ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, October 27, 2006

Webb's Weird Willie Writings

Play guess the author at Drudge. Mark Foley?

Nope, Jim Webb.

So, it turns out that Jim Webb has some "inappropriate writings" of his own. And I seem to recall huge outrage over some creepy passages in a Scooter Libby novel... It's unfortunate that the Dems started this game - but, all is far in Love, War, and Politics. This is the new political battlefield that the Democrats have brought us. That and aggressively outing gays (see here, here, and here).

Now, on with the Webb story:

WEBB’S WEIRD WORLD

The Author’s Disturbing Writings Show a Continued Pattern of Demeaning Women

· Some of Webb’s writings are very disturbing for a candidate hoping to represent the families of Virginians in the U.S. Senate.

· Many excellent books about the United States military and wartime service accomplish their purposes, and even win awards, without systematically demeaning women, and without dehumanizing women, men and even children.

· Webb’s novels disturbingly and consistently – indeed, almost uniformly – portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these. In novel after novel, Webb assigns his female characters base, negative characteristics. In thousands of pages of fiction penned by Webb, there are few if any strong, admirable women or positive female role models.

Why does Jim Webb refuse to portray women in a respectful, positive light, whether in his non-fiction concerning their role in the military, or in his provocative novels? How can women trust him to represent their views in the Senate when chauvinistic attitudes and sexually exploitive references run throughout his fiction and non-fiction writings?

· Most Virginians and Americans would find passages such as those below shocking, especially coming from the pen of someone who seeks the privilege of serving in the United States Senate, one of the highest offices in the land:
Excerpts available at this link - caution rather graphic.

And when Sen Chris Dodd's response to this kerfluffle is that everyone's stupid for thinking that "[...] these races are about the candidates on the ballot..."

Ummmmm, has there ever been a more idiotic and delusional statement?

BTW, no interest in this bombshell by the Moonbat blogosphere. But I'll call what the spin will be from the left: "George Allen is for censorship!!"

Remember, you heard it here first.

*** UPDATE ***
Here is Glenn Reynolds' take and have to say that we here in the Conspiracy agree with him:
DIRTY PASSAGES IN JIM WEBB'S NOVELS: Not that big a deal to me -- they're novels -- but I suppose the Foley business has given this sort of thing more resonance than it would otherwise have. That sort of blowback doesn't seem all that unfair, though it's just another indicator of how lame the Webb/Allen race has been ever since Macacagate.

*** UPDATE 2 - St Wendeler ***
James Webb went on the air and discussed this issue. Here's what he said about one of the passages:
Among the excerpts is a scene from the 2002 novel "Lost Soldiers," in which a man embraces his four-year-old son and places the boy's penis in his mouth.

Webb said the release of the excerpts was "a Karl Rove campaign tactic" and a "classic example of the way this campaign has worked. It's smear after smear."

He defended his fiction as "illuminative."

"It's not a sexual act," Webb told Plotkin regarding the "Lost Soldiers" excerpt. "I actually saw this happen in a slum in Bangkok when I was there as a journalist."

"The duty of a writer is to illuminate his surroundings," he added.

Coincidentally, a Cambodian woman in Las Vegas is facing sexual assault charges for performing a similar act on her young son, according to an Oct. 14 report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The article quotes an office manager for the Cambodian Association of America, who described the act as a sign of respect or love.

"It's an exception," Thira Srey told the Review-Journal of the practice. According to the report, the act is usually performed by a mother or caretaker on a child who is one year old or younger. In Webb's novel, the child is four years old.

So... instead of the spin being that Allen is for censorship, Webb's spin is that Allen is culturally insensitive. (You were so close, Brian.)

All I have to say is that the way that this will be viewed by a majority of Virginia voters (ie, "Boy's Penis in Father's Mouth 'Not a Sexual Act,' Webb Tells Radio Host... ") won't help Webb's cause.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Dems Are Not Unpatriotic

Unless you define unpatriotic as trying to sabotage US foreign policy for domestic political gain*...

Kennedy assessed the situation and said “The problem here is the American president [Reagan].”

Earlier this week I interviewed Paul Kengor, author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. The book is a fascinating and detailed study of President Reagan’s strategy to defeat the USSR and wreck international Communism.

Among its most sensational aspects is a section detailing the domestic opposition to Reagan’s campaign for re-election in 1984 and his decision to deploy intermediate-range nuclear forces (INFs), Pershing II missiles, into Western Europe to counter the Soviet deployment of nuclear weapons across the Warsaw Pact. Specifically, Kengor includes what is purported to be a translated memo from the KGB archives, dated May 14, 1983, that describes an offer made to the KGB on behalf of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) by former Senator John Tunney (D-CA), a fellow Democrat and close friend of Kennedy’s.

According to the document, Sen. Kennedy offered to help the Soviet leadership mount a media public relations campaign in the United States that would do two things. First, it would convince the American people that the Soviets intended peaceful co-existence with us. Second, it would undermine President Reagan’s efforts to deploy the Pershing IIs and build the Strategic Defense Initiative as well as undermining his national security stances and strategy on a broad basis, which in turn would dent Reagan’s campaign to be re-elected in 1984. In short, Sen. Kennedy was offering to work with USSR General Secretary Yuri Andropov against the President of the United States.

* - Please note that there is no correlation between Kennedy's willingness to assist our mortal enemies during the Cold War and the apparent willingness of the Democratic Party today to respond favorably to the Al-Qaeda media strategy in the War On Terror.

There's just no similarity whatsoever... seriously... I'm being super-cereal here.

Visit HotAir for the interview with Kengor who uncovered Kennedy's treason while researching his book.

Oh, and I think this will allow me to laugh and ridicule any Moonbat who even attempts to assert that the Dems were really on board in defeating the Soviets during the Cold War.

GatewayPundit takes a more holistic and historical view of the Democratic Party and their anti-Americanism.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Why Protectionism Is Idiotic

Now, given our global economy, I don't think it matters which party is in power in Congress or in the White House. While the GOP is much more in favor of free trade, even the Dems recognize that there's no going back to a 19th century economy. While they may not move as quickly on free trade, they are not stupid enough to turn back the clock - although they could surprise me...

First, a tip of the hat to Cafe Hayek, who links to this article by Walter Williams in the Washington Times regarding Free Trade:

Trade Charade
By Walter E. Williams
Published October 26, 2006

There are only a handful of products that Americans import that cannot be produced at home and therefore create jobs for Americans. Let's look at a few.

We import cocoa from Ghana and coffee from Africa and Latin America. We import saffron from Spain and India and cinnamon from Sri Lanka. In fact, India produces 86 percent of the world tonnage of spices. There's absolutely no reason these products cannot be produced by Americans, and we could be independent as to cocoa, coffee and spices.

You say, "Williams, that's crazy. We don't have the climate and soil conditions to produce those products. Many spices, for example, require a moist tropical environment." No problem. We have the technology that can simulate both the soil and weather conditions. We could build greenhouses in which to grow cinnamon trees and get our scientists to create the same soil conditions of Sri Lanka.

Greenhouses could also be built to simulate the climate conditions in Africa and Latin America to grow cocoa and coffee. In the case of cocoa, the greenhouses would have to be Superdome size to accommodate trees as high as 50 feet.

You say, "Williams, that's still crazy. Imagine the high costs and the higher product prices of your crazy scheme." I say, "Aha, you're getting the picture."

There are several nearly self-evident factors about our being cocoa, coffee and spices independent. Without a doubt, jobs would be created in our cocoa, coffee and spices industries, but consumers would pay much more than now. Therefore, nearly 300 million American consumers would be worse off, paying those higher prices or doing without, but those with the new jobs would be better off.

So let's be honest with ourselves. Why do we choose to import cocoa, coffee and spices rather than produce them ourselves? It is cheaper to do so. That means we enjoy a higher standard of living than if we tried to produce them ourselves.

If we can enjoy, say, coffee, at a cheaper price than producing it ourselves, we have more money left over to buy other goods. That not only applies to cocoa, coffee and spices. It's a general principle: If a good can be purchased more cheaply abroad, we enjoy a higher standard of living by trading than by producing it ourselves.

No one denies that international trade has unpleasant consequences for some workers. They have to find other jobs that might not pay as much, but should we protect those jobs through trade restrictions?

The Washington-based Institute for International Economics has assembled data that might help with the answer. Tariffs and quotas on imported sugar saved 2,261 jobs during the 1990s. As a result of those restrictions, the average household pays $21 more per year for sugar. The total cost, nationally, sums to $826,000 for each job saved. Trade restrictions on luggage saved 226 jobs and cost consumers $1.2 million in higher prices for each job saved. Restrictions on apparel and textiles saved 168,786 jobs at a cost of nearly $200,000 for each job saved.

You might wonder how it is possible for, say, the sugar industry to rip off consumers. After all, there are far more consumers than sugar workers and bosses.

It's easy. A lot is at stake for those in the sugar industry, workers and bosses. They dedicate huge resources to pressure Congress into enacting trade restrictions. But how many of us consumers will devote the same resources to unseat a congressman who voted for sugar restrictions that forced us to pay $21 more for the sugar our family uses? It's the problem of visible beneficiaries of trade restrictions, sugar workers and sugar bosses, gaining at the expense of invisible victims -- sugar consumers. We might think of it as congressional price-gouging.

Lou Dobbs & Co would argue that it would be better to keep the sugar farmers employed in a dead-end industry and impose higher costs on the average American rather than just allowing the free market to work as it should. I'll propose a compromise for each industry:
  1. Sugar - Eliminate protectionism regarding sugar and give each sugar worker a one-time $413,000 payment for them to either quit their job or to invest in better technology for them to be more competitive against foreign competitors.
  2. Luggage - Give each luggage worker a $5,000 bonus and tell them to either become competitive or find a new job
  3. Textiles - Give each textile worker a one-time $100,000 payment and have them find a new job or help their company to become more competitive

Consider this hypothetical which demonstrates how idiotic Lou Dobbs and the Protectionists are: if you had the ability to apply a new technology that would improve the efficiency of a textile plant - and reduce costs to the consumers, increase your share of the market for apparel, and improve the profit margins for your company (allowing for additional investment in new technology) - is it a positive or negative thing for you to apply this technology in your plant if it results in the elimination the need for 50% of your workers?

Or, to put it more simply - is it better to have an autombile or a horse-drawn wagon - even though buggy whip manufacturers, horseshoe blacksmiths, and teamsters are no longer required in the economy?

Even Lou Dobbs has to recognize that the benefits of competition and creative destruction far outweigh the benefits of keeping the economy static. (I pick on Lou Dobbs because he was recently on the radio here in St Louis and made a complete ass of himself.)

Simple mathematics proves that free trade (as demonstrated by Ricardo) benefits both parties - even when one party has a comparative advantage in relation to the other country in all industries. That this topic is something that has to be revisited and explained on an on-going basis demonstrates that our education system as it regards simple economics is completely and totally failing.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

NJ Supreme Court - Part of Another Rovian Conspiracy

All of the talk back in 2004 was that the GOP & Bush were buoyed by the Rovian Conspiracy to put same-sex marriage ballot initiatives in competitive states.

Well, with the tight race in New Jersey between corruptocrat Menendez and Tom Kean, Jr, the NJ Supreme Court has fallen under a Rovian spell and delivered what could be a decision which solidifies Kean's base:

NJ Court Stops Short of Gay Marriage OK
By GEOFF MULVIHILL

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey's Supreme Court opened the door to gay marriage Wednesday, ruling that homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but leaving it to lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions.

The high court gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include same-sex couples or create a new system of civil unions for them.

The ruling is similar to the 1999 decision in Vermont that led to civil unions there, which offer the benefits of marriage, but not the name.

"Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution," Justice Barry T. Albin wrote for the 4-3 majority's decision.
[...]

And, while this poll seems to suggest overwhelming support for same-sex marriage in New Jersey, I often question the validity of polling regarding such a topic that has such a stigma associated with it:
N.J. Backs Gay Unions, Poll Says
Associated Press, June 24, 2006

A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll shows a majority of New Jersey residents support same-sex marriage and nearly two-thirds support civil unions for same-sex couples.

Nearly two-thirds of New Jersey residents support allowing civil unions for same-sex couples, while half think gay marriage should be legal in the state, according to a poll released Friday.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds the state far more supportive of gay unions than the nation as a whole—and more than New Jersey was in a poll three years ago.

The latest poll comes as the state Supreme Court considers a case in which seven gay couples sued for the right to marry. Many legal scholars and political insiders expect the court will find that same-sex couples do have a constitutional right to marry in the state.

If that happens, opponents of gay marriage vow a quick push to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they opposed such an amendment, while 40 percent supported it, though question did not specify whether the state or federal constitution would be amended.

The poll found that although respondents clearly supported expanding rights for gay couples, they were not decisive about whether marriage was the answer.

Half of the respondents were asked about same-sex marriage first; the other half were asked first about civil unions.

Those asked first about same-sex marriage supported it by a 53 to 40 margin, but those asked about civil unions first were split, with 48 percent in favor of allowing gay marriage and 47 percent opposing.

Regardless of the question order, about 65 percent of respondents supported civil unions, and 30 percent opposed them.

It's confusing that when asked first about Same Sex Marriage, the respondents supported it by 13 points. When asked about a less controversial civil union proposal, the support drops to only 1 percent.

I'm not sure that I would characterize this poll as being anything close to conclusive....

Based on this bit of news, Ace has called the race for Kean.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wild-Eyed Olbermann At Stupid Country

Stupid Country (blogger from the north east who's a rabid lefty, but is often willing to engage us in a civil debate) posts on one of Keith Olbermann's rants:

Beginning of the End? Could Easily Be

Keith Olbermann, MSNBCIt's been a very long time since I blogged, but I wanted to be one more point of light... ahem, I mean point of reference for Keith Olbermann's comment on the Military Commissions Act. I couldn't have put it better, certainly.

Stuff like this matters and needs to be heard.

All I actually have to add is a caution that all of these measures are presented as targeting "terrorists" -- incarcerating terrorists, interrogating terrorists, refusing to coddle terrorists and the like. None of these characterizations has the slightest truth to it.
"This President now has his blank check.

"He lied to get it.

"He lied as he received it.

"Is there any reason to even hope he has not lied about how he intends to use it nor who he intends to use it against?"

These measures all target individuals the Bush Administration accuses of being terrorists -- this being an administration with a history of imprisoning individuals without charge or justification for months or years because they see, rat out and photograph inconvenient realities, documenting America's abandonment of and disdain for moral authority in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. AP photographers, for example.

I think this is an extremely important distinction.

Now, if the Left really want us to take them seriously, they have to be honest about the Bush Administration. If the Bush Administration really had a "blank check" and really was as nefarious as the Left thinks them to be, why hasn't Keith Olbermann found himself in some 8x8 cell in Gitmo, enjoying the Duck La Orange with rice pilaf?

No, they have to invent violations of civil rights, such as the detainment of a photographer Bilal Hussein who has clear links to terrorists and was using his position with the AP to spread propaganda about the insurgents in Iraq.

I mean, if they want to find a victim of the Bush Administration, why is it that they can only find people to support who are actually enemies of the US?

No, in the real world the Bush administration isn't locking up the enemies of the right-wing Neocon Theocracy.... no, Bush is locking up terrorists and providing them with more civil rights than any enemy of the US has enjoyed in our history. (I don't seem to recall that the VC were shipped off to Gitmo for a military hearing.... same for the NoKos, the Nazis, the Japs, the Italians, etc.)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, October 23, 2006

Universal Right to Healthcare

Don Boudreaux (econ professor and blogger over at Cafe Hayek) has this great article in the Christian Science Monitor:

The way to better, cheaper healthcare: Don't make it a human right
By Donald J. Boudreaux
FAIRFAX, VA.

Everyone complains about the rising cost of healthcare. And now is the season when politicians and pundits propose solutions. Unfortunately, too many of these proposals spring from the wrongheaded notion that healthcare is, as a recent New York Times letter-writer asserted, "a human right and a universal entitlement."

Sounds noble. But not everything that is highly desirable is a right. Most rights simply oblige us to respect one another's freedoms; they do not oblige us to pay for others to exercise these freedoms. Respecting rights such as freedom of speech and of worship does not impose huge demands upon taxpayers.

Healthcare, although highly desirable, differs fundamentally from these rights. Because providing healthcare takes scarce resources, offering it free at the point of delivery would raise its cost and reduce its availability.

To see why, imagine if government tried to supply food as a universally available "right."

To satisfy this right, government would raise taxes to meet all anticipated food needs. Store shelves across the land would then be stocked. Citizens would have the right to enter these storehouses to get "free" food.

Does anyone believe that such a system would effectively supply food? It's clear that with free access to food, too many people would take too much food, leaving many others with no food at all. Government would soon realize that food storehouses are emptying faster than expected. In response, it might hike taxes even higher to produce more food - raising the price that society pays for nutrition.

Stocking stores with more food, though, won't solve the problem. With food free at the point of delivery, consumers would take all that they can carry. People would quickly learn that if they don't grab as much food as possible today, the store might run out of the foods that their families need tomorrow. This creates a vicious cycle of moral hazard that unwittingly pits neighbor against neighbor.

Eventually, to avoid spending impossibly large chunks of society's resources producing food, government would start restricting access to it. Bureaucrats would enforce rations, such as "two gallons of milk per family per week." There might be exceptions for those with special needs, but most of us would be allowed to take only those foods that officials decide we need.

Food would be a universal entitlement in name only. In practice, it would be strictly limited by government rules.

Of course, by keeping what food it does supply "free," government might ensure that at least basic foodstuffs are available to everyone as a right. And maybe this is the sort of outcome that universal healthcare advocates have in mind: Only essential care is a right to be enjoyed by everyone free of charge.

The problem is that notions of "essential care" are vague. Is medical care essential if doctors say it might improve by 50 percent an 80-year-old's chances of living an additional year? What about care that improves by 10 percent a 25-year-old's chances of living an additional 50 years? Such questions are wickedly difficult to answer.

Despite these difficulties, many Americans demand that government do more to guarantee access to healthcare. Although their concern is understandable, those who make such demands forget that government intervention itself is a major cause of today's high and rising healthcare costs. Indeed, this intervention has created a situation akin to what would happen if government supplied our food for "free."
[...]

Read the whole thing...

I link to it because while I've been traveling over the past few weeks, one of my co-workers from Montreal told me a story which echoes these sentiments. Her daughter (5) came down with a cold/flu on a Friday afternoon and her temperature reached 105 degrees. If it were my daughter or son, I would be in the car and on to the hospital. Well, not for this citizen subject of the universal healthcare system in Canada... no, she thought about taking her daughter to the emergency room and having her wait 10-15 hours to see a doctor - or perhaps days - and instead kept her home in bed and tried to regulate her temparature as best she could.

Keep that in mind when you hear the "Progressives" talk about the need to fulfill everyone's right to healthcare. Are the delays and needless waste & incompetence of the Canadian system progressive? Not in my book...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

It's the Economy, Stupid

Not sure why that was ever considered to be a genius political statement during the Clinton years, but it was.

George Will had an excellent article in the WaPo on Thursday on the economy under Bush and how the Dems are continually performing a Jedi Mind Trick on the MSM and their base: "The Economy really isn't growing. There's no need to feel happy about 4% unemployment rate... You will vote for a Democrat..."

Prosperity Amid the Gloom
By George F. Will

Recently Bill Clinton, at the British Labor Party's annual conference, delivered what the Times of London described as a "relaxed, almost rambling" and "easy anecdotal" speech to an enthralled audience of leftists eager for evidence of American disappointments. Never a connoisseur of understatement, Clinton said America is "now outsourcing college-education jobs to India."

But Clinton-as-Cassandra should not persuade college students to abandon their quest for diplomas: The unemployment rate among college graduates is 2 percent .

Clinton is always a leading indicator of "progressive" fashions in rhetoric. And every election year -- meaning every other year -- brings an epidemic of dubious economic analysis, as members of the party out of power discern lead linings on silver clouds.

"Worst economy since Herbert Hoover," John Kerry said in 2004, while that year's growth (3.9 percent) was adding to America's gross domestic product the equivalent of the GDP of Taiwan (the 19th-largest economy). Nancy Pelosi vows that if Democrats capture Congress they will "jump-start our economy." A "jump-start " is administered to a stalled vehicle. But since the Bush tax cuts went into effect in 2003, the economy's growth rate (3.5 percent) has been better than the average for the 1980s (3.1) and 1990s (3.3). Today's unemployment rate (4.6 percent) is lower than the average for the 1990s (5.8) -- lower, in fact, than the average for the past 40 years (6.0). Some stall.

Economic hypochondria, a derangement associated with affluence, is a byproduct of the welfare state: An entitlement mentality gives Americans a low pain threshold -- witness their recurring hysteria about nominal rather than real gasoline prices -- and a sense of being entitled to economic dynamism without the frictions and "creative destruction" that must accompany dynamism. Economic hypochondria is also bred by news media that consider the phrase "good news" an oxymoron, even as the U.S. economy, which has performed better than any other major industrial economy since 2001, drives the Dow to record highs.

The Jack No. 2 well, in deep water 170 miles southwest of New Orleans, recently discovered a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil -- a 50 percent increase in proven U.S. reserves. This news triggered a gusher of journalistic gloom: More oil means more woe -- a reprieve for that enemy of humanity, the internal combustion engine, and more global warming, more air pollution, more highway fatalities, more suburban sprawl.

The recent 20 percent decline of the cost of a barrel of oil, from a nominal record of $78.40 (which, adjusting for inflation, was well below the 1980 peak of $92 in 2006 dollars), has produced an 81-cent decline in the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in 70 days. For consumers, that is akin to a tax cut of more than $81 billion.

President Bush's tax cuts were supposed to cause a cataract of red ink. In fiscal 2006, however, federal revenue as a share of GDP was 18.4 percent, slightly above the post-1962 average of 18.2. And the federal budget deficit was $247.7 billion, just 1.9 percent of the $13.1 trillion GDP. That is below the average for the 1970s (2.1), 1980s (3.0) and 1990s (2.2).

It is said that employee compensation has been stagnant. But to tickle that bad news from the statistics you must treat "compensation" as a synonym for wages and then ignore the effect of taxation on individuals' well-being.

Kevin Hassett and Aparna Mathur of the American Enterprise Institute, writing in National Review, say annual wage growth since 2000 has been 0.6 percent, but the annual increase in real hourly compensation, including benefits -- and if you do not include them, why are they called benefits ? -- has been 1.3 percent. And taxes -- particularly those paid by middle-class families with children -- have declined substantially.

Furthermore, as Hassett and Mathur write, consumers, by modifying their behavior, protect or enhance their well-being in ways not captured in economic statistics. For example, an American who, prompted by higher energy prices, traded in a Hummer for a Prius has served his or her standard of living. "If I ate 80 apples last year, and the price of apples increased this year to a million dollars, my welfare would not go way down; I would just switch to oranges," the authors write.

Finally, today's widening income disparities will be partly self-correcting. Granted, income statistics show the increasing disadvantages of persons with education deficits. But that is the market saying -- shouting, really -- "Stay in school!" Over time the voice of the market is rational, credible and therefore a potent instrument for changing behavior.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler