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Archive for May, 2008

May 31st 2008

Slouching Towards Statism

I‘ve been thinking a lot lately about our globe’s two basic forms of governance — Statist nations that see the people as a means to government’s ends and Individualist nations in which government represents and protects the will of the people.

I can find no better illustration of the Statist form than this clip of a Chinese small truck undergoing a 40 mpg front-end crash test. It’s just 33 seconds long, so do click it (and excuse the oddly constructed note at the end).

This is undeniable evidence of what happens when production is put into the hands of a Statist government. China’s government certainly had access to car safety technology — it’s stolen all sorts of other technology, after all — but it willfully decided to keep the cost down in order to advance the state’s goal of moving goods cheaply in order to expand the economy. (Notice how the goods being carried probably suffered little ill effect — something that can’t be said of the human occupants?)

In America a few years ago, Ford Explorers began to roll over because Ford was recommending too low a tire pressure in order to offset the top-heavy nature of the Explorer’s design. Compared to the Chinese truck, this was a less willful act — executives didn’t foresee deaths, but almost 300 died and 700 were injured. (That stat has to be compared to the 12,000 SUV rollover deaths and injuries in other SUVs before any blame can be ascribed specifically to Ford’s Explorer team.)

As a result of this, Ford was targeted for lawsuits and the Explorer fell from its perch as the #1 selling SUV to near oblivion.

No stats are available for deaths in the Chinese truck, but obviously if it had been as popular in the US as the Explorer was, and was operated at US highway speeds, its death count would have been spectacularly morbid. But what choice do the citizens of Statist China have? The nation manufactures all their automotive options (and the others are just as bad; see clips here, here, here, here.) And Chinese citizens certainly can’t sue their government.

China’s Statist mindset was also evident in the recent earthquake, where the collapse of schools and possible collapse of dams is more evidence that the state was more interested in taking care of its business than it was in taking care of its people.

Contrast that to Individualist America. When earthquakes hit or tornadoes threaten, where are we told to evacuate to? Schools. To us, protecting the next generation is our tantamount goal. To China, it is merely to educate them. (We could use a bit more emphasis on education, however …)

Last week, we helped one of our water district clients win regulatory approval of a 266-million-gallon earth dam reservoir just up-valley from a high school. There wasn’t a peep of protest, despite an extensive outreach campaign to inform the public. Why? Because people here have cause to trust our dam construction techniques and our government’s watchful control. Why? Because they don’t have any experience with dam collapses, since collapses are so rare.

Do you think the Chinese government would have carried out an outreach campaign? Would they give the Chinese people a voice in the decision-making, or would they just slap a shoddy dam wherever they wanted? The weak, threatening dams throughout the earthquake zone give us our answer.

One last example. When the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant failed, thanks to our Individualist state’s reams of regulations designed to protect the public no matter the expense, no one was injured. Some radioactive gas was released; it dissipated; that was it.

In Statist Russia, where nuclear power plant technology was developed to speed production of power to feed Soviet industry, not to protect the Soviet citizens, when a failure hit the Chernobyl plant, there weren’t the same safeguards:

All the Chernobyl reactors were of a design that the Russians call the RBMK–natural uranium-fueled, water-cooled, graphite-moderated–a design that American physicist and Nobel laureate Hans Bethe has called “fundamentally faulty, having a built-in instability.” Because of the instability, an RBMK reactor that loses its coolant can under certain circumstances increase in reactivity and run progressively faster and hotter rather than shut itself down. Nor were the Chernobyl reactors protected by containment structures like those required for U.S. reactors, though they were shielded with heavy concrete covers. …

No commercial reactor in the United States is designed anything like the RBMK reactor. Cohen summarizes several of the differences:

1. A reactor which is unstable against a loss of water could not be licensed in the United States.

2. A reactor which is unstable against a temperature increase could not be licensed here.

3. A large power reactor without a containment [structure] could not be licensed here. (source)

Such is the nature of radiation that we will never really know how many people were killed by the Soviet Statists. In 2006, the World Health Organization estimated up to 9,000 people died or will die of cancer because of the incident. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency governed by the WHO and 16 member nations, published an estimate of 6,700 to 38,000 in a peer-reviewed journal. Greenpeace came up with 93,000 to 200,000, an overestimation typical of environmental hysteria cultists. (source)

But what of America’s nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere over Nevada and Utah — were we behaving as a Statist nation? There were obvious strains of Statism in the decision to test bombs there, driven by heightened Statism that occurs during times of external threats to the nation. But there were also two arguments countering Statism in the testing: First, the nation picked the most remote, unpopulated part of the nation for the test, which reflects concern for the individual, and second, we didn’t really know what we were messing with — unlike the Soviets who made a willful decision in the design of Chernobyl.

I could go on: Katrina vs. Myanmar, hot weather deaths in Paris vs. St. Louis, or the poor Chinese school kids who died when the fireworks they were required by the state to manufacture during school exploded. But the case has been made. Putting the government first is bad for the health, welfare and happiness of the people.

And yet, there are factions in the US — let’s call them Democrats — who want to give more power to the state. They want the state in control of education, health care, what we eat (fat bans in Dem stronghold of NYC), what we hear (the renewed Fairness Doctrine debate), how marriage is to be defined.

Despite myriad examples of what happens when power is taken away from the people, they press on towards greater and greater collectivism. And they’re winning. The zenith of conservatism — the Individualist state — in the modern era was reached in either the 50s or the 80s depending on your perspective. Since then, America has been sliding over our protests towards collectivist Statism.

There will be no improvement in the short term since all three remaining presidential candidates (Is Hillary still remaining? I haven’t checked in the last hour.) are all more Statist than Individualist, and Congress should be firmly in the control of the Statists for at least one more election cycle. I’m a believer in pendulum swings, and I trust America will come up with another Reagan at some point … but the question is, how much irreversible damage will be done before that occurs?


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May 30th 2008

In Which I Finally Understand Why Some People Hate Christians

We’re such a fine bunch of people. Forgiving. Compassionate. Nice looking. So how is it that some many people don’t like us Christians? Could it be because of this guy?

[Rev. Michael] Pfleger, too, issued an apology, saying he was sorry if his comments offended Clinton or anyone else.

Let’s play back the tape:

I said before I don’t want this to be politica because, you know, I’m very unpolitical (mocking tone, huge laughter).

…When Hillary was crying (gesturing tears, uproarious laughter from audience)–and people said that was put on–I really don’t believe it was put on.

I really believe that she just always thought ‘This is mine’ (laughter, hoots). ‘I’m Bill’s wife. I’m WHITE. And this is mine. And I jus’ gotta get up. And step into the plate. And then out of nowhere came, ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.’ And she said: ‘Oh, damn!’ WHERE DID YOU COME FROM!?!?! (Crowd going nuts, Pfleger screaming). I’M WHITE! I’M ENTITLED! THERE’S A BLACK MAN STEALING MY SHOW. (SOBS!) SHE WASN’T THE ONLY ONE CRYING! THERE WAS A WHOLE LOTTA WHITE PEOPLE CRYING!

He’s sorry if his comments offended Clinton?

So Christian teachers aren’t just self-loathers who hate and sell out their own people, they’re also those disgusting “if my comments offended” kind of butt-sniffers?

Now I understand. I just never run into any Christians like him.

But then I don’t run in Barack’s circles.


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May 30th 2008

Warmies Seek To "Pombo-ize" Congress

What are the chances of New Mexico getting impacted by global warming spawned rising oceans? Zero — no, less than zero. But that doesn’t stop the propagandists at the Defenders of Wildlife from using it to try to knock off Republicans, just as the knocked off Richard Pombo in 2006.

They’re running this ad against New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce:

Here’s a partial transcript:

Little girl: This is my congressman, Steve Pearce. (points to man with head stuck into the ground) He cares so much about my future he’s going to get his head out of the sand and help stop global warming.

Pearce: (pulls his head out with a “thwok” sound) No, I’m not. Little girl, we don’t need to do anything about global warming.

Little girl: Then why are you melting?

Pearce: I’m not melting. I feel fantastic. It’s not hot.

Little girl: (as the sea begins to engulf them) That’s because the sea level is rising around us.

Pearce: No, it’s not. Prove it. Stop being hysterical. The rising sea stuff, that’s a theory. Like the theory of gravity.

Little girl: You don’t believe in gravity?

Pearce: Is all the evidence in? I don’t think so.

It’s all ludicrous, of course. New Mexico is already hot enough to melt steel, it has no oceans and Pearce, by all accounts, is a firm believer in gravity. Besides, he’s a chrome-dome, no neatly coiffed silver lobbyist-cut on him.

So what crime did Pearce commit that is so onerous the Greenies are after him in the primaries? (He’s running against Heather Wilson, also a Greenie target, for a chance to run against the more green-tinted Tom Udall for Pete Domenichi’s Senate seat.) Oh, really radical offenses, like saying stuff like this:

It is a crucial period for New Mexico and energy production. We must reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy from countries headed by oppressive dictators. Our country is in need of greater domestic supply. On the House Natural Resources Committee I have been a leader in making renewable and alternative forms of energy a high priority.

We must also look to make our traditional sources of energy, such as oil and coal, environmentally friendly. Through our domestic supplies of oil shale and coal alone, we could significantly reduce our need for foreign sources energy. But we must do so in a way that considers the environmental impact of retrieving those resources.

Yup. Nasty. As High Country News puts it,

This 60-second animation was the first salvo fired by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund in its battle against New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce and five other Republican lawmakers, over their support for carbon-intensive fossil fuel industries.

Pearce is being targeted strategically by the Greenies:

“We’ve found over the past seven years that science, law and policy analysis are not enough — we have to change the decision-makers. So we’re focusing on members of committees that matter,” says Fund director Rodger Schlickeisen, who hopes to tip the balance in Congress toward “a significant piece of legislation that redirects our energy policy away from fossil fuels.”

Pearce is on the Natural Resources Committee, and the Greenies don’t want any views on that Committee opposing their view that natural resources aren’t really resources, they’re just natural stuff to keep your hands off. The Defenders of Wildlife spent about $2.5 million in the 2006 election cycle, $1.5 million on its successful effort to knock off Richard Pombo. This year, it’s expected they’ll have $3 million to target key GOP committee members.

Unfortunately, this kind of challenge is very difficult to fight. With few exceptions, there are no national groups that can take up the cause of a Pearce or a Wilson, and they’re so underfunded they can’t compete against a big Greenie group like Defenders of Wildlife. Besides, even if a counter-attack were mounted, the Greenies would just point to energy company funding of the effort and demand that voters dismiss the ad as not credible — as if their ad were credible, as if they’re not just as biased by the truckfuls of money they collect from anti-energy interests.

This calls for what I call train wreck communications. We keep trying to apply the brakes of course, but public opinion is driving us at full speed into a major crash. Since that’s the case, we fight defensive battles to protect those we love (those nice coal miners and oil drillers, for example), and prepare ourselves for when the crash happens. Then, we’ll be ready to redirect a suddenly disillusioned public onto a safer track.


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May 30th 2008

Two More Votes For Obama!

This just in from the Providence RI Journal:

PROVIDENCE –– The state Board of Elections voted unanimously yesterday to preserve the voting rights of two men found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity some 20 years ago.

The panel overturned a nine-month-old decision by Cranston elections officials, who found that William Sarmento and John A. Sarro were too mentally ill to cast a ballot.


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May 30th 2008

McClellan Dregs: This Explains Everything

How could a guy known by all his colleagues too be a pro-Bush, pro-war on terror stand-up guy suddenly turn into … well … a Scott McClellan? That question has mystified his former colleagues, as WaPo captures well today:

Trent Duffy, who worked as McClellan’s deputy for more than two years, said of the avid University of Texas sports fan: ‘Tomorrow maybe we’re going to learn he’s rooting for the Oklahoma Sooners.’

Finally, there’s an answer, provided by McClellan himself in an interview with USA Today:

“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Sen. McCain,” former White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a telephone interview with USA TODAY’s David Jackson this afternoon.

“I’m also intrigued by Sen. Obama,” McClellan added.

Assuming “intrigued” means “considering voting for,” then we know why McClellan sold out his former boss: He was either posing the whole time he was in the White House, or he’s gone stark raving mad.

So, again, the other question: Why would anyone care what this guy has to say?


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May 30th 2008

Watcher’s Winners

Bookworm has a knack for taking an ages-old issue — oh, say the Middle East morass — and presenting it with sparkling new clarity. That’s what she did this week in her post Why Jews are right to suspect Obama’s advisors, and that’s why she’s the winner in this week’s Watcher’s Council competition for the best o’ the blogs.

Soccer Dad came in second with Dear Dr. Hoyt, which exposes academic antisemitism. My post, UN Peacekeepers raping children … again, came in tied for fourth.

Among the non-Watcher’s Council entries, Deep thoughts with Biggie Smalls, tales of an Iraqi translator from Kaboom, came in first, followed by a second-place tie: Over Red Coffee Cans and Cigarettes from long-time blog-friend The Paragraph Farmer and Return to Sender from Iowahawk. The latter, as regular Iowahawk readers will know, is a humorous piece, regaling politicians for the conversions they go under because of DC fever. The Paragraph Farmer’s piece is an imaginary conversation on appeasement with his colorful but passed on grandmother.

See all the winners here.

Thanks, Watcher of Weasels, for tying all the ballet slippers nice and tight so another entertaining dance of the electrons could be performed.


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May 29th 2008

Obama Gets Valued Castro Kudos

I missed this news from Monday (so shoot me), but it merits repeating: Fidel Castro has picked Barack Obama as “the most-advanced candidate in the presidential race.”

It wasn’t quite a full-on endorsement since Castro’s not happy with Obama’s call for a continued (though loosened) Cuba boycott, but it’s clear Castro thinks he’s got more in common with Obama than either Hillary or McCain.

The Obama campaign should be able to tweak Castro’s kudos enough to use it along with their valuable Hamas and Michael Moore endorsements. That’ll shore up support from the whacko Left (as if they need it). And hey, since Obama’s included Raul Castro with Ahmadinejad as blood-soaked despots he’ll talk to without condition, he just might be able to get a full endorsement yet.


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May 29th 2008

McClellan Dregs: Scotty’s On The Soros Payroll

Scott McClellan is making his media rounds today, trying desperately to turn his one-day media spotlight stretch into two. And what a day it was — over 1 million Google hits for “McClellan what happened” (that’s the name of his book, in case you somehow missed it), and no fewer than 640 hits on Nexis. Super.

One of the more interesting hits was this, from NewsBusters:

Peter Osnos, who wrote Wednesday that he “worked very closely” with Scott McClellan on McClellan’s new book published by PublicAffairs which Osnos founded, is a liberal whose publishing house is affiliated with the far-left The Nation magazine and the publisher of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. PublicAffairs has a roster of authors who are nearly all liberals and/or liberal-leaning mainstream media figures, including six books by far-left bank-roller George Soros. On Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, Ari Fleischer related that “Scott told me that his editor did ‘tweak,’ in Scott’s word, a lot of the writing, especially in the last few months.” In an “Eat the Press” blog entry Wednesday, Rachel Sklar asked Osnos: “Did you work directly on the book with McClellan? (Who was his editor?)” Osnos replied: “The editor was Lisa Kaufman and yes, I worked very closely with them.”

Osnos’ Public Affairs publishing is part of The Perseus Group; Little Green Footballs adds that there are several companies with this curious coincidence: they have both “Soros” and “Perseus” in them, like Perseus-Soros Management LLC. (Perseus was the son of Zeus and was the lucky guy who got the task of killing Medusa, which he accomplished neatly.)

McClellan is either a smart guy who knows exactly who he’s working with, which means he completely and knowingly sold out his boss and the war against Islamist terror, aligning with the hard-core lefties; or, he’s an incredibly stupid guy who has no idea who he’s working with and therefore can’t be trusted in anything he deduces.

I’m afraid it’s the former. And worse, I’m afraid he’ll do OK with it all. The media blitz has no legs, but now he has signaled to academia and the media that he’s safe to book. The protracted and lucrative campus tour will be starting shortly, and soon to follow will be his gig as a commentator on NBC.

A good attack on McClellan from White House counselor Dan Bartlett can be found here. I particularly like how it points out that during the run-up to the war McClellan was a schlep, the deputy press secretary for domestic affairs, without access to anything remotely “inside” regarding the planning for the Iraq war he now terms as “rushed.”

But good as Bartlett’s attack is, it will make no difference. McClellan has the Soros seal of approval now, so even though the media storm will not last through the week, his new career as a Bush-whacker will feather his nest … but it won’t salve his conscience. If he has one.


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May 28th 2008

McClellan Proves The Need For The Odd Press Secretary Model

Scott McClellan, former presidential press secretary turned turncoat with the publication of his memoir, has quite a publicity storm around him this morning. Here are the links under the lead McClellan story this morning on memorandum:

The Swamp, Attackerman,, The Corner, MSNBC, Too Sense, Daily Kos, Political Machine,, Outside The Beltway, On Deadline, Redstate, Brilliant at Breakfast, Informed Comment, Hot Air, Don Surber, THE GUN TOTING LIBERAL™, Emptywheel, Washington Monthly, Pam’s House Blend, Facing South, David Corn, The Raw Story, Jules Crittenden, I Am TRex, Crooks and Liars, Romenesko, The Moderate Voice, Donklephant, Oliver Willis, The Reaction, Political Byline, The Washington Note, First Draft, Liberal Values, KIKO’S HOUSE, Connecting.the.Dots, Alternate Brain, Salon, The Art of the Possible, RADAMISTO, Macsmind, Political Punch, Rising Hegemon and Taegan Goddard’s …

You can certainly read them, but they boil down to this: Everyone on the left says McClellan vindicates everything they believe about President Bush, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby; everyone on the right says he’s a cheap sell-out. That’s not what I’m writing about, per se.

Rather, I’m writing about McClellan’s job. Not his job performance, which Seth Liebsohn nails down pretty well at The Corner, but his job.

In many ways, it’s like my job. I am often the public spokesperson on a project, but my job is different from McClellan’s old gig in that I don’t allow myself to be kept in the dark so that my comments can be limited and my deniability can be plausible. I believe the role of the communications consultant is to understand all the facts and work with the client team to determine how best to present them, both immediately and over time.

Of course, the job of White House Press Secretary also is not at all like my job. There’s much more interest in his client; there are many, many more stories; the press is never avoidable, and most importantly, the stakes are exponentially higher. That’s why the typical and tested White House model is to have a senior circle — consider it too simply as President Bush and Rove — and an junior circle that is briefed fully enough to communicate what the senior circle decides.

Would I take such a job, one that sets me up to periodically be a fog machine on the truth? I certainly wouldn’t in the private sector, or for any government position short of a national security position like McClellan’s. To take a press secretary job at the White House, CIA, State or Pentagon means that you understand your role as a distributor of designer information. And that means that after you leave, you don’t write a book complaining that you may have misled the media. Of course you misled the media.

