“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Will of Allah

Caroline Glick's column ""Ahmadinejads Overlooked Message deserves a full post and a closer examination of the message which was delivered at the UN.

I was struck at how similar some of his words were to what I have heard on Sundays here in America about the effect and consequences of increasing secularization in the west.

The second cause for the world's woes is the world powers' rejection of Islam. As he put it, "The second and more important factor is some big powers' disregard of morals, divine values, the teachings of prophets and instructions by the Almighty God... Unfortunately, they have put themselves in the position of God!"

Thankfully for Ahmadinejad, this "corrupted" world order will soon be swept away. Either the "corrupted" powers will "return from the path of arrogance and obedience to Satan to the path of faith in God," or "the same calamities that befell the people of the distant past will befall them as well."

Concluding his UN remarks Ahmadinejad pledged, "Without any doubt, the Promised One who is the ultimate Savior... will come. In the company of all believers, justice-seekers and benefactors, he will establish a bright future and fill the world with justice and beauty. This is the promise of God; therefore it will be fulfilled."

But there is a huge difference between how Christianity and Islam view their places in the world. Christians are "in this world but not of it." Islam is the world. Ahmadinejad makes no pretensions otherwise and has clearly stated what too many try to deny about unfettered Islam and the host state. There is absolutely no separation of Mosque and State in the ideal Islamic world and the danger to the infidel west lies in the fact that the soldiers of Allah have a state sponsor. Ahmadinejad has delivered his religious leaders' second message to the world body that Allah will exact justice for the infidelity of the world. Ahmadinejad has gone to the World body and issued Islam's indictment against the Satan serving United States. Just as bin Laden issued three warnings against the United States, Iran is fulfilling its Koranic obligation to do the same before they begin wielding the sword of Allah against the Great Satan's people (in particular, its women and children).

Unless change occurs in Iran, there is no way to avoid a coming war which has the potential to widen to the entire world umma. Iran's nuclear ambitions mean that this war will come sooner rather than later.

Can the Republican Party Survive George Bush?

From an interview with The Evening Bulletin, presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, (R), Colorado:

The Bulletin: Speaking of the "do anything" mentality, why did the Republicans lose in 2006, and what needs to change if 2008 is to be a better year? Has that catalyst for change occurred?

Tom Tancredo:
I think we could have sustained ourselves, even with the corruption, even with the war, if we had a solid base. If people thought that we were dealing with corruption - that people were going to jail for doing bad things - I think the president could have rallied much more support in the country if he had a strong base in his own party, which he does not have. He has destroyed it. He has helped destroy the party. We are in a world of hurt because he has pushed issues like No Child Left Behind, like the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan - he has pushed huge spending plans to the detriment of the party. Pretty soon, you look out there and ask, "Where is your base?" Where are the people who are going to knock on doors? Then things start to go south. The war becomes a problem, corruption issues boil up, you've got nobody out there to rely on. That's why we lost. And today, if we don't build that base back, if people don't feel that they have a reason to be a Republican. I think it has to be about principled leadership. I hope I offer that, but I always say, "If I'm not your guy, I really hope you find someone whom you are excited voting for. I really do because that's what America needs."
The Bulletin

Leading indicators point down for GOP
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
Yahoo news

WASHINGTON - It is gallows humor time for Republicans in Congress, where one lawmaker jokes that "there's talk about us going the way of the Whigs," the 19th century political party long extinct.

"That's not going to happen," Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., hastens to add, although a little more than a year before the 2008 election, the major leading political indicators still point downward for a party abruptly turned out of power in 2006.

Fundraising for Republican campaign organizations lags. That is strikingly so in the House, where the party committee spent more than it raised in each of the past two months, reported only $1.6 million in the bank at the end of August and a debt of nearly $4 million.

Democrats reported $22.1 million in the bank and a debt of slightly more than $3 million.

Candidate recruitment has been uneven, particularly in the Senate, where Republicans must defend 22 of the 34 seats on the ballot next year. Democrats boast top-tier challengers for GOP-held seats in Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota and Oregon.

Republicans have yet to put forward a prominent challenger for any Democratic-held seat, although an announcement is expected soon in Louisiana.

Additionally, nine Republicans in the House and three in the Senate have announced plans to retire. Some of those leaving are in midcareer, when a departure often signals pessimism about the prospects for regaining the majority. Democratic retirements total two to date — both are House members who are running for the Senate.

"The Democrats will continue to be the majority party in the House and Senate and Hillary Clinton will make history by being the first woman president" in 2008, predicts Rep. Ray LaHood, one of three Illinois Republicans to announce his retirement so far.
... more here

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Nature of Man

The Nature of Man
Here's an interesting audio interview with SSG David Bellavia, where he tells Lyse Doucet about the brutal nature of the hand to hand combat he experienced fighting in Fallujah in Iraq in 2004. Bellavia has written with John Bruning "House to House, An Epic Memoir of War," You can read some of the book here.

At one point in the interview, Bellavia was recounting that during his time in Fallujah, he couldn't believe that mankind can still be so brutal and barbaric in this day and age. I do not believe that he has an anti-war agenda. I believe the man is a patriot and loves his country and I take him at his word that he simply wanted to convey the gut-wrenching and paralyzing brutality and horror of hand-to-hand combat. He says that he simply is trying to dispel any romantic notions about the glory of war. War is not glorious and should not be portrayed as such but I fear that we in the west refuse to acknowledge that even today, mankind can be brutal and savage and occasionally war is necessary.


This week, the BBC ran daily call in shows discussing the situation in Burma and what could be done about it. Caller after caller sympathized with the plight of the Burmese people but were incapable of answering the question of "What would you like to see done about Burma." It was depressing to hear so many callers who were incapable of expressing anything but platitudes such as "We are in solidarity with the people" which is the secular equivalent of "We'll be praying for you." I am certainly not advocating military intervention in Burma unless say, the Cambodians or Thais want to do it.


While we were impotently wringing our hands over Burma, there were news reports that the 7,000 African Union peacekeeping forces are not keeping the peace in Darfur. NGO's are being forced to withdraw and soon the crisis could become unwatchable as multitudes starve or are killed off by the Janjaweed militias. People like the Burmese or the Darfurians are SOL if they are dependent on the West to come through for them. As we say in the south, "that aint gonna happen."

Viva La France!

France has been as much an ally to the United States as England has been an historic enemy. Painting: Newell Convers Wyeth, The Last Of The Mohicans


Under Sarkozy, it's hard to use 'French' as a campaign slur.

By James R. Gaines Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON - Who's a better friend to America – Britain or France?

With a certain high-school-like insecurity, Americans have been changing their answer for two centuries. That's understandable. After all, the US has alternately been at war and in love with both countries.

In the last presidential election, the answer was quite clear. Republican attempts to smear John Kerry as "French" showed where America's affections lay. The beginning of the Iraq war had made British Prime Minister Tony Blair a stateside hero and turned French fries into Freedom fries.

Today, in the 2008 campaign, one Republican campaign strategist is trying to use the French insult again, this time against Hillary Rodham Clinton. It's tempting for a GOP operative to pin the tail on the Socialist, cheese-eating surrender monkey.

It's also totally out of step, because in the past year, France and Britain seem to have started trading places in America's heart.

Under the turbocharged presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, France isn't that old France anymore, while England's new Prime Minister Gordon Brown seems to be trying to assume the role of former French president Jacques Chirac.

A member of Mr. Brown's new cabinet warned a distinguished Washington audience not long ago that the time was gone when a country's prestige could be "measured in what [it] could destroy. In the 21st century ... we must form new alliances." The incoming foreign minister, a well-known critic of Britain's policy in Iraq, lost no time saying that Britain needs "to build coalitions that ... go beyond the bilateral blinkers of the normal partners."

As a British source in Washington commented to the Guardian about these distancing messages, the Brown team was going to assert its independence "one policy speech at a time.... It's a smarter way of doing it than [to] have a knockdown argument."

Meanwhile, Britain has moved, as Brown puts it, "from combat to overwatch" in three of the four Iraqi provinces under its control, and he is clearly impatient to leave the fourth as well. His position on the "military option" in Iran is leery at best.

All this plays well with Yankopho-bic commentators. One British writer last week called America "our imaginary friend," reminding his readers that the "rockets' red glare" of "The Star-Spangled Banner" actually came from the British.

And then there is President Sarkozy. Last week one columnist wryly called what he's doing "The French Revolution," but it could rightly be called an American Revolution as well.

His domestic policies make Socialist and union leaders' teeth itch: Cut a third of the civil service, pay for performance, encourage overtime, undermine the 35-hour workweek by any means necessary, rationalize the pension plans of half a million public workers, put work at the center of French life, and make heroes of those who, as he puts it, "get up early."

Despite his tough stand on illegal immigration, he would encourage the integration of France's Muslims into the economic mainstream with "positive discrimination" (euphemism for a measure long opposed by the French, which Americans call affirmative action).

In foreign policy, Sarkozy has gone American most notably in his policy toward Iran. He famously laid out the choice of "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." Iran's possession of nuclear weapons would be an "unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world," he said this week in a speech at the UN General Assembly.

"I want to tell the American people that the French people are their friends," he told The New York Times recently. "We are not simply allies. I am proud of being a friend of the Americans." He admitted that "a small part of the French elite" was anti-American, but added that this "in no way corresponds to what the French people think."

From his vacation in New Hampshire to his support for Israel and intolerance for French anti-Semitism, from his embrace of a market-driven society to his respect for ambition and worldly success, Sarkozy has shown himself as American as tarte aux pommes.

He has even reached out to touch that third rail of French politics, universal healthcare. Details are still unclear, but his desired outcome is likely to be closer to the proposals of Senator Clinton than those of Republicans such as Rudolph Giuliani, even though his posture of toughness has led supporters to call Sarkozy the "French Rudy."

Depending in part on the outcome of a test-of-wills strike that has been called for next month, Sarkozy could become just the latest victim of French political inertia or a national hero.

If the latter, which for now seems more likely, imagine Clinton and Mr. Guiliani battling over who is more like the leader of France. Coming so soon after Freedom fries, a contest for the mantle of "American Sarko" would be the richest of ironies.

James R. Gaines is the former editor of Time magazine and author of "For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions."

Friday, September 28, 2007

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John's McCain's Energy Strategy - NR Online

This is an excellent article by John McCain. Says all the right words. I noticed that in the previous thread, DR had picked up on it too.
September 27, 2007, 0:15 p.m.

America’s Strategic Vulnerability
Vital energy questions.

By John McCain

America’s dependency on foreign oil is a major strategic vulnerability for our nation. One element in al Qaeda’s war against us is to target the U.S. economy by driving up the price of oil in the hope that severe recession and higher inflation will follow. Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda terrorists have spoken many times about the need to “mount … operations accordingly” in order to hit energy supply points in the Middle East and other regions to spike oil prices. Moreover, while most of the world’s known reserves are in the Persian Gulf, oil supplies are no more secure elsewhere on the globe. In Russia and Venezuela, Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez have rolled back democracy and utilized oil and gas as foreign policy weapons. Nigerian supplies — our fifth-largest supplier — are endangered by internal strife. Oil’s availability is uncertain and its price at the mercy of countries where our values aren’t typically shared and our interests aren’t their first priority.

We must not leave the “lifeblood” of America’s economy in the hands of foreign cartels, or bet our future on a commodity located in countries in which authoritarians repress their people, and terrorists find their main support. Terrorists understand the seriousness of our vulnerability. A little over a year ago, a suicide attack at a major Saudi Arabian oil refinery came close to disabling its target. Had the attack succeeded, some price experts speculated that it would have driven the price of oil above $150 dollars a barrel and kept it extremely high for some time.

The flow of oil has many chokepoints — pipelines, refineries, transit routes, and terminals — most of which are outside our jurisdiction and control. Our enemies understand the effects on America of a significant disruption in supply — a crippled transportation system, gasoline too expensive for many Americans to purchase, and businesses closed. As we sacrifice blood and treasure, some of our gas dollars flow to the fanatics who build the bombs, hatch the plots and carry out attacks on our soldiers and citizens. Iran made over $45 billion from oil sales in 2005, and it is the number one state sponsor of terrorism.

The transfer of American wealth to the Middle East helps sustain the conditions on which terrorists prey. Some of the most oil-rich nations are also the most stagnant societies on earth. As long as petro-dollars flow freely to them, these regimes have little incentive to open their politics and economies so that all their people may benefit from their countries’ natural wealth. The Middle East’s example is spreading to our own hemisphere. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is using his country’s oil revenues to establish a dictatorship, bully his neighbors and succeed Castro as Latin America’s leading antagonist of the United States.

National security depends on energy security, which we cannot achieve if we remain so dependent on imported oil from Middle Eastern governments who support or foment, by their own inattention and inequities, the rise of terrorists or on swaggering demagogues and would be dictators in our hemisphere. Additionally, by mid-century there will be three-and-a-half billion cars worldwide — over four times the number today. As world demand for oil soars, higher prices, severe economic volatility, and heightened international tensions follow. These unpredictable forces could seriously circumscribe our future if we let them.

As president, I won’t let that happen.

I’ll implement an energy plan that won’t be another grab bag of handouts, a full employment act for lobbyists, nor another round of tax breaks and other subsidies to big oil. It will recognize the fundamental truth that our oil problem is an automobile fuel problem and break the dominance of oil in our transportation sector just as we diversified away from oil use in electric power generation 30 years ago.

America’s electricity production is, for the most part, petroleum free, and the existing electric-power grid has the capacity to handle the added demand imposed by plug-in hybrid vehicles. We can add more capacity and improve its reliability in the years ahead. Nuclear energy, renewable power, and other emission-free forms of power production can expand capacity, improve local air quality and begin to address climate change. I’ll work to promote real partnerships between utilities and automakers to accelerate the deployment of plug-in hybrids.

With some of the savings from cutting subsidies for industries that can stand on their own, we can establish a national challenge to improve the cost, range, size, and weight of electric batteries for automobiles. Fifty percent of cars on the road are driven 25 miles a day or less. Affordable battery-powered vehicles, that can meet average commuter needs, could help us cut oil imports in half. The reward will be earned through merit by whoever accomplishes the task, whether it comes from a laboratory in the Department of Energy, a university, a corporation, or an enterprising young inventor who works out of his family’s garage.

Breakthroughs in high-tech materials can also greatly improve fuel efficiency in the transportation sector. We can provide fuel options and improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicle fleet by making them out of high tech materials, which will improve their strength and safety. We are doing that very thing right now to beat our foreign competitors in the aerospace industry.

Alcohol fuels made from corn, sugar, switch grass, and many other sources, as well as fuel cells, biodiesel derived from waste products, natural gas, and other technologies are all promising and available alternatives to oil. I won’t support subsidizing every alternative, or endorse tariffs that restrict the healthy competition which stimulates innovation and lowers costs. But I’ll encourage the development of infrastructure and market growth necessary for these products to compete, and I’ll let consumers choose the winners. I’ve never known an American entrepreneur worthy of the name who wouldn’t rather compete for sales than subsidies.

Energy efficiency by using improved technology and practicing sensible habits in our homes, businesses and automobiles is also a big part of the answer, and is something we can achieve right now. New advances will make conservation an ever more important part of the solution. Improved light bulbs can use much less energy; and smart-grid technology can help homeowners and businesses lower their energy use.

There is much we can do to increase and diversify our own oil production in ways that protect the environment using advanced technologies, including those that use and bury carbon dioxide, those that recover the oil below the wells we have already drilled, and those that tap oil, natural gas, and shale economically with minimal environmental impact.

The United States has coal reserves more abundant than Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves. We found a way to cut down acid-rain pollutants from burning coal, and we can find a way to use our coal resources without emitting excessive greenhouse gases.

We have in use today, a zero-emission energy that could provide electricity for millions more homes and businesses than it currently does. Yet it has been over 25 years since a nuclear-power plant has been constructed. The barriers to nuclear energy are political not technological. We’ve let the fears of 30 years ago, and an endless political squabble over the storage of nuclear spent fuel make it virtually impossible to build a single new plant that produces a form of energy that is safe and non-polluting. If France can produce 80-percent of its electricity with nuclear power, why can’t we? Is France a more secure, advanced, and innovative country than we are? Are France’s scientists and entrepreneurs more capable than we are? I need no answer to that rhetorical question. I know my country well enough to know otherwise.

I want to improve and make permanent the research and development tax credit. I want to spend less money on government bureaucracies, and, where the private sector isn’t moving out of regulatory fear, to form the partnerships necessary to build demonstration models of promising new technologies such as advanced nuclear power plants, coal gasification, carbon capture, and storage and renewable power, so that we can take maximum advantage of our most abundant resources. And I’ll make it a national mission to develop a catalyst capable of breaking down carbon dioxide into useful chemical building blocks, and rendering it a new source of revenue and opportunity.

I also believe that strengthening our energy security goes hand-in-hand with addressing global climate change, which I believe is real with human activity contributing to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I oppose carbon taxes and I have joined with Joe Lieberman to pursue a market-based, cap-and-trade system to achieve appropriate limits on greenhouse gas emissions as efficiently and effectively as possible. I will ensure that such a system is harnessed as a means of diversifying the nation’s energy mix, which in turn will make us less dependent on foreign oil, and will place America at the forefront in the development of the energy and environmental protection technologies the world will demand for many years to come. I will also ensure that these efforts meet several key tests, including protecting consumers and the economy, preventing other countries from dodging their responsibilities, promoting the development and deployment of advanced technology, and prioritizing the America’s economic, environmental, and national-security interests.

America competes in a global economy where innovation and entrepreneurship are the pillars of prosperity. The competition is stiff and the stakes are high. We have the opportunity to apply America’s technological supremacy to capture the export markets for advanced energy technologies, reaping the capital investment and good jobs it will provide. Our innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs, and workers have the knowledge, resources and drive to lead the way on energy security, as we have in so many other world-changing advancements. The race has always been to the swift, and America must be first to the market, with innovations that meet mankind’s growing energy and environmental needs.

Answering great challenges is nothing new to America. It’s what we do. We built the rockets that took us to the moon — not because it was easy, but because it was hard. We’ve sent space probes into the distant reaches of the universe. We harnessed nuclear energy, mapped the human genome, created the Internet, and pioneered integrated circuits that consolidate the computing power of the Apollo spacecraft onto a barely visible silicon chip. If we can do all this, we can surely solve our oil-dependence problem, and strengthen our security.

— John McCain is the senior United States senator from Arizona. He is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination.
National Review Online -

Nervous Yet?

Still the Early Stages of Financial Reckoning
By David Ignatius Washington Post

"If something is 'unsustainable,' that means it won't be sustained." This bit of financial wisdom is attributed to the late Herbert Stein, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. And it comes to mind now, as a warning about the underlying problems of the financial markets.

Wall Street has been breathing a sigh of relief since the Federal Reserve cut interest rates last week by a half a percentage point. The Dow Jones average has regained much of the ground it lost in July and August -- including a 336-point jump the day the Fed announced its sharp rate cut, which was the market's collective shout of "whoopie!"

But among seasoned traders, I find a much gloomier mood. They warn that the Fed's actions will have only a limited effect on the imbalances in the financial markets. An analyst for last week asked Satyajit Das, an expert on exotic credit derivatives, whether we were in the third inning of the credit crunch. Das laughed and responded that we're still in the middle of the national anthem.

The best summary I've seen of the current financial picture is the September quarterly report by the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, which acts as a kind of executive committee for central bankers. It warned of the "dark shadow over global financial markets" caused by the collapse of the U.S. market for "subprime" mortgage loans, which was the industry's polite term for mortgages that didn't meet normal credit standards.

The credit market is still locked, months after the subprime problems became clear. Investors can't value their portfolios because they can't sell the underlying assets. Debt that was rated triple-A turns out to be triple-C. In the complex market of credit derivatives, traders tell me it can take weeks to figure out what positions are worth. "That's why the market has frozen up," explains the manager of one leading hedge fund. "We're still in the early stages" of this financial reckoning, he warns.

What's scary is that the financial system has become opaque as assets are bundled and turned into tradable securities. Once upon a time, getting a mortgage was a highly personal transaction: A lender in Des Moines, say, provided money to a local borrower whose income and credit history he knew well. If the borrower got in trouble, the lender could arrange a workout or other repayment terms. The system was transparent, and responsive.

Then the financial engineers took over: The mortgage now is often written by a national lender that has little contact with the borrower; then it is bundled with hundreds of other loans and turned into a tradable security. In theory, the new system spreads credit risk more efficiently, so that each investor can buy the level he wants. But because of deceptive credit ratings (generated by rating agencies eager for fat fees), it turns out investors didn't understand their actual risk positions. And how can they value assets if they can't sell them? That's the meaning of illiquidity.

A deeper problem worrying thoughtful investors is the fragility of the U.S. economy. We have become a nation that borrows abroad to maintain a level of domestic consumption we can't afford. If we were a developing economy, this shaky structure would have collapsed long ago, the way it did with Mexico and Thailand in the 1990s. But as the world's financial superpower, we have had the luxury of borrowing in our own currency. As long as China and other Asian nations are willing to hold our paper, the perpetual-motion machine seems to keep operating. But remember Stein's Law of Unsustainability.

A hot idea in international markets these days is "decoupling" from the U.S. economy. Investors look at the fundamentals and they see a crunch coming. So to the extent possible, they are selling assets that could be infected by future U.S. financial contagion. It's no accident, investors tell me, that the index of emerging-market securities hit an all-time high this week. That's the perverse new definition of a flight to safety -- Indian and Chinese investments.

Wall Street optimists count on the wisdom of the Fed's now battle-tested chairman, Ben Bernanke. With Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and New York Fed President Tim Geithner, Bernanke has reconvened what under Alan Greenspan was dubbed "The Committee to Save the World." You want to believe that Bernanke & Co. will keep the whole loopy system going. But then you read that there are now half a quadrillion dollars in outstanding derivatives contracts, some of them instruments so complex that most CEOs don't understand them. Try to get your mind around that number -- $500 trillion -- and then tell me you're not a wee bit nervous.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why is Africa an Open Sewer?

There are few success story of any black country or society anywhere on the planet. For years the charge was imperialism and white racism. That card was played till it was dog-eared and few, except for the most ardent liberals, really take that charge seriously, except in public. It is not nice to discuss what is so obvious. Katrina exposed the problem in New Orleans. It only took a few days of a natural disaster for the entire city to collapse into chaos and anarchy. The city and society within it were incapable of stabilizing the internal chaos without federal troops. Most northern American cities have huge no go black areas and based on recent events, even liberal England has wide areas, settled by black immigrants, that have become hostile and crime ridden.

It is an obvious problem and it is a subject that most white Americans are fearful of discussing. Here is an article by an African not afraid to start asking some questions:

Uganda: Pity the Rotting Pearl of Africa

The Monitor
28 September 2007
Posted to the web 27 September 2007
Henry F. Mulindwa

On the outside Uganda is a pearl whose beauty stretches and strains the minds, making all other countries in the region ugly. However, don't be fooled, the pearl is rotten egg.

The country is still on the UN list of the 50 poorest nations of the world. Most Ugandans live on less than 2000 shillings a day. That is, if they buy a loaf of bread, they cannot buy anything more.

The good news is that the LRA have stopped burning houses; the bad news is that there are no more houses to be burnt! Uganda's corruption is embarrassing but those involved are never embarrassed. Proven national thieves are just given a slap on the toe while children die of preventable diseases and people with HIV/Aids continue to have their precious lives cut short!

Kampala is a city of chaos. If you prove to me that it is not the dirtiest and most disorderly city in eastern Africa, I will be your slave forever! Illegal, eye-sore structures are built daily and are licensed to operate in front of legitimate permanent shops.

Business is all along the streets and pedestrians have nowhere to walk. Markets like Kalerwe, Wakaliga, Nakawa, Nakulabye and others along the so-called "highways" are a source of traffic jam because they have no parking space. Garbage is all over the place! Do I need to tell you how unhygienic markets are in Uganda? Check them out; how many have good and enough toilets if they have any at all!

In the new arcades, substandard, fake and sometimes dangerous Asian products flood the market. Many local producers moved strongly at first but could not endure for long. At first government seemed to support them but as we all now know the support was a mile wide but an inch deep! The Sembules, Mulwanas had no kickbacks to offer. Yet others give these across the desk envelops to build hotels in places of schools, which hotels are never built. Wait and see what that land will be used for and by whom!

One would think that the city would better be run by non-elected officials but technocrats who would do their job without fear of favour because there is no vote to lose. However, only fools cannot imagine how city offices will be filled by government supporters, relatives and friends of the appointing authority.

The solution is one: make politicians accountable. Believe me, politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed frequently. That way you can keep them honest. They will not pee down your back and tell you it is raining. But if they over stay, they suffer industrial blindness and will be happy to put their pictures on full garbage cans and life goes on without order.

What do planners go to school for? Look at the beautiful homes on Kampala hills. They are impressive mansions in a slum fashion. You can hardly see roads that lead to those homes. In case of an emergency, you only wonder how the police or the fire fighters can get there; that is, if they had the equipment and training needed to do so! Roads in towns have no walkways, and where you find some kind of a walkway, it is colonised by motorcyclists. Traffic lights work seasonally in few junctions where you can find them. Meat markets are shared with a swarm of flies then people wonder why they get sick.

In all this, your elected officials are allegedly working their butt off; working hard or hardly working? Many think that service means serve us! Leaders beware, just because people are not all powerful does not mean they are powerless.

Chinese Investment Great Leap Forward

Reports: China to launch investment fund



A government fund that is to invest part of China's US$1.3 trillion in foreign currency reserves is due to be officially launched on Saturday, according to news reports.

Financial analysts are watching the agency closely to see where it invests and its possible impact on financial markets. It is expected to be entrusted with US$200 billion, which would make it one of the world's richest investment funds.

The agency is likely to be called the China Investment Corp., Dow Jones Newswires and the Chinese newspaper Securities Journal reported Thursday. Both cited unidentified sources.

An Chinese official who was involved in setting up the fund said he could not confirm the reports. Foreign reporters will be barred from the official opening ceremony, said Jesse Wang, chairman of state-owned Jianyin Investment Co.

Beijing created the fund in an effort to earn higher returns on its currency reserves, which have soared amid a boom in export revenues. A large portion of the reserves have been invested in safe but low-yielding U.S. Treasuries.

Its creation comes at a time of tensions with Washington over China's swelling trade surplus and unease in the United States and elsewhere over Beijing's growing economic and military might.

Authorities say the agency will be modeled in part on Singapore's government-owned Temasek Holdings, which invests in banks, real estate and other industries in China, India and elsewhere.

A key question has been the possible impact of the new strategy on the market for U.S. Treasury securities.

Beijing is a big buyer of Treasuries, helping to finance the American government budget deficit. Chinese officials have given no details of how much money might be diverted to other assets.

The Chinese agency agreed in May to pay US$3 billion for just under 10 percent of American investment firm Blackstone Group LP.

Wang, who was involved in negotiating the Blackstone purchase, told The Associated Press in May that the Chinese agency was expected to try to avoid political strains abroad by purchasing minority stakes in companies rather than pursuing corporate takeovers.

Chinese companies have been uneasy about foreign acquisitions since the uproar in 2005 over state-owned oil company CNOOC Ltd.'s attempt to acquire U.S. oil and gas producer Unocal Corp. CNOOC dropped its bid after American critics said it might endanger energy security.

Inconvenient News: 50% Fewer Iraqi Deaths in September

This will make for some interesting times. Maybe I will watch the next Democratic Presidential debate. If it continues it will certainly favor Hillary Clinton over Obama. It certainly cannot hurt the Republicans. Could there be a Republican dark horse out there?


Violence and civilian deaths drop in Iraq
By Felix Lowe and agencies
Last Updated: 8:46am BST 01/10/2007 Telegraph

The number of civilians killed during violence in Iraq dropped by almost 50 per cent in September, US figures reveal.

Violence during Ramadan also dropped by almost 40 per cent from last year, despite warnings from al-Qa'eda that it would increase operations during the Muslim holy month.

The Pentagon figures also show 72 American military deaths last month, the lowest monthly figure since July last year, when Washington poured an extra surge of 30,000 US troops into the war-torn country.

The US figures showed that 884 Iraqi civilians were killed in September, which was the lowest level recorded this year and down from 1,773 in August.The number of injured civilians was also down to 850 from 1,559.

Officials also announced that US and Iraqi forces had killed more than 60 insurgents and militia fighters in intense battles over the weekend.

"Coalition forces have dealt significant blows to al-Qa'eda Iraq in recent months, including the recent killing of the Tunisian head of the foreign fighter network in Iraq and the blows struck in the past 24 hours," military spokesman Col Steven Boylan said.

A US soldier, however, became the 72nd victim in Iraq this month after he was killed by gunfire in east Baghdad yesterday.

The overall toll of American losses since the March 2003 invasion now stands at 3,803.

US military officials attributed the reduction of violence during Ramadan to the change of strategy of moving troops out of large bases and into smaller combat zones.

September figures were also not skewed by large individual terrorist attacks, such as the massive truck bombings which killed 411 people in the minority Yazidi community in northern Iraq on Aug 14.

Why do We Need Any Immigration?

Why not stay at a population of three hundred million? Guess where continued immigration is taking us.

The Only Way to Win the Immigration Battle
By Selwyn Duke (09/26/07) American Daily

It's hard to think of a battle that has been won by being defensive. You may be most skilled at blocking and slipping punches, but if that is all you do, sooner or later your opponent will land a few and enjoy victory. This occurs to me as I watch the latest amnesty battle.

As you may know, the DREAM Act -- the latest Scamnesty scheme -- is being debated in Congress at this moment. And it may be the Mexican dream, but it's our nightmare. But that isn't what I want to address today.

We may defeat this proposal as we did the last, but so what?

Are you surprised? Do I sound overly cavalier or a tad defeatist? Here is my point: Until we transform this debate and talk about the true remedy for our problem -- namely, halting legal immigration -- we will labor in vain.

As I have said before, illegal immigration isn't the problem, but merely an exacerbation of the problem. As long as we perpetuate our current immigration scheme – a formula dictating that 85 percent of immigrants will hail from the Third World and Asia – the demographic revolution we have witnessed will continue, attended by descent into Third World status.

This is the third rail of the American immigration debate, the emperor-has-no-clothes-issue, the untouchable element. It gets at a truth that no one even dares contemplate because, by golly, we're a nation of immigrants. That is what we’re told and it's not to be questioned; it is dogma. Why, I can almost hear Zero Mostel bellowing "Tradition!"

Then again, I can also hear that apocryphal saying: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

Advocating a moratorium on legal immigration would be a return to sanity that could turn the tide. We would finally be taking the offense and proposing a change in the traditionalist direction, as opposed to making proactivity the province of the left. We would finally be pushing back, demanding some of the adversary's territory instead of just defending ours. Of course, we do have one other choice.

Certain defeat.

We may end this bad DREAM, but the left will be back, maybe in a few months, maybe in a year. And then they will return again and again and again and again; they will continue to make their proposals and propagandize, cajole and coerce, until one of their nail-in-the-coffin laws passes. It's not a matter of if, only when; one of those big punches will eventually land. This is the consequence of being defensive.

Thus, proposing the elimination of immigration is not only the right thing, it's the only thing. The present course of action guarantees eventual defeat, as the traditionalist side gets worn down through constant attack and people become acclimated to the idea of scamnesty-by-another-name. But if we finally start making the proposals -- if we finally say to the left, "No! You no longer drive the agenda, we have a say now" -- we'll be pushing back. Then, at worst, maybe we will, to use apropos terminology, be in a Mexican stand-off. And then perhaps, just possibly, we will have the time to alter the American consciousness and muster up the popular will to save our republic.

It's push back or be pushed around.

End immigration now, before it ends us

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Opaque George Soros

Investor Business Daily has an interesting Soros Report:
The Soros Threat To Democracy

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 4:20 PM PT

Democracy: George Soros is known for funding groups such as that seek to manipulate public opinion. So why is the billionaire's backing of what he believes in problematic? In a word: transparency.

George Soros & Exclusive Series

How many people, for instance, know that James Hansen, a man billed as a lonely "NASA whistleblower" standing up to the mighty U.S. government, was really funded by Soros' Open Society Institute , which gave him "legal and media advice"?

That's right, Hansen was packaged for the media by Soros' flagship "philanthropy," by as much as $720,000, most likely under the OSI's "politicization of science" program.

That may have meant that Hansen had media flacks help him get on the evening news to push his agenda and lawyers pressuring officials to let him spout his supposedly "censored" spiel for weeks in the name of advancing the global warming agenda.

Hansen even succeeded, with public pressure from his nightly news performances, in forcing NASA to change its media policies to his advantage. Had Hansen's OSI-funding been known, the public might have viewed the whole production differently. The outcome could have been different.

That's not the only case. Didn't the mainstream media report that 2006's vast immigration rallies across the country began as a spontaneous uprising of 2 million angry Mexican-flag waving illegal immigrants demanding U.S. citizenship in Los Angeles, egged on only by a local Spanish-language radio announcer?

Turns out that wasn't what happened, either.

Read the rest...

The Seat of Higher Learning

The Elephant Bar, circa 2006

How to Catch a Wild Hog

By Lowell E. Hedges

Several years ago I was supervising a beginning teacher in a city school system. One day during our end-of-the-day feedback conference, the young man gave a facial grimace and began to rub his back. I asked him if he had strained his back in the school lab.

After a long period of silence, he sat down at his desk and explained that he had immigrated to the United States because of political problems in his native country. The discomfort in his back was caused by a bullet wound he had received while fighting the Communists who were trying to take over his country's government. He was then a member of the underground nationalist force.

Then he asked me a surprising question: "Dr. Hedges, do you know how to catch a wild hog?"

The question was completely out of context regarding the day's classroom and lab teaching. I replied, "I'm not sure what you are talking about. Tell me."

"First," he said, "you find out where the wild hogs are roaming and feeding and then you put some corn out in the field. Soon they will come to eat the corn. You keep putting out the free corn. More wild hogs keep coming to eat the corn."

"So what?" I said. "That's normal for any animal."

"Be patient. I will tell you what comes next," he said. "After the hogs get used to your free corn, you put up a length of fence along one side of the feeding area. The hogs get used to it. You keep giving them the corn. Then you put up another section of fence at right angles to the first. You keep giving them the corn. The hogs get used to the second fence. Then you put up another length of fence at right angles to the second section."

"You now have a U-shaped fenced area. The hogs get used to that section of the fence. You keep giving them free corn. Then you put another section of fence with a gate in it, making a closed area except for the gate. You keep giving them corn. Now, the hogs no longer are out in the fields, working to find their own food. They keep coming into the area to eat the free corn. They get used to the fenced area with the open gate. Then, one day you slam shut the gate when the hogs are inside the fenced area. The wild hogs are caught - they are your prisoners."

I understood then that the wild hogs were really the people of his native country and that the free corn was the enticements that the Communists were giving to the people.

"That's correct," the young man said. "Now, the hogs will not get anything to eat unless you give them food. You are in control. They depend on you to feed them, or they will starve. They can't get out into the fields and forests anymore to find their own food. They have probably forgotten how, as it is. They are your servants, your prisoners. They must obey you. Or else they starve."

"The hogs," he said, "were so accustomed to having the free corn, that they ignored the building of the fences that would eventually trap them. When the gate slammed shut, it was too late for them to realize what they had been blind to. The free corn was enticing, so effortless to obtain, but eventually the cause of their loss of freedom. The fence had been built; the gate had been shut."

At this point in our conversation, the young teacher, in a voice shaking with emotion and with fists hitting the desktop, loudly exclaimed, "This is what I see happening in America today! People are being offered free corn by the government. People are blind to the fences being built around them by the liberals - the socialists - and that is what frightens me! Just like it was happening in my homeland. The American people do not learn from history. And history shows that socialism/communism does not work."

"Take note of Russia. Has socialism been the best thing that ever happened to that country? Absolutely not! But socialism is what the American people are being fed, and they don't realize it. All they can focus on is the 'free corn.' They want more and more of the free corn. And this free corn is being fed to us little by little, and soon the gate will slam shut. I am very frightened, and also amazed, that the American people don't see what is being fed us, and for what purpose." With that said, the young man sat down at his desk and continued to rub his painful back.

And I was silent in my chair. And afraid. For I could visualize the supposedly "free corn" being fed to our nation's people and our growing addiction to the "free corn". And I could see the gate being slammed shut. We, the people of the United States of America, because of our ignorance of history, because of our addiction to the supposedly "free corn," could soon be prisoners of liberal socialism.

Along with this fighter for freedom from socialism/communism, I too, wanted to slam my fists on the desktop and cry out in a loud voice for all to hear, "Wake up, America! The fences are being built! Don't you see what is happening to us?" In the agenda of the new Congress governed by liberal socialists, there is much "free corn" being promised to the American people. In our greed for this "free corn," will we ignore the incremental building of the fences and the inevitable shutting of the gate? As I ponder the building of the fences now underway by the new Congress, I remember the old adage, "there is always free cheese in a mousetrap."

It seems the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.

The 51% Solution. Chads May be the Least of Your Problems

It is obvious that your future, your wealth, your rights and your influence are under assault and have been so since the 1960's. The strategy of the Left has been clear, but you have been too polite to mention it or have been otherwise occupied. While GWB, like most good liberals has been calling for planetary freedom, he has done little to ensure that you keep yours. Borders, laws and now your rights as a citizen are going to be assaulted in the final putsch by the progressive leftists. Snared by legalism and political correctness you as a member of the real majority of US citizens are on the verge of losing your once exclusive franchise. You are going to learn the cruelest lesson in democratic history, the lesson of 51 percent.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Voter ID Law

Published: September 25, 2007
WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 — With the 2008 presidential and Congressional elections on the horizon, the Supreme Court agreed today to consider whether voter-identification laws unfairly keep poor people and members of minority groups from going to the polls.

The justices will hear arguments from an Indiana case, in which a federal district judge and a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in January upheld a state law requiring, with certain exceptions, that someone wanting to vote in person in a primary or general election present a government-issued photo identification. Presumably, the court would rule on the case by June.

Before the law was enacted in 2005, an Indiana voter was required only to sign a book at the polling place, where a photocopy of the voter’s signature was kept on file.

Voter-identification requirements have divided Democrats and Republicans, and the courts, for years. In July, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld that state’s identification law. A month earlier, the Georgia high court threw out a challenge to that state’s identification law. But last year, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned a state voter-identification statute. Other states are considering various identification statutes.

Election-law experts had hoped that the United States Supreme Court would take the Indiana case because that state has perhaps the toughest law in the country. “The court better resolve this question before ballots start getting counted next fall,” Pamela Karlan, a Stanford University law professor, told The Associated Press.

In general, Republicans argue that identification laws reduce voter fraud, while Democrats oppose them on grounds that they lower the turnout among people who tend to vote Democratic.

Coincidentally or otherwise, the two Seventh Circuit judges who voted to uphold the Indiana law, Richard A. Posner and Diane S. Sykes, were put on the bench by Republican presidents (Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, respectively), while the one dissenting judge, Terence T. Evans, was elevated by President Bill Clinton.

Writing for the majority, Judge Posner acknowledged that the Indiana law favors one party. “No doubt most people who don’t have photo ID are low on the economic ladder and thus, if they do vote, are more likely to vote for Democratic than Republican candidates,” he wrote.

But the purpose of the law is to reduce voting fraud, “and voting fraud impairs the right of legitimate voters to vote by diluting their votes — dilution being recognized to be an impairment of the right to vote,” Judge Posner said. And assertions that many people will be disenfranchised, or that there is no significant voter-fraud problem in Indiana, are based on unreliable data and “may reflect nothing more than the vagaries of journalists’ and other investigators’ choice of scandals to investigate,” the judge held.

In dissent, Judge Evans wrote that the Indiana law imposed an unconstitutional burden on some eligible voters. “Let’s not beat around the bush,” he wrote. “The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.”

Arguments that the law’s purpose is to stamp out voter fraud amount to a mere “fig leaf of respectability,” Judge Evans wrote. Furthermore, he said, the law is too extreme in view of the fact that no one in Indiana has ever been prosecuted for voter fraud. “Is it wise to use a sledgehammer to hit either a real or imaginary fly on a glass coffee table?” he asked rhetorically. “I think not.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Crackdown and Blowback

The first reports of Sarkozy's immigration reform plan are coming in and already one can see that the opposition is just beginning to mobilise.
France Races to Oust Illegal Immigrants
Saturday, September 22, 2007

As France races to deport 25,000 illegal immigrants by the end of the year _ a quota set by President Nicolas Sarkozy _ tensions are mounting and the crackdown is taking a toll.

Critics say the hunt threatens values in a nation that prides itself on being a cradle of human rights and a land of asylum. Protesters have gathered by the dozens in Paris to protect illegal aliens as police move in.

But with three months left in the year, police have caught at least 11,800 immigrants, less than half the target, so Sarkozy has ordered officials to pick up the pace.

"I want numbers," Sarkozy reportedly told Brice Hortefeux, head of the Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-Development, which Sarkozy set up after taking office in May. "This is a campaign commitment. The French expect (action) on this."

The Immigration Ministry estimates 200,000 to 400,000, illegal immigrants and Sarkozy wants them deported and a new system put in place to organize and regulate immigration based on annual needs assessments.

As the Sarkozy government moves to implement its identification plan and deportations, injuries to foreigners are being used by human rights groups to build resistance including neighborhood groups and a police union spokesman said that "Reactions are becoming more and more violent." Even the police are chafing at the increased workload of rounding up and deporting 25,000 illegals by the end of the year.

Lee Bollinger is a Jackass

Painful to watch, grating to listen to, an ivy leafed embarrassment made a fool of himself.

Wishing Americans Loved Freedom

Spoonful of government
Mark Steyn Washington Times
September 24, 2007

Our theme for today comes from George W Bush: "Freedom is the desire of every human heart."

When the president uses the phrase, he's invariably applying it to various benighted parts of the Muslim world. There would seem to be quite a bit of evidence to suggest that freedom is not the principal desire of every human heart in, say, Gaza or Waziristan. But why start there? If you look in, say, Brussels or London or New Orleans, do you come away with the overwhelming impression that "freedom is the desire of every human heart"? A year ago, I wrote that "the story of the western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government 'security', large numbers of people vote to dump freedom — the freedom to make your own decisions about health care, education, property rights, seat belts and a ton of other stuff."


And, if you don't, it will be illegal for you to hold a job.

Er, hang on, where's that in the Constitution? It's perfectly fine to employ legions of the undocumented from Mexico, but if you employ a fit 26-year old American with no health insurance, either you or he or both of you will be breaking the law?

That's a major surrender of freedom from the citizen to the state. "So what?" say the caring crowd. "We've got to do something about those 40 million uninsured. Whoops, I mean 45 million uninsured. Maybe 50 by now." This figure is always spoken of as if it's a club you can join but never leave: The very first Uninsured-American was ol' Bud who came back from the Spanish-American War and found he was uninsured and so was first on the list, and then Mabel put her back out doing the Black Bottom at a tea dance in 1926 and she became the second, and so on and so forth, until things really began to snowball under the Bush junta. And, by the time you read this, the number of uninsured may be up to 75 million.

Nobody really knows how many "uninsured" there are: Two different Census Bureau surveys conducted in the same year identify the number of uninsured as (a) 45 million or (b) 19 million. The (a) figure is the one you hear about, the (b) figure apparently entered the Witness Protection Program. Of those 45 million "uninsured Americans," the Census Bureau itself says over 9 million aren't Americans at all, but foreign nationals. They have various health-care back-ups: if you're an uninsured Canadian in Detroit and you get an expensive chronic disease, you can go over the border to Windsor, Ontario, and re-embrace the delights of socialized health care; if you're an uninsured Uzbek, it might be more complicated. Of the remaining 36 million, a 2005 Actuarial Research analysis for the Department of Health and Human Services says that another 9 million did, in fact, have health coverage through Medicare.

Where are we now? Twenty-seven million? So who are they? Bud and Mabel and a vast mountain of emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules? No, it's a rotating population: People who had health insurance but changed jobs, people who are between jobs, young guys who feel they're fit and healthy and at this stage of their lives would rather put a monthly health tab towards buying a home or starting a business or blowing it on booze 'n' chicks.

That last category is the one to watch: Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 account for 18 million of the army of the "uninsured." Look, there's a 22-year-old and he doesn't have health insurance. Oh, the horror and the shame. What an indictment of America.

Well, he doesn't have life insurance, either, or homeowner's insurance. He lives a life blessedly free of the tedious bet-hedging paperwork of middle-age. He's 22 and he thinks he's immortal — and any day now Hillary will propose garnisheeing his wages for her new, affordable, mandatory life-insurance plan.

So, out of 45 million uninsured Americans, 9 million aren't American, 9 million are insured, 18 million are young and healthy. And the rest of these poor helpless waifs trapped in Uninsured Hell waiting for Hillary to rescue them are, in fact, wealthier than the general population. According to the Census Bureau's August 2006 report on "Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage," 37 percent of those without health insurance — that's 17 million people — come from households earning more than $50,000. Nineteen percent — 8.7 million people — of those downtrodden paupers crushed by the brutal inequities of capitalism come from households earning more than $75,000.

