Saturday, February 18, 2006
NY Times Discovers Third World Corruption
Chad's Oil Riches, Meant for Poor, Are Diverted
Much to the chagrin of the NY Times, they have discovered that the government of an oil-rich country is corrupt, mistreating its populace...and there are no Republicans to blame!
I know it comes as a shocker to the good people at the NY Times, but they could have written this very same story about pretty much any Third World country. With few exceptions, the primary reason most of these countries remain "Third World" is because the money that industrialized nations pour into them winds up in the pockets of those in charge.
Believe it or not NY Times (and those who share their willfully blind world view): this is the primary reason that so many fiscal conservatives don't want our tax dollars being spent on huge foreign aid packages. It's not that there aren't people in those countries who need help: it's that until the government changes, the money isn't going to get to them anyway, so why are we busy filling the pockets of corrupt strongmen?
I liken it to alcoholics: they won't do anything about their problem until they hit rock bottom. The people of these countries would demand change if the situation gets bad enough, and we stop giving these strongmen the financial resources they need to keep a strangehold on them. You can't fund a private army if no one will give you the money to keep it fed. You can't support roving bands of thugs by robbing a populace that is devoid of money. Eventually the strongmen will be tossed out by a popular uprising. Our foreign aid money would be better spent funding education through Peace Corps-style on the ground programs and supporting rival pro-democracy movements in those countries rather than paying to perpetuate the problem as we do today.
It may feel better to toss a huge sum of money at a country and pat yourself on the back for being a caring nation, but all policies like that do are ensure that things will never change. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
It's time to change our foreign aid policy...
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Democrat Hypocrisy on Patriot Act Exposed
Patriot Act moves ahead despite opposition
For the last few years the news has been filled with one Democrat after another decrying how this administration bullied the Patriot Act through Congress and is using it to trample on Americans' civil rights. So when it came time to renew it, you'd think they'd filibuster, hit the streets in protest, stomp their feet - do whatever it took to make sure that this civil rights atrocity came to end, right? If they truly believed all the horrible things they've been saying, they'd stand up to protect American citizens from these abusive practices the Patriot Act is responsible for, right?
That's right. Only 2 Democratic senators - Russ Feingold, who is pretty much against everything anyway, and Robert Byrd, the former Klansman. When it came to stand up and be counted, the Democrats sat down and whimpered instead.
Why? Because they know they've been lying all along. They know that the provisions of the Patriot Act - for the most part - only give the government the same rights to go after terrorists that it has to go after every other type of criminal. All their lies about civil rights being trampled have been just that: lies. Lies to fire up their base. Lies to make people hate Republicans. Lies to make people distrust the president. Lies. Lies. Lies. And the vote proves it.
A few Democratic senators, aware of the hypocrisy of their position, have justified their votes saying that "important provisions" were changed that made it more palatable. That's a bunch of hooey: superficial changes were made to certain parts of the act, but it is essentially the same piece of legislation they've been decrying. It's just a poor attempt to hide from the hypocrisy of their dirty and deceitful tactics.
The next time anyone tries to use the propaganda line that the administration is using the Patriot Act to trample civil rights in this country, just tell them:
"96-3 says you're a liar"
and walk away...
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Admitting the Truth About WMD
The First Step – My Statement Of Admission
I'm with Lorie over at PoliPundit. I too still believe that Saddam Hussein had WMD. I have believed for a long time that the convoys spotting going across the border to Syria before we invaded were carrying those munitions and that we were remiss in not pursuing those convoys.
I don't know what to make of the latest rumors circulating about secret tapes from Saddam. I have no idea what's on them, and quite frankly it won't matter a whit to the political debate here. To Bush's detractors, they'll just claim that the tapes are fabrications because to admit they've been wrong all along would require too much courage and honesty: courage and honesty that I just don't feel that they possess. To those of us who still support the effort, I don't need the tapes to know that Saddam was a dangerous man who's ambitions would have left us vulnerable sooner rather than later.
I do hope that the tapes contain evidence that the WMD were shipped to Syria. It would be a good reason to start a crackdown on Syria that should have begun long ago. Along with Iran, they are the biggest instigators of trouble in the Middle East. Removing Saddam Hussein was a good start to ending the instability that has plagued that region: removing the Syrian government is a good next step (unless, of course, you prefer to start with the Iranians).
Katrina Report Ignores the Facts
Glenn points to an analysis of the House report on preparedness for Hurricane Katrina and finds that it ignores pretty much every single fact in order to reach what were evidently the conclusions they had already decided upon.
I remember the run-up to the hurricane, and there were no warnings from anyone that it would wreak the sort of devastation on New Orleans that it did. It's a good thing too, because they all would have been wrong: the hurricane did only superficial damage to the city. It was the breaking of the long-neglected levees that did all the damage.
You can argue till you're blue in the face that the federal government didn't do enough, but if your argument doesn't start with the words: "The city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana were primarily to blame for everything that happened there as a result of Katrina" then you don't know what you're talking about.
I've pointed out elsewhere on multiple occasions that the levees which failed were under the direct control of the city and state: there was no federal jurisdiction over them. The source of the problem is there: not the response. That's like trying to blame the cowboy for not rounding up the herd fast enough after you refused to fix the fence they escaped through - even though everybody who passed by told you there was a huge hole in it and that it was just a matter of time before the herd got loose.
For decades, they had been warned that a direct hurricane hit would overwhelm the levees - even when they were in their original condition. But instead of taking the billions of tax dollars they earned from oil and natural gas revenues as well as the tourism taxes and investing it for the safety of their citizens, they blew it on wasteful spending. Louisiana has long been known for its corrupt political culture, and when Katrina hit the chickens came home to roost. A problem they had intentionally ignored for years was suddenly real and they needed a scapegoat...so they all blamed the federal government in general - and President Bush specifically - for not rescuing them from their own stupidity fast enough.
I try to have sympathy for the people of New Orleans, but I find it difficult. The day before Katrina hit, no one was trying to get the levees fixed. They continually voted in politicians they knew were doing nothing about the threat, and then when their own decisions left them under water they decided to blame everyone but themselves. Great evil is done by the negligence of good men. And even if they were good men before the hurricane hit, their actions afterward have left me mostly devoid of sympathy for their plight: they have behaved as cowards and fools trying to avoid any admission that they did anything wrong while smearing the good name of everyone who tried to help them.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Americans Stay Happy
A Study Finds Americans Unrelentingly Cheerful
A survey from the Pew Research Center came out yesterday on how Americans are feeling: for the most part, we're a pretty happy bunch.
Taking all the data together, we can put together a profile of the person who is most likely to be happiest: white, married, an annual income of $150,000 or more, Republican, churchgoing evangelical Protestant, living in the Sunbelt, over the age of 65.
Who would be the unhappiest? African-American, unmarried, low income, Democrat, living in the Northeast, agnostics between 18 and 29.
There are a few things here that bear mentioning:
1) Money matters. It may not be able to buy happiness, but having it sure can prevent a lot of unhappiness. If you want to increase your income, you need education and a willingness to take an entrepreneurial risk. If you're not willing to get educated and take a chance by competing in the private sector, then you've made a choice that you're not interested in money and you need to accept that your choice has placed certain limitations on your income potential. If you want to make more money, you know what you have to do: sitting there and complaining about things isn't getting you any sympathy and isn't changing a thing.
2) Climate matters. It's hard to be happy when every day is overcast and cold. On the flip side, you've got to really work at it to wake up angry when every day is sunny and warm.
3) Relationships matter. Can you be happy single? Sure, but life just isn't the same without someone special to share it with. That means the good and the bad times. Bad times aren't as bad when there's someone there to go through it with you.
4) Personal responsibility matters. Those whose outlook involves a sense of entitlement: that the world or the government owes them something or that someone else is responsible for taking care of things tend to be unhappy because they will never "get what they deserve" or "what is right." It's a road to perpetual unhappiness. Until you understand that you and you alone are responsible for pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and that you are responsible for what happens in your life, you will be doomed to a cycle of depression and failure.
5) Having faith matters. Whether your faith is Christian or otherwise, having faith can help you ride out the inevitable rough patches of life - whether it's a 'divine plan' or 'karma' or whatever you choose to call it. Those who believe in nothing get nothing in return.
6) Experience matters. Experience and wisdom bring perspective. When you're young, every crisis is the end of the world. When you've been around the block a few times, it's just another day on the job. With age comes the ability to take a step back and evaluate a situation with more than just emotion and hormones. To quote again: "If you're not a liberal when you're twenty you have no heart. If you're not a conservative at thirty you have no brain." And while many aging hippies will violently disagree with that truism, it's because they still allow their emotions to hold sway over objective reason.
I don't know if any of this applies to you: maybe you're already in that lucky group of folks who's found perpetual happiness. If not, maybe reviewing some of the points above and making some changes in yourself is a good place to start on the road to getting there.
Bode an Olympic Disappointment
Bode DQ'd in combined, loses shot at medal
Bode Miller was disqualified for straddling (having one ski on either side of) a slalom gate in the Olympic Alpine Skiing Downhill. Now I'm not a huge skiing fan, but this actually bothers me because I watched the interview he gave before the Olympics started and the guy just doesn't care.
Ordinarily when a professional athlete has a bad attitude, it doesn't bother me. But when your country selects you to represent it at the Olympics, you owe the country your best efforts - not some lackadaisical "who cares" attitude about the event. If he wasn't going to give it his best shot, he should have had the decency to step aside so that someone who actually did care could have his shot.
I don't care if that other person doesn't have his natural talent. I'd rather see my countrymen give it a 110% and fail than give it 50% and laugh it off...
Monday, February 13, 2006
Gore Lied, People Died...
Ankle Biting Pundits is starting a new series as a public service for all those stricken by memory loss...especially Democrats who claim that they were deceived or misled by President Bush running up to the Iraq War now that it's not as politically popular to be for it.
The first installment features Al Gore, who as we all know was Vice President, and therefore had access to all the intelligence data up until he left office in 2001. He didn't get info from the Bush administration, he got it firsthand. So if Bush was lying, then he would be the person to know for sure what the intelligence *REALLY* said, right?
Stay tuned for future installments by pretty much every national level Democrat who all made similar statements but now want to play politics with the war...
Does he have the right to break up with her?
Female convict wins right to nicer presents
What's a woman to do if she's "dating" a man and he doesn't give you nice enough presents, the natural response is to...sue him, of course! That is the surefire way to win the heart of a man when you're behind bars...
I'd like to think this couldn't happen here in the U.S. because the case would be laughed out of court, but in my heart I know it hasn't happened here only because no one has actually tried yet...
Good thing her last name wasn't 'Smith'...
Lovelorn Canadian tracks down his Sabine
It doesn't say how many letters he ended up writing, but it seems to me that he was far more interested in her than she was in him. Here's a hint, fella: if a woman doesn't make it a point to give you a way to contact her, the odds are pretty good that she wasn't nearly as thrilled with the experience as you were...
Try the pills next time...
French Advise Free Speech Surrender
¡No Pasarán!: Islamic Protestors in Paris Come Face to Face with an Unexpected Counter-Protest
Ahh...the French...What can we say about them that would not convince them to surrender to us immediately? Not much, sad to say.
So it was when Islamic protestors were marching in the streets came upon two free speech supporters and prepared to lynch them, the French police took swift action...to quickly run away. Rather than stand up to the protestors who were clearly preparing to engage in some highly illegal beatings rather than face free expression, they chose to spirit away the protestors and chastise them for having the nerve to stand up the Muslim bullies.
I'll grant that it wasn't the smartest move ever by these two, but the proper response by the French police would have been to protect their right to make their peaceable protest by defending them and arresting the entire Muslim mob if need be.
And people wonder we mock the French?
The Myth of Brokeback Mountain...and other Liberal Tall Tales
Brokeback and the Bogus Breakout Meme
So you've heard about how Brokeback Mountain is sweeping the nation? Even in the Red State heartland? Just like Fahrenheit 9/11 did, right? Before you get carried away, take a read of Mickey Kaus' latest offerings and get a heady dose of reality.
The truth about most liberals (most specifically the readers of such frothing-at-the-mouth sites such as Daily KOS and DemocraticUnderground) is they believe that since everyone they know shares their beliefs, it is a nationwide trend that will sweep their side to victory tomorrow. To them, it's not a measure of the insularity of their lives and the lengths to which they have innoculated themselves against anyone and anything capable of challenging their world view: it's the way *EVERYONE* thinks. It's not that they're too narrow-minded to see the possibility of any alternative outcomes: it's that *EVERYONE* thinks that way too.
So liberals find themselves repeatedly crushed emotionally after each defeat. You can read the anguish in the blogs: people breaking down in tears, throwing their computers, and cursing their very existences after each and every loss. Why? Because they never saw it coming. To them it was inconceivable that they could lose. Hence, their capacity for new and inventive conspiracy theories since *EVERYONE* they knew was for their side, only a sinister cabal of evildoers could have sabotaged their success. It never occurs to them that there exists a wide world who doesn't agree with them or allow for the possibility that they might be wrong in their singular perspective. So the cycle repeats...and repeats...and repeats...
This is the very cycle of liberal self-destruction that Kaus is writing about today. It's a strong reminder to avoid the cocooning so obvious in the internet's liberal community: get out in the world and challenge your opinions on a subject by engaging in debate. The best way to sharpen an argument is to have one with someone who disagrees with you....
No Sympathy for Smugglers
No mercy as Bali pair learns grim fate
A couple of Australians are learning the hard way that going to foreign countries and breaking their laws is no laughing matter. After getting caught trying to smuggle heroin, the first two of the so-called 'Bali Nine' will be sentenced to either life (and they mean until you're dead, life) or death by firing squad.
A lot of folks are upset that Australians are facing death by the Bali courts, but - as the old saying goes: "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." Each of these people knew the risks of what they were doing but figured they were above the law because they were Australian so they went for the quick cash. It's not against Australians per se, but it's an important warning to all foreigners outside their own borders: you will be subjected to the laws of that country.
The article focuses a lot of attention on the whining of one of the defendants that she didn't get a break for cooperating with authorities, to which we say too bad. I don't feel bad for people who think they can come into other countries, violate their laws, and then expect special treatment because they're not citizens. It's like the child who kills his parents then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan.
Tough luck, Bali Nine...Hope your example serves as a warning to everyone travelling abroad anywhere: if you're a guest in someone else's home, there's a stiff price to pay for violating that hospitality...
Sunday, February 12, 2006
An Alien View of Global Warming
Global Warming With Pancho the Alien
Sticks and Stones has a special guest for the day, Pancho the Alien, and together they review an article from the 'The Globe and Mail' on the subject.
It's a fun read no matter where you stand on the issue, but a deeper read shows that even the smallest bit of analysis - even when it's done with a smile on your face - causes the "proof" of global warming to fall apart.
I go back to the 1980's when "many scientists" (probably the very same ones) were absolutely certain - using the very same historical data - that we were pushing the planet into an impending Ice Age that would wipe out all life as we know it. So they used to think it was an Ice Age and now we're cooking the planet: seems to me that the median position between the two is that we can pretty much expect not much to change one way or the other. When all else fails, try common sense...