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Saturday, January 04, 2003
Poll: Americans Wary of Tax Cuts, War
Or so the AP headlines this article. The third paragraph reads as follows:
"When asked about new tax cuts, a centerpiece of President Bush's domestic agenda, 64 percent said it was better to hold off to make sure the federal budget does not go into a deeper into the red. About three in 10, 28 percent, said they favored additional tax cuts to stimulate the economy, according to the poll conducted for the AP by ICR/International Communications Research of Media, Pa.
Right. What the AP writer - one Will Lester - notably DOESN'T tell us is the precise wording of the question in the AP-commissioned survey. Fortunately, though, we have the Media Research Center. According to the MRC, this is how the question was phrased:
"Is it more important to pass additional tax cuts to stimulate the economy now or to hold off on tax cuts so the budget does not go into a deeper deficit?"
Well, THAT'S certainly a fair question. Here's another: When did the AP writers quit beating their wives?
Story 1 - Personal Injury Lawyer Seeks Presidency
North Carolina Trial Lawyer John Edwards has thrown his hat in the ring. According to several news reports, Edwards gained more than $150 million dollars in judgments against various firms - mostly insurance companies - during his career as an ambul...err.....plaintiff's attorney. According to ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, "insurance companies were terrified by him."
Story 2 - Medical Malpractice Turns Doctors Away From Practices
Citing malpractice insurance premiums reaching $200,000 per year, surgeons all over the country are shying away from performing high-risk operations. And doctors in West Virginia have actually gone on strike, forcing some hospitals to ship patients to Ohio for operations.
"In Cleveland, Miss., there are no obstetricians left to deliver babies. A Philadelphia doctor travels 900 miles to Illinois to save on insurance costs.
"And some surgeons are reportedly considering the idea of flying their patients to a Caribbean island for a liability-free surgery.
"The AMA said there is currently a medical malpractice crisis in 12 states.
'"The solution has to be legislative, either states or the Congress have to give doctors protection by making the liability market stable and affordable,' (Doctor Peter) Carmel said....
"Several of the surgeons returned to work when life-threatening cases presented themselves, but one spokesman-surgeon said the walkout will continue.
"'(The Heritage Foundation's Stuart) Butler said the trial lawyers are the ones preventing any kind of reform.
'"Trial lawyers are very well represented in the Congress, they're disproportionately represented and they've generally been able to block sweeping malpractice reform,' he said."
The juxtaposition of those two stories is totally coincidental.
Friday, January 03, 2003
We're all familiar by now with the media's use of unamed experts and critics who oppose free-market economics. It's done to provide an objective news facade to the author's presentation of his own views. We've all seen headlines like:
"Economists warn of consequences of tax cuts," and "Sources critical of deregulation proposals."
Of course, the authors of such articles could also find "sources" and "economists" who support such ideas - if they so chose. Which of course, they generally don't. Until now, though, they've at least had the forbearance to wait until a proposal is actually offered before seeking out opposition to it.
You've just gotta love this one, though. Referring to an economic plan that President Bush is thought to be about to announce, the Associated Press headlines its article on the subject thusly:
The good news, like I said below, is that a bunch of Canadians said they were willing to commit civil disobedience in defiance of Canada's latest gun registration laws. And sure enough, they went through with it. About 150 of them, according to this article. That's pretty good, too, considering they were all risking fines and imprisonment.
And a couple of them actually WERE arrested, including a 70 year old retired auctioneer named Jim Turnbull. Mr. Turnbull is the head of something called the "Canadian Unregistered Firearms Owners Association."
Now what I'm about to say might sound patronizing; but that isn't my intent. Honest. I'm 100 percent behind these guys and think they're great. But I think the Canucks have a little to learn about this civil disobedience thing.
It doesn't seem particularly smart to me to create a formal organization whose express purpose is to violate the law. I mean, it's the "National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws," not the "National Organization to Flout and Violate Marijuana Laws." And I don't THINK that's just because "NORML" is a cooler acronym than "NOFVML."
Actually, though, that's not my main conern with these guys. The really bad news is that the Canadian government might just adopt a "wait-for-them-to-all-die" strategy. In addition to the movement's leader, Mr. Turnbull, we learn that the only guy who showed up at the Edmonton protest was one Mr. Oscar Lacombe, age 74.
"'Here I am, Ottawa,' said Oscar Lacombe, the Alberta legislature's former sergeant-at-arms, holding his plastic-wrapped, unloaded .22 rifle at a one-man protest in Edmonton.....'I'm the criminal you spent billions of dollars to catch. So if you believe in your law, come and arrest me, please.'"
God bless him. But I hope they can find some whipper-snappers in their 50's and 60's to take up the cause pretty soon.
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
I think these final three paragraphs from Victor David Hanson's most recent column are a pretty good - and hopeful - way to tidy up the events of 2002 and look ahead to the next. Here's wishing a happy, healthy, prosperous and free 2003 to all!
"Something strange is happening, as if all the old conventional wisdom proves daily insolvent. Each hour Saudi Arabia appears a more untenable ally, panicky as the light of truth shines into its deepest recesses. The Arab street sinks more and more into irrelevance, as lunatic as it is impotent; its anti-American hatred is to be welcomed rather than feared, given what it presently represents: gender apartheid, religious intolerance, tribalism, and anti-Semitism. Middle Eastern leaders may shake fingers and talk tough, but they have no moral credibility and still less power — and, like former Eastern European Communist hacks, are likely to become the flotsam and jetsam in a tidal wave of change.
"All this September 11 has exposed. But perhaps the queerest phenomenon of all was where real wisdom was to be found in our hour of greatest need. The Kennedy School of Government offered little insight. The Arabists in our universities were worse, more duplicitous even than naive. Some of our acclaimed novelists, poets, filmmakers, and essayists offered up things reprehensible. An array of ex-ambassadors to Saudi Arabia proved comical if not venal. Former President Carter's half-baked ideas of disarmament and pre-Nobel-prize posturing made Chamberlain's Munich accords look statesmanlike; former President Clinton's lip-biting and apologies rendered caricature redundant. Some of our own diplomats' early trial balloons — a coalition government in Afghanistan or an all-Islamic peace force — could be improved upon by brainstorming high-school seniors.
"Instead, a president who supposedly slurred his words and forgot dictator's names sensed the extent and threat of a rare evil, as well as the remedy for its demise that had escaped his supposed betters. And so far that has made all the difference in this strange war."
A Canadian Profile in Courage
I'll be damned. There are still Canadians left who value their freedom and are willing to take risks to maintain it. A dozen or two, anyway.
As I have discussed previously, the political class tends to use the word "courage" to describe what is truly little more than slavish conformity to leftist dogma. I rather doubt that you will hear these resistors of Canada's latest firearms laws described as "courageous" in many respectable quarters. But if that word has meaning, it applies to them in spades.
From todays National Post:
"Many people like to think that they would start resisting before tyranny is well entrenched, but few actually would. It is risky to disobey laws: The state has the power to put resistors in jail, or give them criminal records. State propaganda tries to isolate and discredit resistors, especially when they are part of a minority ("a dwindling minority," scorns the Canadian Firearms Centre). Armchair resistors who imagine themselves as heroes adulated by the populace are usually wrong: They will be treated as marginals, cranks, outcasts, criminals. Only later will early resistors be seen as heroes.
"Starting tomorrow, we will have an opportunity to meet such heroes of the early resistance. On Jan. 1-3, in Ottawa, a few members and supporters of the Canadian Unregistered Firearm Owners Association (CUFOA) will post their "Declaration of Non-compliance," and go to 24 Sussex Drive to present to the Prime Minister the ashes from their firearms licences and gun registration certificates. If they have not yet been arrested, they will visit the offices of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General. They are also planning to swap firearm parts which, since 1998, is a crime without a prior permission from the state. They are considering a side trip to Montreal."
Under Canada's most recent "C-68" firearms law, owning a gun without a registration certificate and license can get you 10 years in prison for each offense. According to the article above, "It (C-68) forces any individual who even only wants to keep his hunting gun at home to apply for a personal licence every five years, and tell the police about his depressions and his love life. It forces 10% of the Canadian adult population to notify the police when they change addresses."
In view of this, my 2002 Canadian Profile in Courage award goes to Nova Scotian pizzeria owner Allister Muir, who has told the Canadian government to go scratch as concerns its firearm registration requirement.
Here in the U.S. there's been a saying popular among gun enthusiasts to the effect that "they'll get my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers." Mr. Muir sounds like he'd fit right in with the NRA boys. "I'm never going to register," he states flatly. "I've been talking to my wife about it for at least three years now trying to prepare for the fact I might have to go (to jail)."
It's almost enough to make me want to cry. Mr. Muir, you are a TRUE Profile in Courage.
Having said all that, there is one thing that bothers me. As an American. And as a Chicagoan.
Pizza in Nova Scotia?
Check out this article on FrontPage about inroads being made by the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi movement in the U.S..
Apparently schoolchildren in the Wahhabi-run schools are being taught that it's A-OK with Allah to kill Jews. Though it would appear that mere shunning is sufficient for Christians. Whew! Here's a sample from the piece, by Susan Katz Keating:
"Outsiders are not permitted to observe Wahhabism lessons or any other classes at ISA. But early this year, students at the academy told two Washington Post reporters some of the things they learn at school. Among other things, students discover the intricacies of Judgment Day.
"One event on that formidable day will be that Muslims will fight and kill Jews. The cowardly Jews will seek refuge behind trees. Much like the trees in the forest scene from the Wizard of Oz, these trees will become animated and aggressive. They will call out to the righteous: 'Oh Muslim, Oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him.'
Students also said they are taught "it is better to shun and even to dislike Christians, Jews and Shiite Muslims." Furthermore, students learn, it is okay to hurt or steal from a non-Muslim."
Monday, December 30, 2002
Senator Patty Murray's kind words about Osama bin Laden didn't go unappreciated.
The Envelope, Please.....
The Media Research Center has issued its 15th annual Notable Quotables awards for the year's worst reporting. Some of the winners:
Media Millionaires for Smaller Paychecks Award (for Demanding the Tax Cut Be Repealed)
“It is scandalous to think we are indulging ourselves at the expense of the elderly....How can we look at ourselves in the mirror if we keep shoving tax cuts into our pockets while letting poor, elderly people go without doctors and medicine?”
-- U.S. News & World Report Editor-at-Large David Gergen, who is often used to balance liberal pundits because he worked in the Nixon and Reagan White Houses, in a back-page editorial for the April 1 issue.
Mount St. Helen Award for Helen Thomas Eruptions
“I censored myself for 50 years....Now I wake up and ask myself, 'Who do I hate today?’...I have never covered a President who actually wanted to go to war. Bush’s policy of pre-emptive war is immoral -- such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It’s as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam....Where is the outrage?”
-- Helen Thomas, Hearst Newspapers White House columnist and former UPI reporter, speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Nov. 4 and quoted on MIT’s Web site two days later.
Fourth Reich Award (for Portraying John Ashcroft as a Fascist)
“One of the interesting things about this German story that’s coming out is they had like 90 pages of particulars of this cell and it makes you think -- they were leaving trails and clues all over the place -- if we’d really been watching and paying attention we could have headed off 9/11. But the German prosecutorial system was pretty laid back and didn’t want to be John Ashcroft, you know, they didn’t want to be the SS, they had that worry there, no Gestapos. And so it was a great place for terrorists to operate.”
-- Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on the August 31 Inside Washington, referring to German surveillance of an al Qaeda group before 9/11.
Speaking of media bias, I have a shorthand method I like to use to demonstrate its pervasiveness to skeptics.
Find a fairly apolitical person. Not someone with his head completely in the sand; but a person you know not to be terribly political or partisan. Ask him the following questions:
1) What is the largest organization in the U.S. devoted to women's issues?
2) Respond with your first impression, simply 'positive' or 'negative,' when I say the following names:
A) Newt Gingrich; B) Thurgood Marshall; C) Dick Gephardt; D) Clarence Thomas;
3) Why was Bill Clinton impeached?
4) What group pays the highest percentage of tax on its income:
A) The poorest 25%; B) The 2nd poorest 25%; C)The 2nd wealthiest 25%; D) The wealthiest 25%
I submit that you will in all likelihood receive answers like this:
-Largest women's organization - National Organization for Women
-Gingrich negative, Marshall positive, Gephardt positive, Thomas negative
-Clinton was impeached because he had sex with an intern.
-The poorest 25% pays the highest percentage in taxes.
Try it. It's unscientific, but, I believe instructive. You will find that people's opinions are shaped - somehow - to believe that Newt Gingrich and Clarence Thomas are somehow bad guys, that the poor bear the highest share of the tax burden and that Clinton's impeachment was "just about sex." How do you suspect they get those ideas?
In the case of the first and last questions, the responses above are simply factually incorrect. NOW's membership is dwarfed by the Concerned Women for American (CWfA). Not that I endorse all that the CWfA espouses, of course. But isn't it odd that when the mainstream media is looking for some organization to comment on "womens' issues," it somehow manages to find not the conservative CWfA, but the leftist NOW?
And of course the wealthiest 25% pay by far the largest share of income taxes - both as a percentage of the total taxes paid and as a percentage of income.
The middle two questions are more subjective: the "positive/negative" evaluations and the impeachment question. But if you know the people you select, and you select individuals who you know to be apolitical, you will be astounded by the consistency with which these subjective evaluations all come down in such a way as to conform with leftist doctrine. The conservative response, for example to the Clinton question (and mine) would be: "He was impeached for lying to a grand jury and obstructing justice." The "it's all about sex" mantra was the product of the Democrat spin machine.
It's just a thought experiment...but a telling one, I think.
Another addition to the blogroll. The guy's name is Kim du Toit and his blog is called Kim's Daily Rant.
How can you not like this guy? Here's his bio as posted on his site.
"Kim du Toit was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kim emigrated to the United States in 1986. Kim emigrated to the United States in 1986.
A graduate of St. John's College, he next began a Philosophy degree, but soon abandoned the idea--attending university didn't help him towards his goal of becoming educated.
Kim is the living embodiment of contradictions:
- a White African-American with a girl's first name and a French last name;
- values the sanctity of marriage, but is married to his third wife;
- attended a religious boarding school, but is an atheist;
- trained chorister, but played bass guitar in a rock band;
- conservative gun nut and hunter, but also an animal-lover whose pets are spoiled rotten;
- and finally, a most politically-incorrect story teller who also experienced a brief stint in a South African jail for protesting against apartheid.
Kim, proudly, became a U.S. citizen in 1989. Having fled the liberals in Chicago, Illinois, Kim now lives in north Texas. He still hates Mayor Daley."
Thanks to John Ray for pointing out that the feedback script I had been using was, ummm, really crappy. It has been replaced by Blogback, which appears to work much better.
Walter Williams on racial double standards:
"San Francisco's esteemed mayor Willie Brown once described a successful legislative battle this way, 'We beat those old white boys fair and square.'
"Spike Lee said in disapproval of interracial marriages, 'I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street.'
"The National Association of Black Social Workers drafted a position paper calling white adoptions of black children 'cultural genocide.' They warned against 'transculturation . . . when one dominant culture overpowers and forces another culture to accept a foreign form of existence.'
"Donna Brazile, Al Gore's presidential campaign manager called Republicans 'white boys' who seek to 'exclude, denigrate, and leave behind.'
"At a celebration for retiring Senator Strom Thurmond (R. SC), Senator Trent Lott (R. Miss) said that Mississippians were proud to have voted for Mr. Thurmond in his 1948 presidential campaign 'and, if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years.'
"Which among the above statements are the most racist, which have received the most media coverage and which caused the most angst? Clearly, Trent Lott's statement received the most media coverage and created the most angst but it doesn't begin to qualify as the most racist. You say, 'Williams, that's different. High officials shouldn't honor and praise racists or ex-racists.' Then what about Bill Clinton's acknowledged political mentors - former Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright and former Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus - who were both rabid segregationists, yet former President Clinton highly praises Fulbright and bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award. By the way Fulbright was one of 19 senators who issued a statement entitled 'The Southern Manifesto', condemning the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education, and defending segregation. That's a bit more recent than Thurmond's run for the White House. Does Bill Clinton's praise of Fulbright, mean that he supported 'The Southern Manifesto' just as the assertion that Trent Lott's praise of Thurmond means he supports Thurmond segregationist stand in 1948? If so, why not also condemn Bill Clinton?"
Thought for the day:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C.S. Lewis