Sunday, July 30, 2006

Is Partisan Divide Bad? Republicans Win 11 of 13 Presidential Elections

Sunday July 30, 2006 article in the New York Times Partisan Divide on Iraq Exceeds Split on Vietnam looks at polls correctly, but fails to look at history.

“No military conflict in modern times has divided Americans on partisan lines
more than the war in Iraq, scholars and pollsters say — not even Vietnam. And
those divisions are likely to intensify in what is expected to be a contentious
fall election campaign.”

“The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows what one expert describes as a continuing “chasm” between the way Republicans and Democrats see the war.”

“Democrats say the Republicans repeatedly broke the old rules, treating national security as a wedge issue to make Democrats look weak and unacceptable, especially in
Just in the North, how divisive was the Civil War? How supportive where Democrats of President Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to preserve the union and free the slaves? The Civil War divided Northerners on partisan lines and those divisions intensified in the contentious 1864 fall election campaign.

Certainly the Republicans campaigned that the Democrats were weak and unacceptable.

In 1864, the Democratic party adopted their ‘war is a failure’ platform calling for an immediate cession of fighting and a negotiated settlement, and nominated General George McClellan as the democratic candidate for President. Although he rejected the party's peace platform, he opposed the Emancipation Proclamation and assured the base of the Democratic Party that he would support states' rights and the continuance of slavery in the South after the end of the Civil War.

See Democratic Party Platform, 1864 “that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war … demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities”

How did this divisiveness work out for the Republican Party? In 1864 Lincoln beat McClellan 55% to 45%.

From 1860 to 1908, Republican Presidential candidates won eleven of thirteen elections. Maybe clear delineation on issues is not bad for the majority party.

Concerned About Civilians’ Death? What about the Congo?

Those who express concern about the deaths of civilians and particularly children need to explain if their outrage is selective. What have they and the United Nations done about the deaths of two million infants in the Congo over the last eight years? That’s a lot of deaths.

Read New York Times July 30, 2006 article War’s Chaos Steals Congo’s Young by the Millions by Lydia Polgreen:

“Though Congo’s civil war supposedly ended four years ago, and the nation’s
first democratic elections in more than four decades are scheduled for Sunday,
the fighting and chaos here continue to kill about 1,250 people each day, mostly
from hunger and disease. In all, nearly four million people have died as a
result of the conflict since 1998, almost half of them children under the age of
5, according to the International Rescue Committee.”

Friday, July 28, 2006

All Female Laguna Beach City Council

Maybe we should give women the chance to run the government. This year, right here in Laguna Beach, we have that opportunity.

If we elect Verna Rollinger, Toni Iseman, and Elizabeth Peason-Schneider, they would join Jane Egly and Cheryl Kinsman so women would comprise 100% of the Laguna Beach City Council.

This of course would leave Steve Dicterow odd man out. see City web site at

Which would be appropriate unless he has a persuasive answer to what he plans to accomplish during another four years on the City Council. If Dicterow hasn’t accomplished it during twelve years on the City Council, what confidence would one have that he could do any better during four more years?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


The End of the Affair
Novak exonerates the Bushies in the Plame case. by Christopher Hitchens July 17, 2006

Robert NovakRobert Novak's July 12 column and his appearance on Meet the Press Sunday night have dissolved any remaining doubt about the mad theory that the Bush administration "outed" Ms. Valerie Plame as revenge for her husband's refusal to confirm the report by British intelligence that Iraqi officials had visited Niger in search of uranium. To summarize, we now know that:
1. Novak was never approached by any administration officials but approached them instead.
2. He was never told the name Plame but discovered it from Who's Who in America, which contained it in Joseph Wilson's entry.
3. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had all along known which sources had responded to Novak's questions.

Hezbollah Violating International Law

“Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending … among women and children. I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don’t think anyone should be proud of having many more women and children dead than armed men.”
United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland

New State Retirement System

See City of Laguna Beach web site – “About 90,000 State employees – not public safety personnel – signed a new labor agreement which modifies the retirement benefit for new State personnel. Instead of having the retirement based on the single highest year – as Laguna Beach and most cities do – it will be based on the average of the highest three years. This will probably be a significant reduction in costs for the State. The State also gave a cost of living increase of 3.5%. The employees have not had a raise since 2003.”

The Laguna Beach City Council should do the same here in Laguna Beach. Over many years the City employee pension, health care, and workman’s Comp expenses have been growing out of control consuming tax revenue increases.

Why no mass illegal immigration earlier in American history?

Hat tip Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal Best of the Web July 26, 2006

Reader David Hoffman makes an interesting point:

“How is it that there wasn't "mass illegal immigration" earlier in history if Americans aren't willing to do these jobs?

The answer, I fear, is one that liberals will not enjoy. While there was always some illegal immigration over the nation's southern border, it achieved the current order of magnitude only as the achievements of the civil rights movement began to be felt in the job market and as the welfare state expanded.

In the old days when "hotel beds were made, office floors were cleaned, restaurant dishes were washed and crops were picked--by Americans," many of those Americans were of African ancestry or otherwise the object of discrimination. And they did them, in spite of low pay, because getting a better job by investing in education was not a reasonable option, nor was collecting a welfare check.

From the British Raj in India to the apartheid era of South Africa to the American South in pre-civil-rights days, the recipe for getting plenty of workers into low-status jobs at an "affordable" wage has been to maintain a class of people for whom those jobs were the best available option. Today this is being accomplished via a porous southern border. It goes without saying that a guest-worker program would be a more humane alternative.”

Monday, July 24, 2006

Time to Redeploy Brilliant Pebbels

President Bill Clinton Inhibited Missile Defense

July 24, 2006 Letter to the Editor in the Wall Street Journal from Harry E. Thayer Kensington, California

"In addition to the currently successful Aegis and Thaad defenses, we also urgently need the Brilliant Pebbles kinetic satellites and the laser satellites. Both had completed their ground-based development and testing, with the next required step being the building and deploying of test satellites. Brilliant Pebbles was ready for this step in January 1993 and the laser in October 1997. Bill Clinton could not see beyond the ABM Treaty, however, and cancelled both programs.

The addition of the two satellite weapons to Thaad and Aegis will give us the layered missile defense that we so urgently need, and should have and could have deployed years ago."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon – Another Good Idea?

Fans of the United Nations perhaps support U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls for an armed UN peacekeeping force to act as a buffer between the Israelis and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

I was quite surprised to recently learn that the UN currently has “peacekeepers” along the southern Lebanon/Israel border. Its call UNIFIL.

The UN has some helpful information online. They just may require a bit more time, and, perhaps, more money.

According to Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978, UNIFIL was established to:
- Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon;
- Restore international peace and security;
- Assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area.

Most recently the mandate of UNIFIL was extended until 31 July 2006 by Security Council resolution 1655 (2006) of 31 January 2006.

See the UN website It includes:

Location: Southern Lebanon
Headquarters: Naqoura
Duration: March 1978 to present
Force Commander: Major-General Alain Pellegrini (France)
Strength (31 May 2006): 1,990 troops, assisted by some 50 military observers of UNTSO; and supported by 95 international civilian personnel and 304 local civilian staff
Contributors of Military Personnel: China, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Poland and Ukraine
Approved budget: July 2005 - June 2006: $99.23 million

Even if the UN peacekeepers couldn’t enforce international law and Security Council resolution 1559 passed in September 2, 2004 requiring the disarming of Hezbollah, one would think that they at least could prevent Hezbollah from accumulating thousands of rockets and missiles and prevent their deployment hidden among civilians.

That I did not know of the existence of UNIFIL is a bit understandable, but it is quite shocking that the UN Secretary General apparently is not aware of the UNFIL existence or its very poor performance.

Benjamin Franklin said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Stop the insanity.

See prior posts:
United Nations Can’t Manage Food Aid
Welfare State Failed New Orleans's Poor

Historic Immigration Debate Cartoons

Our current debate is mild by comparison.

Take a look at

Hat tip to Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal Political Diary (subscription required)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Scientists Global Warming Letter to Canadian Prime Minister

I am a news junkie, but I never heard of this April 2006 letter on the TV or radio news. I wonder why?

Open Kyoto to debate
Sixty scientists call on Harper to revisit the science of global warming

Thursday, April 06, 2006

An open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

Dear Prime Minister:

As accredited experts in climate and related scientific disciplines, we are writing to propose that balanced, comprehensive public-consultation sessions be held so as to examine the scientific foundation of the federal government's climate-change plans. This would be entirely consistent with your recent commitment to conduct a review of the Kyoto Protocol. Although many of us made the same suggestion to then-prime ministers Martin and Chretien, neither responded, and, to date, no formal, independent climate-science review has been conducted in Canada. Much of the billions of dollars earmarked for implementation of the protocol in Canada will be squandered without a proper assessment of recent developments in climate science.

Observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future. Yet this is precisely what the United Nations did in creating and promoting Kyoto and still does in the alarmist forecasts on which Canada's climate policies are based. Even if the climate models were realistic, the environmental impact of Canada delaying implementation of Kyoto or other greenhouse-gas reduction schemes, pending completion of consultations, would be insignificant. Directing your government to convene balanced, open hearings as soon as possible would be a most prudent and responsible course of action.

While the confident pronouncements of scientifically unqualified environmental groups may provide for sensational headlines, they are no basis for mature policy formulation. The study of global climate change is, as you have said, an "emerging science," one that is perhaps the most complex ever tackled. It may be many years yet before we properly understand the Earth's climate system. Nevertheless, significant advances have been made since the protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases. If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.

We appreciate the difficulty any government has formulating sensible science-based policy when the loudest voices always seem to be pushing in the opposite direction. However, by convening open, unbiased consultations, Canadians will be permitted to hear from experts on both sides of the debate in the climate-science community. When the public comes to understand that there is no "consensus" among climate scientists about the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change, the government will be in a far better position to develop plans that reflect reality and so benefit both the environment and the economy.

"Climate change is real" is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural "noise." The new Canadian government's commitment to reducing air, land and water pollution is commendable, but allocating funds to "stopping climate change" would be irrational. We need to continue intensive research into the real causes of climate change and help our most vulnerable citizens adapt to whatever nature throws at us next.

We believe the Canadian public and government decision-makers need and deserve to hear the whole story concerning this very complex issue. It was only 30 years ago that many of today's global-warming alarmists were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe. But the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas.

We hope that you will examine our proposal carefully and we stand willing and able to furnish you with more information on this crucially important topic.

CC: The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment, and the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources


Dr. Ian D. Clark, professor, isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa

Dr. Tad Murty, former senior research scientist, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, former director of Australia's National Tidal Facility and professor of earth sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide; currently adjunct professor, Departments of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa

Dr. R. Timothy Patterson, professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences (paleoclimatology), Carleton University, Ottawa

Dr. Fred Michel, director, Institute of Environmental Science and associate professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa

Dr. Madhav Khandekar, former research scientist, Environment Canada. Member of editorial board of Climate Research and Natural Hazards

Dr. Paul Copper, FRSC, professor emeritus, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ont.

Dr. Ross McKitrick, associate professor, Dept. of Economics, University of Guelph, Ont.

Dr. Tim Ball, former professor of climatology, University of Winnipeg; environmental consultant

Dr. Andreas Prokoph, adjunct professor of earth sciences, University of Ottawa; consultant in statistics and geology

Mr. David Nowell, M.Sc. (Meteorology), fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, Canadian member and past chairman of the NATO Meteorological Group, Ottawa

Dr. Christopher Essex, professor of applied mathematics and associate director of the Program in Theoretical Physics, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

Dr. Gordon E. Swaters, professor of applied mathematics, Dept. of Mathematical Sciences, and member, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Research Group, University of Alberta

Dr. L. Graham Smith, associate professor, Dept. of Geography, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

Dr. G. Cornelis van Kooten, professor and Canada Research Chair in environmental studies and climate change, Dept. of Economics, University of Victoria

Dr. Petr Chylek, adjunct professor, Dept. of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax

Dr./Cdr. M. R. Morgan, FRMS, climate consultant, former meteorology advisor to the World Meteorological Organization. Previously research scientist in climatology at University of Exeter, U.K.

Dr. Keith D. Hage, climate consultant and professor emeritus of Meteorology, University of Alberta

Dr. David E. Wojick, P.Eng., energy consultant, Star Tannery, Va., and Sioux Lookout, Ont.

Rob Scagel, M.Sc., forest microclimate specialist, principal consultant, Pacific Phytometric Consultants, Surrey, B.C.

Dr. Douglas Leahey, meteorologist and air-quality consultant, Calgary

Paavo Siitam, M.Sc., agronomist, chemist, Cobourg, Ont.

Dr. Chris de Freitas, climate scientist, associate professor, The University of Auckland, N.Z.

Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Freeman J. Dyson, emeritus professor of physics, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J.

Mr. George Taylor, Dept. of Meteorology, Oregon State University; Oregon State climatologist; past president, American Association of State Climatologists

Dr. Ian Plimer, professor of geology, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide; emeritus professor of earth sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr. R.M. Carter, professor, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Mr. William Kininmonth, Australasian Climate Research, former Head National Climate Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology, Scientific and Technical Review

Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, former director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

Dr. Gerrit J. van der Lingen, geologist/paleoclimatologist, Climate Change Consultant, Geoscience Research and Investigations, New Zealand

Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, professor of environmental sciences, University of Virginia

Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, emeritus professor of paleogeophysics & geodynamics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Gary D. Sharp, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study, Salinas, Calif.

Dr. Roy W. Spencer, principal research scientist, Earth System Science Center, The University of Alabama, Huntsville

Dr. Al Pekarek, associate professor of geology, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Dept., St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minn.

Dr. Marcel Leroux, professor emeritus of climatology, University of Lyon, France; former director of Laboratory of Climatology, Risks and Environment, CNRS

Dr. Paul Reiter, professor, Institut Pasteur, Unit of Insects and Infectious Diseases, Paris, France. Expert reviewer, IPCC Working group II, chapter 8 (human health)

Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, physicist and chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Warsaw, Poland

Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, reader, Dept. of Geography, University of Hull, U.K.; editor, Energy & Environment

Dr. Hans H.J. Labohm, former advisor to the executive board, Clingendael Institute (The Netherlands Institute of International Relations) and an economist who has focused on climate change

Dr. Lee C. Gerhard, senior scientist emeritus, University of Kansas, past director and state geologist, Kansas Geological Survey

Dr. Asmunn Moene, past head of the Forecasting Centre, Meteorological Institute, Norway

Dr. August H. Auer, past professor of atmospheric science, University of Wyoming; previously chief meteorologist, Meteorological Service (MetService) of New Zealand

Dr. Vincent Gray, expert reviewer for the IPCC and author of The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of 'Climate Change 2001,' Wellington, N.Z.

Dr. Howard Hayden, emeritus professor of physics, University of Connecticut

Dr Benny Peiser, professor of social anthropology, Faculty of Science, Liverpool John Moores University, U.K.

Dr. Jack Barrett, chemist and spectroscopist, formerly with Imperial College London, U.K.

Dr. William J.R. Alexander, professor emeritus, Dept. of Civil and Biosystems Engineering, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Member, United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, 1994-2000

Dr. S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences, University of Virginia; former director, U.S. Weather Satellite Service

Dr. Harry N.A. Priem, emeritus professor of planetary geology and isotope geophysics, Utrecht University; former director of the Netherlands Institute for Isotope Geosciences; past president of the Royal Netherlands Geological & Mining Society

Dr. Robert H. Essenhigh, E.G. Bailey professor of energy conversion, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University

Dr. Sallie Baliunas, astrophysicist and climate researcher, Boston, Mass.

Douglas Hoyt, senior scientist at Raytheon (retired) and co-author of the book The Role of the Sun in Climate Change; previously with NCAR, NOAA, and the World Radiation Center, Davos, Switzerland

Dipl.-Ing. Peter Dietze, independent energy advisor and scientific climate and carbon modeller, official IPCC reviewer, Bavaria, Germany

Dr. Boris Winterhalter, senior marine researcher (retired), Geological Survey of Finland, former professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, Finland

Dr. Wibjorn Karlen, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden

Dr. Hugh W. Ellsaesser, physicist/meteorologist, previously with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif.; atmospheric consultant.

Dr. Art Robinson, founder, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, Cave Junction, Ore.

Dr. Arthur Rorsch, emeritus professor of molecular genetics, Leiden University, The Netherlands; past board member, Netherlands organization for applied research (TNO) in environmental, food and public health

Dr. Alister McFarquhar, Downing College, Cambridge, U.K.; international economist

Dr. Richard S. Courtney, climate and atmospheric science consultant, IPCC expert reviewer, U.K.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Is Oil Running Out? Not Heavy Oil

As crude oil prices rise, the market communicating “increase supply”, there are the incentives to supply more oil. Read the Wall Street Journal July 10, 2006 article
Loading results Saudi Arabia Tests Its Potential For Unlocking Heavy-Oil Reserves by Bhushan Bahree and Russell Gold. [subscription required]

Article includes:
Ø “With global energy demand soaring, Saudi Arabia,… is looking to unlock its huge, hard-to-tap and largely unexploited reservoirs of heavy crude.”
Ø “the effort could significantly increase Saudi Arabia's oil reserves … It would also be a blow to so-called peak-oil theorists who have forecast that world oil production is on the brink of peaking.”
Ø “While there is still plenty of oil left in the ground, most of the supplies that are easy to reach already have been developed, forcing the global petroleum industry to turn to oil deposits that are trickier to recover.”
Ø “Chevron and the Saudis say initial results are promising and that the technique could greatly enhance recovery at some huge fields.”
Ø “Chevron has used steam injections successfully for decades to greatly boost production in heavy-oil fields in California and Indonesia. Now, the Saudis and Chevron want to see if the technique will work in the more porous rock formations common in Middle East.”
Ø “In some ultra-heavy-oil fields -- like the massive Canadian tar-sands deposits, where production is rapidly gearing up -- the oil is far heavier than in Saudi Arabia.”
Ø “In century-old oil fields outside Bakersfield, Calif., Chevron has used steam injection for years to drastically increase the amount of oil that can be pulled out of the earth, radically extending the productive life of the fields.”
Ø “Operating costs in Chevron's California heavy-oil fields were $14 a barrel last year, well above costs in the Middle East. That suggests that the Saudis could pay a premium to extract their heavy-oil deposits and still make a huge profit.”

Monday, July 10, 2006

Change Light Bulbs To Combat Global Warming

Besides hating George W. Bush, what are you doing to combat global warming? You might read the July 2, 2006 Andy McSmith article in England’s The Independent A bright idea: How changing light bulbs helps beat global warming (and cut bills)

Many conservative friends of mine think that the global warming talk is just a tactic to enlarge the size of government and its control over ordinary citizens. For those genuinely concerned, the article provides some suggestions for each of us to consider doing: Check out and consider changing your light bulbs.

The article includes:
Ø “The simple use of current technology could have a dramatic impact on global warming, if only we would adopt it. The low-energy light bulb and other efficient lighting systems could prevent a cumulative total of 16 billion tons of carbon from being added to the world's atmosphere over the next 25 years, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.”
Ø “far from costing money - it would save more than £1,300bn. The light used for homes and offices is a major cause of climate change”
Ø “Artificial light accounts for almost one-fifth of the world's electricity consumption. It generates around 1.9 billion tons worth of carbon a year, equivalent to nearly three quarters of the carbon coming from the exhaust of all the cars and light vehicles in the world.”
Ø "When the operating costs are considered, [low-energy light bulb] they save far more money in avoided energy bills than they cost."
Ø “Britain's Lighting Industry Federation says "a substantial proportion, if not a majority" of lighting installations in the UK use inefficient systems, and efficient bulbs and control could reduce the average bill by 30 per cent without any reduction in the amount of light provided.”
Ø “Adopting the IEA's proposals would put an end to the standard incandescent light bulb, which has been in use since the 1880s. Bulbs like these give off almost 20 times as much heat as light, and, the report warns, might require additional air-conditioning energy for heat removal.”
Ø “If every American home switched their five most-used light fittings to energy-saving bulbs, they would save $6bn (£3.2bn) and reduce greenhouse gases by nearly half a million tons.”

An Aggressive Defense Could Stall North Korea

When the press reports the Bush administration weakest by pulling United Staes troops away from the DMZ and moving them further south in South Korea, remember this letter-to-the-editor that was published in the Wall Street Journal on July 10, 2006.

An Aggressive Defense Could Stall North Korea [subscription required]

“In response to "The China Card" by Michael Auslin (editorial page, July 7): The China Card should, indeed, be played but perhaps even more forcefully. There is also a South Korea card that should be played since appeasement is the center of South Korean policy.

1) North Korean nukes should be tied to providing (or allowing to develop) nuclear capability to Japan and, by Japanese proxy (if they develop their own nukes), to Taiwan. Nuclear weapons are the great equalizer, as was the Colt revolver in the Old West, hardly something China would like to see.

2) South Korea should be "nudged," and North Korea given a clear warning, by redeployment of U.S. forces in Korea further south, out of range of immediate North Korean overrun. As game theorists have long noted, such a "defensive" move is actually quite aggressive, freeing the U.S. to take Draconian measures against the North.

Stuart L. Meyer
Department of Management & Strategy (Emeritus)
Northwestern University
Evanston, Ill.”

Cultural Arrogance Blinds Left to Jihadists' Mentality

Very persuasive letter to the editor in July 10, 2006 Wall Street Journal. Cultural Arrogance Blinds Left to Jihadists' Mentality [subscription required]

"James Dickinson (Letters to the Editor, July 7), in replying to your June 30 editorial "Fit and Unfit to Print," castigates you for buying into "a simple-minded, attention-getting label" like the war on terror. He says "common sense" dictates that "we should be striking at the basic roots of the jihadists' fanaticism" with "sophisticated economic, cultural and educational aid programs aimed at raising living standards and multilateral understanding." In so saying, he betrays the cultural arrogance of the left, assuming that jihadists simply don't understand or appreciate what good and helpful and friendly people Westerners are.

The basic roots of the jihadists' fanaticism are in the fundamentalist Koranic values they want to ensure their children follow. Economic, cultural and educational aid programs, no matter how "sophisticated," are an attempt to remake the targeted societies in the image of the West: promoting freedom of conscience, of expression, of political activity, of intellectual inquiry. "Raising living standards" means replacing religious values with materialist, secular ones. Imagine how you would react if Islamic fundamentalists took charge of indoctrinating America's children in Koranic values, and you can understand how well-intentioned Western aid programs aimed at "multilateral understanding" are a worse provocation to our enemies than any bombs or bullets.

The result, as we can see in Iraq, is not less jihadist fanaticism, but a schism between those who want Western-style freedoms and material goods, and those who want to eject all Western influence from their society -- and the latter group has declared all-out war on the West to achieve its objectives. The members of this group must be defeated, everywhere and anywhere they pop up."

Stuart Creque
Moraga, Calif.

Bush Raises Taxes Big Time

The policies of President George W. Bush has caused the money to roll in to federal, state, and local coffers. See Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit New York Times July 9, 2006 article by Edmund L. Andrews. Of course, when criticized that the Bush tax cuts were giveaways to the rich, President Bush maintained that it was designed to stimulate the economy which would lead to higher government tax revenues.

In the article:
Ø “An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane relief.”
Ø “the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year's levels and that the deficit will be down “Tax revenues are climbing twice as fast as the administration predicted in February, so fast that the budget deficit could actually decline this year.”
Ø “the Congressional Budget Office reported that corporate tax receipts for the nine months ending in June hit $250 billion — nearly 26 percent higher than the same time last year — and that overall revenues were $206 billion higher than at this point in 2005.”
Ø “could shrink the deficit this year to $300 billion, from $318 billion in 2005 and an all-time high of $412 billion in 2004.”
Ø “Republicans are already arguing that the revenue jump proves that their tax cuts, especially the 2003 tax cut on stock dividends, would spur the economy and ultimately increase revenues.”
Ø “The jump in receipts is providing Mr. Bush and Republicans in Congress with a new opportunity to assert that tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are working and that Congress should make them permanent.”
Ø “Domestic discretionary programs, like education and space exploration, have slowed their growth after climbing rapidly in Mr. Bush's first term. But entitlement programs, particularly Medicaid and Medicare, are climbing rapidly as a result of rising medical prices and Mr. Bush's prescription drug program.”
Ø “Tax receipts amounted to about 17.5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product in 2005 … below the average of 18 percent since World War II. Spending, by contrast, is running at about 20 percent of gross domestic product.”

Mexico Election Safeguards Better Than United States

Really? What can we learn from Mexico? Read John Fund in his July 10, 2006 Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal article How to Run a Clean Election What Mexico can teach the United States.
John Fund points out:
Ø “Mexico's nonpartisan National Election Commission has built up a decade of credibility in running clean elections and international observers have certified the count as fair.”
Ø “Mexico has developed an elaborate system of safeguards to prevent voter fraud. Absentee ballots, which are cast outside the view of election officials and represent the easiest way to commit fraud, are much harder to apply for than in the U.S. Voters must present a valid voter ID card with a photo and imbedded security codes. After they cast a ballot voters--just like those famously pictured in Iraq last year--also have a finger or thumb dipped in indelible purple ink to prevent them from voting again.”
Ø “in the three presidential elections Mexico has conducted since the National Election Commission reformed the election laws ‘68% of eligible citizens have voted, compared to only 59% in the three elections prior to the rule changes.’ People are more likely to vote if they believe their ballot will be fairly counted.”
Ø “But in the U.S. a growing percentage of people have doubts their votes are recorded properly, whether those doubts stem from concerns about new electronic voting machines or old-style political machines with a reputation for corruption. Residents of cities such as Philadelphia, where there are more registered voters than the number of adults over the age of 18, routinely note that "voting early and often" is a time-honored--and all too real--tradition.”
Ø “Photo ID laws are considered one of the most basic and necessary election safeguards by a host of countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Britain, India and South Africa. But less than half of U.S. states have any kind of photo ID laws.”
Ø “Last year, the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker proposed a national photo ID requirement. They noted the importance of clean election rolls and the usefulness a photo ID law could provide in ensuring that the person arriving at a polling site is the same one that is named on the registration list. They also proposed that all states use their best efforts to obtain proof of citizenship before registering voters.”
Ø “Kentucky GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell … proposed an amendment to the immigration bill that would have included a grant to ensure that states could afford to provide a free ID to anyone who needed one. … A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in April found that 80% of Americans favored a photo ID requirement, with only 7% opposed. Nonetheless, every Democratic senator lined up in opposition”

Ø “In the 1960s, Americans fought a civil rights battle to ensure the right of everyone to vote. But every American also has an equal civil right not to have their ballot canceled out by someone who shouldn't be voting, is voting twice or in some case has long since died.”

Politicians Share Blame for California Energy Debacle

What happened? Was Ken Lay and Enron the one to blame. Let’s review a little history by reading Dan Walters July 7, 2006 Sacramento Bee column Don't forget: Politicians share blame with Lay for energy debacle

The column includes:
Ø Many are trying to promote “the myth that were it not for Enron and Lay, California wouldn't have experienced its 2001 energy crisis.”
Ø “Gray Davis, the governor when the crisis struck, claimed vindication last May when Lay was convicted along with associate Jeffrey Skilling. The energy meltdown -- soaring costs and blackout-inducing shortages -- began Davis' political slide that culminated in his 2003 recall.”
Ø “Properly constructed, deregulated energy markets have worked elsewhere and could work in California, but the state's politicians fumbled.”
Ø In the mid-1990s, then-Gov. Pete Wilson and Daniel Fessler, Wilson's Public Utilities Commission president, pushed for deregulation, saying that competition could bring down California's high power rates. The PUC formulated a plan but the Legislature -- especially a state senator named Steve Peace -- decided to intervene. Lobbyists for utilities, power generators, traders such as Enron and consumer advocates engaged in marathon negotiating sessions known in the Capitol as the "Steve Peace death march" and produced a scheme that legislators, including [current Attorney General Bill] Lockyer as a state senator, unanimously endorsed in 1996.”
Ø “Retail power rates were frozen while utilities bought juice from a newly created wholesale market at prices that had no caps. It worked well enough for a few years because wholesale rates were low and stable, but when power shortages -- chiefly from a drought in the Pacific Northwest -- emerged in 2000, utilities began experiencing billions of dollars in new costs that they could not pass on to their retail customers, driving them toward bankruptcy. The illogical system began to collapse.”
Ø “The scheme's flaws were compounded by Davis' paralysis when the first shortages hit in 2000. Had he and his PUC president, Loretta Lynch, acceded to utilities' pleas to abandon the spot market and sign long-term supply contracts, the crisis could have been averted.”
Ø “It's convenient for politicians such as Lockyer and Davis to blame Enron, but if they had been doing their jobs 10 years ago and six years ago, the crisis wouldn't have occurred.”

Copenhagen Consensus Get Your Priorities Right

Read the July 8, 2006 Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal article about Bjorn Lomborg Get Your Priorities Right by Kimberley A. Strassel

If you were a powerful government official, what would you do if you had an extra $50 billion to spend? Unfortunately, accordingly to Danish environmentalist and political scientist Bjorn Lomborg, bureaucrats do not set priorities, so they would likely not get the maximum benefits for

From the article:
Ø “Two hundred years ago, the left was an "incredibly rational movement." It believed in ‘encyclopedias’, in hard facts, and in the idea that mastery of these basics would help ‘make a better society’."
Ø “Since then, the world's do-gooders have succumbed to ‘romanticism’;”
Ø “This once-obscure Dane has in recent years risen to the status of international celebrity as the chief advocate of getting leaders to realize the world has limited resources to fix its problems, and that it therefore needs to prioritize.”
Ø “Prioritization, cost-effectiveness, efficiency -- these are the ultimate in rational thinking. They are also nearly unheard-of concepts among the governments, international bodies and aid groups that oversee good works.”
Ø “Bjorn Lomborg ….book ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’…carefully researched, it offered endless statistics -- from official sources such as the U.N. -- showing that from biodiversity to global warming, there simply were no apocalypses in the offing.”
Ø “Political figures don't like to make choices; they don't like to reward some groups and not others; they don't like to admit that they can't do it all. They are political. Not rational.”
Ø “the Copenhagen Consensus Center, held a new version of the exercise … If you had an extra $50 billion, how would you prioritize your spending? …..their final list looked very similar to that of the wise economists. At the top were better health care, cleaner water, more schools and improved nutrition. At the bottom was . . . global warming.”
Ø “Not that Mr. Lomborg doesn't think global warming is a problem -- he does. But he lays out the facts. "The proposed way of fixing this -- to drastically reduce carbon emissions now and to solve a 100-year problem in a 10-year time frame, is just a bad idea. You do fairly little good at a fairly high price.”