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

Friday, October 26, 2007

Life Imitates Southpark - Update

We commented on the Portland, Maine birth control kerfluffle here and it would seem that our initial thoughts are right on the mark. From today's Portland Press-Herald:

School health centers didn't report underage sex

After King Middle School moves to offer birth control, the District Attorney says schools must report anyone under age 14 who's having sex.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer October 26, 2007

Portland's school-based health centers have not been reporting all illegal sexual activity involving minors as required by law, but they will from now on, city officials said Thursday.

Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson questioned the health centers' reporting practices after the Portland School Committee decided last week to offer prescription birth control at the King Middle School health center.

The King Student Health Center has offered comprehensive reproductive health care, including providing condoms and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, since it opened in 2000. The school serves students in grades 6 to 8, ages 11 to 15.

Maine law prohibits having sex with a person under age 14, regardless of the age of the other person involved, Anderson said.

A health care provider must report all known or suspected cases of sex with minors age 13 and under to the state Department of Health and Human Services, she said. Abuse also must be reported to the appropriate district attorney's office, Anderson said, when the suspected perpetrator is someone other than the minor's parent or guardian.

"When it's somebody under age 14, it is a crime and it must be reported," Anderson said. "The health care provider has no discretion in the matter. It's up to the district attorney to decide."

Anderson said she contacted Portland officials after she learned that some employees of the health centers, which are operated by the city's Public Health Division, believed they could decide whether a child's sexual activity constituted criminal abuse.

In fact, if a child under age 14 was having consensual sex with someone of a similar age, health center employees weren't reporting it to the proper authorities, said City Attorney Gary Wood.

Anderson said doctors and other health care providers in private practice may falsely believe they have similar leeway, but they must follow the same laws.

"It's clear that it's going on all the time," Anderson said. "Either the law is going to be enforced or it needs to be changed. I don't think a law should be routinely violated."

As we pointed out last week, Maine's Age Of Consent is 14 and sexual activity by anyone under that age is potentially a crime, regardless of the age of the other person involved. The law may be flawed, but it is the law.

And at what point does the State become an accessory to the crime of statutory rape, if the State is actively distributing (and subsidizing?) birth control pills to 11 year olds?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All Politics is Local (Even Iraqi Politics)

Perhaps the world is (literally) flat. At least, I wouldn't be surprised if Friedman actually thinks that. He's clueless about Iraq and, in today's NYTimes, he offers up some stunningly conventional wisdom:

October 24, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Remember Iraq

Boy, am I glad we finally got out of Iraq. It was so painful waking up every morning and reading the news from there. It’s just such a relief to have it out of mind and behind us.

Huh? Say what? You say we’re still there? But how could that be — nobody in Washington is talking about it anymore?

I don’t know whether it was the sheer agony of the debate over Gen. David Petraeus’s testimony, or the fact that the surge really has dampened casualties, or the failure by Democrats to force an Iraq withdrawal through Congress, or the fact that all the leading Democratic presidential contenders have signaled that they will not precipitously withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, but the air has gone out of the Iraq debate.

I think it has to do with the fact that the Dems realize it's a loser politically (in the long term) and that it wouldn't be the wisest move strategically, despite what John Murtha says about handling our Iraq problems from "beyond the horizon" in Okinawa.
That is too bad. Neglect is not benign when it comes to Iraq — because Iraq is not healthy. Iraq is like a cancer patient who was also running a high fever from an infection (Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia). The military surge has brought down the fever, but the patient still has cancer (civil war). And we still don’t know how to treat it. Surgery? Chemotherapy? Natural healers? Euthanasia?

To the extent that the surge has worked militarily, it is largely because of what Iraqis have done by themselves for themselves — Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders rising up against pro-Qaeda Sunni elements, taking back control of their villages and towns, and aligning themselves with U.S. forces to do so. Some Shiites are now doing the same.

There has been no equivalent surprise, though, in Iraqi politics, yet. If you see that — if you see Iraqi politicians surprising you by doing things they’ve never done before, like forging a self-sustaining political compromise and building the fabric of a unified country, then you can allow yourself some optimism.

Hate to say it, Tom, but the Sunni Awakening is a major political event - not a military event.

Remember Tip O'Neil said, "All politics is local."
So far, though, too many of Iraq’s leaders continue to act their part — looking out for themselves, their clans, their hometowns, their militias and their sects, and using the Iraqi treasury and ministries as looting grounds for personal or sectarian gains.

As a result, what you have today is more of a spotty truce, with U.S. soldiers still caught in the middle. That is a quiet strategy, not an exit strategy.

Study the travel itineraries of Iraq’s principal factional leaders after the Petraeus hearings. Did they all rush to Baghdad to try to work out their differences? No. Many of them took off for abroad.

As one U.S. official in Baghdad pointed out to me last week, “at no point” since the testimony by General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker “have you had the four key Iraqi leaders in the same country at the same time.” They saw the hearings as buying them more time, and so they took it.

“We have created a real case of moral hazard in Iraq,” said Marc Lynch, a Middle East specialist at George Washington University. “Because all the key players think the Americans are going to bail them out, they have no incentive to make any real concessions to one another.”

Indeed, I continue to believe that everyone has us where they want us in Iraq: We’re holding up the floor for Iraqi politicians to do their endless tribal dance; we are bogged down and within missile range of Iran, so if we try to use any military force to disrupt Tehran’s nuclear program we will pay a huge price; and as long as we are trapped in Iraq, we will never even think about promoting reform elsewhere in the Arab world — to the relief of all Arab autocrats.

Actually, it's likely that the whole world will soon be in missile range of Iran - something that most on the Left think we should talk to President Tom about, pleading with him to stop his arms development.
No question, there has been more local cross-sectarian dialogue lately, particularly between Shiite and Sunni elders. But that seems to be the limit of Iraqi politics.

People there can act as tribes, sects and clans, but not as a unified government — so there is no one systematically consolidating whatever gains the surge has made.

It still feels to me as if we’ve made Iraq just safe enough for its politicians to be obstinate, corrupt or reckless on our dime. Even the moderate Kurds must have developed some kind of death wish, allowing their radicals to simultaneously provoke both Turkey and Iran and risking the island of real decency the Kurds have built in the north.

Radical Kurds have been a problem before the Iraqi invasion.... heck, I was in Germany and witnessed a radical Kurd demonstration to free the PKK leader, so it's not like our improved security position in Iraq is only now bolstering the Kurds desires.
General Petraeus’s strategy is to keep trying to knit the different militias and tribal fragments in Iraq together into a national army and government so we can shrink our presence. I truly wish him well. But I don’t see it happening without two things: some shock therapy — like a firm U.S. withdrawal signal — to spur Iraqi leaders, and a regional settlement. That is, without resolving the cold war in the Middle East that now pits America on one side and Iran and Syria on the other, I’m not sure you can stabilize Iraq, Lebanon or Israel-Palestine.

No, it's probably not likely that we'll solve the Israel-Palestine situation... and I don't think it can be argued that the average, non-jihadist Iraqi mum gives one flip about the Palestinian plight over the violence that the whackjob foreigners are imposing on her daily life.

Tying Middle East peace to success in Iraq is like tying the end of the Soviet Union to the elimination of nukes from Cuba. Baby steps, my boy... baby steps.
Letting everyone know that we’re not staying there forever would be the best way to catalyze both local and regional negotiations and give us something we don’t now have: leverage. Just letting Iraq recede into the back pages does not serve our interests.

If we’re going to just forget about Iraq, let’s do it when we’re gone — not when we’re still there.

OK, TOM!!! I THINK EVERYONE GETS IT!!! Everyone knows that we're not staying there forever. That very thought has been offered on every TV news program every night for that past 3 years. It's not very original and I don't think it needs to be repeated ad infinitum.

The national Iraqi politics will follow the local Iraqi politics.

Again - All Politics Is Local.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Islamofascism? You Betcha!

Christopher Hitchens on why the term Islamofascism is appropriate, regardless of what the Moonbats on the Left think:

Defending Islamofascism
It's a valid term. Here's why.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Oct. 22, 2007, at 11:33 AM ET

The attempt by David Horowitz and his allies to launch "Islamofascism Awareness Week" on American campuses has been met with a variety of responses. One of these is a challenge to the validity of the term itself. It's quite the done thing, in liberal academic circles, to sneer at any comparison between fascist and jihadist ideology. People like Tony Judt write to me to say, in effect, that it's ahistorical and simplistic to do so. And in some media circles, another kind of reluctance applies: Alan Colmes thinks that one shouldn't use the word Islamic even to designate jihad, because to do so is to risk incriminating an entire religion. He and others don't want to tag Islam even in its most extreme form with a word as hideous as fascism. Finally, I have seen and heard it argued that the term is unfair or prejudiced because it isn't applied to any other religion.

Well, that last claim is certainly not true. It was once very common, especially on the left, to prefix the word fascism with the word clerical. This was to recognize the undeniable fact that, from Spain to Croatia to Slovakia, there was a very direct link between fascism and the Roman Catholic Church. More recently, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, editor of the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, coined the term Judeo-Nazi to describe the Messianic settlers who moved onto the occupied West Bank after 1967. So, there need be no self-pity among Muslims about being "singled out" on this point.

The term Islamofascism was first used in 1990 in Britain's Independent newspaper by Scottish writer Malise Ruthven, who was writing about the way in which traditional Arab dictatorships used religious appeals in order to stay in power. I didn't know about this when I employed the term "fascism with an Islamic face" to describe the attack on civil society on Sept. 11, 2001, and to ridicule those who presented the attack as some kind of liberation theology in action. "Fascism with an Islamic face" is meant to summon a dual echo of both Alexander Dubcek and Susan Sontag (if I do say so myself), and in any case, it can't be used for everyday polemical purposes, so the question remains: Does Bin Ladenism or Salafism or whatever we agree to call it have anything in common with fascism?

I think yes. The most obvious points of comparison would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ("Death to the intellect! Long live death!" as Gen. Francisco Franco's sidekick Gonzalo Queipo de Llano so pithily phrased it.) Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia). Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression—especially to the repression of any sexual "deviance"—and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.

Fascism (and Nazism) also attempted to counterfeit the then-success of the socialist movement by issuing pseudo-socialist and populist appeals. It has been very interesting to observe lately the way in which al-Qaida has been striving to counterfeit and recycle the propaganda of the anti-globalist and green movements. (See my column on Osama Bin Laden's Sept. 11 statement.)

There isn't a perfect congruence. Historically, fascism laid great emphasis on glorifying the nation-state and the corporate structure. There isn't much of a corporate structure in the Muslim world, where the conditions often approximate more nearly to feudalism than capitalism, but Bin Laden's own business conglomerate is, among other things, a rogue multinational corporation with some links to finance-capital. As to the nation-state, al-Qaida's demand is that countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia be dissolved into one great revived caliphate, but doesn't this have points of resemblance with the mad scheme of a "Greater Germany" or with Mussolini's fantasy of a revived Roman empire?

Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race. But in practice, Islamic fanatics operate a fascistic concept of the "pure" and the "exclusive" over the unclean and the kufar or profane. In the propaganda against Hinduism and India, for example, there can be seen something very like bigotry. In the attitude to Jews, it is clear that an inferior or unclean race is being talked about (which is why many Muslim extremists like the grand mufti of Jerusalem gravitated to Hitler's side). In the attempted destruction of the Hazara people of Afghanistan, who are ethnically Persian as well as religiously Shiite, there was also a strong suggestion of "cleansing." And, of course, Bin Laden has threatened force against U.N. peacekeepers who might dare interrupt the race-murder campaign against African Muslims that is being carried out by his pious Sudanese friends in Darfur.

This makes it permissible, it seems to me, to mention the two phenomena in the same breath and to suggest that they constitute comparable threats to civilization and civilized values. There is one final point of comparison, one that is in some ways encouraging. Both these totalitarian systems of thought evidently suffer from a death wish. It is surely not an accident that both of them stress suicidal tactics and sacrificial ends, just as both of them would obviously rather see the destruction of their own societies than any compromise with infidels or any dilution of the joys of absolute doctrinal orthodoxy. Thus, while we have a duty to oppose and destroy these and any similar totalitarian movements, we can also be fairly sure that they will play an unconscious part in arranging for their own destruction, as well.

Jim Hoft at GatewayPundit has an excellent roundup of Islamofascism Awareness Week.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Can we question their patriotism yet?

Or at least question their Support of the TroopsTM?

Ted Rall has yet another slanderous and unfunny 'toon today. The topic? American soldiers are stupid and their deaths in Iraq is Darwinian Natural Selection.

HAHA! What wit!

(Click on the cartoon for full size version)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, October 22, 2007

Steyn on S-CHIP, Pete Fortney Stark, and Socialized Healthcare

Mark Steyn weighs in on the Congressman Stark's idiotic comments last week and the Democrats' War On Children. It's a great article and it should be read in full, but here's the closing which is just a perfect analysis of S-CHIP and the Frost kerfluffle that preceded the attempted veto override:

A couple of weeks ago, the Democrats put up a 12-year old S-CHIP beneficiary from Baltimore called Graeme Frost to deliver their official response to the President's Saturday-morning radio address. And immediately afterwards Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and I jumped the sick kid in a dark alley and beat him to a pulp. Or so you'd have thought from the press coverage: The Washington Post called us "meanies". Well, no doubt it's true we hard-hearted conservatives can't muster the civilized level of discourse of Pete Stark. But we were trying to make a point – not about the kid, but about the family, and their relevance as a poster child for expanded government healthcare. Mr and Mrs Frost say their income's about $45,000 a year – she works "part-time" as a medical receptionist and he works "intermittently" as a self-employed woodworker. They have a 3,000 square foot home plus a second commercial property with a combined value of over $400,000, and three vehicles – a new Suburban, a Volvo SUV, and a Ford F250 pick-up.

How they make that arithmetic add up is between them and their accountant. But here's the point: The Frosts are not emblematic of the health care needs of America so much as they are of the delusion of the broader western world. They expect to be able to work "part-time" and "intermittently" but own two properties and three premium vehicles and have the state pick up healthcare costs. Who do you stick the bill to? Four-car owners? Much of France already lives that way: a healthy wealthy well-educated populace works a mandatory maximum 35-hour week with six weeks of paid vacation and retirement at 55 and with the government funding all the core responsibilities of adult life.

I'm in favor of tax credits for child healthcare, and Health Savings Accounts for adults, and any other reform that emphasizes the citizen's responsibility to himself and his dependants. But middle-class entitlement creep would be wrong even if was affordable, even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover it every month: it turns free-born citizens into enervated wards of the nanny state. As Gerald Ford liked to say when trying to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." But there's an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn't big enough to get you to give any of it back. As I point out in my book, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: once a fellow's enjoying the fruits of Euro-style entitlements, he couldn't give a hoot about the general societal interest; he's got his, and who cares if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence?

That's the real "war on children": in Europe, it's killing their future. Don't make the same mistake here.
The facts are hard to argue... Sadly, few people have a desire to hear, much less understand, the facts.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler