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

Saturday, April 21, 2007

We Need More Guideposts

Wretchard @ The Belmont Club has this excellent post regarding the inhumanity which we are witnessing in Iraq and the domestic terror that is Virginia Tech & Houston.

He comments with the following
[some edits by me]:

What makes men kill each other over tomatoes and cucumbers? What makes people kill each other at all? In the last few hours a gunman at the Houston space center took fellow employees hostage, then killed one before killing himself. Over the past few days the US has experienced an epidemic of threats on schools by Cho wannabees, each swearing to break some kind of sick record for psychosis. The spike in these incidents is interesting because they resemble the outcome of a controlled experiment. The numbers of guns out there has not varied much in the last week, but the media coverage of such deranged acts has. The one factor has been held constant while the other has been varied. And the results are strongly suggestive of what my childhood confessors used to emphasize: that bad thoughts have consequences.

As a child I was taught one could "sin through thought, word and deed". Somewhere in the intervening years society seems to have forgotten about the "sins" of thought and word largely because it refused to believe in taboos. There were, the school chaplains used to say, dark doors beyond which it was dangerous for the mind to go. There were thoughts you could not think -- unless you were strong enough to wrestle with what you would find beyond the portal.

Pedophilia, bestiality, extreme cruelty, monstrous behavior -- these are no longer ideas which we dare not entertain or cast out of our minds should they fleet through our consciousness out of the fear of "sin". No. Pedophilia has itself become a cause for enlightened people. The North American Man-Boy Love Association argues children must have sex with adults "before eight or it's too late". Instead we have cast out the idea of sin itself and made the conception of sin as sin our only societal taboo.

But maybe we can "sin through thought and word" after all. Perhaps the school chaplains were right; or at least correct in giving warning about what lay beyond the portal or the "Confirm before you click" warnings on websites. Personally I have gone back to confessing to evil thoughts during Lent; they are sins once again; I am wary anew of the dangers of standing before demons. There may be some beyond my strength.

Malevolence lives in the mind much more than it does in [inanimate] things. Recently the quarter-century crime statistics of two towns, one in Georgia and the other in Illinois were compared. One had forbidden the ownership of guns and the other had made their possession mandatory. The results as you may or may not have guessed, are that crimes in Guntown had dropped while crimes, especially violent crimes in the Gunfree-zone had soared. Like the Virginia Tech incident, people will debate the meaning of these statistics. But like the Virginia Tech case it ought to raise the question of whether, in regulating things, we are regulating the wrong object.

It may just be possible that [blood lust], the exhortation to cruelty, the legitimization of barbarous violence eventually corrodes and then corrupts completely. The Middle East Times tells us that the Christian evangelists who were recently killed by suspected Islamists in Turkey were savagely tortured. [Not only with] knives, but with the idea to drive it.
What made these men torture those evangelists? It was more than the knives in their hands. If one didn't know better, it would be possible to imagine the conflict among terrorists in Anbar as a scene from the squabbling imps of hell. In the end, nothing protects us so much as our sensibilities. A healthy culture instills in its members guideposts, as orderly societies put up highway signs, not in order to block the roads, but to guide us in our freedom.

On commenter then chimes in with this news - that a 12 year old jihadist in Afghanistan recently used a knife to behead a suspected sympathizer of America.

We could use more guideposts throughout the world...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

21st Century Coppeheads

MontereyJohn - This item in Friday's Best of the Web from Opinion Journal made me think of your numerous posts (like this one) on the Copperheads:

Latter-Day Copperhead
"I believe . . . that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week."--Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, April 19, 2007

"Resolved, that this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretence of military necessity, or war power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate convention of the States or other peaceable means, to the end that at the earliest practicable moment peace may be restored on the basis of the federal Union of the States."--1864 Democratic platform
Hope you enjoyed the fact that Taranto shares your thoughts!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, April 20, 2007

Unfastened Coins

Speaking Truth To PowerTM, this documentarian uncovers the truth behind the sinking of the Titanic.

All I have to ask is, what did George W. Bush know and when did he know it?

Frankly, I'm surprised that this guy has the courage to post this on the interweb, given that the government can track the address where it was submitted from and the black helicopters will take out his house shortly.

u have 2 c!!!!

Spoof of Loose Change

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Econ Podcast: Self-Sufficiency is the Road to Poverty

One of the great things about the blogosphere, podcasts, and the internet in general is the sharing of knowledge. For example, I'm a regular reader of Cafe Hayek a econ blog which is co-authored by two econ professors from George Mason University. Prior to the internet, blogs, and podcasts, you'd have to pay significant tuition or wait for these professors to periodically publish a book or write in an academic journal in order to get their insight into the matters of the day.

I write this because they've recently posted this EconTalk Podcast, discussing the infatuation of some to be "Self-Sufficent" and/or "buy local" (and by extension have "No Impact") - topics which I've blogged about extensively in the past. This podcast is just under 1 hour, but it is very insightful and informative. I recommend that anyone listen to it if you get a moment. It's great for those who have some sympathy for protectionist arguments nationally, have "buy local" inclinations at the local level, and points out how trade barriers are the path to poverty. They also point out that Buy Local (and protectionism in general) is about as un-progressive as you can be.

One of the things that Boudreaux & Roberts don't mention in the podcast is the environmental impact of buying local. Imagine having to purchase your automobile from a manfucaturer located within 100 or 150 miles. Imagine that the manufacturer also operated under Buy Local guidelines and so on, and so on. Now certainly, a buy local supply chain could span the entire country, but the impact of such a pervasive mentality would be environmental destruction spread across the country - ie, materials to make steel mined within 100 miles of the steel smelters, steel smelters evenly spread 100 miles from the car manufacturers. Car manufacturers located every 150 miles, etc, etc.

A second thought that I have regarding Protectionism and its purest form, isolationism is this: If Self-Sufficiency and buying within your own political borders is the route to prosperity and protection of jobs, why is the ultimate punishment by the United Nations sanctions? And normally, UN Sanctions are only in certain product categories. I mean, if countries really did not want to rely on Others for their material goods, why wouldn't they welcome sanctions which restrict trade from outside? No longer would people and companies within that country have to compete with those low paid foreign workers and everything would be just peachy, right?

The protectionists like Lou Dobbs, Pat Buchanan, and many in the "progressive community" realize that full protectionism is the surest way to economic ruin. But, if free trade is good in certain sectors, why is it not good in all?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Harry Reid Supports Terror, Death, & Destruction

It is this kind of talk by political leaders in the US, purposefully undermining US War Strategy, which increases violence in Iraq:

Iraq war is 'lost': US Democrat leader
Apr 19 02:45 PM US/Eastern

The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday.

"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.

Reid said he had delivered the same message to US President George W. Bush on Wednesday, when the US president met with senior lawmakers to discuss how to end a standoff over an emergency war funding bill.

"I know I was the odd guy out at the White House, but I told him at least what he needed to hear ... I believe the war at this stage can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically."

Congress is seeking to tie funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a timetable to withdraw US troops from Iraq next year, but Bush has vowed to veto any such bill and no breakthrough was reported from the White House talks.
How does this encourage terrorism, death, and destruction in Iraq? Because the Iraqis, Sunni, Shia, and Kurd, will never reconcile and make political progress as long as they believe that the US is weak and its presence in Iraq can be measured in weeks or months and not years.

As long as they know that they need to prepare for the bloodbath that will surely come once the Americans leave, they will continue to amass weapons, pick off targets of convenience who could rise to oppose them, etc.

Harry Reid: Helping to spill blood of Iraqis - all so he can score some political points. Perhaps if they were some white college kids or some Mormons, Harry would have a different perspective.

Perhaps we should pull out of Virginia Tech as well.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

250 Bucks for Undercooked and Flavorless Barbeque

We truly are heading down the path to a more primitive time as the religion of Climate Change becomes more widely accepted:

Coming to a garden near you - the solar-powered barbecue
Last updated at 13:01pm on 19th April 2007

Green inventors have come up with an environmentally friendly solution to cooking alfresco - a solar-powered barbecue.

With forecasters predicting a long scorching summer for the UK, millions of us are expected to leave bigger carbon footprints by cooking over coals.

Green inventors have come up with an environmentally friendly solution to barbecuing - a solar-powered grill

But a new barbecue lets environmentally-conscious cooks enjoy grilling their food outside without feeling guilty about global warming.

The Solar-Grill catches sunlight with mirrors and beams it into its oven to cook food in a matter of minutes without smoke or flames.

To get grilling all a householder has to do is lift the lid on the shiny silver barbie, aim it at the sun and place the food inside.

You can then roast everything from steaks to vegetables and seafood without electricity, gas or coals and with no impact on the environment.

Food is cooked in the self contained barbecue oven and heated evenly from all sides.

The solar-powered grill allows environmentally-concious [sic] cooks to enjoy grilling outside without feeling guilty about carbon emissions

Its makers claim the Solar-Grill is also ideal for use in places where naked flames are forbidden or unsafe, such as balconies in flats and campsites.

CEO Rolf Schneeberger of Swiss makers Tammock Trading, said: "There's no smoke, no open fire and no pollution.

"It's a small contribution to saving the environment but we feel that with this barbecue we are doing our bit to help people be more green."

Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth, said today that it was encouraged to see manufacturers becoming more innovative in using solar power.

Renewable energy campaigner Nick Rau said: "I think we've all got to take action on climate change in everything we do.

"We have this huge solar resource with so much potential for helping protect the environment, yet so few people are realising that potential.

"This solar powered barbecue is a very good example of how inventors are successfully tapping into that potential in more innovative ways. It's a sign of the times. [Indeed.]

"It's a very welcome step towards a better future and there's no reason why, despite our reputedly bad weather, that we should not be using technology like this in the UK."

He said that barbecues which run on gas or non-sustainable sourced charcoal are the most harmful to the environment.

He added: "There are ways to make barbecuing a reasonably environmentally friendly way of cooking, such as if you use sustainable sourced charcoal.

"This solar powered barbecue is taking that one stage further by making cooking outdoors even greener to the point where there are no emissions.

"It's a promising sign because if you are a person who likes the outdoors, then you should be even more aware of your carbon footprint.

"It's surprising when you find the same kind of people investing in patio heaters which are clearly an insane way of heating up the environment."
I like the outdoors... In fact, I bet I know more about the outdoors - and living in the outdoors - than this twit. However, that does not mean that I must eschew a campfire or a piece of charcoal to cook my food and warm my campsite.
Just in case the weather clouds over or you get caught out by the typical British summer downpour, you can continue cooking with the Solar-Grill using special odourless fuel tablets.

The alcohol based fuel burns without affecting the flavour of the food.

The eco-friendly contraption also boasts telescopic legs, which allow more adventurous alfresco chefs to set up and cook on uneven terrain. It is available online priced £125.
Ahhh, odorless alcohol based fuel!!! mmmmmm.... (Wonder how that alcohol based fuel is manufactured, packaged, & distributed. Would be an interesting question.

For the measly price $250, you too can cook using the Sun - and end up with flavorless and potentially deadly food! And there's nothing better than getting diarrhea while outdoors and on an extended camping trip. Want to talk about having an environmentally ...ummmm.... unfriendly footprint?

I should mention here that the day that we take cooking advice from the Brits is sure a sure sign that the Apocalypse is nigh...

And never mind the time that you'll be wasting by waiting for the Sun to cook your food - time that you could otherwise spend doing more productive things (like, say... planting a tree, etc, etc). No, the goal of the Environtalist movement is to revert our entire society back to the most inefficient way of life possible.

I think I'll keep my Liquid Propane gas grill (it keeps Hank Hill employed) and my vertical water smoker which is powered by charcoal, Apple and Hickory chunks of wood.

I doubt that the solar doohickey featured above could slow-smoke a nice pork shoulder

Or a couple of slabs of Mephis Dry-Rubbed Ribs.... ummmmm, ribs...

Sorry, have to go fire up the grill!!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tinsel Town

Was reading this article about "The Summer of Sequels" and wasn't going to post on it... Hollywood isn't a regular feature here at the Conspiracy. Here's the gist of the article in a few paragraphs:

Hollywood preparing to unleash 'Summer of the Sequel'
Apr 17 03:48 AM US/Eastern
Hollywood is banking that good things really do come in threes as it prepares to unleash an unprecedented series of blockbuster sequels on the summer box-office.

