Tuesday, January 31, 2006

SOTU Adress

President Bush's State of the Union Address was pretty much what I thought it would be: weak and altruistic on the domestic front and only slightly more rational on the foreign policy front.

I do like his call for health savings accounts and for medical liability reform. But his statement that the government has the responsibility to provide affordable health insurance was awfull. His usual pleas to be compassionate were to be expected I suppose.

I did like his insistence that the way to break our dependency on foreign oil is through technology but I didn't like the idea that the federal government will be spending more billions to do it.

His call for a bipartisan commission to study social security reform I think will be a big waste of time and money. I could be wrong on this but government studies do have this proclivity to turn out that way.

On the foreign policy part, I was disappointed he wasn't stronger on Hamas. He said Hamas must recognize Isreal and disarm but he didn't come right out and say we wouldn't deal with Hamas if they didn't.

I did like what he said about the Iranian leadership and the fact that the western nations cannot allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. I also liked one of his early statements when he said "We will act boldly in freedom's cause." The key word here is "boldly." I sure hope so.

I did like the way he repeatedly hammered on the theme that isolationism is the wrong way to go and to cut and run in Iraq was out of the question.

As is his habit, Bush says some things that are encouraging and then says other things that are downright depressing. But I guess I'll just have to hope that someone a little more rational will bid for the Repub. nomination in 08. The Democrats look like they're going to rerun a slate of the usual suspects which means there is no hope for rationality from them.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Granholm Gesture

Today's Detroit News has an editorial "There's no good reason for state to set up 401(k)s." Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm is proposing the state set up 401ks for small businesses. There are lots of people opposed to this idea of the state competing with private 401ks including me.

This paragraph though, I had to read twice: "[State Treasurer Jay] Rising also says setting up a 401(k) plan and hiring a firm to manage it 'can be pricey' for small companies. But the administration has also has (sic) said the state can do it 'for a nominal amount' of money."

What? Since when has Michigan (or any other state for that matter) done anything 'for a nominal amount' of money? I don't know of any state worker making only a nominal amount of money getting only a nominal amount of benifits so that I only have to pay a nominal amount of taxes. I know of used car salesmen who wouldn't try to sell me that.

But the question is: why is the state trying to assume the responsibility for providing 401(k)s in the first place? (aside from the fact that Michigan's economy is in the tank and all pols feel a profound need to "do something")

The answer can be found in the last paragraph of the editorial:
"Only the state can provide well-paved roads and a welcoming tax and regulatory structure. It doesn't always do so. Until it masters its basic duties, should it be taking on new ones?"

That's like saying "Until the state learns to violate some of our rights more efficiently, it shouldn't be allowed to violate more of them."

As long as our intellectuals-and that includes newspaper editorialists-insist that "providing well-paved (now there's a joke) roads and tax and regulatory structures" are "basic duties" of state govenment, there is no way to stop the state from including more services under the guise of "basic duties."

In a laissez-faire capitalist Michigan, the economy would not be in the tank because the government would not be allowed to interfere with the market. Back in the 80s Chrysler would have been allowed to fail. This would have made GM and Ford (and Delphi) stronger today. Compulsory unionism would not have existed so companies would have been able to adjust to globalization sooner and less painfully for sure.
But these are the unseen things. You can't see them if you confine your vision only to what is immediately infront of one's nose. Pragmatism is not practical.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Google This! Update

Pursuant to my post on Google yesterday, I visited Google's home page today to see what they had to say in their defense. An explanation by Mr. Andrew McLaughlin, senior policy council for Google said in part:

Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By launching Google.cn and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure within China, we intend to change that.


So, "Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission." But refusing to compromise their mission at all compromises their mission "far more severly." Obviously a degree in logic is something Mr. McLaughlin does not have. This position is such a blatent contradiction that one has to wonder what would make seemingly educated men cling to it so adamently.

I think the phrase "...a fifth of the world's population..." is a good hint. Translation: "There is a ton of money to be made and all we have to do is betray the principles that allowed us to become the sucess we are and it shouldn't cost us a nickel."

Also, notice the appeal to altruism in the phrase ..."due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China..." Translation: "The Chinese people are suffering and we want to lighten their burden so their chains will be a little more comfortable and their Communist masters will stay in power a little longer and we can't do that if we don't go in and set up shop."

This Google incident proves the pure evil of using any form of pragmatism as a thought process. Every deliberate human action is based on some principle. If you don't know what that principle is you have no way of knowing whether your actions, in fundamental terms, will have pro-life or anti-life consequences. Thinking in terms of principles will provide that knowledge.

Helping dictators censor info to their people will have anti-life consequences for sure. I don't know what concrete form such consequences will take but I can imagine one or two. Suppose in a year or two the Chinese secret police demand Google turn over all the names and addresses of people who tried to search the word say, freedom. Google does so. The police round up all those people and execute them. Does Google want to be part of this?

Or, after Google has all the infrastructure set up the army shows up and announces that China is nationalizing the search industry and seizing all your assets. What are you going to say to them? "But we had a deal?" "Right" they will retort. "But it no longer is in our interest to honor those principles. We have to be pragmatic about this. You have 48 hours to catch a plane back to America."

To see how deeply entrenched pragmatism is in the minds of these corporate leaders, consider Mr. McLaughlin's last sentence in his defense:
"To some people, a hard compromise may not feel as satisfying as a withdrawal on principle, but we believe it's the best way to work toward the results we all desire."

Is that the purpose of standing on principle, to "feel satisfied"? Obviously we are to reject those feelings and do the pragmatic thing and compromise.

I think it is useless to try to persuade these men of the wrongness of their thinking. They are no longer open to reason. The irony is that it is they who are acting on their feelings, it is they who are not being practical.
The Google home page is here.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Google This!

It is really sad to see Google agreeing to help the Chinese dictators suppress the Chinese people. Censorship is suppression. No doubt Google execs think they are being "pragmatic" in that Yahoo and Microsoft did it before them and now, in order to stay competitive, they, Google, must do it too.

Well, they are being "pragmatic" for sure. And that is the problem. Pragmatism is just an unprincipled tunnel vision which looks only at what is immediately in front of one's nose and trying to solve problems without reference to any wider principles or future consequences.

I used to think that pragmatism was hostile to and had no use for principles. I was wrong. Thanks to Google I can see now that pragmatism allows for the existence of principles. It just treats them as non-essentials. To a pragmatist a principle is a useful tool as long as you are achieving desired results. But if those results stop coming in or you desire different results, then you can dump that principle for another or no principle at all and declare you are just being "pragmatic", after all, it's practical to be pragmatic isn't it?

This is what allows Google to announce to the world its allegience to the principle "Don't do Evil" and then to cavalerly ignore that noble ideal as soon as the execs decided they wanted results that that ideal could not provide.

Not only is helping China censor its people wrong on the face of it but it is a slap in the face to capitalism and the nation that is its chief advocate-America.

All around the world right now seedy little dictators of all varieties are pointing at China and shouting to their people "See! See what these giant American corporations are doing, suppressing the Chinese people. That's what capitalism is all about--suppressing the masses and doing it for a profit."

And how are the CEOs going to answer them? But we mean well?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

WMDs in Syria

The New York Sun has an interview with former Iraqi general Georges Sada who wrote a book titled "Saddam's Secrets" in which he said that Saddam's WMDs were in fact moved from Iraq to Syria just before the war. (hat tip Atlas Shrugs)

This would not surprise me at all since I thought then that all the time President Bush wasted begging the worthless UN for support was just allowing Saddam time to get rid of the evidence which he obviously did. Bush should speed up the fall of Bashir Assad and the Baathist government in Damascus. Then I think, we'll find the hidden WMDs or at least what happened to them.

Syria could have been dispersing these WMDs to terrorists all around the world. I shudder to think how many people have yet to die because we didn't have the will to carpet bomb Damascus (and Teheran) while we were taking out Saddam. We could have then seized the WMDs and taken them out of circulation. But we didn't.

There is still time to correct the Syrian (and Iranian) problem. But I hope we do it before all the WMDs make it to western cities.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I'm Impressed!

Today Mike's Eyes had the pleasure of reading a health article by a reporter who seems to understand something about statistical studies. In today's Detroit News (www.detnews.com) print edition there is an Associated Press article by Lindsey Tanner titled "Review finds fish oil doesn't cut cancer risk" with a sub title "Omega-3 fatty acids have little, no effect on the disease, studies involving 700,000 people show."

What I liked was that the reporter included dissenting opinions and caveats such as this paragraph:

"Researchers examined data from 38 studies that tracked patients for up to 30 years, and said most showed there is no cancer protection from Omega-3 fatty acids. Although a few studies found some risk reduction for cancers of the breast, prostate and lung, those studies were relatively small and not definitive, said Catherine MacLean, the lead author and a researcher at the Rand Corp. and Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

'It doesn't mean that omega-3 fatty acids don't have other health benefits-it's just that reducing cancer risk isn't one of them,' MacLean said."

What really impressed me was this next paragraph by the reporter:

"However, the review is unlikely to be the last word on the issue. Diet is known to play a role in cancer and the researchers evaluated observational studies, which provide mostly circumstantial evidence."

This is very true. That's what associations, correlations and links are--circumstantial evidence - awaiting science to step in and conduct an experiment to prove or disprove causation. Most reporters that I've read in the past wouldn't know an observational study from a case controlled study and wouldn't exhibit the desire to find out. For the most part they wouldn't even bother to get a dissenting opinion. They would just regurgitate the talking points of the press release and to hell with presenting a balanced article.

Mr. Tanner not only provides us with his own knowledge of statistical studies but he backs it up with further evidence:

"The 38 studies are too heterogeneous--involving different population groups and different levels of fish oil consumption--to provide a difinitive conclusion about whether fish oil reduces cancer risks, said Julie Buring, a chronic disease researcher at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, who was not involved in the study."

So does this mean we should give up on omega-3? Hardly. It's not a difinitive study and Mr. Tanner did a good job in letting his readers know that. I think this is a reporter people can trust.



"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Conservatively Speaking

Well well, canada has a (somewhat) conservative Prime Minister. Mark Steyn has all the info here

Couple that with the fact that the Socialists just lost in Portugal according to the Gateway Pundit here and the recent election of Angela Merkel in Germany and the impending (hopefully) doom of Mr. Chirac in France, it looks like the unemployment line for liberal and leftist leaders is getting longer.

But what happens if Republicans win again in 08? Are the psychotic liberals going to run up to a CONSERVATIVE Canada? Their comfort zones seem to be shrinking rapidly. It seems that the loudest of the international Bush bashers are falling by the wayside.

This also means that the Bush-hating MSM has lost some of its global cheerleaders. This in turn should mean a little more international support for Bush and his policies. If I were a Republican congressman or senator, I just might be worried about opposing the president now that he has new support.

