, and sometimes they make a lot of money. But professional speculators typically succeed by their wits, the sum total of their research, training, and experience, not luck. In so doing, they perform a vital role in financial markets: Speculators accept risk that somebody else does not want.

“For example, airlines have enormous demand for fuel, but they do not want to bear the risk of higher oil prices. At the right price, the speculator will take that risk. So the speculator contracts with the airline to deliver an amount of oil (or jet fuel) at a certain place and time and for a fixed price. The speculator, of course, does not have the oil. Rather, at the appointed time, the speculator buys the oil on the spot market for delivery. If the spot price is then below the price contracted with the airline, the speculator makes money. If not, the speculator loses. Either way, the airline's future oil price is locked in today.”

The tried and true explanation for rising prices is a basic economic principle: supply and demand. When demand for oil goes up without the supply increasing, prices rise; people will pay what they must to get what they need. To control oil prices, or at least moderate the up-side price movement, the amount of oil on the market must increase; the more oil that is available, the lower the price.

So to keep prices low and at the same time reduce dependence on foreign oil, rather than further regulating oil speculators Congress and the administration ought to incentivize American oil and natural gas companies to increase domestic production by removing bans, red tape and costly permitting processes so that they can drill in the areas where oil and gas supplies are most likely to reside, most of which are currently off limits.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) believes that the massive new taxes and fees – totaling as much as $400 billion – that Congress is considering for the industry would reduce investment in new energy supplies when nearly two-thirds of Americans support developing domestic oil and natural gas resources, according to API’s Energy Tomorrow Web site. API believes this will cost thousands of jobs, cut into local, state and federal tax revenues, and further threaten our energy security.

Since it is not yet sensible to shift to the so-called “green” energy sources, it only makes sense to maximize harvesting our own oil and gas supplies, thereby increasing the amount of oil and gas on the world market, and holding prices relatively steady, or perhaps lowering them.

And, instead of restricting access to domestic oil supplies, bills like the American Energy Innovation Act (H.R. 2828), the No Cost Stimulus Act (S. 570 and H.R. 1431) and the American Energy Act (H.R. 2846) must be passed. These measures seek to increase domestic production by expanding and expediting offshore leasing and opening up promising onshore sites such as Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where it is believed 10 billion barrels of oil reside.

We simply must abandon the ideological mania that puts the US in an ever more vulnerable position with regard to foreign oil suppliers, and do everything possible to utilize our own resources to solve these problems.

And if we insist on obsessing on the role of speculation, the speculation we need to worry about is what our elected representatives in Washington are doing, risking our freedom, our economic well-being and our future by flirting with high-minded but impractical ideas, such as an forcing a transformation to infant technologies that are incapable of meeting the challenge, and may never be.

The problem with the Democrat leadership in Washington is that while their ideals seem wonderful in the abstract, they are abject failures in reality.

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Arab Group Charged Over Holocaust Cartoon


In recent years, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed by a Muslim angered by his movie about the mistreatment of Muslim women...

Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders was placed under 24-hour guard after releasing a film Muslims viewed as critical of Islam . . .

And 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed were published in a Danish newspaper, triggering massive protests in Muslim countries.

Now Dutch prosecutors have turned the tables and said they would charge an Arab cultural group under hate speech laws for publishing a cartoon suggesting that the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were exterminated, is a fabrication.

The cartoon appeared on the Web site of the Dutch arm of the Arab European League. It shows two presumably Jewish men standing near a pile of skeletons with a sign that says "Auswitch" — an obvious reference to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

One man pokes a bone with a stick and says, "I don't think they're Jews." The other man replies, "We have to get to the 6 million somehow."

The public prosecutor's office in the Dutch city Utrecht said the cartoon insults Jews as a group and is therefore an illegal form of discrimination, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Prosecutors plan to press charges for "insulting a group and distributing an insulting image," which could lead to a jail sentence or fine.

The Arab group said it doesn't deny the reality of the Holocaust, but published the cartoon to highlight a double standard regarding the publication of offensive material by Muslims and non-Muslims.

