Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thoughts on the FDA

I had an interesting discussion with a colleague the other day about the efficacy (or lack thereof) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). he claimed that they do not perform the necessary checking of new products, thus producing products whose negative side effects far outweigh the benefits they supposedly produce. My counter-argument, also against the FDA, was based on the idea that a panel of government bureaucrats could do a better job determining what is or is not good for society than consumers as a group, seeing as how no regulation can guarantee to eliminate all bad results (name one that has. Can you? I cannot.)

However, I read a fascinating post today on the FDA over at Fight Aging. The main thrust was to point out that the the FDA, like most regulatory bodies, is not in the business of enabling progress. Quite the opposite, in fact. Author "Reason" writes,
There is no open marketplace for medical technology in the developed world, however. Instead, we see a very different set of incentives dominating the state of research and development. Regulatory bodies like the FDA have every incentive to stop the release of new medicine: the government employees involved suffer far more from bad press for an approved medical technology than they do from the largely unexamined consequences of heavy regulation. These consequences go far beyond the obvious and announced disapproval of specific medical technologies: the far greater cost lies in all the research, innovation and development that was never undertaken because regulatory burdens ensure there would be no profit for the developer. Personal gain for the regulator is thus to destroy the gains of people they will never meet, the exact opposite of what occurs in an open marketplace.

I myself abhor the effects of the HMOs and the vast regulatory and legal stranglehold that government has put on health care. if government and lawyers would simply allow the medical market to work. I believe that we would be surprised at how fast our medical technology and mastery advanced. But of course, that would eliminate the massive paydays for imagined malpractice suits, and the chances for government functionaries to flex their power without worrying about consequences.

As we approach a Presidential election in which at least two of the possible candidates (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) want to hand over control of our health to the same functionaries who have managed to blunt medical progress for the past twenty years, it is something to consider. As for me, I want less government interference, not more. And the sooner we can get the lawyers out of medicine, the better off we all will be. Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds

Tar Heel Thoughts

I rarely post on sports- I prefer to watch and appreciate the athletes as opposed to pontificating about the finer points of the game- points that I am not qualified to analyze. However, I was surprised and disgusted to read the other day that University of North Carolina point guard Tywon Lawson is receiving hate mail on his Facebook page because he and teammates Wayne Ellington and Danny Green have chosen to test the NBA waters at the Orlando pre-draft camp. And an article today on the trio by Jeff Goodman over at Fox Sports determined me to post a few thoughts both on the Tar Heel players and on the fans who supposedly love them.

Fan love is a short-sighted and fickle thing. As a fan of the North Carolina basketball team myself, I have enjoyed watching Lawson, Green and Ellingon since they arrived in Chapel Hill. Should they return to school for the 2008-2009 season, I will be delighted, as that will probably give UNC the edge in winning a national championship. However, whether they choose to return or not, I respect their choices, and I would ask that other UNC fans do the same. Goodman quoted Danny Green as saying,
"It's different for Tyler," Green said. "He's not going anywhere. He loves college and is going to break every record. His family is financially stable, where me, Wayne and Ty aren't quite as stable financially. We aren't broke, but we're not in the same position as Tyler."

This is something to consider. Tyler (as in Hansbrough, the team's leading scorer and rebounder) decided that he didn't need to test the process, and is committed to returning for his senior season. However, as Green pointed out, Hansbrough's situation is not the same. He wanted to finish his college career, and it appears that he is genuinely enjoying the college experience. Lawson, Ellington and Green, on the other hand, are not as interested in college as Hansbrough and are there to try to advance their basketball careers- not improve their scholastic standing. And that is their decision- they certainly know their prospects and their families' needs better than we.

Fans should remember that playing for a particular school or team is not written in stone. Not everyone stays for the entire four years of eligibility and when one is as talented as members of the Tar Heels basketball team usually are, this leads them to explore their sport as a profession. Change happens, and when a player decides that he (or she) is ready to try to make a living at their chosen sport, then the fans of their schools should wish them all the best. These athletes have provided many thrills, and done a great deal for the school. But they are adults, and should be able to make decisions on their personal growth without their erstwh8ile fans turning on them.

Does this mean I believe that they are all ready? No- I think that while Lawson is probably as NBA-ready as he is going to get, Ellington and Green would be best-served by returning and honing their skills. For Ellington, I believe that with his height, he could work on his ball-handling, thus increasing his chances and draft position next year. For Green, he needs to demonstrate a better all-round game- especially on the offensive end. However, as I stated at the beginning of this post, I am not qualified to make these decision. These three young men, and all the other underclassmen who have declared for their chosen sport are- it is their lives.

So fans- thank Lawson, Green and Ellington for their contributions over the past two (or in Green's case, three) years, and support them in their future, whether they return to Chapel Hill or not. Carolina has had a tremendous run and Ellington, Lawson and Green have been a huge part of it. But do not denigrate them or send them hate mail. They are in the process of making a very difficult decision, and they certainly don't need any more pressure than they already face.

For myself, I would like to thank them and wish them all the best in their future, whether or not they stay in the draft or not. Good luck to them and to all the young people trying to make a career in a field that requires talent above and beyond what most of us possess.

More Economic Good News- Press Displeased

In another strike at the 'recession coming' meme so beloved of the mainstream media, the AP was forced to report today that the economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter of 2008. Of course, this did not prevent the writers from including a heavy dose of doom-and-gloom despite the undeniable positives in their own report. After admitting in the opening paragraph that the economy grew at a 0.9 percent rate- faster than expected- the writers proceeded to do their best to downplay any positive effects. According to the story,
The economy plodded ahead at a 0.9 percent pace in the first quarter -- slightly better than first estimated -- but still underscoring caution on the part of consumers and businesses walloped by housing, credit and financial problems.

The new reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, was an improvement from the government's initial growth estimate for the January-to-March quarter as well as the economy's performance in the final quarter of last year. Both periods were pegged at a 0.6 percent growth rate.

Gross domestic product, or GDP, measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States.

The first-quarter performance matched analysts' forecasts and offered a somewhat encouraging sign because it showed the economy was still growing at that time. The figure didn't meet a definition of recession, which under a rough rule is two straight quarters of shrinking GDP, and might raise hopes the country can dodge a full-blown downturn.

If the press had any objectivity at all, they might have mentioned that despite their best efforts to paint it in a negative light, the economy is actually doing quite well. Housing prices may be down, but the economy continues to grow, despite the pundits' predictions (and secret wishes). And as has been pointed out previously, the economy is in fact very healthy- most of the economic indicators are at or above the Clinton-era marks and the job market continues to be fairly robust, with unemployment hovering around 5 percent- better than at any time in the 1990s, which were hailed as a economic powerhouse.

If government would get out of the way, lower taxes and simply allow the economy to work as it does, then I do not believe that we would have most of these worries. However, the PRess is heavily invested in a bad economy, as they are well aware that a bad economy will boost their chances to win the White House in November. I cannot help but think that there is something not quite right about minds that wish their country and their fellow Americans ill simply to win a political victory. Personally, I would rather see the country doing well, no matter who sits in the White House. But then I am not a Democrat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hagee V. Wright

The intemperate and anti-American sermons of Barack Obama's minister Jeremiah Wright have received surprisingly wide airplay. Perhaps because this is something that even the dinosaur-like media know they cannot hide in this day and age. However, they are not defenseless- they are pointing to Pastor John Hagee as McCain's equivalent of Wright, right down to the fiery sermons. The only problem is that according to Joel Mowbray in the Washington Times newspaper- the two men are not comparable. wright is by any definition an anti-American, highly racist preacher whose brand of Christianity is questionable. Hagee by contrast is a preacher whose devotion to inter-religious harmony appears to be extremely strong. According to Mowbray,
The long knives are out for Rev. John Hagee. The fiercely pro-Israel evangelical leader is being branded a bigot—again—but this time the media have tagged him with the worst possible association: Hitler.

Granted, Hagee himself raised the specter of Hitler in a sermon reportedly from a decade ago that was recently dredged up by a left-wing blogger, in which he said that God sent Hitler and “allowed” the Holocaust to happen “because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.”

Far from the ugly media-driven perception that Hagee was justifying—or even somehow praising—the Holocaust as Heaven-sent, he was actually trying to answer the question with which countless rabbis and survivors have grappled ever since: How could there be both an all-powerful God and the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust?

While anyone could rightly be outraged at his theology or even his apparent hubris in purporting to know God’s motives, it cannot be said that he is anti-Semitic. The charge, in fact, is completely counter to what is most beautiful about Rev. Hagee’s ministry, that it has been so dedicated to combating Christian anti-Semitism.

Mowbray's article is a must-read if one wants to understand the controversy swirling around Pastor Hagee and the endorsement of John McCain that McCain refused to accept. But to compare Hagee with Wright is merely another example of why the mainstream media is mostly a lazy, partisan group of camp-followers. As Mowbray so accurately writes,
In an ideal world, anyway, journalists should be in search of the truth.

In the real world, sadly, most journalists are too busy—and lazy—to meaningfully research Rev. Hagee’s theology and documented teachings. Even given this reality, however, it might seem appropriate that before rushing to reduce 40 years of a man’s career down to a headline-worthy Hitler association, the media ought to spend 40 minutes to see if they’re actually getting the story right.

But that of course could prevent the press from accomplishing their goal- getting a Democratic President. And for the American press, partisanship trumps professionalism any day of the week. Hat tip to the guys over at the Power Line.

Home Prices Rise- Press Spins Gloom

In the midst of the press' ongoing doom-and-gloom meme on the United States economy, those pesky little economic indicators suimply don't seem to be cooperating. First, the PRess' attempts to paint the current economy as the worst since the Great Depression were scuttled by the facts- the current economic indicators are all better than the supposedly record highs of the CLinton 1990s. Now, as they prepare for Round Two of the malaise meme, come s the news that the housing market is perhaps not as bad as they would like it to be.

According to a story by the Associated Press on Yahoo! News, the Commerce Department reported today that home sales rose in April. However, the press cannot simply report the good news- they have to inject a little negativity into the story. Reporter Martin Crutsinger writes,
Sales of new homes rose in April for the first time in six months although the unexpected increase still left activity near the lowest level in 17 years.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that sales of new homes rose 3.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 526,000 units.

But the government revised March activity lower to show an even bigger drop of 11 percent to an annual rate of 509,000, which was the weakest pace for sales since April 1991. Economists believe that new home sales will remain weak for some time as the housing industry struggles with falling prices and rising mortgage foreclosures, which are dumping even more homes on an already glutted market.