The election of conservatives in Canada, Portugal, Germany, and perhaps France soon, should give Bush a stronger negotiating position overseas.

However, there is a big danger I think in all these conservative elections, and that is if these conservative leaders don't bring freedom and property rights and prosperity to their people, then future leftists will say that capitalism had its chance and failed and now it's time for a socialist dictatorship. And how would the conservatives answer them? But our dictators will be more compassionate?

The whole world needs to move towards laissez-faire capitalism. But somone needs to lead the way. That would be us.

Monday, January 23, 2006

This and That III

Matt May has a link to a picture of George Galloway doing his best imitation of Benny Hill here. He also has a link to a good post on Hillary by Shelby Steele.

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The AP is up to their guilt-by-association tricks again. In today's print edition of the Detroit News there is a news article "Photos show Abramoff visiting White House."
Evidently there are 6 photos of Bush with Abramoff. In the second last paragraph we learn that the Bush's gave the $6,000 they got to charity and "criticized Abramoff for breaking the law." It is also mentioned that Abramoff "...was declared a Bush *pioneer* for raising $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney 04 re-election campaign." It doesn't say whether that money was raised legally or illegally. It is left up to the reader to make his own associations. The article did not carry a byline.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Those Damn Facts!

The print edition of today's Detroit Free Press has an artcle titled "Experts say: Act now on global warming" by Michael Janofsky of the New York Times. This is of course, just another attempt to bully Americans into giving up their freedoms and rights by cajoling them to believing the global warming doom and gloom hoax.

There are three ways to measure the earth's temperature. Only one of them, surface thermometer readings, show any warming. The other two ways, weather ballons and satellite readings, show no or at best a slight warming. So, why would so-called "reputable" scientists go with the one and ignore the other two?

As I mentioned in my post "Is that a Fact?" science today has become an establishment and in an establishment facts don't matter. In her essay "The Establishing of an Establishment" 1972 Ayn Rand Letter about government support for the arts Miss Rand wrote "Governmental encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true: it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood."

We can see this principle unfold almost daily right before our eyes in all the disaster predictions of our "reputable" scientists, politicians and media. But if you ever doubted the veracity of her principle, the next quote should remove that doubt once and for all. From the article:

"Speaking on a panel that included the agency's (EPA) current chief, Stephen Johnson, they generally agreed that the need to address global warming is growing urgent, and that the continuing debate over what percentage of the problem is caused by human activities is a waste of time.
*Why argue about things you can't prove?* said William D. Ruckelshaus, who served under Richard Nixon from 1970 to 1973 and Ronald Reagan from 1983 to 1985."

There you have it. "Why argue about things you can't prove" lets just go ahead and ram our agenda down the peoples' throats with a congressional gun. Facts? Truth? Falsehood? They're just "a waste of time."

Lets not forget that Ruckelshaus is the guy who in 1972 banned DDT despite never having read a page of the 9000 page report or listened to a single day of testimony which concluded that DDT was not a carcinogin and not a threat to humans. So, about one million people die from malaria every year thanks to that decision. But, you see, one million dead every year is a fact and those things are "a waste of time."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

assisted suicide decision

Yesterday the Supreme Court upheld Oregon's law allowing doctor-assisted suicide. I am glad they did because every person owns his own life and has the right to end it when ever he sees fit.

But the SCOTUS decision was made for the wrong reasons. It's decision was based on "states rights" to regulate medicine, not on the individual's right to own his own life. It's like saying that the national mob (feds) don't have the right to move in on the territory of a local mob (state) and it is these mobs that own the individual's life.

Tom Bowden has a good essay on the decision here (hat tip, Charlotte Capitalist.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Imagine That!

Last night I was watching the local news when Mike's eyes started closing. They were about three quarters shut when suddenly President Bush came on. It looked like a normal press conference with all the White House press corp in attendance. But I couldn't remember any anouncements of any upcoming press conferences. The President made a statement about the rightness of his eavesdropping policy and then took questions.

The first question was one I didn't expect and I think was rather rude.

"Mr. President, why are you so hostile to the press?" The President paused for a few seconds and then said:
"I don't think I'v been hostile at all. In fact, there are those who would disagree with you and claim it's the other way around. But since you asked, I would like to tell you how I see news reporters in general. See, to me news reporters are akin to pizza delivery guys. When a pizza delivery guy is on my porch, I give him the money and he gives me the pizza and he leaves. He does not stand on my porch and give me an in-depth analysis of the nature of pepperoni and how it should be digested. That's not what I'm paying him for. It's also not what his boss is paying him for. Now if I call his boss and ask if it's ok for the guy to give me such an analysis, I'm sure he would agree, for a fee of course.

See, if I turn on the TV and want to watch a talk show on the nature of pepperoni, I would expect the discussion panel to be comprised of pepperoni experts like pepperoni producers or university pepperoni professors or some such, but not pizza delivery guys. That's why, when I watch a panel discussion on say, inflation I would expect to see economists, bankers and the like--not news reporters. I would usually change chanels and watch 'Friends' or something.

"You see young man, you and I, here in this building, are making a news pizza. And when we're done you'll take it back to your editors. They will look at it and perhaps move a piece of pepperoni from here to there or an olive slice from there to here--because that's what editors do you know, and submit it to his customers.

"In our system of the division of labor, every person has a chance to fill a special little niche. And if he does it well he deserves the utmost respect. That is why I hold the pizza delivery guy in such high esteem. Can you imagine an America without the pizza delivery guy?" (America the Beautiful music starts playing in the background)

"Why he's the guy who makes it possible for the elderly, the infirm, the disabled to have steaming hot food delivered right to their door. And the rest of us healthy folk get to watch the game AND the pregame show. He is the one who goes out and battles the wind and rain and sleet and freezing cold and snow and sometimes suffocating heat and traffic so that you and I don't have to. And he does all this for a lousy buck or two tip. What heroism!

(music stops)

"So you see young man, when I liken news reporters to pizza delivery guys, I only do so with the highest respect."

"Mr. President," said the young reporter, "I apologise for any disrespect I may have conveyed."

"Accepted" said the president to the sound of applause from the rest of the press pool.

"So now lets get back to the business of..."

"Michael" "MICHAEL! Wake up. You fell asleep watching TV again" said Mrs. Eyes.

"Damn" A Dream! Oh Well. I told Mrs Eyes all about it then announced I was going straight to bed.

"Why so early?" she asked.

"Because I want to try and get back into that dream."

"What on earth for?"

"Because I want to see what all the talk shows have to say about Bush's speech."

"Oh for heavens sake" she said.

"Goodnight!"





Monday, January 16, 2006

This and That Again

Today is MLK day and I think it's sad how many people, black and white are determined to prevent his dream from coming true. Mr. King said he dreamed of the day when his children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

I would like to see white liberals and their black supporters reject multiculturalism. It is a doctrine that holds that a person's worth is to be determined by the race or culture to which he belongs. It is collectivism, an attack on the individual which means individual character. And with it they need to reject diversity which is just a euphemism for segregation. Diversity teaches people to seperate into groups, race, culture, ethnicity, whatever, and to rejoice in that seperation, to celebrate it. Of course this process just sets groups against one another. Diversity is an evil doctrine that places a value on seperation, on the opposite of integration. It makes people put emphasis on their differecnces rather than their similarities and mutual interests.

Today President Bush said that Mr. King's dream has not yet been achieved. But if it is to be achieved, both blacks and whites need to reject multiculturalism and diversity and adopt individualism.

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As supporting evidence for my last post that MSM will go for news first and truth second, Michelle Malkin has a post with links where the NYT printed a picture supposedly of the aftermath of a US attack on a Pakistani village in which 18 people were killed. Trouble is, the picture is one of an artillery shell and not a missle as the NYT claims. Follow the links for a lot more info. The NYT removed the photo from their website about three hours later.

This is further proof that MSM"s automatic reflex is to go with news first and truth second if at all. They just don't care. The reason they don't care is because they have been a defacto establishment for a long time. To an establishment, facts simply become irrelevent. What matters is whatever moral or political winds happen to be blowing at the time. But the blogosphere I think, is changing that.

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I just finished watching the second two hours of 24 and I liked it. I recommend it. Next showing is next Monday.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Truth vs News

Last week I was talking with my second son about how the MSM's top priority is not the truth but rather the news. I used an exagerated example of a prominent scientist issuing a press release saying that his study shows that the moon is made of green cheese. Would the reporter report it and would his paper print it I asked? Yes he said. And is it true I asked? Of course not he admitted.

The point I was trying to make is that the news and the truth are often two different things and newspapers will always go for news first and truth second. That's why they are called newspapers instead of truthpapers I added.

The recent MSM disgrace in covering the mine disaster in West Virginia is proof that sensationalism takes precedence over facts, at least for most of the MSM. Jay Rosen at Press Think has a story on one reporter who got it right.

Evidently, the media were given a briefing room in which they would be given info by the authorities as it was confirmed. But when the rumor spread that the miners' families were celebrating at the church because they heard that the miners were all alive, the media left the briefing room and went to the church for the sensational story. Except for one reporter. Becky Wagoner, a reporter for the Inter-Mountain newspaper, stayed in the briefing room. For three hours the MSM reported a falsehood. She didn't. Their readers were misled. Her's weren't. Their papers and TV news stations looked, to the public, like incompetents. Her paper didn't.

Compounding matters, some of the reporters didn't use caveats like "unconfirmed" of "unverified." They reported the story as fact. If you ask me, the MSM needs to send their news staffs to WV and have Ms. Wagoner give them lessons on how to identify facts from rumors.

But suppose some of the MSM stayed in the briefing room and let other reporters scoop them by three hours. What would their editors say? Would they even have a job tomorrow?

I think the problem is at the top. If the editors and publishers on top don't demand their news staffs be populated with Becky Wagoner types, they won't be and more such fiascos like WV will happen. But there is another way: you and I can simply refuse to buy newspapers or tune in at 6 and 11 to listen to or read news people who don't behave like Ms. Wagoner.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Iran teetering?

Michelle Malkin has a good post on tension between Iran and America being on the brink.

My hope is that our intelligence on where Iran's nuclear facilities are located is better than our intelligence history indicates. I think Ahmadinejad is counting on a heavy civilian casualty rate in the event of a strike, in order to spark a fanatical jihad in the rest of the Islamic world. I hope bush relies heavily on Isreali intel as they seem to be better at it.

Bush hatred and Leaks

Via the Drudge Report CNN is reporting that Al-Zawahiri was not among the 18 dead found at the site of a supposedly CIA ordered airstrike. I'm glad they tried to get him but you can bet all the Bush haters will jump on this as proof of CIA and therefore Bush incompetence. And they just might be right. So what does this mean?

If the CIA keeps getting things wrong then why keep trusting them? I think Bush should shut down most of the CIA and start over with new recruits. It's no secret that most of the people in the CIA (and Foggy Bottom and FBI) hate Bush so bad they are willing to betray their own country by leaking all kinds of secrets that aid our enemies just to make Bush look bad. Just recently it was leaked that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on telephone calls of people suspected of having ties with Al Qaeda. So now the terrorists know it and will adjust their communication habits accordingly. This of course, will make detection of the next terrorist attack here in America more difficult.

But the sad truth is that the leakers of these secrets just don't care about America on an intellectual level. They function on an emotional level. That is why there is so much pure hatred coming from the mouths of liberals. They can't function on an intellectual level because they don't know how. "Reality is an illusion." "Reason is flawed." "There is no objective reality." "There are no absolutes." This is what liberals have been taught by their teachers and they swallowed it whole.

When a person abandons reality and reason, the only tool left to guide one's actions is one's feelings. When a person becomes purely emotionally oriented his thought processes become geared to rationalizing his feelings. This is why liberals can imagine that Bush is Hitler, that American soldiers are Nazis, that Gitmo and others are gulags, and on and on. No these notions make no intellectual sense, but they do justify their feelings.

You see, in their minds, George W. Bush is not supposed to exist. His existence contradicts eveything they were taught. He believes that reality is objective and reason can understand it (but only up to a point) and that there are absolutes (again up to a point). So Bush believes in all the things liberals don't believe in. That's why they think he's such an idiot. But when his policies have good results, liberals act like there's been a death in the family. He's not supposed to have good results. His ideas aren't supposed to work. And when they do, it represents to them a reality that clashes with their most cherished beliefs.

Rather than do some introspection and examine their own beliefs, they act like the child who just discovered reality isn't conforming to his wishes, and throws a temper tantrum. (This is the state of the Democratic Party today, a spoiled brat throwing a fit.)

But these people can be very dangerous also. When reality doesn't conform to their feelings their only recourse is physical force. That is what a tantrum is. Phsycologists tell us that this lashing out at reality is a symptom of denial of a deeper problem and a behavior that is self-destructive. And I think that is why leakers of secrets are so dangerous, they don't *feel* like they're hurting America so, in their mind, they're not.

Maybe the American voters will retire some of the liberal pols this fall and more in 08. But my optimism is tempered by the fact that 48% of the voters voted for leftist John Kerry in 04.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Abramoff update II

Now that the Alito hearings are over, the next big debate will probably be focusing on who will or should be the next House Majority Leader now that Tom DeLay is gone. Currently their are three candidates and the decision is to be made on Feb 2nd.

Each candidate is promising ethical reform if elected as majority leader. This ought to be real interesting. How to get the corruption out of a corrupt system. Or how to make selling influence look like it's not selling influence. That is what lobbiest do, sell their influence with senator x or congressman y for a fee.

As long as we have a mixed economy there will be no way to eliminate corruption and the buying of legislation and votes. Even if all gift giving were banned you still have the spectacle of an elected official getting millions of dollars in campaign contrbutions from so-called special-interest groups in return for favorable legislation. It's not the trinkits Abramoff was peddling in return for favorable legislation that are the problem. It's the government's creation of a market place for the buying and selling of legislation that is the problem. That's the lobbying industry. As long as it exists we will be a nation of men and not of laws.

Of course the only way to stop it is to get the government out of the business of regulating the economy. There is no doubt but that America needs to be moved towards laissez-faire capitalism and the best start I think would be to concentrate on breaking up a major establishment, education.

An establishment is an institution where truth is "established" by decree rather than the pursuit of facts. Such is the state of public education today. Begin a process of privatizing education and the people will learn that the regulated society of today is built on false premises. Once they learn this they will start to do away with it.

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There is something else about the Abramoff affair that stinks. Notice how Abramoff is being protrayed as the villian--the only villian. Everyone else is held up as his innocent victims who didn't know how evil he was, but now that they know, they hasten to give back whatever money they recieved.

When I was growing up the adults in my life taught me that a bribe was a two way affair; that those who take bribes are just as guilty as those who offer them. In fact, the bribor had an edge of moral superiority over the bribee because the bribee has the power to nix the deal, thus the bribee shares more of the guilt than the bribor. So, when I hear all these bribees rushing to assure me that they support tougher ethics rules, well, I have to role Mike's Eyes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is That a Fact?

Today Mike's Eyes fell on two science articles, one in the Detroit News, the other in the Detroit Free Press. But before I get into them I just want to say that science today has become so politicized that you can't believe most of the science articles in most newspapers. More on the why of that in a latter post.

In today's Detroit News there is an article titled "Fungus, climate change linked to frogs' deaths" by Andrew C. Revkin of The New York Times. The first paragraph says:
"Scientists studying a fast-dwindling genus of colorful harlequin frogs on misty mountainsides in Central and South America report today that global warming is combining with a spreading fungus to kill off many species."


That a fungus is killing the frogs is not in dispute. Evidently, the range of the fungus has increased slightly. However, nowhere in the study does its author, a Mr. Alan Pounds, demonstrate that global warming is causing the range expansion. It is just asserted that GW is the cause. For a thorough debunking of this study go here.

The next article, from the Free Press, is titled "Arctic meltdown speeding up" by Robert S. Boyd for Knight Ridder Newspapers. It starts:

"The Arctic Ocean is losing ice at an alarming rate and scientists are striving to understand why and what it means for humankind.

If present trends continue,during a summer in the future of a child born today, the sea surrounding the North Pole will be free of ice. The loss could point the way to radical changes in the Earth's climate and weather systems.

Michigan's climate could become more like Tennessee's with milder winters and far less snow."


Since I live in Michigan, I wouldn't mind this last a single bit. But in the above quote it's the words "if" and "could" that I object to because they are pure speculation. Speculation is ok if you have at least a little bit of evidence to speculate upon. But the article, and therefore the study I presume, doesn't provide a shred of evidence to support the idea that "present trends" will continue. There is however, evidence that they won't continue. A study of Earth's climate history reveals that all climate forcings operate in cycles like a pendulum, back and forth.
Nothing stays steady endlessly. For a quick study on Earth's climate history go here.

The article also points out that satellite readings since 1980 show "the ice cover has been shrinking by an average of almost 8% a year." True, but the point I want to make is that is only 25 years. That's not long enough to tell us whether this melting is within natural variability or not. We need more study. Mr. Boyd does insert some caveats into the article like "Scientists don't know how the thaw will reshape the Earth's weather systems" which makes the article more honest than most.

Nevertheless, Mr. Boyd tells us there are 2 main causes of the loss of Arctic sea ice:1."External: Increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses trap the sun's heat and warm the Earth." And 2."Internal: Ice and snow reflect heat from the sun. As the ice shrinks, it leaves more open, darker water to absorb the sun's heat. More open water slows the formation of fresh ice in the fall and leads to a still earlier, more extensive melt the following summer."

While there is some truth to #2, it must be remembered that more sunlight falling on darker water also means higher water temps which mean more evaporation which means more snowfall which means more ice. But #1 is highly debatable. Man's contribution to CO2 in the air is only one third of one percent and many scientists think that is not significant. Also the causal relationship seems to be backwards. In many CO2 studies the timeline shows an increase in temperature followed by an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

We have had modern technology at our disposal for only about 35 years now. We need much more study before we can definitively say "Yeah, that's a fact."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

This and that

Today's Detroit Free Press has an article titled "Suit filed over 15 returned to Cuba." Evidently, 15 Cubans made it to an old bridge piling. But because it wasn't connected to land the Cubans are deemed to be "wet feet" --as opposed to "dry feet" --refugees. This means Cubans who make it to land can stay but those caught at sea are sent back to Cuba.

What an idiotic policy! It's not like Cubans are coming here to kill infidels or fly planes into buildings. They're coming here to get the hell away from Castro's communist paradise that Jimmy Carter keeps gushing about. I doubt it but maybe this lawsuit will get that wet-dry policy dropped. They have a right to come here wet or dry.


On another front, I think the voters of Massachusetts should do themselves and the rest of the nation a big favor and retire Sen Ted Kennedy. The man is a disgrace to the Senate and an embaressment to the nation. His vituperative attacks on Judge Alito were way over the top and displayed a hate-filled heart unbecoming of a US Senator.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Performing the Ritual Update

Today the Detroit Free Press had a short round-up piece that supports my post "Performing the Ritual" of January 2nd. (scroll down). It's "around the world" column has a brief story titled "Millions could die if aid isn't sent" to Africa.

In that post I pointed out that according to the morality of altruism, actually helping people is irrelevent, that going through the motions of helping them however, is absolutely essential. And if you perform this ritual convincingly, it doesn't matter if you actually help them or not.

According to this article: "Critics have said aid to Africa has been largely wasted through corruption. But Sachs said rich countries have misspent aid money and have never lived up to their 1970 promise to spend 0.7% of their gross national products to help poor countries." (Sachs is the director of the UN Millennium Project)

And: "If the cost of food purchased from U.S. farmers and money spent within the United States is subtracted, less than a penny out of every $100 actually makes it to Africa in aid, said Sachs."

Now the accuracy of Mr. Sachs numbers may be debatable but it's also beside the point. For going on 36 years now countless billions have been earmarked for African aid and Africa is still a basket case. Where is the outrage at this enormous waste of money? Where is the outrage at corrupt governments ripping it off? Where is the outrage at all the "consultants" and middle men who have made a living doing nothing but performing the ritual for the last 36 years?

There will be no outrage because actually helping Africans is not the goal. To actually help Africans would require changing their corrupt, authoritarian governments who keep them in poverty. But nobody wants to look at this root cause. Nobody wants to admit that statist govenments are evil. And this is where the United Nations displays its utter worthlessness. The UN could at least remove its moral sanction from these governments and bring economic sanctions to bear on them. But they just turn their heads and look away. It's easier to just perform the ritual "It's not for me but for others" and everyone will tell you what a moral person you are.

If Africa is to develop, the so-called civilized world will have to abandon the morality of altruism and adopt a morality of rational self-interest.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Alito hearings

Michelle Malkin has a good post on a big lie that Sen Ted Kennedy told at the starting of the Alito confirmation hearings. Matt May is posting on the general hypocresy of the Democrats on that committee.

But Myhraf makes a good point about why the Dems are attacking Alito and it isn't all ideological.

I have to believe that with something like 33 senate seats up for re-election this fall there has got to be some Dem grandstanding happening when the Alito nomination goes to the full senate for a vote. A preview of this might be had by watching Sens Ted Kennedy, Herbert Kohl and Dianne Feinstein. They are the Dem committee members who are up for re-election this fall.

Something else to watch for: The liberal Dems always talk about how one shouldn't let ideology guide one's thinking; that it's wrong to be an ideologue; that one should always be willing to compromise on everything. But notice, as these hearings unfold, how uncompromisingly dogmatic they are on their ideas which, they tell us, are not ideals but "pragmatic" concerns, which demonstrates the fact that humans cannot escape the need for some kind of ideology. (If they are really "pragmatic concerns" then they should be willing to compromise on them. Right?)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

UM Coke Protest

Below is an LTE I sent to the Detroit Free Press.

I take issue with your editorial "Coke Stand" of Jan 7th 2006 in which you praised the University of Michigan (UofM) for refusing to carry Coke products on campus as a protest against some alledged social responsibility violations by Coke in India and Colombia.

Uof M has the right to associate with whomever and for whatever reasons it wants. My objection is with the university teaching its students the marxist concept of "social responsibility." UofM is teaching its students that the individual must be subordinated to "society."

Adolf Hitler once said: "You are nothing, your race is everything." UofM is merely substituting its collective-society-for Hitler's collective-the German race. If UofM students had said they were protesting Coke's violation of the individual rights of people, and had evidence of same, I would support that effort 100%. UofM students need to reject collective thinking.


I don't know if the freep will print it, but their left leaning editorial page has been known to print disenting views. But the point I was trying to make is that our country was not founded on the principle of sacrificing the individual to any collective.

Hitler wanted the individual sacrificed to "The Fatherland" (German race); Stalin sacrificed the individual to the "Proletariet"; Mao to the "Peoples Revolution."

It doesn't matter what collective the individual was sacrificed to. He was still sacrificed. Our founders said No, there will be no more sacrificing of the individual. The individual is sovereign. He has the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

By teaching today's kids notions like "social responsibility" our University professors are teaching them that the collective (society) is sovereign, not the individual. This will of course, destroy the concept individual rights in the minds of the next generation or, to be more precise, make their minds incapable of understanding the concept of individual rights. They will become good, obedient servants of the state, the state being the voice and protector of "society."

The technique used by intellectuals to destroy individual rights in the minds of students can best be seen in a paraphrasing of a scene in Ayn Rand's novel "The Fountainhead" where villian Ellsworth Toohey is explaining to Peter Keating some of the techniques he used in his rise to power: "Want to destroy individual rights Peter? Don't attack individual rights. Move the concept away from the individual by inventing some collective rights like "civil rights", "human rights," or "minority rights" and invent some phoney rights to things like a job or health care. Enshrine these. You have destroyed individual rights. See how easy it is Peter?"

Naturally those are not Ms. Rand's words. They are mine but she identified the technique and the structure of the deception. What is needed is more university professors who are pro-individual rights. That will take awhile. But things are looking up. I say that because the left is devoid of ideas. Voters will respond to ideas and right now those who advocate laissez-faire capitalism are the only ones with ideas.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Abramoff update

After posting on the Abramoff scandal yesterday, I read this piece in the print edition of yesterday's Detroit Free Press (http://www.freep.com) titled "1 may return tribal donation." It says: "But just one of seven lawmakers from Michigan, US Rep. Dave Camp, a Midland Republican, is considering returning any of the $35,000 in campaign cash given by a Michigan Indian tribe that was represented by Abramoff. Camp had the largest amount of donations of the seven from Michigan."

And then there's this: "Two Michigan House members--Dale Kildee of Flint and John Dingell of Dearborn, both Democrats--said they won't return the money because it was not connected to Abramoff."

So, taking money from Abramoff on behalf of a tribe is wrong but taking it directly from the tribe is ok? These guys could start a new rap song:

*We're not giving the money back.
*We didn't take our bribes from Jack.

Sigh.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Abramoff scandal

The Abramoff scandal is hardly worth bloging about except that it points out the inherent corruption of a mixed economy. Jack Abramoff would not exist in a laissez-faire capitalist economy. The government of such a society cannot dispense favors to some while denying them to others. It would not be allowed to interfere in the economy at all.

But a regulated economy is one in which congress is up for sale. Regulators hold power over business. Businesses try to influence regulators and legislators in their favor. Some businesses want legislation to restrict competition. Pretty soon everybody wants some kind of favor and the next thing you know everyone has their own lobbyist or belongs to a group that has lobbyists. If there were no corruption in society at all, a regulated economy would create it. Philosopher Ayn Rand wrote an excellent essay on this called "The Pull Peddlers" in her book "Capitalism The Unkown Ideal." (For more info go here)

That is what Abramoff is, a pull peddler. He sold his friendship with some people to other people. A controlled economy will always deteriorate into a nation of men and not of laws.

If one were to suppose Abramoff were the only one doing this, one would be seriously kidding oneself. But there is no fix other than getting the government out of the control business.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Putin's Russia

On December 27th Andrei Illarionov, Russian president Vladimir Putin's chief economic advisor, quit his post saying he could no longer support a government that was moving away from freedom. This was a sad event because there was hope among many that Russia might genuinely move to a capitalist economy. Unfortunately, it is not to be. Putin has been extending government control over more and more of the Russian economy every month. It looks to me like he has visions of creating a Soviet Union lite with himself as a Stalin mini-me. He was after all, the head of the Soviet KGB for awhile so he has a pretty good picture of what he wants to achieve.

By placing the economy under more government control he will be making the same mistakes his former masters made, throttling the productive effort of Russian citizens thereby stagnating the economy. What seems to be puzzling is that Putin witnessed first hand the collapse of the Soviet Union. He cannot be ignorant of the fact that it was the totalitarian control of everything that caused the collapse. All he has to do is look around and he will see that every nation that is freer is also more prosperous than his own. So why is he seemingly returning Russia to the failed policies of the past?

I don't know for sure but I do have a theory or two. For one I think, fear. I believe that Putin's KGB background is acting like a security blanket. A society ruled by force is what he is familiar with. He is comfortable in that context because he understands its workings. So the question becomes: why didn't he trust Illarionov to help him with setting up a capitalist Russia? Again I think, fear. As a KGB head, I would think, you learn not to trust anyone completely. Trusting someone else could mean your downfall if they are wrong or make mistakes.

It could also be that Putin is looking south. He sees China pulling itself in opposite directions. The Chinese dictators want to retain their total control yet have granted unprecedented freedom which has resulted in unprecedented prosperity for Chinese people. Putin knows this situation is unsustainable, that eventually something has to give. Either the government will launch a massive crackdown and revoke the freedoms thereby destroying the prosperity and in turn possibly sparking a massive revolt. Or, the dictators will have to surrender some of their power and become a limited government like a western democracy. Which ever way this works out it has a good chance of being bloody. Putin has to be looking at this and feeling--fear. He doesn't want to walk the same path. So he reaches for his security blanket--power.

I briefly thought it may have been Illarionov's fault for not convincing Putin of the rightness of a capitalist Russia. But then I wondered, if he fears unfamilier ideas, would Ayn Rand have convinced him? I doubt it. I don't think she'd even try.

It looks like the world will have to bide its time until Putin is replaced by someone more open to ideas. In the meantime it wouldn't hurt for the rest of the world to keep putting pro-capitalist pressure on Mr. Putin.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Performing the Ritual

Today's Detroit Free Press carries an editorial "Renew the Push Against Smoking" which calls for the State of Michigan to use the money it helped extort from the tobacco companies to promote anti-smoking campaigns. Evidently only 4 states are using the settlement money for that purpose. The rest,including Michigan, are using it for a variety of other reasons. It's my understanding that the tobacco settlement was justified on the grounds that the money would be used for anti-smoking campaigns.

Well, it looks to me like a lot of governors reneged on that requirement. Why? Probably because actually helping people quit smoking is not required. This phenonomon is what I call "Performing the Altruistic Ritual." In today's political environment, all that is required is that you go through the motions of publicly declaring pure intentions, avering something like "It's not for me but for others." If you perform the ritual convincingly, anything goes.

You can loot deep pocketed corporations claiming you will use the money for a specific altruistic purpose. Then when you get the money you can use it for what ever you want as long as you continue to perform the ritual of "It's not for me but for others." You can use it to give handouts to people with some kind of needs. There will always be some people with some kind of need so there will always be a supply of "others" for you to hold up as the target of your pure intentions. These "others" are the justification for your continued looting. So you look around searching for others to loot and you see fast food or big pharma or big oil or big whatever, it doesn't matter.

Performing the ritual is going on all around us every day. We saw it in the recent G8 meetings in which the "democracies" agreed to give massive amounts of aid to the poor and needy in Africa by handing them fish (money) rather than teaching them how to fish (be free and productive people, but that would require changing their corrupt governments). All that matters with these people is that they go through the motions of helping others and they can take billions of our tax dollers and give it away. Does this really help the poor Africans? Not in any meaningful sense. After the Africans have eaten the fish handed to them they will still be there with the same needs next year so the next G8 can perform the same ritual. And the media will shower them with praise for their noble and virtuous efforts. More billions will be spent. The corrupt governments will still be in power and ripping off most of this aid. And the Africans will still need.

Actually helping the Africans is irrelevent. Performing the ritual is absolutely essential. A government that is limited to protecting individual rights including property rights doesn't need any ritual. A government that has replaced the protection of rights with the servicing of needs absolutely needs a ritual to justify the looting that will be required to satisfy those needs.

To halt this ritualistic suicide of a great nation, there needs to be a campaign to restore the government's legitimate function of protecting rights and get it out of the business of satisfying everyone's needs.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Looking Ahead

In Detroit, the Sunday newspaper is jointly produced by the Free Press and the Detroit News. Today in section E the Free Press posted a front page with "Headlines we'd like to see in 2006."

Some of these I agree with like "Yzerman goes out on top" as Red Wings win another Cup. And "With 30 games to go, Tigers still in playoff hunt."

Some I didn't agree with like "Bush withdraws Alito" and "Voters reject anti-affirmative action proposal." So, I decided to draw up some headlines I'd like to see in 2006 and they are:


"Senate approves Alito."
"Voters affirm anti-affirmative action proposal."
"Detroit School District dumps Whole Language and New Math for new rational curriculum."
"Mayor and Gov get federal ok to create Bermuda zones in Michigan, state economy explodes."
"Layoffs at NYT and WAPO."
"Bush orders hit on Iran's nuke sites."
"Nuke strikes trigger revolt, Mullahs fall."
"Syria teeters on collapse, Bush nudges."
"Palistinians express new desire for peace."
"Three lib Dem senators ousted in shocking 06 election."
"Chafee invited out of Rep party. Furor ensues."
"'There's a lot of sadness in the world', Mehlman says."
"GOP/Bush approval ratings climb, poll says."
"More layoffs at NYT and WAPO."
"Bolton demands UN adopt new concept of sovereignty per Condi/Bush."
"Soros broke."


Well, there you have it. Sure, a lot of wishful thinking there but if only three of these happen before 08 I'll be happy.