In other words, if they fall off the roof, they can write a check. Indeed, the so-called "explosion" of the uninsured has been driven entirely by wealthy households opting out of health insurance. In the decade after 1995 — i.e., since the last round of coercive health reform — the proportion of the uninsured earning less than 25,000 has fallen by 20 percent and the proportion earning more than 75 grand has increased by 155 percent. The story of the last decade is that the poor are getting sucked into the maw of "coverage" and the rich are fleeing it. And, given that the cost of health "insurance" bears increasingly little relationship to either the cost of treatment or the actuarial reality of you ever getting any particular illness, it's entirely rational to say: "You know what? I'll worry about that when it happens. In the meantime, I want to start a business and send my kid to school." Freedom is the desire of my human heart even if my arteries get all clogged and hardened.

I was glad, at the end of Hillary Health Week, to see that my radio pal Laura Ingraham's excellent new book "Power To The People" has shot into the New York Times Bestseller List at No. 1. It takes a fraudulent leftist catchphrase (the only thing you can guarantee about a "people's republic" is that the people are the least of it) and returns it to those who mean it — to those who believe in a nation of free citizens exercising individual liberty to make responsible choices.

Do you remember the so-called "government surplus" of a few years ago? Bill Clinton gave a speech in which he said, yes, sure, he could return the money to taxpayers but that we "might not spend it the right way." The American political class has decided that they know better than you the "right way" to make health-care decisions. Oh, don't worry, you're still fully competent to make decisions on what car you drive and what movie you want to rent at Blockbuster. For the moment. But when it comes to the grown-up stuff best to leave that to Nurse Hillary.

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain's Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

Monday, September 24, 2007

UAW Members in Solidarity, Strike GM.

UAW Workers Walk Off Job at GM Plants

Monday September 24, 11:31 am ET
By Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writers
UAW Workers Walk Off Job, Begin Pickets at Some GM Plants After Strike Deadline Passes

DETROIT (AP) -- Workers walked off the job and began picketing Monday outside some General Motors Corp. plants after a late morning United Auto Workers strike deadline passed, but the union's national leadership hadn't publicly announced whether a strike had begun.

The UAW had extended its contract for nine days after it expired on Sept. 14, but the negotiations became bogged down Sunday, apparently over the union's quest to protect jobs by getting the company to guarantee that new vehicles would be built in U.S. factories.

The UAW hasn't called a nationwide strike during contract negotiations since 1976, when Ford Motor Co. plants were shut down. There were strikes at two GM plants during contract negotiations in 1996.

Charlie Coppinger, who has worked at GM's powertrain plant in Warren for 31 years, walked the picket line along with a handful of others shortly after the deadline passed.

The 51-year-old Rochester Hills resident said he hoped a strike could be settled quickly, but that union members were on the line to back the union and its bargainers.

"We're just here to support them," said Coppinger, who said leaflets were passed out indicating that the strike was on.

How the Bookies See the 2008 Presidential Race on 24 Sept 07

USA Election Polls


Odds On: Who will be chosen as the Democratic candidate for the 2008 US Presidential Election?

Hillary Clinton 4/11
Barack Obama 12/5
Al Gore 5/1
John Edwards 8/1
Dennis Kucinich 20/1
Joseph Biden 30/1
Chris Dodd 40/1
Mike Gravel 40/1
Bill Richardson 40/1
Field 50/1
All wagers will be settled once the party makes its official announcement. Max. $50.

Odds On: Who will win the 2008 Presidential Election?

Hillary Clinton 2/1
Barack Obama 9/2
Rudy Giuliani 4/1
Fred Thompson 6/1
Mitt Romney 9/1
Mike Bloomberg 15/1
John Edwards 14/1
Al Gore 11/1
John McCain 16/1
Bill Richardson 40/1
Mike Huckabee 55/1
Chris Dodd 60/1
Ron Paul 55/1
Chuck Hagel 90/1
Dennis Kucinich 90/1
Wayne Allyn Root 100/1
Duncan Hunter 100/1
Ralph Nader 125/1
Jonathan "The Impaler" Sharkey 700/1
Stephen Colbert 800/1
Vermin Supreme 800/1
Lawrence Connor 800/1
Don Cordell 800/1
Jackson Kirk Grimes 900/1
Field 50/1
Vote on who will win the 2008 Presidential election. Any wagers placed after outcome becomes public knowledge will be no action. Max. $50.

Odds On: Which party will win the 2008 US Presidential election?

Democratic Party 1/3
Republican Party 3/2
Unity08 50/1
Reform 100/1
Libertarian 125/1
Any other Party 250/1
Party to win the Electoral College. Max. $50.

Odds On: Who will be named as the Republican Candidate for the 2008 US Presidential Election?

Rudy Giuliani 11/10
John McCain 5/1
Fred Thompson 2/1
Newt Gingrich 7/1
Mitt Romney 3/1
Mike Huckabee 15/1
Tommy Thompson 20/1
Sam Brownback 20/1
Chuck Hagel 25/1
Duncan Hunter 35/1
Tom Tancredo 50/1
Jim Gilmore 60/1
Ron Paul 22/1
Field 50/1
All wagers will be settled once the party makes its official announcement. Max. $50.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Politicians Hate Referendums. That is Why We Need Them.

What Would They Know Anyway?

The US would be a different country with the use of referendums (should that be referendi?). For a start, there would be no New York Driver's licenses handed out to illegals. The entire US system is rigged against majority rule. Everything from the media through the courts to local school boards is about the minority tyranny of the elites over the wishes and good sense of the real people. Here is how it has evolved in Holland:

No Dutch referendum on EU
But the decision did not come easily

The Dutch government has decided not to hold a referendum on the latest European Union treaty. The so-called Reform Treaty was agreed upon in June by representatives of the 27 member states. It is meant to replace the EU constitution which failed after Dutch and French voters rejected it in referendums in 2005.
The decision means the Reform Treaty will be sent to the Dutch parliament, where it is expected to be approved by a wide majority.

The cabinet's decision to scrap the referendum did not come easily. For the second week in a row, Friday's cabinet meeting dragged on later than usual as ministers debated the issue of holding a referendum.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and his Christian Democrat Party are emphatically opposed to holding a referendum. They say the Reform Treaty does not change enough about the EU to warrant a popular vote.

Labour's tricky position

The second largest party in the coalition, the Labour Party, finds itself in a tricky position. In last year's election campaign, the party called for another referendum if or when the EU came forward with a treaty similar to the last one. But Labour was forced to compromise in its negotiations on a coalition accord with the Christian Democrats. The issue of a referendum was left out of the accord altogether, postponing the inevitable clash between the two main governing parties.

Until now. The intervening months have only served to harden Prime Minister Balkenende's stance against a referendum. He was caught by surprise two years ago when the Dutch public rejected the EU constitution. The Netherlands had been involved in the European project from the beginning, and Balkenende had wanted to solidify the country's place in the core of the European Union. When the Dutch public said, "no, thanks" , it was a particularly hard blow for the prime minister.

The new Reform Treaty

So Mr Balkenende entered negotiations for the new EU treaty determined to eliminate all elements of a constitution. And indeed, the new Reform Treaty no longer includes a president of the EU or an anthem, and national governments retain full sovereignty in areas such as defence and foreign policy. The changes were enough to convince the Council of State, the government's highest advisory body, that the treaty was no longer constitutional in nature, and therefore a referendum was not necessary. The council published its conclusions last week, whereupon the Prime Minister felt sufficiently confident to bring the question to the cabinet.

Opposition unconvinced

But the opposition parties, and many Labour Party members, are not convinced. They say most aspects of the Reform Treaty were taken word for word from the constitution. To them, it looks like the cabinet wants to approve a treaty that has already been rejected by the voters.

Similar to two years ago, there appears to be a large gulf between the Dutch political establishment and the population. The government has allegedly conducted a secret poll showing that only 47 percent of the public would approve the Reform Treaty.

Still a role for parliament

Parliament can still vote to overturn the government's decision. Such a bill has already been introduced in the lower house, and it may indeed get majority support. But when the bill moves over to the upper chamber, it is almost sure to fail. Forty-one of the seventy-five members are solidly against holding a referendum.

If parliament does not manage to force the government's hand, Prime Minister Balkenende will once again be able to enter the halls of the EU with his head held high. But it comes at a cost. His coalition partner, the Labour Party, emerges from this debate ever more divided. And the Dutch public is reinforced in the feeling that their representatives do not take them seriously.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Arrogance of Elliot Spitzer. New York State Undermines US Security.

The next time you are searched and asked for your ID to fly on a US plane and you pull out your driver's license look around you. Your driver's license means nothing. When you vote, your say in the choices of government may be nullified by someone with no skin in the game.

Here is what you need to vote in New York State: The Voter Application Form A New York Driver's license will now be the gold access card for illegal activity in the United States. What an outrage and Washington will do nothing about it.

Spitzer Grants Illegal Immigrants Easier Access to Driver’s Licenses NY Times

Published: September 22, 2007
New York State, home to more than 500,000 illegal immigrants, will issue driver’s licenses without regard to immigration status under a policy change announced yesterday by Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

The change rolls back rules adopted four years ago under the Pataki administration that made it difficult, if not impossible, for tens of thousands of immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses because they could not prove legal status. Under the new rules, the Department of Motor Vehicles will accept a current foreign passport as proof of identity without also requiring a valid yearlong visa or other evidence of legal immigration.

The policy, which does not require legislative approval, will be phased in starting in December and will be tied to new antifraud measures, the governor said. Those measures will include the authentication of foreign passports and the use of photo comparison technology to ensure that no driver has more than one license.

The governor called it a “common sense change” that will improve traffic safety and lower insurance costs for all New Yorkers by ensuring that more immigrants have valid licenses and auto insurance. Giving more immigrants verifiable identification will also enhance law enforcement by bringing people out of the shadows, he asserted.

“The D.M.V. is not the I.N.S.,” Mr. Spitzer said, referring to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, now part of Homeland Security, by its old initials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The move goes against the national trend. Many states, prodded by demands to crack down on identity fraud, have added requirements that effectively prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses.

All but eight states now require drivers to prove legal status to obtain driver’s licenses, and those eight — Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington — have come under pressure to add such a requirement.

To keep New York from becoming a magnet for people unable to obtain driver’s licenses elsewhere, the Spitzer administration will propose legislation to add a residency requirement similar to one already in effect in 27 states, David J. Swarts, the motor vehicles commissioner, said.

Mr. Swarts and other officials pointed to a study showing that unlicensed drivers were almost five times more likely to be in fatal crashes than people with valid driver’s licenses. The State Department of Insurance estimates that the new rules will save New York drivers $120 million each year by reducing premium costs associated with uninsured motorists by 34 percent.

The change fulfilled a promise Mr. Spitzer made repeatedly last year in his campaign, and it was hailed by immigrant organizations and labor unions that had pushed hard for it. Those groups said that the regulations imposed by the Pataki administration had hurt about 250,000 immigrants who needed licenses to drive to work, to hospitals or to schools.

“Immigrant communities throughout the nation can take heart that today’s victory may begin to turn the tide toward sensible and humane reforms at the federal level,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella group for more than 150 immigrant self-help and advocacy organizations.

But the new policy drew immediate fire from groups that had welcomed the Pataki administration rules as a needed crackdown on license fraud and as the kind of national security measure demanded by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Peter Gadiel, the president of 9/11 Families for a Secure America, whose son died in the World Trade Center, released a scathing statement even before the official announcement yesterday.

“Governor Spitzer will demonstrate abject stupidity and breathtaking disregard for the victims of 9/11 if he hands these powerful ID’s to people who sneak across our borders,” he wrote. “Terrorists here illegally used licenses to kill my son and thousands of others in the World Trade Center; if they do it again using New York licenses issued by this governor, the blood of the victims will be on Mr. Spitzer’s hands.
more here

Is Fred Dead? (politically)

Put me in the pragmatic column on the next national election. The Democrats controlling all branches of government seems very likely. The Republicans under Bush have not impressed a majority of American voters. That self-inflicted damage is possibly terminal for Republican chances. It took some real talent to make Democratic rule look desirable to the majority of American voters, but that is where we are.

I doubt Thompson will make the cut and if he does I do not see how he can win, but I did not see how Clinton could win the first time.

Thompson is Clearly in Over His Head
By Dick Morris

He may be the tallest candidate in the race for president, but Fred Thompson is clearly in over his head! In both his fumbling pre-candidacy period and his hesitant, attenuated post-announcement campaign, he's given the clear impression that that he is ill-informed, inarticulate, badly briefed and downright lazy.

Consider the news his candidacy has generated:

•He refuses to take a pledge not to raise taxes;

•He lobbied for an abortion advocacy group before becoming a U.S. senator;

•He employed his son in a no-show job for $170,000 for four years at his political action committee after leaving office;

•As a lobbyist, he helped the attorney representing the Libyan terrorists who blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie,
Scotland, to fight requests to extradite them to the U.K. to stand trial;

•His other lobbying clients included Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the leftist Haitian dictator who, but for a lack of oil, would have been the Hugo Chavez of the last generation;

•He skipped and is skipping the first two debates of his presidential candidacy and said he was looking forward to attending the Oct. 14 New Hampshire debate -- the one that was cancelled weeks ago;

•He is taking this week off from presidential campaigning;

•He does not know enough about the details of the Terry Schiavo case to comment.;

•He is also unfamiliar with the proposal to lower soaring insurance premiums Floridians must pay for home storm coverage since the hurricanes;
•He said that Iraqis were supporting us because of al Qaeda's ban on smoking;

•He's run through three campaign managers and as many communications directors in just three months;

•He fell short in the fundraising competition, coming up with only a net of $2.8 million by the end of July;

•After leaving the Senate, he picked up his lobbying career by representing Equitas, an insurance company he helped dodge paying for asbestos/cancer claims;

•After negative publicity about his comments suggesting that Cuban immigrants were potential suicide bombers, he blamed Hillary Clinton for causing the publicity by "releasing a statement that she made trying to capitalize on something when she knew better";

•He didn't know enough about drilling in the Everglades to comment.

Not bad for the first two weeks of a presidential campaign!

Thompson is counting on his conservative positions on social issues and the wunder-dust generated by his "Law & Order" stardom to propel him into the lead in the presidential race. But, as Harriet Miers's failed candidacy for the Supreme Court suggests, one does not just need to be conservative to prevail. It takes a little talent, too. Thompson seems to lack the interest, energy, will, ability and stamina to compete at this level.

Hillary is probably the next president anyway. But there is only one way to defeat her -- to nominate a candidate whose anti-terrorism credentials are so deep that if Americans return to their senses and grasp the nature of the dire and continuing threat we face, he can prevail in November. There are two candidates who fill that bill: Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Neither Thompson nor Romney approach it.

But beneath his casual, disorganized and ill-informed way of running for president, one suspects an arrogance lingers -- a sense of not needing to prepare and a lethargy in the face of challenges that perhaps indicates a failure to appreciate how daunting a task running for president really is. Whatever the cause, the opening weeks of Thompson's candidacy are, perhaps, the least auspicious of any candidate's in recent history, and certainly the worst of the 2007-2008 electoral season.

Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of ““Outrage.” To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to