It seems to me that if the press would simply cease their scare tactics and allow the market to work as designed, then maybe the economy would do just fine. But that, of course, would put a crimp in the chances for a Democrat to take the Presidency- something that the Press has no intention of allowing to occur.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sweetheart Deals for Legislators

According to the Los Angeles Times, Congresswoman Laura Richardson may have received a sweetheart deal on a Sacramento house- a house she appears not to have paid for. The Times reports that,
Capitol Weekly, citing tax records at the Sacramento County assessor's office, reports "... in January 2007, Richardson took out a mortgage for the entire sale price of the house -- $535,000. The mortgage amount was equal to the sale price of the home, meaning she was able to buy the house without a down payment, even though the housing market was beginning to turn. A March 19, 2008 notice of trustee's sale indicates that the unpaid balance of Richardson's loan, which is held by Washington Mutual, is more than $578,000 –- $40,000 more than the original mortgage."

In addition to 100% financing on the home itself, the report quotes the woman who sold the house to Richardson as saying she also gave Richardson $15,000 toward closing costs.

However, once Richardson received the sweetheart deal (how many of us would be able to not only buy a house with no money down but receive extra money from the seller towards closing costs?), she may have managed to avoid paying any money on the house in the two years since she bought it. And during that time, the house is reported to have slipped into a state of decay. The Times also says that,
Earlier, Capitol Weekly reported that Richardson walked away from the mortgage on her $535,000 Sacramento home, letting the house slip into foreclosure and disrepair less than two years after she bought it with no money down.

"While being elevated to Congress in a 2007 special election, Richardson apparently stopped making payments on her new Sacramento home, and eventually walked away from it, leaving nearly $600,000 in unpaid loans and fees," the publication reported.

So, let's recap. A Democrat from Long Beach managed to negotiate a special deal where she not only had to put no money down, but the seller also gave her cash to pay at least part of the closing fees. Once the house was safely bought, the congresswoman proceeded to pay no further money and allowed the house to become an eyesore, to the point where her neighbors complained about the state of the residence. Hmmm- seems to me that if a Republican were to do something like this, it would be front-page news in every major organ of the mainstream media. But since it is a Democrat, the MSM has been mostly silent on this. I am actually pleasantly surprised that the LA Times published anything about it, though they did lead the story with Richardson's denial of the story, as opposed to reporting it straight.

Whether or not Richardson really is in foreclosure or not, it is past time to put an end to the sweetheart deals that so many elected representatives seem to manage. If they cannot afford to buy things, then they shouldn't be allowed to- elected representatives or not. And when one of them is caught in such a sweetheart deal, they should be roundly condemned, regardless of party. I am certain that there are many other elected officials of both parties who have engaged in this kind of practice. It needs to end- soon.

Chelsea in Waiting

Well, it was only a matter of time before the Clintons admitted what everyone already knew- Chelsea will be groomed to run for President. Bill Clinton finally admitted it today in an interview with People magazine. As reported by ABC News,
ABC News' Ed O'Keefe Reports: Perhaps there will be a Madame President Clinton after all. No, not Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. How about former first daughter and active campaigner Chelsea Clinton?

"If you asked me (if Chelsea would run for office) before Iowa, I would have said, 'No way. She is too allergic to anything we do.' But she is really good at it," former President Bill Clinton tells PEOPLE magazine in their latest issue, hitting newsstands Friday.

There was an old joke floating around prior to Hillary admitting that she was running for President to the effect that even if Hillary won two terms Chelsea would still be too young. However, with the almost-certain failure of Hillary's bid for the White House in 2008, it would appear that the Clintons are beginning to plan for when Chelsea will be old enough. And it has the added benefit that when Chelsea is running, few people will remember the scandal-ridden Clinton Administration- the memories that I believe are playing at least some role in the failure of Hillary's bid this time around.

As far as Chelsea herself, I have little knowledge, since she has heretofore stayed out of politics. But considering her parentage, i cannot believe that she is less ambitious than her parents, or that her ethics will be any higher than theirs. All i can say a this point is that keeping the Clintons away from the White House is a Good Thing and so a future Chelsea campaign is something that the conservatives should be wary of.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Burma and Aid

I have written previously on this blog about the United States' glowing record of humanitarian assistance in disasters, regardless of the country in which the disaster occurs. However, according to the USA Today, Burma (currently known as Myanmar) is refusing US military assistance. Their excuse? According to USA Today,
Burma's state-controlled media said that U.S. helicopters or naval ships were not welcome to join the relief effort.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said accepting military assistance "comes with strings attached" that are "not acceptable to the people of Myanmar."

The report cited fears of an American invasion aimed at grabbing the country's oil reserves.

An American invasion? Really? Somehow I doubt that the UNited States has any interest in Burma, other than the natural humanitarian interest in seeing Burma's people released from the tyranny of the junta's heavy-handed and disastrous policies. Captain Ed Morrissey chimes in with a brilliant demolition of the junta's claims, writing today at Hot Air,
The junta fears a collapse of its credibility more than anything else. If they are seen as so weak that the US has to step in and rescue the Burmese from the incompetence of the military dictatorship, then they risk a popular uprising when the country recovers. The junta already put down one round of demonstrations in the streets a few months ago, and now the people of Burma have even more motivation to put the dictators up against the wall.

I agree. Burma is certainly not a high priority on the United States' list of THings To Do, and I seriously doubt whether any US President would commit resources to overthrow the government in Burma. If any President did so, it would be due to a credible threat from Burma- a threat I simply do not see. But refusing to allow US military assistance into the country is simply ridiculous- especially on the heels of the US Navy's assistance in Bangladesh in 2007.

If Burma wishes to let their people die rather than allow the United States military to help, then I agree with Captain Ed's analysis- they may end up convincing their people that a change in government is better than allowing the incompetent and xenophobic 'leadership' currently in power to let the people die.

Best Wishes, Senator Kennedy

I observed from the news this morning that Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. According to a report this morning on Yahoo! News,
A malignant glioma — the diagnosis doctors gave Sen. Edward M. Kennedy — is the worst kind of brain cancer. Malignant gliomas strike almost 9,000 Americans a year. Survival statistics are grim — few live three years and for the worst subtype, half die within a year.

I lost my mother to a malignant and fast-acting brain tumor some years ago, and therefore I have a great deal of sympathy for the Kennedy family in these circumstances. I doubt that Senator Kennedy and I would agree on much in the political arena, but I would not wish this situation on my worst enemy. My best wishes to Senator Kennedy and his family.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Obama Naivete

Barack Obama has displayed his lack of qualifications for the Presidency throughout the campaign, whether by suggesting that the United States should talk to our enemies without conditions or whether by adopting the mantra that the United States is the problem.

Today the AFP has a story that demonstrates how frighteningly naive Obama really is. According to the story, Obama is quoted as saying,
"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.

That may not be leadership, but then the Constitution doesn't require other nations' permission for what we as a nation do either, Mr. Obama. Talking with one's allies is indeed important. But it sounds to me as though Obama believes that we should give other countries- including those that are decidedly against our beliefs- veto power over what we as a nation do.

And why should we give other nations veto power over what (and how much) we eat? Why should other nations have any role in deciding what kind of vehicles we drive? If we believe in personal responsibility, yes, we should keep things like gas mileage in mind, but again, that is our responsibility, and nowhere in the Constitution does it give other nations or institutions any role in our domestic decision-making process. I would recommend to Mr. Obama that he might want to study the Constitution a little closer, since he seems to be unfamiliar with some of its content.

Obama has also been justly criticized on his view of relations with America's enemies. On the topic of states such as North Korea and Iran- neither of whom have the United States' best interests at heart- the story states,
Reviving Friday's furious row sparked by President George W. Bush's suggestion that Democrats wanted to appease terrorists, Obama said that not talking to North Korea and Iran had only made those states stronger.

"I want everybody to be absolutely clear about this because George Bush and McCain have suggested that me being willing to sit down with our adversaries is a sign of weakness and sign of appeasement," he said.

There are at least two major problems with this. First, President Bush did not name any Democrat in his speech celebrating Israel's anniversary. Nor did he suggest that Democrats are appeasers, at least not according to my analysis. The fact that the Democratic Party and much of the American media does seem to want to appease our Islamic and Communist enemies is their problem, but Bush himself did not actually suggest that at all.

The second problem is that Obama once again clearly marked himself as a would-be appeaser. He said that not talking to states like North Korea and Iran had "made them stronger". Really? I would disagree. In fact, the Six-Party talks, led by the United States, have had an effect on North Korea- they have not in fact become stronger- they have only isolated themselves further, and the Bush Administration's actions in shutting down Pyongyang's massive counterfeiting operations have hurt their ability to raise hard cash. So how has that made them stronger?

As for Iran, the only reason they have become stronger is that the United Nations is a toothless, corrupt body that cannot or will not take action against aggressor states- they prefer to spend their time passing resolutions criticizing Israel and the United States, while begging the U.S. to give them more money. And as a corollary, many European states are so busy selling Iran equipment that they do not want Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons stopped. Precisely what would Obama do differently from the Bush Administration, other than talk? How does that prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons?

If the Press would critically analyze the statements that Obama is actually making, perhaps the American people would realize just how naive this one-term Senator really is. And how dangerous his opinions are to the United States. Any candidate who would willingly hand over veto power over domestic decisions to foreign countries, who would engage in discussion without conditions with America's enemies and who has a history of corrupt party politics as Obama does is someone who has no business being President of the United States. And the media, if he does win, will bear a great deal of responsibility for falling down on the job and refusing to present an accurate picture of just who Barack Obama really is.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reporter Writes False Story- Actually Apologizes

In the wake of the infamous (and illegal) antics of the New England Patriots, having admitted they repeatedly and blatantly broke the rules and cheated during their Super Bowl run of the early 21st century, a story appeared in the Boston Herald newspaper that the Patriots had taped the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough prior to beating the heavily favored Rams in the 2001 Super Bowl.

Since the Patriots are admitted cheaters, this was not a stretch of the imagination, especially since a member of the Patriots' video staff- one who illegally taped other team- was setting up while the Rams were walking through their game plan. However, the story has not been corroborated by anyone, and the member of the Patriots' staff who did most of the illegal taping told the NFL commissioner that he had no knowledge of anyone doing said taping, and that he certainly did not. Following this, the Herald and its reporter, one John Tomase, have apologized- and on the front page, no less. Tomase wrote on the Herald's website today
"First and foremost, this is about a writer breaking one of the cardinal rules of journalism. I failed to keep challenging what I had been told," wrote John Tomase in Friday's editions of the newspaper.

Tomase explained what led up to the publication of the Feb. 2 story, which appeared one day before the Patriots' 17-14 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. The Herald on Wednesday apologized for the story, after former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that he did not tape the walkthrough and did not know of anyone who had.

This is a rare occurrence in the media. The normal process is for some organ of the media to make blazing accusations on their front page, and then publish the retraction- if in fact they actually retract, which again is extremely rare- on the back page. The New York Times is particularly egregious in this regard, writing stories that impugn public figures' honor on an almost daily basis, yet never actually admitting that there is no truth to these allegations. Case in point is the Times' heinous pursuit of the Duke lacrosse students, assigning biased and incompetent reporter Duff Wilson to write a story virtually every point of which has been proven wrong- yet the paper has never apologized.