McClellan did more than attack Bush; he attacked the position of White House Press Secretary, making it unlikely the Press Secretary will ever be admitted into the Senior Circle, for good reason. And in the process, he underscored the unseemly character of his work.

One of the major blabs in McClellan’s book has to do with the Plame Game, and the actions of Rove and Libby. Off limits. National security. McClellan can point to the legal battles and the Leftist lingo, but as a former White House official, he should see this matter is now tied up in the war debate, and since the administration is in office and the war is still going on, there is nothing at all that he should say about it.

His writing on Katrina has nothing to do with national security, but he still shouldn’t be writing it because he accepted a job that entailed an understanding of his position not just while he was on the payroll, but after — again, at least as long as the current administration is in office.

His is the worst kind of sell-out. We gather no new information from him because he is a junior level guy who (by smart design, it turns out) wasn’t in the information loop at the senior levels. So we read his opinion about how the administration blundered in handling the war. McClellan has no meaningful perspective to offer there because he was on the tail end of the info-trian.

And we read that he thought the picture of Bush surveying the Katrina damage from Air Force One was a bad idea, but he was overruled. Interesting and correct — but if the price we have to pay for it is having him undercut the administration for 30 pieces of silver … well, let’s just say that McClellan illustrates the necessity of the senior tier/junior tier model.


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May 28th 2008

Wednesday Reading

Let’s all welcome to The Razor as the newest edition of the Watcher’s Council, filling the rather awesome shoes of Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse. Also of note this week — curious note — I have, for the second week in a row, nominated the non-Watcher’s Council Post with the longest name. You’ll see it below.

Council links:

  1. Dear Mr Hoyt
    Soccer Dad
  2. In Which It Gets Worse
    Done With Mirrors
  3. Cowbama Diplomacy and Iran
    Wolf Howling
  4. An Honest Assesment of the MSM’s Problem
    Rhymes With Right
  5. Reflections on the State of the Republic
    Hillbilly White Trash
  6. Why Jews Are Right To Suspect Obama’s Advisers
    Bookworm Room
  7. Will History Redeem President Bush?
    The Colossus of Rhodey
  8. Strange Device
    The Glittering Eye
  9. Peacekeepers Raping Children… Again
    Cheat Seeking Missiles
  10. Say Goodnight, Hillary
    The Education Wonks
  11. Looking At The Last Full Measure Of Devotion
  12. Memorial Day 2008
    The Razor

Non-council links:

  1. Return to Sender
  2. Deep Thoughts with Biggie Smalls
    Kaboom: A Soldier’s War Journal
  3. An Open Letter to Senator Obama on Iran
    Pajamas Media
  4. Democratic Congress Votes to Defund the Future of Military Prepardness
  5. The State of Englishness
    The Brussels Journal
  6. Over Red Coffee Cans and Cigarettes
    The Paragraph Farmer
  7. Siege of the Ivory Tower
    The New York Sun
  8. Madonna of China: Chinese Policewoman Saves Orphan Babies’ Lives by Breastfeeding Them
    The Moderate Voice
  9. Obama Excludes Military Service as Way to Serve Country in Memorial Day Weekend Commencement Speech
    Bottom Line Up Front
  10. Remembrances
    Classical Values
  11. All the Views They Spit Into Print
    Big Lizards
  12. Libertarian Party Embraces Big Tent
    Outside the Beltway
  13. Unavoidable Sadness
    Eternity Road
  14. Google Earth Mysteries

The Watcher’s Council will submit its votes to the Watcher of Weasels Thursday afternoon, and you can see the results here Friday morning.


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With Obama winning the presidency by seven percent, we can't blame the media. Their laudatory coverage and refusal to extensively probe into Obama's background and [lack of] experience was at best responsible for five percent of his vote, the pundits tell us. Here is a compilation of over 100 significant instances of pro-Obama/anti-McCain bias during the 2008 campaign.

For all 'Media Bias 2008' – Click Here

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