Interestingly, Arab European League Chairman Abdoulmouthalib Bouzerda said anyone should be permitted to publish insulting material in the interest of public debate.

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Remembering the dead

When someone passes on, most of us try to remember the good things they did and to resist the temptation to focus on their mistakes and the less-than-wonderful things they did. All but the most despicable persons deserve a little courtesy and deference whey they die.

Most people are neither gods nor devils, but it is common for both those who admired the departed and those who didn’t to indulge in rhetorical excess that paints an inaccurate picture of the person.

This phenomenon is evident following the passing of Massachusetts Senator Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy, who died last week of brain cancer at the age of 77, and most of the eulogies canonize Mr. Kennedy, placing him on a level that few humans actually deserve. Contrary to the belief of a fair portion of the liberal left, Ted Kennedy was not a god.

But the purpose here is neither to denigrate Mr. Kennedy nor to praise him, just to look at how some have reacted to his death.
Ted Kennedy epitomized American liberalism, and he had a collection of good and bad deeds on his rap sheet, some of them quite notable. His supporters should celebrate his devotion to liberal ideals, and his detractors should appreciate his loyalty to his beliefs. He was neither the Savior nor Satan, and to say much more than that, either pro or con, would be to wander into a rhetorical wonderland.

Except, that is, for one event in his life which cannot be ignored: his suspicious involvement in the tragic death of Mary Jo Kopechne.
Someone named Melissa Lafsky addressed this issue on the Huffington Post Web site. Even though she dares to challenge the accepted protocol by addressing what must be the darkest of Mr. Kennedy’s deeds, Ms. Lafsky turns out to be a Kennedy admirer.

“But in all the florid or scalpel-sharp prose,” she wrote, “there's one constant: Peeking out from the center of the story is the matter of his playing a major part in the death of a 28-year-old woman.”

“Mary Jo wasn't a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan,” she wrote. “She was a dedicated civil rights activist and political talent with a bright future – granted, whenever someone dies young, people sermonize about how he had a "bright future" ahead of him – but she actually did. She wasn't afraid to defy convention … or create her own career path based on her talents …. Then she got in a car driven by a 36-year-old senator with an alcohol problem and a cauldron full of demons, and wound up a controversial footnote in a dynasty.”
She continued,

“We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history. What we don't know, as always, could fill a Metrodome. Still, ignorance doesn't preclude a right to wonder. So it doesn't automatically make someone … a Limbaugh-loving, aerial-wolf-hunting NRA troll for asking what Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded. Who knows – maybe she'd feel it was worth it.”

Read that last sentence again: “Who knows – maybe she'd feel it was worth it.”

Quite apart from how one may feel about Mr. Kennedy, that is an abysmally stupid concept.

To even contemplate – let alone express – how someone who would likely still be alive today (had she the good fortune to escape the notice of Ted Kennedy that night) might feel about the now-dead senator’s career is preposterous and disgraceful. And to then suggest that she might even think that dying for the cause was appropriate, or a good thing, or as Ms. Lafsky put it, “worth it,” well, that sentiment is so grossly contemptible and cold-blooded that it’s difficult to find printable words to adequately describe it.

It should shock every decent American that people allow themselves to think like that. Or maybe she can’t control it. Ms. Lafsky’s slams at Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin – neither of whom expressed that horrid thought – tell us that she is a liberal, and apparently one who lives way out on the fringes, where crazy ideas like this thrive.

Ted Kennedy worked for health care reform, and drafted America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, a plan that will produce rationing and denial-of-service like health care systems in Europe and Canada. This is the plan that Democrats think the country needs. Republicans, and a majority of the American people, disagree.

Another crazy idea would be to pass this monstrosity “for Teddy.” The people in Congress were sent there to represent the citizens who elected them, not to dictate to them. They represent all of the people, not just the ones who agree with them. The imperious behavior of some of them reflects that they have forgotten that.

With the country and the Congress so sharply divided on the issue, it would make a mockery of the ideal of good government to shove this through for any reason, especially as a memorial to Ted Kennedy.

Click Here to Comment

Technorati Tags: , , ,