I applaud Mr. Tomase and the Herald both for the intestinal fortitude to admit they got the facts wrong and for their willingness to put that admission on the front page. Of course, I do have a suspicion that the fact that the patriots are owned by a powerful, very rich man who employs lots of good lawyers (and that he is not a member of that eeeevil Bush Administration- remember the breathless press coverage of the supposed illegal events in the Plame case?) might have had something to do with their admission of wrongdoing). In any event, i congratulate them for doing the right thing. When will the rest of the media being following their example? Too often the media is willing to publish allegations without evidence, yet they will not put the exoneration in an equally prominent place? Remember Richard Jewell, the security guard whose reputation was so badly damaged by the media? Or how about Dr. William Hatfill, the media-determined guilty party in the anthrax cases? I haven't noticed any apologies from the media who tried so hard to wreck his life.

In all cases, the media should be prepared to grant the Constitution's requirement of 'innocent until proven guilty'. And if the subject of the media coverage is indeed innocent, then the media have a responsibility to print that exoneration in the same place that they printed the initial allegations. But that would actually require professional ethics and an ability to be objective- something that the US media appears to lack. Cross-posted on NewsBusters.

CORRECTION: I mistakenly wrote Dr. Hatfill's name as William. It is actually Steven. I apologize for the mistake. Thanks to my commenter 'Anonymous' for catching the mistake.

UN Racial Time-Wasting

According to the Drudge Report this morning, a United Nations race investigator will be visiting the United States to check on allegations of racial injustice during the Presidential campaign. As reported by the Reuters news agency,
A special U.N. human rights investigator will visit the United States this month to probe racism, an issue that has forced its way into the race to secure the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

The United Nations said Doudou Diene would meet federal and local officials, as well as lawmakers and judicial authorities during the May 19-June 6 visit.

Reporter Stephanie Nebehay goes on to write that,
Race has become a central issue in the U.S. election cycle because Sen. Barack Obama, the frontrunner in the battle for the Democratic nomination battle, stands to become the country's first African American president.

His campaign has increased turnout among black voters but has also turned off some white voters in a country with a history of slavery and racial segregation.

Well, really! Of course the Reuters 'reporter' somehow managed to miss the fact that the United States is one of the few countries that actively fights racism, and is one of the very, very few in which minorities have achieved progress. And Ms. Nebehay might have done some research and realized that there are actually race violence in much of the world- like in Europe, while the US does not experience much of that at all. The UN might ask whites in Africa how well they are treated by black majorities there, as well as asking how well non-Arabs are treated in the Middle East. But that of course would require some actual context and analysis. Too much to ask of Reuters, apparently.

Like so many stories regarding the UN, this one simply highlights the colossal waste of time and money the UN has become. And Reuters is wasting newsprint by even printing it. Until the UN actually focuses its efforts on countries that have real race problems, forgive me if I fail to take them seriously as a force for good in the battle against racism.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Judicial Arrogance

Well, I see that the California Supreme Court has decideed that its own preferences outweigh the wishes of the state's population, and seemingly of the state Constitution as well. As reported by Breitbart news today, the Court has overturned a ban on gay marriage.

While I have no problem with gay couples having access to benefits, etc. Hwoever, I do not approve of judges legislating, which is what this case certainly appears to be. California has a voter-approved ban on gay marriage, and the court's rationnale to overturn it smacks of the same judicial arrogance that gave rise to Roe v. Wade- another case of judicial over-reaching.

Fortuantely, there are groups attempting to put the matter out of the reach of courts- they intend to put the measure on the ballot to amend the state's Constituion. If the legislature would do their job or reigning in courts that writye law- reserved to the legislature in most state Constuitutions- then this would be unnecessary. But with a one-party state such as California, I fear that only a citizen revision of the Constituion will rein in these judges.

If i have mis-characterized the case, and if there is solid legal grounds why the justices overturned it, I trust that knowledgeable legal commentators will weigh in on this to correct me, but on first glimpse, it certainly appears to be judicial over-reaching.

More on Relief

I posted yesterday on the United States' readiness to assist in any gloabl disaster, regardless of the friendliness of the subject nation (and equally regardless of the thanklessness this readiness to assist usually garners). Today, on the United States Navy's official site was a reminder that today is the anniversay of the Navy's arrival in Bangladesh after the 1991 Cyclone Marian disaster.

For those who may not remember Cyclone Marian (it was not well covered in the US media, probably because it reflected well on the US military, and once again there was a Republican President- can't give him any credit with an election year coming up!) the cyclone hit Bangladesh in April of 1991, and according to this story at,
Cyclone Marian (29-30 April 1991) was one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in recent times. Marian's 140 mile-per-hour winds and an eight-meter tidal wave devastated Bangladesh, killing nearly 140,000 people and leaving over 5 million people homeless.
Cyclone Marian struck this delta on the southeast coast during the evening of 29 April 1991 with winds in excess of 235 km/hr and tidal surges between 15 and 20 feet. Well over 100,000 people died and millions were left homeless. Over 1 million cattle (essential for pulling plows and providing transportation) died. Crops on 74,000 acres of land were destroyed; another 300,000 acres of cropland were damaged, and fields were covered with salt water, contaminating the soil and corrupting the drinking water.

Infrastructure destruction was widespread. Bangladesh’s major port, Chittagong, was severely damaged and was nonoperational for several days. Damaged/sunken ships, many of them belonging to the Bangladeshi Navy, blocked the port. Several key bridges, including the main bridge to Chittagong, were washed out or otherwise damaged. Throughout the storm-affected area, sea walls collapsed, jetties disappeared, dirt roads were flooded, buildings were ravaged, and transportation was virtually destroyed.

Bangladesh asked for help, and within 24 hours, again according to, the United States was able to respond, sending elements of the III Marine Expeditionary Force, Amphibious Group 3 and 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist. Untimately the operation, code-named Sea-Angel, would involve over 6000 US personnel. In a unique feature, no personnel were armed save for guards of sensitive material. All other personnel went unarmed for the duration of the exercise.

For those who like to lament the 'belligerent' nature of the US armed services, this may serve as a reminder that US servicement and women are not the baby-killers so much of the Left likes to paint them as, and the United States' ability to project power is as useful for relief operations as it is for those of a more aggressive nature. In addition, although Bangladesh is much closer to China and Russia than it is to the United States, it was the US that did the bulk of the heavy lifting, not the CHinese or the Russians.

In any event, this will hopefully serve as one more reminder that the US, despite her many critics, stands ready to assist where other nations and organizations either cannot or will not. I do not expect this to register with the blame-America-first crowd, but perhaps it might remind more rational souls that the United States and her military are not the evil monster the Left and their fellow-travelers in the media so often make us out to be.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thanking the United States

The United States is the country much of the world loves to hate. Whether it is socialist disgust that the US prefers not to hand over it's assets to a decidedly anti-American U.N, or Chinese anger that those Americans actually seem determined to allow Taiwan to remain independent of the imperialist Communist crusade, or European elitists' despair of persuading Americans that is is better to be dhimmis than stand up for one's beliefs and culture, there is a plethora of anti-American opinion in the world. Almost every American venture, whether it is the occupation of Iraq or the U.S.'s peculiar insistence that it, like all other countries, has the right to control its own borders, meets with a shower of international criticism.

It is interesting, then that despite all of this international criticism, the United States is consistently the first and best responder to disasters in nations other than their own- a reaction which is curiously not mirrored by any other nation toward the United States. And even when the United States engages in these operations that clearly bring it no material benefit, such as the disaster relief it so often spearheads, these critics cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the generosity of the United States.

However, in today's online edition of The Australian, columnist Janet Albrechtsen makes a brave attempt to make amends. She writes that,
THERE is a certain familiarity to the concomitant series of actions and reactions when disaster strikes in the world. The US stands ready, willing and able to offer assistance. It is often the first country to send in millions of dollars, navy strike groups loaded with food and medical supplies, and transport planes, helicopters and floating hospitals to help those devastated by natural disaster.

Then, just as swift and with equal predictability, those wedded to the Great Satan view of the US begin to carp, drawing on a potent mixture of cynicism and conspiracy theories to criticise the last remaining superpower. When the US keeps doing so much of the heavy lifting to alleviate suffering, you'd figure that the anti-Americans might eventually revise their view of the US. But they never do. And coming under constant attack even when helping others, you'd figure that Americans would eventually draw the curtains on world crises. But they haven't. At least not yet.

So it was last week. The US stood ready to help the cyclone-ravaged Burmese people. It did not matter that Burma's ruling junta was no friend of the Americans. With more than 100,000 people feared dead and many more hundreds of thousands left destitute, US Air Force cargo planes loaded with supplies and personnel started arriving in nearby Thailand to begin humanitarian operations in Burma.

A US Navy strike group in the Gulf of Thailand sent helicopters ashore, ready to arrive in Burma within hours. Alas, Burma's military leaders left their people to die for 10 days before finally accepting help from the evil empire. Even if the Yanks are allowed to boost their assistance to Burma, they can expect a groundswell of criticism.

There is a sad truth to this, but it is refreshing to note that at least some people realize how misplaced this criticism is. If China or Russia, or the European Union, would actually take on some of the heavy lifting involved in these efforts, I doubt that Americans would stop. But it would certainly be welcome.

Albrechtsen goes on to clearly recognize the emotions at the root of much of the criticism- people simply don't like to realize how dependent they are on the US when a true disaster strikes. She writes,
The resentment that comes from needing the military and economic might of the US translated into the most absurd criticism. Jan Egeland, the former UN boss of humanitarian affairs, cavilled about the stinginess of certain Western nations. His eye was on the US. Former British minister Claire Short was equally miffed, describing the initiative by the US and other countries as "yet another attempt to undermine the UN", which was, according to her, the "only body that has the moral authority" to help.

I love moral authority as much as the next guy, but the UN's moral authority is a mighty hard sell given that the UN club includes the most odious regimes in the world, such as Burma. And notice how the UN's moral authority did not quickly translate into helicopters laden with food and water?

When the UN finally does anything of use, it's propelled in large part by US dollars, with the US contributing more than any other country. Those other giants, China and Russia, are not filling the coffers of the UN's moral authority.

In turth, states like the members of the EU are far too weak militarily to be able to project their formidable economic muscle and translate it into action. States such as China and Russia are too busy lining their own coffers, and third world states (which include the oil-rich states of the Middle East) mostly lack the technological know-how, as well as not being known for contributing to infidels. That leaves the United States, and the rest of the world hates being reminded that it is the US, not the UN, that holds the real power, and whose resources are so vital to the UN's many desires. This of course is why the UN is trying so hard to bind the US into treaties that would give the UN access to the US's resources without having to go through that annoying medium of the American people and their elected representatives. What is stunning is how many Americans, particularly Democrats, seem to think that handing over sovereignty to the UN is a good idea!

But I wonder why it took an Australian newspaper to recognize and print this patent truth. Where were the US media? Or does printing stories complimentary to the United States not fit their template as long as a Republican President occupies the White House? In either case, I wish to thank Ms. Albrechtsen, both for her clarity of thought, and her willingness to write it at a time when much of the world's media are busy doing their best to diminish the United States, not compliment her.

About that Unilateral Approach....

The Democrats and the mainstream media have long been pushing the meme that George W. Bush is a 'unilateral cowboy' who alienates our supposed allies. Funny thing about that, in the past six years, the governments who actively oppose American goals and who expressed their disdain for the current President have one by one been pushed out of office and replaced by governments who are much closer to the Bush Administration. This has happened so far in Germany (Angela Merkel), France (Nicolas Sarkozy), Canada (Stephen Harper) and now in one of Russia's closest allies, the republic of Serbia.

As reported by the Washington Post,
Serbia's pro-Western president declared victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections_ a stunning upset over ultranationalists who tried to exploit anger over Kosovo's independence. But his rivals vowed to fight on, and it was unclear if he could stave off their challenge.

"This is a great day for Serbia," Boris Tadic proclaimed after an independent monitoring group that carried out a parallel vote count nationwide said his bloc won 39 percent _ about 10 percent more than the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party.

Of course the Post managed to miss the fact that this is one more supposed ally of Russia's neo-Communist and imperialist president Vladimir Putin that has instead chosen closer ties with the free states of Europe and the United States. Michelle Malkin pointed out the fact that the Post managed to completely miss, writing,
Some of you may remember some other recent unpleasantness involving that Mladic jerkwad and the Serbians in the 1990’s. Well, despite all that, they’re throwing in with the West against Pooty-poot.

We’re justifiably focused on the events of the day, especially the great war we’re involved in and our upcoming election. But there are a thousand little things like this going on all over the world every week that barely get discussed. (Dozens of them flash across my monitor every day, and usually their significance is yet too obscure for a blog post or I just don’t know enough to say anything useful.*)

As one state after another rejects the anti-American and anti-Western hysteria of the mainstream media, wouldn't it behoove said media to actually take note and report this trend? But I fear that we will have to wait until Bush is out of office for anyone to note that he actually accomplished a great deal more than his enemies would like to give him credit for, and that the Bush-as-unilateralist meme is about as truthful as the 'Hillary as brilliant' meme. But I suppose that actually asking the mainstream media to be objective and *gasp* do their jobs, would be too much- especially with them salivating at the chance to finally give the White House to a Democrat after failing so miserably in 2000 and 2004. Hat tip to Michelle Malkin and cross posted on NewsBusters.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Democrats Finally Notice Media Bias

Democrats have long been used to having an echo chamber of fellow-travelers in the national media. They are so used to it that they expect the blatant favoritism most reporters shower on them during campaign season. Republicans and conservatives, on the other hand, are used to being portrayed as evil, and having their positions mis-stated and their actions painted in the most negative light possible. DEspite this, Democrats have long claimed that the media is 'fair'.

The problem is that Democrats are sso used to this favorable treatment, they aren't sure what to do when they are not its beneficiaries. I can recall the CLintons claiming media fairness, even as the national media did their best to sit on negative Clinton stories, and portray the impeachment as 'just about sex', as opposed to what it actually was- abuse of power and perjury. However, now that Senator Barack Obama is threatening to end the Presidential aspirations of Senator Hillary Clinton, the Clinton campaign's chairman, former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe, is complaining that the media are biased in Obama's favor.

According to a story in the TheHill online edition today, McAuliffe says that as much as ninety percent of the national media is blatantly favoring Obama.
“Clearly it has been a biased media, no question about it,” McAuliffe said on Fox News. When asked how much of the mainstream media is “in the tank” for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who leads Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination, McAuliffe estimated that about 90 percent of the media favor Obama.

“It is what it is. We’re not complaining,” he stated. “We have to deal with the hand we’re dealt with.”

McAuliffe added that “every independent study has said that this is the most biased coverage they’ve ever seen in a presidential campaign.”

I wonder where this realization was during the many times that the media have shilled for Democrats and Democratic causes in recent years. In any event, it is nice that at least some Democrats recognize just how biased the mainstream media is. Now is they could only agree that it is conservatives who mainly get the worst of this bias- Clinton is merely feeling the media's desire to crown Obama as the nominee and end a bloody primary campaign so that Democrats can re-focus on the real enemy- Senator John McCain. If McAuliffe thinks that media bias was bad during this primary campaign, I can only suggest that he observe the general election with open eyes and mind. In the words of Al Jolson "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bernie Ward Admits Child Porn Addiction- Will Media Report It?

Does the media treat hypocrites of differing political preferences similarly? The evidence would suggest not. When noted Christian televangelist Jim Bakker was found to have committed adultery and mail fraud back in 1986, the national media were beside themselves with glee, running hundreds of stories about Bakker's hypocrisy. The same pattern repeated itself with other Christian evangelists, including George W. Bush supporter Ted Haggard in 2006, a case that Wikipedia admits "may have affected voting patterns in the 2006 elections". The media made sure to feature the haggard case as a front-page story during the run-up[ to the election, probably hoping (correctly as it turned out) that it would help the Democrats take control of Congress.

However, the shoe is now on the other foot. Famed left-wing radio personality Bernie Ward of San Francisco, a former priest who had one of the loudest and most consistently anti-George W. Bush voices in the entire nation, was found guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography on Friday and will serve at least five years in prison. ward tried to argue that he was "doing research" on child pornography, but as the San Francisco Chronicle reported,
His hopes of maintaining a defense based on a constitutional right to research taboo subjects appeared to be weakened further when police in Oakdale (Stanislaus County) released transcripts in February of a series of online sex chats between Ward and a dominatrix in December 2004 and January 2005.

The transcripts quote Ward as fantasizing about naked children with no apparent reference to any subject he was researching. Police said he had sent photos to the woman that showed children engaged in sexual activity.

To their credit, the Chronicle reported the affair on Page A-1 of the Friday edition, and they have actually done a fairly good job of following the case throughout, though they did give much more time to Ward's law3yer to argue for his client's innocence than they gave to the prosecutors- Ward's lawyer is quoted or paraphrased a number of times; the prosecutors not at all.

My question is simple- Ward has been a leading anti Iraq and anti-George W. Bush voice, who has been found to be as flawed as any of the more conservative ministers who preceded him in scandal. Will the national media treat him the same? Ward has preached to an audience in the same manner, though from a different viewpoint, as did Bakker, Falwell, etc. If the media is truly objective, they will cover this fall from grace as assiduously as they did with Bakker, Haggard and the others they have gleefully observed succumb to their flaws.

Thus, I did a search for 'Bernie Ward' on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. MSNBC< CBS and CNN had nothing on the scandal. ABC ran a single story that presented Ward as a victim who had "run afoul" of the government laws. Isn't that the same as breaking the law? ABC seems not to know the difference when it concerns liberals. Meanwhile, the supposedly conservative Fox ran a brief report of Ward's guilty plea, not siding with either party. It seems that only Fox and ABC felt this qualified as news, and ABC did their best to present Ward as a victim, not the criminal that he has admitted he is. So as much as I would like to believe that this will be front-page news in the national media, I won't hold my breath. Hat tip to my good friend Bob K. for alerting me to Ward's guilty plea. Cross-posted on NewsBusters.

Paul Plots Revolt

The antipathy that much of the Republican Party holds toward John McCain has been well-documented. Today, a story in the Los Angeles Times highlights that antipathy, and also contains a possible threat to McCain's smooth nomination at the convention in September.

According to the LA Times, Ron Paul's forces are trying to organize a public revolt against McCain at the convention. The main goal, at least according to the Times, is to influence the party's platform and get Paul a high-profile speaking slot. The Times writes,
In the last three months, Paul's forces, who donated $34.5 million to his White House effort and upward of a million total votes, have, as The Ticket has noted, been fighting a series of guerrilla battles with party establishment officials at county and state conventions from Washington and Missouri to Maine and Mississippi.Their goal: to take control of local committees, boost their delegate totals and influence platform debates.

Paul, for instance, favors a drastically reduced federal goNobody told these supporters of Texas Rep. and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul that the French can't vote in American electionsvernment, abolishing the Federal Reserve, ending the Iraq war immediately and withdrawing U.S. troops from abroad.

They hope to demonstrate their disagreements with McCain vocally at the convention through platform fights and an attempt to get Paul a prominent speaking slot. Paul, who's running unopposed in his home Texas district for an 11th House term, still has some $5 million in war funds and has instructed his followers that their struggle is not about a single election, but a long-term revolution for control of the Republican Party.

I am not sure how seriously to take this story. On the one hand, it is certainly true that the rank-and-file of the Republican Party, including myself, have some serious disagreements with Senator McCain on a number of issues. Speaking only for myself, I take issue with the Senator's approach to border security and his ideas about the proper treatment of enemy aliens. However, I also am well aware that the mainstream media, despite their preference for Senator McCain during the primary season, will do their best to enhance his opponent during the general campaign. This story may be a simple test to see if they can spread disarray in the Republican Party to match that on display in the Democratic Party.

While I do believe that Senator McCain needs to do more work to convince conservatives that he can respect their wishes, it is patently obvious that neither of the Democrats will do a better job in that area. Thus if conservatives wish to throw the election to either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, then by all means they should try to undermine the Republican Party. However, they need to ask themselves if they would be better served by a Democrat in the White House. For myself, the answer is a definite no.

Ultimately, I believe that conservatives should (and probably will) support Senator McCain, considering his opponents in November. So this story to me is most likely an early attempt by the MSM to stir up controversy and discord in the conservative ranks.

Blogging Resumes

Well, gentle readers, I have returned from my extended vacation and am excited to be blogging once again. In the past few weeks, I have been following the Japan news, as opposed to our own events, but as the campaign season picks up steam and becomes nastier, I expect there to be great opportunities for those of us who do not rely on the Drive-By Media for our news.

Japan has been following the Olympic torch's progress obsessively, and they are documenting the progress and the protests that have accompanied it throughout the world. One of the most fascinating moments came as they showed the North Korean progress, and compared it with the scene in japan. It merely reinforces how totalitarian nations, such as China and North Korea, can control and stage-manage their populations, as in North Korea, the torch was almost entirely unescorted, and the people cheered. In most other nations, on the other hand, groups opposed to China's heavy-handed aggression, such as their decades-long occupation of Tibet, and their threatening posture towards Taiwan have managed to stage large and often violent protests as the torch passed through.

I think that China may have made a mistake with their pursuit of the Olympics. They were expecting to be able to stage-manage the Olympics to present their desired picture, just as Hitler did in 1936. However, the world is not possible to control as they might wish, and they may be discovering that sometimes being in the public eye is not as pleasant as it is when one controls the media as they do in their own country. A free media is a two-edged sword, and despite the world media's tendency to give China a pass most of the time, they may be forced to actually see some of the Chinese state's less savory factors as the Olympics bring the society into focus. At least we can hope so.

I'll be keeping an eye on this as it develops. In the meantime, I hope that all of my readers are enjoying the onset of May as summer approaches. It's good to be back!