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

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Companies 'preying' on the poor

Cafey Hayek has a wonderful fisking of an article about how companies, through the use of better information are able to extend credit to people that they haven't been able to perhaps in the past. Namely, the poor. Business Week apparently thinks this is predatory.

It's an excellent article, and I suggest you read it all, but this comment really struck out at me.

The main theme of the article is that sometimes, poor people end up worse off by borrowing money. The fault is the company that lent the money:

"People are being encouraged to live beyond their means by companies that are preying on low-income consumers," says Jacob S. Hacker, a political scientist at Yale.

You know Mr. Hacker, some might say that Yale is an institution that is quite predatory upon its students. Charging exorbitant tuition rates for its education value. Why I'll bet some people are being "encouraged to live beyond their means by " attending Yale. What with tuition running around $33,030 a year.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Time beats the drum on Gonzalez for the Democrats

Time Magazine beats the drums for the Democrats in their ongoing war against Attorney General Gonzalez:

When then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales went to John Ashcroft's hospital room on the evening of March 10, 2004 to ask the ailing Attorney General to override Justice Department officials and reauthorize a secret domestic wiretapping program, he was acting inappropriately, Ashcroft's deputy at the time, James Comey, testified before Congress earlier this week. But the question some lawyers, national security experts and congressional investigators are now asking is: Was Gonzales in fact acting illegally?
Some? Let me guess they all have a D next to their name don't they?

Acting illegally how you might ask? After all, Gonzalez was a member of the DOJ, he was going to Ashcroft, who while incapacitated still head the official title of Attorney General of the United States.

Well it seems that ol' Al might have slipped the beans about this super secret spying program in a hospital room while Ashcroft's wife was there! And we all know she's secretly a member of Al Queda!

Comey described what happened next: "The door opened and in walked Mr. Gonzales, carrying an envelope, and Mr. Card. They came over and stood by the bed. They greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there — to seek his approval for a matter, and explained what the matter was — which I will not do." Ashcroft bluntly rebuffed Gonzales, but Comey's unwillingness publicly to say what Gonzales said in the hospital room has raised questions about whether Gonzales may have violated executive branch rules regarding the handling of highly classified information, and possibly the law preventing intentional disclosure of national secrets.

Take him away! I have heard enough! Wait, before you go, can I ask one question, though? If this super duper double secret spying program was too sensitive and terrible to even utter.... um.... Why did the New York Times put it on its front page?

Oh I understand the rules now. Media prints national security secrets for the world to see, its Pulitzer Prize time. White House Counsel goes to the AG's bedside to have a chat and its off to the hoosegow with him!

Since this is Time, this is probably the part where they will want to question someone with national security experience. Hmm, who do you think they should get?

"Executive branch rules require sensitive classified information to be discussed in specialized facilities that are designed to guard against the possibility that officials are being targeted for surveillance outside of the workplace," says Georgetown Law Professor Neal Katyal, who was National Security Advisor to the Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton. "The hospital room of a cabinet official is exactly the type of target ripe for surveillance by a foreign power," Katyal says. This particular information could have been highly sensitive. Says one government official familiar with the Terrorist Surveillance Program: "Since it's that program, it may involve cryptographic information," some of the most highly protected information in the intelligence community.

Mr Katyal, what about dead drops underneath construction trailer's such as the one Sandy Berger used? Would those be targets ripe for surveillance by a foreign power? He was the National Security Advisor to Bill Clinton. You might have run into him.

So did Gonzalez spill any beans in the hospital room? Time doesn't know:
To determine whether Gonzales broke the law or not, "You have to know the exact facts," says Elizabeth Parker, Dean of the University of the Pacific Law School and former General Counsel of the National Security Agency. "Obviously things can be discussed in ways that don't divulge highly classified information.
Why, thanks Elizabeth! You mean you have to know facts before you jump to conclusions? Tell that to Time.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where is Saint W?

I'm really enjoying my free run of the mini-bar here, but I'm beginning to wonder where the boss is.

Makes me nervous.

Your Co-Conspirator,

A Conservative Speaks Up for Rudy - What Really Matters? (And Who Can Deal with It?)

I will be submitting this post to the uber blog California Conservative for which I am a contributor.

I want to thank Kip Allen (Desert Rat) for his editing and the marvelous second quote from Churchill.

What Really Matters?
(And Who Can Deal with It?)

Last night while watching the “debate” (really a question and answer period with little time allowed for the answers), I was taken with the fact that many people still do not take the war with jihadists seriously.

If you listened to a number of the questions, particularly from one reporter, one got the impression that the game was still on. Sept. 11 never happened. Politics as usual is still possible.

What made me think that?

Many the questions were of a “gotcha” nature involving important, yet secondary, issues. Did Romney flip-flop on abortion and gay rights? Is Rudy pro-choice (as if we did not already know.)? Did McCain have an ethanol conversion experience on the road to Des Moines (That one was cute but irritating given the seriousness of the issues the nation faces.)? Who is more conservative than thou … Rudy McRomney?

What really matters is that we have more than 100,000 men and women involved in a war in Iraq into which we are pouring billions of dollars. There is an ongoing debate as to whether to pull out or to try to win this war. This debate is grounded in the question of whether winning or losing is relevant; that is, does it matter whether we win or lose?

If there are only 90 minutes available, and there are 10 candidates to question, one would think the wedge issues of the ’80s and ’90s could be set aside for a serious discussion of this life-and-death question.

All the candidates seemed to realize that too much time was being spent on tangential questions. When a secondary issue was raised, most of them would try to turn it to the central concern of our time — the war on jihadism. As Rudy has said repeatedly, “These people are out to kill us.”

All other concerns are dwarfed when there are people out there who want to kill us. A gay’s right to marry is not terribly important if he is dead. Global warming (don’t get me started on that) will be of little concern to those who have been blown to bits.

Three of the candidates forcefully and articulately stated their case for winning and evidenced the ability to do so last night — McCain, Hunter and Rudy. I am sure Romney, Gilmore and Huckabee share similar views, but I did not see the “warrior spirit” in them. Of the three warriors, Rudy stood out as the one with passion to see it through.

There is something Churchillian about Rudy. I almost hear him saying, "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end… We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!" Rudy has the fire in the belly and it shows.

I grew up in the New York City suburbs. Sept. 11 had a profound impact on me. I have not forgotten my shock and rage at the perpetrators of that atrocity. I remember Rudy, America’s mayor, and saw him last night.

As Churchill also said, "You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival."

I have points of disagreement with Rudy. Abortion and gun control come to mind. However, when the rubber meets the road, Rudy last night showed the grit and gumption to see this conflict through and never surrender.

Your Co-Conspirator,

Left Coast View of the Debate

First, as to the questioners, one, who shall remain nameless, did his best to be Chris Mathews. If he asked Rudy one more abortion question I was going to turn off the TV. One was OK, but to keep beating on it was absurd. Hey folks, we are at war. National security is the dominant issue and deserves the most attention.

Brit Hume and Chris Wallace were fine... ooops, guess I just I identified the offender.

On balance, a vast improvement from the MSNBC fiasco.

Romney was impressive. As always he is poised and articulate. Solid is the word that came to mind.

Duncan Hunter continues to impress. I liked his answer to the question based on the hypothetical suicide attacks on shopping malls. "That would be a one minute conversation with the SecDef."

Tommy Thompson... puh-lease go away.

McCain, HONEST. As Popeye would say, "I yam what I yam." Yeh, and I don't particularly care for his views or his friends Kennedy and Feingold. Still, you have to admire the guy for hanging tough.

Tancredo, puh-lease go away.

Ron Paul, whackjob from Texas, consider in depth therapy and heavy medication.

Huckabee did well. This is a good man even if he is from Hope, Arkansas.

Brownback, solid guy but clearly out of his depth.

Rudy was the Rudy I know and love. I thought he was in his prime last night. When it was suggested we had invited the 9/11 attacks he was superb. Talk about emotional control. He did as well with the social issues as could be expected.

I left someone out... oh yeh, Governor Gilmore. No wonder I forgot him.

Rudy did the best job in my estimation.

Anyway, that's how I saw it last night.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fred Thompson's Reply to Michael Moore's Challenge to Debate - Hilarious!

Your co-conspirator

A Rosie by Any Other Name Is... (Part 2)

... still a @%#^%ing whacko!

Part 1 Here (which provides a picture of the damage sustained by WTC7 - which Rosie will not recognize. No doubt it was just a good photoshop job).

Yesterday on The View, Rosie opined that Rudy Giuliani is deeply involved in the 9/11 Conspiracy, since:

  1. e moved the steel from the WTC wreckage to China;
  2. he made sure that his Emergency Command Center was in WTC 7
  3. he didn't follow government directives and give emergency workers respirators - so they'd all die and wouldn't be able to Speak Truth To PowerTM about what they saw there

Of course, Rosie dismisses all evidence that counters her faith in a conspiracy. I'm just waiting for her to blame it all on the Jews.

Man, I hope they another whackjob to replace her when she leaves. I mean, it's tough to find someone this sincerely stupid to laugh at. Perhaps Cynthia McKinney could fill in?

**** Update - ARC: Brian ****
Popular Mechanics has a great rebuttal to the Rosie diatribes:
For more detail on one aspect of the talk show’s conversation, our expanded report in book form, Debunking 9/11: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up To The Facts, describes the volcanic forces that Ms. Hasselbeck referenced on Monday: “[A] seismology report prepared at Columbia University provides a glimpse into how that damage [to the southwest corner of WTC7] was caused. The report notes that the collapses of the Twin Towers caused little ground instability, but nevertheless discharged a massive amount of energy—as much as 107 joules in the kinetic energy of dust and debris. Except for temperature, the effect was similar to the energy contained in the pyroclastic ash given off in volcanic eruptions. ‘Only a very small portion of the [gravitational energy associated with the collapse of each tower] was converted into seismic waves,’ the report states. ‘Most of the energy went into deformation of buildings and the formation of rubble and dust.’”

The report continues: “Most of the effects of those collapses on adjacent structures and people were related to the kinetic energy of falling debris and the pressure on buildings exerted by dust- and particle-laden air mobilized by falling debris.” From 300 hundred yards away—the distance from the North Tower to WTC7—that debris cloud devastated the base of World Trade Center 7. —Davin Coburn

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Evidence that L. Paul Bremer Screwed the Pooch on Iraq

This article in the Washington Post provides further evidence that L. Paul Bremer totally f-ed up Iraq the day his boots hit the ground. Previous posts where Bremer's idiocy is discuss are here, here, and here.

Defense Skirts State in Reviving Iraqi Industry
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 14, 2007; A01

Paul Brinkley, a deputy undersecretary of defense, has been called a Stalinist by U.S. diplomats in Iraq. One has accused him of helping insurgents build better bombs. The State Department has even taken the unusual step of enlisting the CIA to dispute the validity of Brinkley's work.

His transgression? To begin reopening dozens of government-owned factories in Iraq.

Brinkley and his colleagues at the Pentagon believe that rehabilitating shuttered, state-run enterprises could reduce violence by employing tens of thousands of Iraqis. Officials at State counter that the initiative is antithetical to free-market reforms the United States should promote in Iraq.

The bureaucratic knife fight over the best way to revive Iraq's moribund economy illustrates how the two principal players in the reconstruction of Iraq -- the departments of Defense and State -- remain at odds over basic economic and political measures. The bickering has hamstrung initiatives to promote stability four years after Saddam Hussein's fall.

Under pressure from Congress to demonstrate progress on the ground, the military often favors immediate solutions aimed at quelling violence. That has prompted objections from some at State who question the long-term consequences of that expeditious approach.
Disagreements among Americans about how to deal with Iraq's government-run businesses began shortly after U.S. forces arrived in Baghdad in April 2003. The first U.S. adviser to Iraq's Ministry of Industry and Minerals, retired ambassador Timothy Carney, wanted to reopen many of the country's 192 state-owned factories, which, according to the World Bank, employed more than 500,000 people before the war.

But the U.S. occupation administrator, L. Paul Bremer, deemed that to be bad economic policy. Many factories had produced substandard goods before the war and had since been looted. Fixing them would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Bremer wanted private investors to buy the factories, even as workers continued to be paid to stave off hardship.

But the hoped-for private investors never arrived. Factories remained shuttered, and the Iraqi government whittled down the payroll subsidies. Some former workers found new jobs. Others, U.S. military officials believe, joined the insurgency.

Sorry, but free market forces are not going to just jump-start post-war; I don't recall us sitting back in post-war Germany and Japan and hoping that people would invest in the economy and start up their own business. Did some enterprising German start up a brick piling operation?

No, free markets require stability and the rule of law and Iraq had neither. What Iraq required in 2003 was to re-open the factories, employ the Iraqi men so they're too wiped out to spend their evenings making IEDs, and to provide security.

Once security was established, then you can introduce the rule of law and move to a free market economy. Had Bremer re-opened the factories and provided security in the early days of post-war Iraq, we would just now be seeing the free market forces emerge.

Oh, and did I mention that anyone who wears combat boots with a suit is clearly insane and should be shot.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mark Steyn on the Dix Six

Excellent column by Mark Steyn in Today's Sun-Times:

Fortress America's gate is open
May 13, 2007


Most terrorists seem like bumbling losers if they're caught before the act: That's certainly true of the Fort Dix jihadists who took their terrorist training DVD to the local audio store to be copied. It was also true of the Islamists arrested in Toronto last year for plotting to behead the prime minister, one of whose cell members had a bride who wanted him to sign a prenup committing him to jihad. The Heathrow plotters arrested while planning to blow up U.S.-bound airliners included a Muslim convert who'd started out as the son of a British Conservative Party official with a P. G. Wodehouse double-barreled name and a sister who was a Victoria's Secret model and ex-wife of tennis champ Yanick Noah.

But then Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 gang would have seemed pretty funny if you'd run into them in that lap-dance club they went to before the big day where the girls remembered them only as very small tippers. Most terrorists are jokes until the bomb goes off.

So, when we're fortunate enough to catch them in advance, it's worth pausing to consider what they tell us about the broader threat we face. According to genius New York Times headline writers, "Religion Guided Three Held In Fort Dix Plot." You don't say. Any religion in particular?

Well, the trio were Muslims, but Albanian Muslims -- i.e., they weren't Arabs and didn't have names like Mohammed and Abdullah (though their accomplices did). Even if America were minded to profile, it's harder to profile against chaps with names like "Shain Duka" (Fort Dix) or "Richard Reid" (the shoebomber) or "Jermaine Lindsay" (a July 7 Tube bomber) or "Muriel Degauque" (a Belgian lady who self-detonated in a suicide attack on U.S. forces in Iraq) or "Jack Roche" (an Australian arrested for plotting to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Canberra).

Second, the young Duka brothers are "radical Muslim" sons in a family of otherwise "moderate Muslim" oldsters. That, too, fits a pattern of de-assimilation, of young Western Muslims far more implacable and hostile than their parents and grandparents. The London bombers were British subjects born and bred, radicalized in the vacuum of contemporary multiculturalism. One of the Toronto plotters had a father-in-law who was the pharmacist at the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry base. The Princess Pats have done sterling work in Afghanistan, and pop supports their mission. But his daughter doesn't, and she named his grandchild after a Chechen terrorist killed by the Russians.

Third, what then radicalized so many Western Muslims? Answer: in many cases, the Balkans. When Yugoslavia collapsed 15 years ago, Jacques Poos told the Americans to butt out: "The hour of Europe has come!" he declared confidently. Poos was the foreign minister of Luxembourg, a country as big as your hot tub, but he chanced to be holding the European Union's rotating "presidency" at the time and, as it happened, the Americans were very happy to butt out. "We don't have a dog in this fight," said then-secretary of state, James Baker.

Well, the hour of Europe came and went, and a couple of hundred thousand corpses later the EU was only too happy for Americans to butt back in again. So NATO bombed Christian Serbs in defense of Albanian Muslims, and a fat lot of good it did if the Duka brothers are any indication.

In theory, Baker was right. But out there in the Balkans, if you're one of the dogs in the fight, great-power evenhandedness can seem pretty one-handed by the time you hear about it. Don't take my word for it. Here's Osama bin Laden: "The British are responsible for destroying the Caliphate system. They are the ones who created the Palestinian problem. They are the ones who created the Kashmiri problem. They are the ones who put the arms embargo on the Muslims of Bosnia so that 2 million Muslims were killed."

Whoa, hold up there: How come a list of imperial interventions wound up with a bit of non-imperial non-intervention? Because, for serious nations, even not taking sides is seen as, in effect, taking sides. What was the single biggest factor in the radicalization of British Muslims? Omar Sheikh, convicted in Karachi for the kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl, is British -- a Westernized non-observant chess-playing pop-listening beer-drinking London School of Economics student, until he was fired up by the massacres of Bosnian Muslims. And, while Europe dithered as the mountain of corpses piled up, Saudi money poured in, transforming the relatively mild Balkan Islam into something far more virulent. Look at the change in Muslim architecture in the region over the last 15 years: They build Wahhabist mosques now. Unlike the State Department complaceniks, the Islamists understand there is no stability.

Tough, you say. So what? Washington still has no dog in these fights. It's time to hunker down in Fortress America. Which brings me to the fourth lesson: What fortress? The three Duka brothers were (if you'll forgive the expression) illegal immigrants. They're not meant to be here. Yet they graduated from a New Jersey high school and they operated two roofing companies and a pizzeria. Think of how often you have to produce your driver's license or Social Security number. But, five years after 9/11, this is still one of the easiest countries in the world in which to establish a functioning but fraudulent identity.

Consider, for example, the post-9/11 ritual of airline security. You have to produce government-issued picture ID to the TSA official. Does that make you feel safer? On that Tuesday morning in September, four of the killers got on board by using picture ID they'd acquired through the "undocumented worker" network in Falls Church, Va. Half the jurisdictions in the United States issue picture ID to people who shouldn't even be in the country, and they issue it as a matter of policy. The Fort Dix boys were pulled over for 19 traffic violations, but because they were in "sanctuary cities," any cop who suspected they were illegals was unable to report them to immigration authorities. Again, as a matter of policy.

On one hand, America creates a vast federal security bureaucracy to prevent another 9/11. On the other hand, American politicians and bureaucrats create a parallel system of education and welfare and health care entitlements, maintaining and expanding a vast network of fraudulent identity that corrupts the integrity of almost all state databases. And though it played a part in the killing of 3,000 Americans, leaders of both parties insist nothing can be done to stop it. All we can do is give the Duka brothers "a fast track to citizenship."

The Iranians already are operating in South America's Tri-Border area. Is it the nothing-can-be-done crowd's assumption that the fellows who run armies of the "undocumented" from Mexico into America are just kindhearted human smugglers who'd have nothing to do with jihad even if the price was right? If you don't have borders, you won't have a nation -- and you may find "the jobs Americans won't do" covers a multitude of sins.

When I heard that the Dix Six were Albanian, I could only think back to the Kosovo War and our attempts to assist the Kosovo Liberation Army, previously thought of as a terrorist organization and subsequent removed from the list by the Clinton Administration. I specifically recall Geraldo Rivera traveling with the KLA across the Kosovo border. While we were bombing the Christian Serbs back to the stone age (which they deserved), we were propping up Islamist groups in Kosovo - which is 88% ethnically Albanian and Muslim.

It seems that in Islam, no good deed goes unpunished.

Meanwhile, the Leftists are dismissing the uncovering of the Dix plot - reverting to their usual suspicion that any terrorist related event, from the capture of the British sailors in Iraqi waters to the arrest of actual terrorists on US soil - must be staged by the US government.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tim Russert is an Ass

As the sun is rising here on the glorious Central Coast of California on this Mother's Day, I made the mistake of turning on Meet the Press.

John McCain is not my candidate, but in his appearance this morning I have to say he handled Russert's relentless gotcha with aplomb.

McCain was exceptionally strong in his defense of the Iraq war. He reminded me of Lincoln in the darkest days of the Civil War when the Democrats loudly argued for peace with the Confederacy. The Democrats in that time ran a very popular general who had lead the largest Union Army, George B. McClellan, for president which sounds kind of familiar. Lincoln did not falter and neither did McCain.

I was surprised at McCain's performance. Just the other day in a comment here I referred to him as a flake. He was no flake this morning. He is known for being emotional and for having a short fuse. He showed none of that this morning.

Russert found every possible way to try to make McCain look like an equivocating fool. One quote after another, totally without context of course, was hauled out and McCain was forced to provide context Russert should have provided. Russert knows how to keep one on the defensive, it's his forte. But it is also outrageous.

Maybe next Sunday morning I will sleep in.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn