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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More On Choices

This post started as a reply to a reader, whom I have a fundamental disagreement with over the issue of Abortion.

I have a lot of respect for her, I just happen to disagree with her on this issue. Doesn't mean I still wouldn't want to meet her and have a couple of drinks some time, because quite honestly, if we never associated with people you disagreed with on one issue, none of us would have any friends.

Paula, you and I have a disagreement that will probably never be settled over when life begins. That's cool, hell, I disagree with the entire British empire on how to ground an electrical circuit.

I will say though, that I've never had the issue come up with me for one reason, I've practiced abstinence (from intercourse) when birth control wasn't available, or if a child wasn't an option. Which goes to the heart of the issue for 1.2 million of 1.3 million abortions (in 2000), sexual responsibility.

Because in those 1.2 million cases, the people knew there was a good chance they weren't protected, as I posted only 95,000 of the 1.3 million occured when the person was sure they'd used the birth control properly.

Those people who knew, or had a good idea they were unprotected had a choice to make at that point; they could have intercourse and risk pregnancy, or abstain from it, and not risk it. Evidently they chose wrong, in my opinion.

There are many ways to achieve sexual gratification that don't include intercourse, but can be just as fun. I'd suggest for the folks who think abortion shouldn't be legal you make sure your offspring understand that point. It might not be comfortable talking to them about it, but you should. I appreciate that my parents were honest enough to explain life to me.

For the folks who think it should be legal, I still think you should be explaining it to them. There are a lot of STD's that are pretty hard to transmit without intercourse (and some that aren't they need to know that too.). So it might protect them from something else, maybe even something worse than being pregnant, something fatal.

For the 7ish percent of folks who will get abortions because the birth control really failed, I feel for you, and wish there was a way to convince you it's the wrong choice. Maybe go talk to a couple who've spent years on adoptions lists and spent thousands on fertility treatments. Learn that it's a gift you are carrying, not an inconvenience. And that there are thousands who would be honored if you'd pass that gift along to them.

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Kind To Bush?

I've never made a secret that Richard Cohen isn't one of my favorite columnists, but I'll give him a lot of credit this morning. His latest work, "Bush, Speaking Up Against Bigotry", was a complete and total surprise to find in the newspaper.

He not only goes against the grain of the entire left on the Ports deal, he whacks the media for their coverage of it, and praises Bush for addressing the xenophobic end of the issue.

There are times when George Bush sorely disappoints. Just when you might expect him to issue a malapropian explanation, pander to his base or simply not have a clue about what he is talking about, he does something so right, so honest and, yes, so commendable, that -- as Arthur Miller put it in "Death of a Salesman" -- "attention must be paid." Pay attention to how he has refused to indulge anti-Arab sentiment over the Dubai ports deal.
Very few columnists, even on the right, have given Bush that kind of credit on this deal. Most have spent their time trying to allay the security fears, or push the business aspect of the deal, myself included.

Usually, at that point in a column, Richard find a way to say "but", this time he doesn't.

That Bush has done this should come as no surprise. As a bigot he leaves a lot to be desired. He has refused to pander to anti-immigration forces, and shortly after Sept. 11, if you will remember, he visited Washington's Islamic Center. He reassured American Muslims and the worldwide Islamic community that
neither America nor its government were waging war on an entire people.

There are plenty of folks on the right who hate his stance on illegal immigration, and because of that no meaningful reform is going on. As for the message to Arabs/Muslims, the Arab media hasn't helped get it out, and the blogosphere (myself included), have made a joke of the fact that we would rather kill the radical end of Islam than all of it.

He also does an excellent job of pointing out something else that lots of folks have tiptoed around.

Whatever their concerns may be, whatever their fears, they would not have had them, expressed them or seen them in print had the middle name of the United Arab Emirates been something else. After all, no one goes nuts over Germany, the country where some of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists lived and attended school.

A few of us have pointed out the number of countries that money was funneled through to fund the 9/11 attacks, many in Europe, but most folks don't listen to it.

He even, in a rather sly way, takes the media to task for the Cheney shooting fiasco, and now the Ports deal.

We are in an odd era of symbolic news events. The Dick Cheney shooting was
treated as if it were of cosmic political importance..[snip]....But if the Cheney story was about everything else -- including, of course, the taciturn and slippery Cheney himself -- then this port controversy is really about security anxiety and a dislike of things and people Arab. The deal may not be perfect, but it is a long way from a Page One story.

It's not often I agree with an entire column by Mr. Cohen, but this is one of those rare occasions.
Once you read through the facts on the security arrangements, the structuring of the deal, and get past the hyperbole of "running our ports" and realize it's 'managing a few terminals', all that's left is that DPW is an Arab company. A few people are using the word foreign, but I haven't noticed any bills in congress to get the Britain, Australia, Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea, Germany or Denmark kicked out of their terminal agreements.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

No Big Post Tonight

I'm whipped. We did two days worth of lab work today, because of issues with equipment on Friday. Add to that a 90 minutes or so meeting that ended up taking a little over 3 hours, and a bunch of errands after work, I left home at 6, and got home at 6. I just don't have the energy to think about posting.

So instead of reading here tonight, check out some folks on the blog roll, there are some new ones, like:

Gun Toting Liberal... Yeah, he's a lefty, but he's one who debates instead of derides. I like him.
Farfromgruvin.. a right of center guy. Some interesting opinions, history, and personal stuff. Give him a read.
Born Again Redneck... He comments here occasionally, and has another interesting mixed up blog, with everything from flowers to politics.
Althouse... She's a conservative blogger who covers everything from moving out of her house to political and legal matters. She also shows that not all lawyers (or law professors) need to go hunting with Dick Cheney.

Also, head over to Knockin' On The Golden Door, and give Mark a cyberhug (in a manly way, guys). He's having a rough time right now with something we all hate when we have to deal with it.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fetus Wars

It's funny, yesterday I post on the South Dakota abortion law, and was complimented by Gun Toting Liberal for the civil discourse around here on such a contentious issue, then today find a place that isn't having such a nice discussion on it.

I was lead there because a regular reader/commenter here, Lone Pony, delinked them after her heartfelt comment on the issue was met with ridicule, and pretty snide remarks.

One of the funny things about the blog having that fight is the owners disdain for statistics, and numbers. So, I thought I'd toss a few of the statistics on abortion up here (From The Alan Guttmacher Institute):

On the basis of our survey findings, we estimate that of the 1.3 million women who underwent induced abortions in 2000, 608,000 had not been using a contraceptive method around the time they became pregnant, 610,000 had been using a method but not consistently or correctly, and 95,000 had thought they were using the method perfectly but became pregnant because of method failure.
That comes out to 7.6% who got abortions got them because of an actual birth control failure, which is much smaller than the shrill folks on the other side of the argument use.

The other idea is that poor women have more abortions based on less birth control, but the same study found that the difference in use rates between those in poverty and those not in poverty was so small as to be insignificant!

If you'd like to look at more numbers, and conclusions from them, here are two references:
Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2002 (Centers For Disease Control)
Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Women Having Abortions in 2000-2001 (Guttmacher)

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More On The Docks

There is some more good reading, and background in the papers today on the Dubai Ports World deal.

The first, "Response to Port Deal Faulted" has some very good information on Committee for Foriegn Investment in the US (CFIUS), and how they operate. The reporters missed on a few things in it that were addressed in the Sentate hearings last week, but overall it gives a good look at the process. The only real issues I had with the article was it's reference to this deal being in the 'trade press' since October, as I pointed out earlier, it was also in the BBC Business News, and New York Times. It also lays all blame for misjudging congressional and public reaction on the White House. As I said yesterday, CNOC's floating of an idea to buy UNOCAL was enough to cause congress to react on it's own.

The second article, "At Port of Baltimore, Debate Hits The Docks" explains very well how longshoremen are hired, and checked for working on the docks, and how the union process works to get labor to the waterfront. It also points out something that keeps getting missed in much of the media, P&O and DPW are operators of terminals, not ports.

In "Homeland Security Protested Ports Deal", initial objections to the deal by DHS are laid out, and the compromises that DPW made to gain their approval are discussed, along with bloviating by Senators and Gov. Corzine of New Jersey.

I also caught a Baltimore Sun article (which I can't find now, of course) where the Democratic Mayor of Baltimore, Martin O'Malley made the statement that DPW would "have access to every ships manifest in Baltimore Harbor". The Mayor needs to do some research on that issue. Only the terminal operator who is receiving the ship, and US Customs get complete manifests from ships. Other operators get partials, with the container numbers that will be loaded on to their ships for forwarding.

As I read the three articles something came to my mind, why didn't the Port Authorities bring up problems with this takeover bid earlier? I would imagine that the folks who run the ports for the States of New York, Maryland, Florida, Louisiana read the trade papers and knew this was coming.

In fact, I can't imagine that they weren't notified by P&O that there were bids being solicited for them once word got to the press about it. Yet they were silent as crickets on the deals, and actually still are for the most part.

If you read the papers and see who's talking about cancelling terminal deals with P&O to prevent DPW from operating in them, it's not the Port Authorities, it's Governors, and other politicians.

Which brings us back to the whole hulabaloo over this deal. The professionals who run the ports haven't been expressing issues with it, the politically insulated folks in DC who run CFIUS don't have a problem with it, but the folks who are running for reelection do.

So is this really a national security issue, or just a political football painted up as one?

Opinion Journal has an excellent piece on Protectionist's using national security as their new cover.

farfromgruvin has some insight from Oliver North on his blog about this deal. He appears to be another person who found the facts, and realized this was much ado about nothing.

UPDATE: DPW has now requested that CFIUS do a 45 day investigation to ease congressional concerns. My question is if CFIUS still finds nothing to worry about, then what will the doubters say? My guess is at that point it becomes a "Bush's appointees sold us out" arguement. Either way, the political insulation that is (by congresses doing) supposed to be around CFIUS has been removed.

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CORRECTION: In a post a few days ago I mentioned Hanjin lines as a Chinese carrier, they are in fact South Korean. COSCO is the major Chinese shipper operating on the US West Coast, and mostly controlled by the government of China.
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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Mother Moonbat Takes Her Show On The Road

The folks at Thunder Run tipped me off to this, which has ticked me off. It seems that Cindy Sheehan is planning a German tour, to protest the war in Iraq outside the US Army Hospital in Landstuhl.

I guess since her and the Code Pink(o's) lost their permit to protest at Walter Reed she's decided to go straight to the hospital where most of the wounded troops are sent from Iraq and Afghanistan before they return to the states.

Iraqwarnet has the Stars and Stripes article and some opinions on the issue. I agree that if this is only about US policy, not the soldiers, then The Moonbat Brigade should find a better venue to protest in other countries.

Her taking the show on the road, with recent trips to visit Hugo Chavez, and now Europe also shows her eroding credibility here in the US. Not one of the major US newspapers has given this any coverage. And her upcoming concert to bring the troops home is getting 1 paragraph notes in most of them.

UPDATE: Soldiers' Angels Germany has more up on counter protesting and organization of a "welcoming party" for the Commander in Grief.

More can be found by visiting:Household6, Soldier’s Angels Germany,Mudville Gazette, Free Republic and Blackfive, Proud Army Mom

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For Some Fun

I've spent the week ragging on port deals, legal matters and abortion. For some fun check out The Nose On Your Face, and my list (and Buckley's additions) of Rejected Titles For Brokeback Mountain.

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South Dakota And Abortion

A few days ago "The Gun Toting Liberal" asked why there was such a deafening silence on the right over South Dakota's Senate passing a law outlawing all abortion unless the mothers life was in danger.

He, and a lot of left leaning bloggers had all kinds of theories, including the GOP / right really doesn't want Roe v. Wade overturned. They were wrong, the truth was, the South Dakota House hadn't passed the bill yet. Now that they have, and the Governor has vowed to sign it, the right side of the blogosphere is all over it. Little Miss Chatterbox has her take up on it, as do many others.

Now for my take on it, I don't think the law will hold up to court scrutiny, and I don't think it should. I'm against abortion, don't get me wrong, however the only exception it makes is for life threatening issues. Unless a law includes a rape and incest provision, I think the courts should strike it down. Period.

As I posted a few months ago (here) all the data shows most American's want restrictions placed on abortion, but at the same time only about one in seven want it outlawed completely.

I don't carry the delusion that courts are going to give rapists equal rights as parents in those cases.
If a rape victim becomes pregnant and bears a child, the rapist could have the same parental rights as the mother, said Krista Heeren-Graber, executive director of the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

In fact, I think any family court judge who did would be run off the bench so fast everyone's head would spin. My concern would simply be the medical and psychological effects on a woman being required to carry that reminder to term.

Chatter about it.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Stacking the Deck

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is asking that the charges against him be dismissed. I can't say as I blame him, considering that it seems that the deck is being stacked against his defense.

A judge today agreed with the special prosecutor that Libby's defense lawyers can't have the identity of another government official who supposedly mentioned Valerie Plame's name to the press. WTF?

During a hearing Friday afternoon, Walton said Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald can keep secret the other government official's identity because that person has not been charged and has a right to privacy.
So another person has supposedly also revealed the name of the agent who's identity started the case, but Libby can't know it, as part of his defense?

But wait, it gets better, they also won't allow him to ask for the President's Daily Briefings. While they haven't said why they want them, it doesn't take a lawyer to figure out that he's probably trying to show that there was no intentional outing of the former operative.

The vice president _ his boss _ said these are the family jewels," the judge said, referring to Cheney's past description of the daily briefings. "If the executive branch says, 'This is too important to the welfare of the nation and we're not going to comply,' the criminal prosecution goes away."
So the judge is taking sides with the prosecution, vocally? Sorry, but this is starting to smell like something other than a fair trial. When the defense can't get the name of a possible witness because they haven't been charged, and you can't supenoa documents because it might cause problems?

Oh wait, they still haven't ruled if the defense can supenoa the documents, notes and reporters who testified at the Grand Jury about the Plame matter, that hearing is at the end of April. Again, WHAT! Not being able to call the people, and notes that were used by the grand jury for the indictment seems a little bit odd.

On the upside, the judge did say Libby could have his own notes from that period of time. I'm not kidding, that had to be ruled on too.

Sorry folks but unless you believe kangaroo courts should be the norm, this already stinks, and we are still eleven months from the actual trial. Which if the judge continues to rule the way he has been, should be a short one.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Breaking Some Myths

There's been a lot of rumor, inuendo, and very false information about Dubai Ports World's take over of P&O North America, a British owned US chartered corporation, that currently operates in 7 US ports.

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a two hour hearing on the matter today, and I watched it, and learned a lot of things that aren't in the press.

The first one, that many folks in Congress have been circulating is that no one knew about this until about 2 weeks ago. If that's the case, they should read BBC's investment news more often, it was reported there last November, and in Hong Kong Skyline in October last year, along with other media outlets such as the New York Times, and Baltimore Sun.

In fact the Treasury Undersecretary who was at the hearing mentioned that less press mention of the Chinese bid for Unocal caused that deal to stop, yet no one in congress, or the media raised any questions about this deal, which may be why no one seemed to notice until CFIUS approved it.

The second, that Bush caused this to happen "in the dark of the night". The truth is the process that is used to review such takeovers is done behind closed doors because of business concerns, security concerns, and a number of other reasons. That's done based not on an Executive Branch decree, but on a statute passed by Congress.

Imagine if you ran a company, were looking at a possible bid, and had to make it public early than necessary, because of congressional (or other) interference. That would have quite an impact on many business operations.

The third, that this was "rushed through". In the case of DPW and P&O they voluntarily went to the Department of Treasury, who heads CFIUS in October before the bid was made public, in order to start the ball rolling, and take care of any problems. DPW hadn't even won the bidding in fact, they were trying to be proactive in the process. There's a horrible business practice.

The next is that DPW will be "running the ports", the truth is they will be acquiring 24 of 829 terminals in the ports they will be operating in, with their leases only for those terminals, not entire port operations.

They've actually accepted dozens of additional measures be included at our insistance, including leaving the current management and employment structures in place, and extra screenings of any employees by DHS through Customs and the Coast Guard.

DPW will also not be running security and inspections. That's still handled by the Coast Guard and DHS. In fact NO port operator knows what containers will be inspected when ships arrive in the US. They are told by the CG or Customs Service that a particular container will be inspected as it's offloaded, with no notice. The inspectors in the port don't even get the list until the ship docks, so they can't leak the information.

After watching the hearing, and listening to press questions, I'm more convinced, not less that folks on both sides of the aisle are using this for political points, Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton are on top of that list after listening to them.

UPDATE: DP World has offered to delay the US end of the transaction, while Congress finishes bloviating over the issue.

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The Gun Toting Liberal feels differently than I do on this issue, as does Common Folk Using Commons Sense. Atlas Shrugs has more on this, and a link to the White House letter explaining the DPW and CFIUS process. Command T.O.C also disagrees with me.

Newsweek has 3 pieces on this issue, Christopher Dickey gives a good look at Dubai, and Eleanor Clift looks at how Democrats will try to use this to make political hay, and "The Oval" column is about the GOP Bush rift on the issue.

Trackback at Mudville Gazette.
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Great Minds Think Alike

Last night I went over to Chatterbox Chronicles, and responded to a commenter on the idea that the west shouldn't have published the cartoons of Mohammed.

He had posted the following:

I'm going to disagree with you about posting the pictures. I think the reality of the situation has to be taken into concern.
My response was this:

James, what reality should we face? That a newspapers freedom to publish something is being quashed by the threat of violence against them? As a people in the US we've rejected that same type of reaction from our own intolerant groups like the KKK. While there are many bigoted whites around, you'll find very few who agree with the KKK's methods of dealing with their bigotry. So why should we knuckle under to a group that is really the cultural equivalent to the KKK? You can go ahead and run down the road of appeasement, it hasn't worked. Here is a link to a site that will show you what 27 years of appeasing Islamic Terrorists has gotten us.

Then, I get up this morning and find my response was a channeling of the thoughts of Bill Bennett and Alan Dershowitz, who have an excellent opinion piece in this mornings Washington Post, taking the American media to task over this issue.

While we may disagree among ourselves about whether and when the public interest justifies the disclosure of classified wartime information, our general agreement and understanding of the First Amendment and a free press is informed by the fact -- not opinion but fact -- that without broad freedom, without
responsibility for the right to know carried out by courageous writers, editors, political cartoonists and publishers, our democracy would be weaker, if not nonexistent. There should be no group or mob veto of a story that is in the public interest.
A lot of bloggers, including myself, have been very critical of the media in this regard. Bennett and Dershowitz, definitely a set of "strange bedfellows", express very well what the rest of us have been feeling, that the press caved to pressure from radical Islam. There has been a mob veto, to use their phrase, of the coverage of the 12 cartoons.

In fact, that veto went so far as to have an editor at the Daily Illini, a college paper for the University of Illinois, dismissed for printing them. Stop the ACLU is even supporting the ACLU in trying to get him reinstated (and no, Hell didn't freeze over).

What do these folks, from all these divergent backgrounds understand that James over at Chatterbox Chronicles doesn't? Again Bennett and Dershowitz explain it best:

When we were attacked on Sept. 11, we knew the main reason for the attack was that Islamists hated our way of life, our virtues, our freedoms. What we never imagined was that the free press -- an institution at the heart of those virtues and freedoms -- would be among the first to surrender.
Read the rest of their opinion piece if you read nothing else today.
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Other Folks Blogging On This: Lone Pony with American Press Held Hostage By Islamic Terrorists, and Thunder Run with his Web Recon Report for today. Educated Shoprat has an even larger roundup of bloggers who are covering this today.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Scooping The NY Times

I was going to post on Harold Meyerson's Opinion piece in the Washington Post tonight, then I was going to post on partial birth abortions going to the Supreme Court, and South Dakota's new abortion ban. Then I thought, nah, everyone is doing that, so I'll do something different.
(If you want to read about Meyerson Bullwinkle has it covered)

A few days ago I posted about the New York Times article about Wal-Mart's intranet site, Lee's Garage, and the info they had gotten from a ticked off manager. Included in my post was a quote from Lee Scott, the CEO, and his response to Michael Barbaro's article.

After I posted someone from the NY Times visited my site, finding it via a Technorati search. Getting scooped on the Scott comments from a bunch of bloggers in Arkansas and Virginia couldn't be sitting well with the folks in New York (who use a New Jersey ISP). I'll assume the someone was Mr. Barbaro, as I received an e-mail from him a short time later, as did other bloggers, like Arkansas Family Coalition.

I am very intrigued by your postings about my story today in The New York Times (about Lee Scott, of Wal-Mart) and wanted to chat with you if you have a moment. Can you give me a call or give me a number where I might reach you?

Many thanks,
Michael Barbaro
The New York Times

I couldn't respond that day, which I let him know, but did e-mail and call later, and have received no response.

I'm sure that what he was looking for was the people behind the nefarious plot to spread good words about Wal-Mart. After seeing a number of blogs with similar posts, and the same H. Lee Scott quote he must have figured there is a conspiracy.

There is a conspiracy, Michael. The conspiracy is that, just like you, folks at Wal Mart use Technorati to find out who's writing about them. When they find bloggers, like myself, who post complimentary things, they occasionally tip us off on other news. Read my archives, you'll find I've been blogging about them for quite a while. This is very similar to why WalMartWatch.Com picked the NY Times and not the Washington Times to send the Lee's Garage information too.

It really shouldn't surprise savvy newspaper people that this happens. Business is a PR war most of the time. I'm sure if I start posting nice stuff about Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer often enough I'll hear something from Boston Brewing (hopefully with a free case). The folks who do PR aren't going to chose to release stuff to those who are hostile to their client, that would be stupid.

For you, Mr. Barbaro more good stuff about Wal-Mart. They raised 25% of the total collected during the Salvation Army's "Red Kettle" campaign during the Christmas season this year, a total of over $26 million dollars. Target raised nothing, they don't allow the Salvation Army at their stores. Who gets the "social conscience points" on that one?

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A Short History of Mankind

Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer & would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in winter.

The 2 most important events in all of history were the invention of beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into 2 distinct subgroups: Liberals and Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as "the Conservative movement."

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's and doing the sewing, fetching and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as 'girliemen.'

Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy and group hugs and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but li ke their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare.

Another interesting revolutionary side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, Marines, athletes and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tame and created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history.

It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to respond to the above before simply laughing and forwarding it. A Conservative will be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately.

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Facts on the Port Takeover

UPDATE: For conservatives worried about my "vast right wing conspiracy credentials", don't fear, the New York Times wants the President to fold on this issue, so I might not be too far off the right track :)

The Washington Post has a very good article on the ports fiasco this morning, that lays out a lot of the details of who runs the ports, and how, regardless of the management company.

It points out a lot of what the folks who are supporting Dubai Ports World have been saying all along, that security, and hiring practices aren't going to change. Those are all controlled through collective bargaining with the long shoreman and other federal agencies.

It also gives more background on the actual deal between the current British operator of the ports and DPW, and who actually runs DPW's day to day operations.

If you are wondering about the deal, read this article before you listen to the bloviating masses in Washington DC.

Indian Chris over at Right Wing and Right Minded did a little research on the issue, and had a change of heart on it. I think once the information gets out about how this deal is actually being run, more people will see Congress's knee jerk reaction as a less than flattering commentary on America.

As a side note, a second article in the Post, which is mostly a rehash of what the one I linked to last night, points out something that most folks probably don't realize. The UAE provides more docking facilities in the Middle East for the US Navy than any other country. And guess who runs 3 of the 4 busiest ports we visit. Their initials are DPW.

Tonight I'll comment on Harold Meyerson's horrible Op/Ed piece, and the Supreme Court's taking up the Partial Birth Abortion ban.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush Fights Back

President Bush is having nothing to do with the ruckus over the port deal that congress is bitching about, and Newsweek is cracking jokes about.

On his plane back from the Midwest he told reporters, very bluntly, how he feels about what Congress is doing:

"They ought to listen to what I have to say about this," the president said after inviting pool reporters on his plane back to his compartment to talk. "They ought to look at the facts, and understand the consequences of what they're going to do. But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto."
Since Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader, and others have promised legislation, in a bipartisan manner, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Personally, I'd love to see Bush veto it, and tell Congress find something worthwhile to spend their time on, instead of fear mongering.

Donald Rumsfeld also weighed in today, reminding reporters of something I posted about in "Arabophobia":

"I'm told that nothing changes with security," Rumsfeld said when asked about the security concerns. "Our Coast Guard are the ones who make judgments about the security of the port."
That is the crux of the this. The management company deals with contracts, and schedules, the Coast Guard handles security and inspections.

On the absurd side, is the guys from congress (quote from Washington Post)

Last week seven Democratic and Republican members of Congress said the deal should be looked at again, citing security concerns. They noted that the United Arab Emirates is an ally of the United States, but they said that some of the hijackers involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks traveled through the UAE and its banking system has been used by groups affiliated with al Qaeda.
I'll remind our distinguished congress folks that they also used our banking system, banking systems in Europe (and a European company is now running the ports, for shame!), and traveled extensively in our country, and Europe before September 11th.

Using that Congressional logic, the London company that is being bought out by DP should have it's contract dissolved, and a US company shouldn't get it!

For something that makes more sense than Congress on this whole thing, check out Andy Borowtiz, at Newsweek.

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Riehlworldview also has a take on this issue, noting the British don't seem to have a problem with it, and DP will be running some of their port operations also.

Macsmind has more on the absurdity of it all, as does RealClear Politics.

(Note: To the guys/gals from Senate offices who have been reading this blog, leave a message and say "Hi" once in a while, Haloscan users don't need an account, so you don't have to give away your secret identities.)

Update, Got some fan mail from Ron Abernathy on this one (he didn't have enough stuff to post it publicly, so I will):

Your blog sucks. Why don't you move your ugly butt and idiot children to one of the ports to be operated by your sand-terrorist friends?

That, Mr. Abernathy is why I love the left, from that end of the spectrum we get such reasoned debate. Why offer up proof of the problem with the deal when you can just write trash like this. Uncle Kos must be proud of you.
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He's Right, But It Won't Happen

As I was getting my morning dose of humor, by reading the Washington Post, I came across EJ Dionne's latest column, "Creating Wealth for the Poor" which has some great ideas in it, that won't come out of the current Democratic party.

One of the reasons I like (even though we disagree all the time) E.J. is that he's an unabashed cheerleader for the Democratic Party. He's a published hack for them, and isn't shy about that, so I find it refreshing.

This column could have been published for either party as a road map, and honestly would have more success were it to be implemented by the GOP, not suggested for Democrats.

The ideas, following up on some work by King County, Wa. supervisors, is to have government acting more as a third party agent for change, than directly trying to influence it. That is the first problem for national lvel Democrats, they dislike anything they don't directly control.

The two major ideas of the piece, health care delivery reform, and education reform will be DIW (dead in the water) issues for the national Democratic party because labor unions and teachers unions don't like either, if they aren't controlling the agenda on them.

Labor Unions have been spending tons of money on candidates to kill President Bush's idea of a national health insurance pool for small businesses. Why? Because it would put small and medium, non-union businesses on par with large labor in providing benefits for less. Though it would be good for the majority of workers, it would be bad for recruiting union labor, and they foot a lot of Democratic bills.

We've seen with No Child Left Behind how badly the education industry hates the ideas of change, and accountibility. What Dionne wrote about today would require more of both by teachers unions, but what he wrote about makes sense.

We've spent too long in using high schools as "college prep", when in fact not everyone in high school wants to go to college when they graduate. Our schools minimize the value of trade schools, and alternative career paths, to the detriment of those they are designed to serve.

Yet what E.J. wrote about today would require them to move to a less college oriented curriculum, at least for some students, and one more in line with getting them ready for a post high school trade that doesn't include saying "Would you like fries with that".

The standard NEA answer is along the lines of 'manufacturing jobs are leaving, so you have to go to college', but that isn't true. While less stuff is made here, it's still installed here, repaired here, and operated here, and we aren't trying to get youth ready for those jobs.

So while the Democrats running on a platform of "Rebuild America" sounds good, what Mr. Dionne forgets is there are entrenched interests in their national party that don't like the tools they'd have to use for that rebuilding.

However, I think the GOP could make a ton of hay by using his ideas, they are more in line with their thought process, and values.

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I Miss You

It was cold here last night. Not because of the weather, but because my favorite bedwarmer headed home yesterday afternoon, and it wasn't the same last night. It's amazing how quickly you become used to having someone to snuggle up to when you lay down, and how soon you miss them when they aren't there.

Dinner wasn't the same last night either. I like watching PTI when I'm having a bite; but not nearly as much as I love having her to talk to about her day at work, or what the kids are (and aren't) doing. Kornheiser and Wilbon just aren't the same as her for dinner company.

Watching the news is even more fun with her around, seeing and hearing her laugh as they talk about the deadly cold when the temperatures are in the teens; or how she is amazed at the list of closings when there is a predicition of an inch of snow.

Hopefully I'll have this two household thing rectified soon, though, and I'll be around as a nightly dinner companion, friend, and bedwarmer again.

I love you babe, and miss you, and thanks again for visiting this weekend.
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Monday, February 20, 2006

Arabophia Gone Wild

America, and our Congress in particular seem to caught up in a case of "Arabophobia", as far as I can tell.

A company from the United Arab Emerites , Dubai Ports World, has purchased London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. the current operator of six eastern seaboard ports.

Most of congress and a lot of the press, both MSM and blogging, have their undies in a knot over this. I say so what, get a grip, folks. The "port operator" is a management company, they aren't the one's providing security, per se, or doing vessel inspections, or even working the docks.

Stephen E. Flynn, who studies maritime security at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, said even under foreign control, U.S. ports will continue to be run by unionized American employees. "You're not going to have a bunch of UAE citizens working the docks," Flynn said. "They're longshoremen, vested in high-paying jobs.
Yes, as port operator they would be the one's who hire, and fire, security companies. But not the company doing dock checks of cargo, that's handled by DHS, with the Coast Guard and DHS approved contractors doing the work. They handle gate security, etc at the ports.

What concerns me is the Arabophobia that is surrounding this issue. Much like after Pearl Harbor, we, as a country have suddenly become suspicious of anything Arab, like we did anything Japanese. We see boogy men (and women) everywhere we see someone who might have come from the middle east, or be muslim.

We have a chunk of the media, again MSM and bloggers, along with congress, claiming on one hand we are a "kinder gentler" country towards those who don't look like us. At the same time the same folks are trying to block this purchase, not for any actual reason other than "they are from the middle east".

This arabophobia isn't just linked to Democrats or Republican's, Charles Schumer (D) and Lindsey O. Graham (R) are both just as ticked about the sale. And both have the same, lame, arabophobic reasons.

We get angry when the French, or Iranians, stereotype all American's as "ugly Americans, evil Americans", yet in this instance we are being ugly and evil. How far are we from Muslim internment camps, when respected companies, with no ties to the problems we've had in that area of the world, can't compete for contracts here?

I'm officially ashamed of all involved in this fiasco from both parties, for their parnoia, and arabophobia.

New York and Maryland's Governors are looking for ways out of their leases, and Hillary Clinton and Robert Mendez are introducing legislation to prevent the sale of any port operations to a foreign government.

Evidently as long as the foreign owners are British it's okay to have US Port's under the operation control non-Americans.

Doug at Below the Beltway has a different View
Tracked back at Blue Star Chronicles, Don Surber

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Punishing Palestinians?

Former President Jimmy Carter has an Op/Ed piece in today's Washington Post arguing why Hamas isn't much of a danger in the Palestinian Government, and why the US and Israel should keep shoveling money to them.

While Mr. Carter makes a compelling case for the idea of a peaceful resolution, he neglects to address Israel, and much of the rest of the world's concerns. No where does he call for Hamas to renounce their previous calls for Israel's destruction. He doesn't ask them to disband their militia, or to recognize Israel's right to exist. In fact, every concession the former President asks for is from the West, and Israel.

While he is right that for over 5 years there has been little work towards peace in the area, he neglects to mention that it was Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinians themselves who have decided to ignore the Oslo accords.

This is a case, where like it or not, the US, western Europe and Israel are in the right, Hamas must meet the conditions laid out above before any of them can or should recognize any majority government Hamas presides over.

To add fuel to the west's "anti-Hamas" fire, Iran's true ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is calling on Muslim nations to finance Hamas, as a show of strength and unity to the west. Instead of working with the quartet of Arab nations calling on Hamas to denounce violence, he is calling on them to remain firm, a certain disaster for the Palestinian people.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Cartoons

Flemming Rose, publisher of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten who has gained fame an notoriety by publishing the 12 cartoons of Mohammed has an op/ed piece in today's Washington Post explaining why he did it.

For an explaination on freedom of the press, religion and expression you can't do better than what he's written. Here is an example:

Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.

Read the rest of it, and then read the Newsweek interview with the Yemeni editor who dared publish them. You'll see a huge contrast in how two cultures deal with the same issue.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Daily Kos's Darling Getting Whipped

I wonder how the Kos Kids are feeling about the latest Quinnipiac poll, which shows Joe Lieberman wiping the floor with Lowell Weicker in the primaries? Right now Lieberman leads 63-21%.

Do you remember a few months back, when Joe made the ultimate mistake according to the Moonbat wing of his party, he supported the President? Kos and a number of the "netroots" of the new Deanian Democratic Party started screaming for his head, and started the movement to draft Weicker to run against him.

Well, they are getting what they wished for, in a candidate at least. It looks like the results may not be what they are wanting though. In fact, the results may just be devastating to the new party.

If the big party donors start seeing the liberal candidates being pushed by Dean & Co. getting beaten this bad in 2006, it will be tough for them to justify big checks for more of the same in 2008. They've already watched the party slide down continually since 2000, and at some point will figure out it's going the wrong way.

If that happens you can expect to see the leftovers from Clinton's DLC start filling more and more leadership positions in the party. In fact, I'd be willing to wager that if the Democrats don't have at least one house for the next congress Howard Dean will be gone by December 1st.

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H/T Bull Moose
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Friday, February 17, 2006

NY Times Makes Wal Mart Look Good

The New York Times spent a lot of page space trying to rip Wal Mart's CEO H. Lee Scott today for some postings on "Lee's Garage", and intranet web portal for corporate employees to communicate with the CEO.

While they tried to make things look bad, by using one rather snippy response to thousands of questions, they not only failed, they actually make Scott look pretty good.

So how did the Times come across three years of Scott's postings on a restricted company portal? Easy, a disgruntled manager gave them to Wal Mart Watch, a group run by unions who are ticked about Wal Mart taking market share away from their grocery store workers.

The Times does itself no real favors on this article. First, they basically admit to being used as lackey's for Wal Mart Watch. Any idea that this piece started as a "human interest" article, and ended up going into some hurtful territory is thrown out in this paragraph.

Copies of Mr. Scott's postings covering two years were made available to The New York Times by Wal-Mart Watch, a group backed by unions and foundations that is pressing Wal-Mart to improve its wages and benefits. Wal-Mart Watch said it received the postings from a disgruntled manager. While the existence of the Web site and Mr. Scott's participation in it have been known, transcripts have never been made public before.
Secondly, they post a large number of questions and answers from the site, but when it comes to any of the negative ones, they only use the editors sysopsis, not the actual question or answer.

I'm pretty sure the reason behind that is if taken in full context the questions and answers might not seem nearly as bad as they do out of context. If I remember yellow journalism 101, they taught if you couldn't make your point using all the facts, leave out the stuff that contradicts you.

What they ended up printing though, looks like a lot of good management quotes from someone trying to keep his company competitive, his employees motivated, and reminding his managers of their jobs.

Last time I checked that is called leadership, I guess the editors at the Times can't recognize that trait. Sometimes leadership means saying things people don't want to hear, or that don't sound nice, but that doesn't make them untrue.

For example, while the Times paints it as a bad thing, Scott answered a question about unions blocking access to New York City and othe cities, this way:

"that way its members' employers" — meaning many Wal-Mart competitors — "can continue to charge extremely high prices for food and tolerate poor service."
I've chronicled here how much I save per week shopping for one person going to Super Wal Mart instead of my local union grocer. It's not a small amount of money, and I'm a middle class guy.

He also makes a very true, but unflattering comment about GM, in the context of the bashing Maryland and other states are giving them about health benefits.

At several points, Mr. Scott addressed criticisms that Wal-Mart health plan was too stingy toward its employees. He said that Wal-Mart's health plan "stacks up very, very competitively" with other retailers. In a knock at companies that provide more generous benefits, Mr. Scott wrote: "One of the things said about General Motors now is that General Motors is no longer an automotive company. General Motors is a benefit company that sells cars to fund those benefits."

Can disprove his statement about GM? They are the second largest provider of health benefits in the US behind the government. The comment isn't complimentary, but it is explanitory, which is what his forum is about. It's also very much on the mark when it comes to Wal Mart benefits when compared to other retailers.

Mr. Scott does have a response for the New York Times, however, it wasn't given to them. Instead, it was posted on Lee's Garage, and it was e-mailed to a bunch of bloggers who have written about Wal Mart in the past, myself included.

Why he chose us, instead of writing another Op Ed piece as he did in the Washington Post? I believe the tone of the Times Piece had something to do with it. You can see he isn't going to get a fair shake from them, so why not use alternative methods to get the message out.

Here's what he had to say today about the Times Article :

Well, we had been looking for ways to promote Lee’s Garage, and it looks like the New York Times has done that for us. The reporters take issue with my tone in some cases, but as you all know, with me, what you see is what you get. I will respectfully tell it like it is. I think the story ends on an important point, quoting my advice to an up-and-coming leader: “The first thing you can do is make sure you treat your people well, and understand that your associates are what will make you a success.” I truly believe that and think you can’t go wrong in this business if you live by that. Feel free to check out Lee’s Garage on the WIRE and see what you think.)
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(Note: I'm no less a lacky in this than the Times, as I got my info from Wal Mart. However, I'm not trying to hide an opinion piece as a news item; read my header if you doubt that this is opinion. And, I've always been very candid that I'm pro-Wal Mart)
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I Win!

Thanks Greta at Hooah Wife for finding my entry in your e-bay contest worthy of winning the grand prize. I won't be buying my entry with that gift certificate, either.

You can find a picture of the winning entry in the "Find the wierdest thing for sale on e-bay" contest right here.
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Abu Ghraib And Gitmo

In today's paper there are two articles that caught my eye over lunch. The first deals with an Australian TV station showing more pictures that supposedly came from Abu Ghraib. The Washington Post's online edition has one picture, which the writer describes, in great detail. The writer admits there is no evidence to prove the pictures shown came from the prison, or if they did if they were taken pre or post invasion. They still use them to build a case for a case that was built two years ago.

Since the paper has been so worried about unnecessarily inflammitory actions in regard to the provoking cartoons, why print this article ? The author himself notes the following:

"Just as certainly as they will inflame the Arab and Muslim world, they will raise the question of whether it is responsible for Western news organizations to distribute them. And for bloggers to post them. And for pundits to debate them. Do they add anything new, or only open old wounds? Do they undo the work of investigation, trial and punishment that put men like Charles Graner, one of the original perpetrators, behind bars?"

It's a good question, and unfortunately the answer is, no there is nothing to be gained by showing them anymore. Just like at this point there really isn't any reason to print the Mohamed cartoons. They've had their effect, they are old news, move on. Some of us though who have been suspicious of the Post's editorial policies might say that they do have a reason for printing this article, embarass the President.

While some will say that it's the standard conservative bias against the "mainstream media", I'd say look at how the Post has handled the cartoon issue, apply that standard to Abu Ghraib and see if there is a difference. If you think the Post is being a little lax on their own, recently reinterated standards, the letter to the editor button is still in the upper left of the blog.

The second article, which I caught on Yahoo News, and then again in the Post's rendition has to do with the European Union, and United Nations deciding how we should handle the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

A 54 page report, that the Bush administration has already rejected was released today by the UN. The author of the report says:

"Those people should be released or brought before an independent court," Manfred Nowak, the U.N. investigator for torture, told The Associated Press. "That should not be done in Guantanamo Bay, but before ordinary U.S. courts, or courts in their countries of origin or perhaps an international tribunal."

The EU is also calling for their release and the closing of the Guantanamo Camp, along with those in the middle east.

I'll reject the US Courts out of hand, as the prisoners at Gitmo and being held in Iraq and Afghanistan have no standing in US courts. They weren't captured in the US, they are enemy combatants captured on battlefields in other countries. In fact, the 11th Amendment of the constitution PROHIBITS our courts from acting in these cases:

Amendment XI - Judicial Limits. The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

Courts of the countries of origin are probably the best bet, though I'm quite sure many detainees would challenge that idea, saying that the new governments of Iraq and Afghanistan can't be trusted to give them a fair trial. That leaves an internation tribunal, which I believe would make Amnesty International and the Democratic Party happy, but would probably piss off most ordinary Americans.

As to the European Union's Parliment, I have an idea. Since they dislike these camps so much, I believe we should charter and Air France flight or two, and send the detainees to Europe to live. We've seen how well angry muslims have integrated into their society, so it shouldn't be a real problem for them. Unless of course they need cars to get to work.

Junkyard Blog has more up on this, including an actors reaction, like we need Hollywierd to tell us what to do.

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Saddam the Hero

As I was looking for more info on the Saddam tapes from last night, I discovered (through the AP and Washington Post) that he's a hero. "Saddam Reportedly Warned U.S. of Terrorism" Is the head line on the Post's version of the AP story.

I guess that would bring up the question, of who's the goat? If we were warned in the mid 1990's that this was happening how could President Bush not have done anything.... Wait, he wasn't President in the mid-1990's.

The New York Times, report, from Agence France-Presse goes over the same ground, but does include that the tapes had references to August 2nd that dealt with the Kuwait invasion, and a little more on Saddam's work to hid his chemical program from the UN.

I originally found it odd that the press has decided of all the revelations in these tapes, the most pertinent one's are that Hussien warned the US of terrorist attacks here. Then I realized that each one of those press reports does it in the same way, emphasizing that Saddam and Tariq Aziz said they weren't coming from Iraq.

When taken in that context you realize what the press is doing, it not trying to show we should have been better prepared, it's trying to show that the current administration used false date (Iraq and terrorism) for the war. I will give them credit, it was very subtle.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

German And French Courts

The German version of the Supreme Court decided today that the German military can't shoot down an airliner hijacked for the purpose of being used as a weapon, like 9/11. They decided that it would violate the human dignity of the hostages to be shot down.

I'm not making this up folks. Now ask yourself, which would bother you more, as a hostage, being shot down by the military and having that prevent more deaths on the ground, or being used as part of an attack on hundreds or possibly thousands of innocents? Either way thereis little dignity, but I'm thinking NOT killing others would be more dignified.

In France, their Supreme Court decided that the decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau must be returned to France, and not taken to a breaking yard in India. It wasn't to preserve French jobs in the business of sending old ships to the wreckers. Instead, Greenpeace decided to sue on behalf of the workers in India, saying their health would be adversely affected by the asbestos on the ship.

The Indian's didn't sue on their own, and in fact they like the work that is brought by western countries who have basically gotten out of the business of scrapping ships. There is of course some environmental issues caused by the asbestos, but it will have to be removed somewhere. I'm sure that the enviro weenies in France will sue when they try and remove it there.

I think both of these decisions reinforce why we need conservatives on our courts.

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Nixonian Problems.

The American Spectator Blog has a post up about Saddam tapes to be aired tonight on ABC World News Tonight, and more on Nightline.

In the article they claim the 12 hours of recently translated tapes, made by an apparently arrogant Hussien discuss some interesting items, like:
  • Revelations include discussion of a WMD attack on the United States sometime in the late 90s.
  • Revelations include calling on the expertise of a prominent member state of the UN Security Council in order to conceal WMD and weapons systems.
  • Revelations include discussions of assassination plots against prominent world leaders, none of whom will enjoy hearing his or her name mentioned once the tapes are played.
  • Revelations include a nightmare scenario that will not surprise readers of AmSpecBlog.

Evidently these tapes will also be made available for download at some point. For Saddam's apologists out there, it's also noted on AmSpec that the tapes haven't been to the White House yet.

H/T to Charlie Sykes.

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It Will Fix That, Too?

Harold Meyerson's "Doing Good Jobs, But Losing Them" gives an outstanding history of Ford's Wixom assembly plant, which is closing in 2007.

At first reading the article I thought Harold was going to attack only Ford, for it's failure to redesign the cars Wixom puts out to make them appealing. The workers he met with for the interview feel that is a big part of their problem. It's not a small part of it, that's for sure, as he points out the Lincoln Town Car they make hasn't been made over in 10 years, while Cadillac has redone their entire line, twice in that time frame.

What the article really was about is in the last few paragraphs, the lack of univeral health care in the US. A lot of us blame the UAW and it's insistance (much) higher than average wages, and benefits for part of GM and Ford's problems. Meyerson claims it's because they are paying health care for their workers.

Meyerson's asserts that the unions political weakness is the problem, because of it they haven't been able to secure universal health care, and has kept the cost of employees up. That is only partially true, in two ways.

One the UAW has never really pushed politically for a universal system. Other unions with lower wage workers have, but the UAW has consistently challenged any change to the health care of their workers. Even modest proposals for small increases in copays or deductibles were stonewalled for years.

The second is congress' lack of will to enact a major tax increase that would affect everyone. That would be required for universal health care to be implemented. If it wasn't, the other option, and the one congress defaults to, "Tax those nasty businesses", would still cost the employers of all those UAW workers for their health care. It would just shift who Ford and GM give the money to.

The problem with taxing the businesses for it is how they will (still) have to pay for it. If we assume that union's won't get legislation passed to allow them to "opt out" of a national system,(I think they would, as a way to boost membership) and business pays for it, we end up like France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

In those countries where business taxes provide most of the subsidy to "nationalized health care", unemployment is double or better the US rate. France's unemployment rate was estimated at 10% for 2005, Germany's is 12.1%. Anyone who thinks Ford and GM won't still have to cut jobs to pay health care bills is crazy.

There are countries where more of that burden is placed on the taxpayers themselves. Canada's unemployment rateis currently 6.5%, Denmark is 5.2% and Great Britain is 5%. Each of these countries, while still having higher income taxes than the US, use VAT's or GST's to pay for most of their health care.

So to prevent workers from getting the axe, you have to charge them from their pay for the health care in the check out lines and when they get their car fixed. The question would then go back to "Does Congress have the will power to try and send that message to the people?" If they do come up with that intestinal fortitude suddenly, can they sell it to the 85% (+/-) of the population who has health care coverage already?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thow Him In Front of a Train?

Ohio Democrats are clueless, evidently. They want (badly) to win Mike DeWine's Senate seat, so they took the obvious tact in a generally red state. They tossed the more conservative candidate to the dogs.

A lot of folks remember Paul Hackett, the democrat who nearly beat Jean Schmidt (of Murtha vote fame) for her congressional seat last year in a very Republican district.

Hackett was campaigning for the Democratic nomination against DeWine. He has good name recognition, and is more conservative than the guy the Democrats want in the race, Rep. Sherrod Brown (the Kos candidate), and is seen as more of a straight talker, which sells well these days.

There is an article in today's NY Times that quotes Hackett as saying

"For me, this is a second betrayal," Mr. Hackett said. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me."
He made comments after finding out Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer were calling donors asking them NOT to give to him.

If we go back to my post yesterday, Howard Dean tells us part of the DNC platform for 2006 is to become stronger on defense, and better treat the troops.

The obvious way to do this is to alienate guys like Hackett, who would be seen as a pro-defense candidate, with street credentials to flaunt, without the baggage of the Kerry and Murtha end of the party.

Others in the party, who are trying to get more veterans to run as Democrats also aren't happy about this:

"Alienating Hackett is not just a bad idea for the party, but it also sends a chill through the rest of the 56 or so veterans that we've worked to run for Congress," said Mike Lyon, executive director for the Band of Brothers, a group dedicated to electing Democratic veterans to national office. "Now is a time for Democrats to be courting, not blocking, veterans who want to run."

Hackett has made some silly comments, and is unapologetic about them. But the fact is, he's the kind of guy the Democrats need to try and get elected to the Senate. Pushing him in front of a train does nothing for the party image.

Hackett has said he won't run against Schmidt again this year, because he's promised the three other democrats in that race that he wouldn't, and his word is his bond. Maybe the rest of the folks in his parties leadership should start working on that issue.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Democratic Plan for 2006 Elections

Howard Dean was on “Face the Nation” yesterday, and in the middle of getting Dick Cheney and George Bush confused, and not talking about Hillary Clinton in 2008, he did spout the Democrats 2006 plan for winning back both the House and Senate.

Evidently he didn't scream it loud enough, since there is nothing I can find in the media today about this new plan.

One, we want honesty and openness back in government again.

I’m going to assume that means he’ll demand that members of his party holding up 25% of the Barrett report immediately release it to the public.

I’m sure he’ll also agree to John McCain’s call for bipartisan work on lobbying reform, instead of using that issue as a political football.

Two, we want a strong national defense, first of all, based on telling the truth to our citizens and our soldiers before we send troops abroad to defend America.

Just Google It. Mr. Dean will obviously be reminding us that his party was talking of Saddam Hussein’s WMD program from 1998 through 2002, right?

Three, we want American jobs that will stay in America using energy independence as a new industry to create millions of construction and manufacturing jobs.

I’m sure that he’ll advocate domestic oil and gas exploration, clean coal and nuclear energy as a bridge to the point when we can get buy without imported fossil fuels.

I’ll be interested to hear how he will convince the environmental activist wing of the party that accessible, affordable items such as the above will be needed for the short term.

Four, we want a health care system that works with everybody just like 36 other countries have in the world.

And we’d like to know how the 85% of the country who has health care is going to be treated. Specifically, I’d like to know how much more than the $20,000 I gave the feds last year in income and Social Security taxes this is going to cost.

And how will we prevent a system like Canada, where basic treatments can take months to get, if they are available at all.

Five, we want a strong public education system so we can have optimism and opportunity back in America.

Will this be a system driven by the unions, as it has been in the past when the Democratic Party was in power nationally, and still is in many states? Or, will Mr. Dean and his party find a way to actually measure performance, and increase accountability.

More money isn’t the answer, if it was Washington DC, the city with the highest per student spending in the nation wouldn’t have one of the lowest graduation rates, and lowest rates of literacy among the few who do graduate.

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