In a rare alignment of the tinseltown stars, three of the most profitable franchises in history release their long-awaited third instalments next month: "Pirates of the Caribbean", "Spiderman" and "Shrek."

The trio of blockbuster follow-ups are part of a broader trend of summer sequels as Hollywood studios opt for tried and tested formulas on the basis that "if ain't broke, don't fix it."

"Somebody counted it and said there were 14 sequels this summer," Lew Harris, the editor of the respected website. "This is absolutely the summer of the sequels."

Yawn... Hollywood can't come up with any new ideas and it seems that Rocky 38 (a joke in Airplane 2: The Sequel) isn't so far fetched anymore.

Meanwhile, Hollywood wonders why people aren't flocking to the theaters anymore to pay $10 for a ticket and $15 for a soda & some greasy popcorn.

But, what prompted me to link to this article was the final few paragraphs:
Gitesh Pandya, an analyst with, said that while "Spiderman", "Pirates" and "Shrek" would slug it out as the biggest box-office films of the year, they would impact each other's earnings.

"May is going to be the biggest month in box-office history," he said. "You have three 800-pound gorillas stepping out at the same time.

"I don't think they're going to cannibalize each other that much. They're so important and so popular that people are going to take the time and see each of them."

Spiderman, Pirates, and Shrek are the most important movies of the Summer?


We now resume regular blogging...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

We Are All Hokies

I haven't commented on the tragedy in Blacksburg, VA primarily because this is a purely political (and conspiratorial) blog. Any post here would be insufficient in describing the grief and sense of loss that all of America is feeling right now. These were kids with bright futures who were gunned down by a sick, twisted freak.

Now is not the time for some political blog such as this (which pokes fun of the conspirazoid Left) to comment on such a tragedy - or even to dig through the mad rantings of the moonbats on TV and in the blogosphere for some idiotic comment that I can poke fun of.

And as long as the Moonbats keep this tragedy from becoming a political issue, it will remain that way.

Gateway Pundit has had excellent coverage on the tragedy, including this video clip providing details of the victims.

We Are All Hokies

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A View of Taxation - From the "Reality Based Community"

Saw this hilarious post over at My Direct Democracy (MyDD) and had to fisk it:

Paying for America
by Matt Stoller, Mon Apr 16, 2007 at 10:51:58 AM EST

I just paid my taxes, and I have to say, I always take pride when I do so. I don't like having less money to spend, of course, and the complexity of the process is really upsetting. But I am proud to pay for democracy, and I feel when I do send money to the DC Treasurer and the US Treasury that that is what I am doing. The right-wing likes to pretend as if taxes are a burden instead of the price of democracy. And I suppose, if you hate democracy, as the right-wing does, then taxes are the price for paying for something you really don't want. Personally, I find banking fees, high cable and internet charges, health care costs, and credit card hidden charges much more abrasive than taxes, because with those I'm just being ripped off to pay for someone's summer home.

Paying for "democracy." It's great to see the mind of a nutroot in action as it can remind you of yourself when you were in first grade. First, democracy (ie, the act of people voting) does not cost a dime. Second, we don't live in a democracy. Third, if I were paying for "democracy," I'd be tickled pink. Instead, we're paying for a lot of pork from Congress (such as an additional 20% of domestic pork on a Iraq funding bill, the bridge to nowhere, any of the projects named after Robert KKK Byrd, ad infinitum), retirement programs that were supposed to end decades ago, and dictates from federal judges.

Back to our nutroot's love for taxes:
Patriotism is about recognizing that we are all connected in a fundamental moral and physical sense, that the war in Iraq is our war, that poverty in New Orleans is our poverty, that public funding to cure cancer comes from each of us and not just the scientists who have made it theirs. The tax burden we face is a very small price to pay for the privilege of taking responsibility for our own freedom and our own society. And the hatred of taxes on the right comes from a hatred for this responsibility. It's childish and immoral and unAmerican.

Ahh, we're all connected. Yes, I suppose that's correct, since we're all one nation. But, am I really responsible for the poor choices that you make regarding raising your children (ie, buying flat screen TVs, cable service, etc instead of buying them food)? I suppose that if I'm subsidizing the food for your children so you can buy a big screen TV, we're more connected that I'd care to be.

Interesting that Matt chooses to include the Iraq war in this post and refer to it as "our war." This is one of the few times that I've seen ownership of the war in this way. Mostly, all you hear from the Left is Not In Our Name or illegal & immoral war.
Now, what is a problem is the complexity of our tax system. Complexity is a tool that powerful elites can and do use to intimidate and control people without access to capital and connections. With modern technology, there is just no reason for this complexity anymore except the business coalitions that push for specific tax breaks and the politicians who love them. This complexity not only upsets and disempowers people like us, it empowers the powerful to skip out on their tax burden.
If, by "powerful elites" you mean liberal democrats, I agree wholeheartedly. You see, it's the conservative camp which has been pushing for a simplified tax system - one which you could use a 3x5 card to file your taxes with. It's the progressives which have pushed for the tax withholding system, which hides the true nature of the taxes we pay in each paycheck. If you got paid your gross salary and had to detach & sign a payment coupon that you had to send in to the Feds, I think the view of taxation by many Americans would change dramatically.

It's Steve Forbes that pushed a Flat Tax proposal, with one simple rate for everyone. It's Neil Boortz who's pushing for the elimination of an income tax and to replace it with a national sales tax (taxing consumption instead of income is probably the best way to get at those wealthy folks who are sitting on loads of cash, ie Ted Kennedy). It's the Dems that want to retain the inheritance tax, which complicates decisions at the end of one's life.

And yes, it's the wealthy (individuals and corporations) that can pay for tax attorneys and accountants to find loopholes in the tax system. That individuals and corporations are willing to spend money on tax attorneys and accounts to find these loopholes is not only an indication that the code is too complex, but (more importantly) it points out that the rates may be too high. It's sad when one of your company's competitive advantages in the marketplace is your Tax department.

If the rates were simple and viewed as a "good value," "Mom & Pops" private concerns, "evil" corporations, and wealthy individuals would not pay people to avoid tax liabilities.
It's not a coincidence that Grover Norquist, the architect of the right-wing ascension to power, runs an organization called Americans for Tax Reform. People like Norquist, who are charlatans at heart and deeply unpatriotic and immoral, use the complexity in the tax code that they help to create to persuade Americans that taxes are bad. This is also true in states all over the country, where it is the unpredictability of property tax burdens and not the amount that causes schools to go wanting for funding.
Many on the right have fought to eliminate property tax as a funding vehicle for schools. Many on the right would like to introduce some market forces into the school system to improve the ROI of the school system. (ROI = Return On Investment... I suspect that you are not familiar with the term.)
Our tax code is the DNA of our nation's moral compass. I am proud to pay taxes because I take pride in America, and paying some tiny burden to keep our society running is an extremely small price to pay for being able to call myself an American citizen. The old expression 'you get what you pay for' is apt for all sorts of situations. People tend to express what they value in how much they are willing to pay for it. I am willing and feel privileged for the right to pay for my country. The right-wing is embittered to do so, if they do so at all. And that, more than anything, says something about how much they value this experiment called America.

Yes, you do get what you pay for. Unfortunately, with government programs (which oftentimes are more about perpetuating the bureaucracy that manages them instead of delivering the intended services), you get less than what you paid for. I think a more apt phrase is "There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch." You can apply those principles to any government program, from health care to "free" drugs to education to welfare, etc, etc.

Finally, let me point you to this site called Many Eyes, which will allow you to drill down (in excruciating detail) to the various things that our Federal government spends its money on. It's a very cool tool and can be used for a variety of different data sets. It just so happens that government expenditures have a long enough history in substantial detail that it's useful to look at.

Take a look at the (relatively) constant defense spending over the generations. Note that the huge increase is in a broad category called "Human Resources." Go the Many Eyes website and check out what constitutes this category. Note that the Common Defense is the first priority of the government, as all other categories are not possible if we are not safe & secure (see the current situation in Iraq if you have any questions about what lack of security does to your economy).

Click the image for a larger view, but you should really go to the Many Eyes website for more detailed info.

Note that under George W. Bush, education spending skyrocketed, from $60 Billion in 2000 (that's approx. $200 per man, woman, child) to almost $90 billion in 2002 (that's approx $300 for every man, woman, and child), or a 50% increase - and that doesn't even show increases from 2002 to 2006, nor the spending on education by the States (which account for the lion's share of funding).

As you click through the categories, note that while the other major categories (Defense, Physical Resources, General Government, Net Interest) fluctuate from decade to decade, the one category that increases dramatically each year is the Human Resources category (income security, health care, social security, etc). And all of the subcategories under HR increase consistently...

You may feel patriotic to pay taxes. Bully for you... but, many in American wonder whether we are getting what we are paying for - and realize that, due to basic economic principles (check out Econ 101 or this book by Thomas Sowell), that we are not.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wolfowitz, the World Bank, and the Poverty Pimps

The WSJ has this excellent article on the Wolfowitz kerfluffle at the World Bank. I've read coverage of this matter from other sources (including this Wikipedia entry about Wolfie's Algierian gilfriend) and, as is usual with most MSM accounts, none of them provide a clear narrative of what occurred. It seems that the more baseless the charge, the more the MSM tries to confuse the coverage (see the Plame scandal):
From the WSJ:

The Wolfowitz Files
The anatomy of a World Bank smear.

Monday, April 16, 2007 12:01 a.m.

The World Bank released its files in the case of President Paul Wolfowitz's ethics on Friday, and what a revealing download it is. On the evidence in these 109 pages, it is clearer than ever that this flap is a political hit based on highly selective leaks to a willfully gullible press corps.

Mr. Wolfowitz asked the World Bank board to release the documents, after it became possible the 24 executive directors would adjourn early Friday morning without taking any action in the case. This would have allowed Mr. Wolfowitz's anonymous bank enemies to further spin their narrative that he had taken it upon himself to work out a sweetheart deal for his girlfriend and hide it from everyone.

The documents tell a very different story--one that makes us wonder if some bank officials weren't trying to ambush Mr. Wolfowitz from the start. Bear with us as we report the details, because this is a case study in the lack of accountability at these international satrapies.

The paper trail shows that Mr. Wolfowitz had asked to recuse himself from matters related to his girlfriend, a longtime World Bank employee, before he signed his own employment contract. The bank's general counsel at the time, Roberto Danino, wrote in a May 27, 2005 letter to Mr. Wolfowitz's lawyers:

"First, I would like to acknowledge that Mr. Wolfowitz has disclosed to the Board, through you, that he has a pre-existing relationship with a Bank staff member, and that he proposes to resolve the conflict of interest in relation to Staff Rule 3.01, Paragraph 4.02 by recusing himself from all personnel matters and professional contact related to the staff member." (Our emphasis here and elsewhere.)

That would have settled the matter at any rational institution, given that his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, worked four reporting layers below the president in the bank hierarchy. But the bank board--composed of representatives from donor nations--decided to set up an ethics committee to investigate. And it was the ethics committee that concluded that Ms. Riza's job entailed a "de facto conflict of interest" that could only be resolved by her leaving the bank.

Ms. Riza was on a promotion list at the time, and so the bank's ethicists also proposed that she be compensated for this blow to her career. In a July 22, 2005, ethics committee discussion memo, Mr. Danino [WB General Counsel] noted that "there would be two avenues here for promotion--an 'in situ' promotion to Grade GH for the staff member" and promotion through competitive selection to another position." Or, as an alternative, "The Bank can also decide, as part of settlement of claims, to offer an ad hoc salary increase."

Five days later, on July 27, ethics committee chairman Ad Melkert formally advised Mr. Wolfowitz in a memo that "the potential disruption of the staff member's career prospect will be recognized by an in situ promotion on the basis of her qualifying record . . ." In the same memo, Mr. Melkert recommends "that the President [Wolfowitz], with the General Counsel [Danino], communicates this advice" to the vice president for human resources [Xavier Coll] "so as to implement" it immediately.

And in an August 8 letter, Mr. Melkert advised that the president get this done pronto: "The EC [ethics committee] cannot interact directly with staff member situations, hence Xavier [Coll], the human resources vice president] should act upon your instruction." Only then did Mr. Wolfowitz instruct Mr. Coll on the details of Ms. Riza's new job and pay raise.

Needless to say, none of this context has appeared in the media smears suggesting that Mr. Wolfowitz pulled a fast one to pad the pay of Ms. Riza. Yet the record clearly shows he acted only after he had tried to recuse himself but then wasn't allowed to do so by the ethics committee. And he acted only after that same committee advised him to compensate Ms. Riza for the damage to her career from a "conflict of interest" that was no fault of her own.

Based on this paper trail, Mr. Wolfowitz's only real mistake was in assuming that everyone else was acting in good faith. Yet when some of these details leaked to the media, nearly everyone else at the bank dodged responsibility and let Mr. Wolfowitz twist in the wind. Mr. Melkert, a Dutch politician now at the U.N., seems to have played an especially cowardly role.

In an October 24, 2005 letter to Mr. Wolfowitz, [Mr. Melkert, Ethics Committee Chair] averred that "because the outcome is consistent with the Committee's findings and advice above, the Committee concurs with your view that this matter can be treated as closed." A month later, on November 25, Mr. Melkert even sent Mr. Wolfowitz a personal, hand-written note saying, "I would like to thank you for the very open and constructive spirit of our discussions, knowing in particular the sensitivity to Shaha, who I hope will be happy in her new assignment."

And when anonymous World Bank staffers began to circulate emails making nasty allegations about Ms. Shaha's job transfer and pay in early 2006, Mr. Melkert dismissed them in a letter to Mr. Wolfowitz on February 28, 2006, because they "did not contain new information warranting any further review by the Committee." Yet amid the recent media smears, Mr. Melkert has minimized his own crucial role.

All of this is so unfair that Mr. Wolfowitz could be forgiven for concluding that bank officials insisted he play a role in raising Ms. Riza's pay precisely so they could use it against him later. Even if that isn't true, it's clear that his enemies--especially Europeans who want the bank presidency to go to one of their own--are now using this to force him out of the bank. They especially dislike his anticorruption campaign, as do his opponents in the staff union and such elites of the global poverty industry as Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development. They prefer the status quo that holds them accountable only for how much money they lend, not how much they actually help the poor.

Equally cynical has been the press corps, which slurred Mr. Wolfowitz with selective reporting and now says, in straight-faced solemnity, that the president must leave the bank because his "credibility" has been damaged. Paul Wolfowitz, meet the Duke lacrosse team.

The only way this fiasco could get any worse would be for Mr. Wolfowitz to resign in the teeth of so much dishonesty and cravenness. We're glad the Bush Administration isn't falling for this Euro-bureaucracy-media putsch. Mr. Wolfowitz has apologized for any mistakes he's made, though we're not sure why. He's the one who deserves an apology.

Of course, as with most kerfluffles, the Bush Administration is slow to respond and when it does is woefully inept. True to form, the person under attack apologizes (for what, we don't know), hoping that the matter will be forgotten by his or her enemies. Unfortunately, the MSM, smelling blood in the water, only increases the frenzy and fails to look at the actual facts of the case.

Need an example of inaccurate coverage from the MSM? How about this story from the WaPo, which opens:
Wolfowitz Dictated Girlfriend's Pay Deal
World Bank Board Weighs Its Options

By Karen DeYoung and Krissah Williams
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, April 14, 2007; A01

World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz personally dictated the terms under which the bank gave what it called his "domestic partner" substantial pay raises and promotions in exchange for temporarily leaving her job there during his tenure, according to documents released by the bank's executive board yesterday.

Nowhere is it mentioned that he was instructed to "dictate the terms" by the Ethics Committee. The title would be more accurate if it was the following:
Wolfowitz Instructed to Dictate Girlfriend's Pay Deal
Alas, accuracy in reporting is something I've given up on long ago.

Wolfowitz acted above board in this situation, since he recused himself from any matters involving Riza, only to be forced to be involved by the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee then said that this was unacceptable and recommended that Wolfie instruct the VP of HR to give Riza a promotion and pay raise due to their demand that she leave the World Bank. After following their instructions, he was congratulated for handling the matter in an expeditious and professional manner. He is now under attack for following their instructions. That Wolfie & Riza pushed for the release of the documents involving this matter shows that they know there is nothing there. Unfortunately, the MSM doesn't care about the facts (as evidenced by this NYTimes article which leaves out the most important details).

Perhaps they saw to juicy a target, with Wolfie being a Jewish Neocon (ie "evil") who happened to be dating an Algerian Muslim. Perhaps those in the EU who dislike the Bush Administration, America, and Jews in particular couldn't help themselves in setting Wolfie up for this...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Welcome to Sunny(?) Florida

Above is the gulf of Mexico after a particularly nasty storm last (Saturday) night. It's windy and cold right now but we're hoping it will warm up a little.

Yes, I'm officially on vacation. This should mean that I will have more time to blog things, much to the delight of "my editor" and profliferous co-blogger Saint Wendeler (oops, haven't had much time yet). But hey, no promises, it's not like your paying to read my delightful prose.

For those that would like to more, below is the trip report of the journey down here.

As some of my family knows, I'm a Private Pilot with an IFR rating, and the plan was to take the airplane for which I'm a partner in, down to to Destin, FL for a week of sun and fun. The no-wind flight plan called for approximately 4.5 hours in the air, as opposed to over 12 hours of driving. The original route of flight was to be (pardon the aviation talk): 1H0 (Creve Coeur Airport near St. Louis), CGI (Cape Girardeau, MO), JKS (Jacks Creek, TN), RESGE, KMSL (Muscle Shoals, AL) where we'd make a fuel stop and get some lunch.

From Muscle Shoals, the route would be: KMSL, OKW (Brookwood, AL), JYU (Selma, AL), CEW (Crestview FL) and on to Destin, FL (KDTS).

For the last week, I've been over at NOAA's Aviation Digital Data Service poring over prog charts watching as the various low pressure systems traced across the country. The prog chart for Saturday (the original departure date) looked particularly nasty, showing a major storm front moving across the midwest. Given that thunderstorms are not something I would be able to fly over or around in this instance, I quickly amended the plan to leave Friday morning, instead of Saturday morning. This required modifying the various reservations (car, lodging) we had at Destin, but was mostly a non-event.

Friday morning, showed that the storm was due to hit St. Louis later that afternoon, but was already moving close to the bootheel of Missouri. I changed the plan and filed a flight plan to KMSL, that went over Marion, IL to give us a little more room.

The flight to MSL was mostly a non-event, there was a little turbulence as we proceeded under an overcast and a little rain.

Landed in MSL at 10:43am local time. The friendly staff at Shoals Flight Center (airnav link) helped us get some lunch by offering their Dodge Neon courtesy car. After a delicious lunch (including of course, sweet tea to drink, we headed back to the airport for fuel and a 1:43 departure to Destin.

We quickly ran into some headwinds that slowed the groundspeed we were making to between 85-90 knots. The 2 hour and 15 minute no-wind trip was quickly ballooning to a 3 hour trip. As we got close to the Alabama/Florida border turbulence picked up to a moderate level. I tried descending to pick up some ground speed, but the turbulence was even worse down there, so we quickly climbed back up to 5000 feet. About 50 miles outside of Crestview, FL I told Atlanta Center, that I wanted to divert to Crestview (KCEW). I wanted to put some more fuel in the tanks in case we had any issues getting into Destin, as well as to give our bodies a break from the shaking.

We landed at Crestview/Bob Sikes airport picked up some relatively cheap for the area fuel, and were back on our way at 4:30. Eglin approach quickly routed us around the Temporary restricted area over Eglin AFB due to the airshow practice that was going on. As we headed south, I quickly saw the beautiful white beaches of the gulf shore, and picked out the KDTS airport. Cleared direct to KDTS, ATC advised me that they were landing 32 (while departing 14) due to the restricted area. This would result in me landing with around a 7kt tailwind. Not really a factor for my airplane with a 6000 foot runway, but it still would result in a fast speed touchdown.

I kept in close due to the proximity of the various hotels and condominiums near the beach in a very dramatic looking curving approach to the runway. Perfect landing and rollout to the wonderful folks at Miracle Strip aviation.

*** Update ***

Ok, so this sat in Draft status for the past 2 days, because, well, I've been on vacation! Destin is a real nice beach town with some pretty decent seafood. If you'll excuse me, I have to head off to the beach.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian