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swelling protest over alleged election fraud in iraq

“a group of the aggrieved have started protests, styled after the ukrainian and lebanese, apparently a couple of hundred thousand marching in baghdad.”

My impression is that iraqthemodel becoming the best source on this. These problems appear to be mostly limited to the Sunnis and Sunni areas.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#iraq_elections_311205

the France Zone at abelard.org
Economics and money zone at abelard.org


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ukraine - useful background reports

The usual fossil media thoughtless hype-machine is in action yet again.
Here are two reports that may help at least some to keep an open mind and some balance regarding Ukraine, Russia and gas supplies.

ISN Security Watch
Ukrayinska Pravda

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#ukraine_301205

on proposed french p2p law [technology]

It’s good to be able to agree with a socialist, even if it’s a frog socialist.

The idea that you can stop this peer-to-peer activity is ludicrous. It is also an attack on freedom of information, mainly being driven by a few large corporations - such is the price of greed.

If it isn’t France, it would be another of about 200 countries, and then another. Whoever leads will gain market advantages.

“We are only leading in a direction that is inevitable for the law everywhere," said Christian Paul, a Socialist deputy who was also a co-author of the amendments. "You will see other European nations adopting such laws in the future because they just make sense."

“Artists currently get no money from peer-to-peer sharing, and with this fee at least they would get some," said Aziz Ridouan, a 17-year old high school student who has fought for Internet rights as president of the Association of Audiosurfers. "If the government and industry attack downloaders aggressively, we will just go underground with encryption and all chance of revenue will be lost." ”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#p2p_france_271205

media bias calculated [62-page .pdf]

“[...] for every journalist who contributed to George W. Bush’s campaign, another 93 contributed to Kerry’s campaign.” [page 4]

Look to the end of the .pdf document for tables of scores for some think tanks, senators and media outlets. 50 is intentionally average with higher numbers being left-wing and lower numbers being right-wing.

The USA is generally more right-wing than is Europe, therefore the average would fall above 50 in Europe.

marker at abelard.org

From the abstract to the report:
“Our estimates allow us to answer such questions as "Is the average article in the New York Times more liberal than the average speech by Tom Daschle?" or "Is the average story on Fox News more conservative than the average speech by Bill Frist?" ”

“Our results show a strong liberal bias. All of the news outlets except Fox News' Special Report and the Washington Times received a score to the left of the average member of Congress. Consistent with many conservative critics, CBS Evening News and the New York Times received a score far left of center. Outlets such as USA Today, NPR's Morning Edition, NBC's Nightly News and ABC's World News Tonight were moderately left. The most centrist outlets (but still left-leaning) by our measure were the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown, and ABC's Good Morning America. Fox News' Special Report, while right of center, was closer to the center than any of the three major networks' evening news broadcasts. All of our findings refer strictly to the news stories of the outlets.”

Note:
Liberal means left-wing or socialist in the USA.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#media_bias_251205

krauthammer on torture Four GoldenYak(tm) award

Well structured item on the necessity of torture in difficult situations, from Charles Krauthammer.

There is one minor error: the idea of ‘torture-lite’, which I regard as deeply irrational.

Either you intend to ‘squeeze’ the source, or you do not. If you do not, you should never start. If you do intend to start, then you can put no limits on the lengths to which you will go. To pretend otherwise is yet another attempt to wear ethical gloves in place of taking real responsibility.

This factor is ethically and pragmatically central to whether you start. If you put limits, the objects of torture will quickly adapt to how far they will need to hold out.

The seeking of perfection and rules in human life can never be more than some forlorn distant illusion.

“And even if the example I gave were entirely hypothetical, the conclusion--yes, in this case even torture is permissible--is telling because it establishes the principle: Torture is not always impermissible. However rare the cases, there are circumstances in which, by any rational moral calculus, torture not only would be permissible but would be required (to acquire life-saving information). And once you've established the principle, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, all that's left to haggle about is the price. In the case of torture, that means that the argument is not whether torture is ever permissible, but when--i.e., under what obviously stringent circumstances: how big, how imminent, how preventable the ticking time bomb.”

“ Such a determination would not be made with an untroubled conscience. It would be troubled because there is no denying the monstrous evil that is any form of torture. And there is no denying how corrupting it can be to the individuals and society that practice it. But elected leaders, responsible above all for the protection of their citizens, have the obligation to tolerate their own sleepless nights by doing what is necessary--and only what is necessary, nothing more--to get information that could prevent mass murder.

“GIVEN THE GRAVITY OF THE DECISION, if we indeed cross the Rubicon--as we must--we need rules. The problem with the McCain amendment is that once you have gone public with a blanket ban on all forms of coercion, it is going to be very difficult to publicly carve out exceptions. The Bush administration is to be faulted for having attempted such a codification with the kind of secrecy, lack of coherence, and lack of strict enforcement that led us to the McCain reaction.”

Other lighter, straight-talking items from Krauthammer may be found here.

For instance:
on the lunatic in Iran
“So a Holocaust-denying, virulently anti-Semitic, aspiring genocidist, on the verge of acquiring weapons of the apocalypse [Ahmadinejad], believes that the end is not only near but nearer than the next American presidential election. (Pity the Democrats. They cannot catch a break.) This kind of man would have, to put it gently, less inhibition about starting Armageddon than a normal person [...].”

on ‘intelligent design’
“ [...] when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a ``theory'' that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species, but that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, ``I think I'll make me a lemur today. [...] ”

on foolish US oil behaviour
“Yet for three decades we have done criminally little about it. Conservatives argued for more production, liberals argued for more conservation, and each side blocked the other's remedies -- when even a child can see that we need both.”
the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#tortchah_241205

bush latest speech themes

“So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this program. And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy, while safeguarding our civil liberties.

“This program has targeted those with known links to al Qaeda.

“I've reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for so long as our nation is -- for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens.”

“ As we fight the war on terror, we'll also continue to work to build prosperity for our citizens. Because we cut taxes and restrained non-security spending, our economy is strong and it is getting stronger. We added 215,000 new jobs in November. We've added nearly 4.5 million new jobs since May of 2003. The unemployment rate is down to 5 percent, lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Despite hurricanes and high gas prices, third quarter growth was 4.3 percent. More Americans own their own homes than at any time in our history. Inflation is low, productivity is high and consumer confidence is up. We're heading into a new year with an economy that is the envy of the world, and we have every reason to be optimistic about our economic future.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#bush_201205

updated and extended: how politics really works, the patriot act as an example
by guest writer, the auroran sunset

I have never taken much interest in the Patriot Act, or in the hysteria that pervades most discussion of that law. I have a great deal of faith in America’s ability to reform itself if necessary; I have little sympathy with most campaigners’ fundamentalist attitudes toward civil rights; and more importantly, I tend to tune out the moonbats of this world: they may talk sense once in a green sun, but who has the time or energy to discover those supposed gems?

Yesterday, my head told me that now is the time to do a bit of work, which I started by reading this fascinating floor speech by Democratic Senator Feingold. Feingold was the coauthor (with Republican Senator McCain) of the recent campaign finance reform laws that have had a number of presumably unintended negative consequences. These consequences are often overplayed by the fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party in order to damage McCain and Feingold: both fairly moderate possible contenders for their respective party’s nomination. Feingold gives the impression of being a well-meaning idealist specialising in anti-corruption and civil liberties law; like most well-meaning idealists, he has a tendency to not to take the real world into account when trying out his brilliant ideas.

Feingold’s speech has much detail on the congressional political process and on problems with the patriot act. First on the political process:

“Mr. President, because I was the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001, I want to be very clear from the start. I am not opposed to reauthorization of the Patriot Act. I supported the bipartisan, compromise reauthorization bill that the Senate passed earlier this year without a single Senator objecting. I believe that bill should become law. The Senate reauthorization bill is not a perfect bill, but it is a good bill. If that were the bill we were considering today, I would be here on the floor speaking in support of it. In fact, we could have reauthorized the Patriot Act months ago if the House had taken up the bill that the Senate approved without any objections.

“I also want to respond to those who argue that people who are demanding a better conference report want to let the Patriot Act expire. That is nonsense. Not a single member of this body is calling for any provision of the Patriot Act to expire. As Senator Sununu eloquently argued yesterday, just because we are coming up against the end of the year does not mean we should have to compromise the rights of law-abiding Americans. There are any number of ways that we can get this done and get it done right before the end of the year.

“Let me also be clear about how we ended up voting on a badly flawed conference report just days before certain provisions of the Patriot Act expire. The only reason that we are debating this conference report in the middle of December, rather than the middle of September or October, is because the House refused to appoint its conferees for three and a half months. It passed its reauthorization bill on July 21, but didn’t appoint conferees until November 9. In the Senate, on the other hand, we passed a bill by unanimous consent on July 29 and appointed conferees the very same day. We were ready and willing to start the process of resolving our differences with the House right away, leaving plenty of time to get this done without the pressure of the end of the year deadline.”

Next, on the contended section 215:

“Section 215 is at the center of this debate over the Patriot Act. It is also one of the provisions that I tried unsuccessfully to amend here on this floor in October 2001. So it makes sense to start my discussion of the specific problems I have with the conference report with the infamous “library” provision.

“Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the government to obtain secret court orders in domestic intelligence investigations to get all kinds of business records about people, including not just library records, but also medical records and various other types of business records. The Patriot Act allowed the government to obtain these records as long as they were "sought for" a terrorism investigation. That’s a very low standard. It didn’t require that the records concern someone who was suspected of being a terrorist or spy, or even suspected of being connected to a terrorist or spy. It didn’t require any demonstration of how the records would be useful in the investigation. Under Section 215, if the government simply said it wanted records for a terrorism investigation the secret FISA court was required to issue the order -- period. To make matters worse, recipients of these orders are also subject to an automatic gag order. They cannot tell anyone that they have been asked for records.

“Now some in the Administration, and even in this body, took the position that people shouldn’t be able to criticize these provisions until they could come up with a specific example of “abuse.” The Attorney General makes that same argument today in an op-ed in the Washington Post when he dismisses concerns about the Patriot Act by saying that “[t]here have been no verified civil liberties abuses in the four years of the act's existence.” That has always struck me as a strange argument since 215 orders are issued by a secret court and people who receive them are prohibited by law from discussing them. In other words, the law is designed so that it’s almost impossible to know if abuses have occurred. [...]

“The Senate bill also would give recipients of a 215 order an explicit, meaningful right to challenge business record orders and the accompanying gag orders in court. These provisions passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously after tough negotiations late into the night.

“The conference report did away with this delicate compromise.”

I cannot yet be bothered to read the Patriot Act and I doubt that most, if any, of the vocal commentators on either side have. However, my understanding now is that the Patriot Act is in most parts mostly harmless, and in fact could be considered necessary. Only small parts of the act have sunset clauses set to expire soon and those are the parts currently under debate. In fact, the extension of those parts was rejected yesterday:

“The 52-47 roll call by which the Senate voted to reject reauthorization of several provisions of the USA Patriot Act. Sixty votes were needed to overcome a filibuster of the bill.” [There is a role call list for the vote at the last link.]

Not all of the problematic parts of the Patriot Act have sunset clauses expiring on December 31st 2005. Not all of the parts with relevant sunset clauses are problematic: some apparently increase the protections from intrusion. As Volokh [a fundie wing Republican lawyer, who is fairly interesting and reasonable on non-fundie agenda-related matters of law and civil rights] comments:

“For those of us who think of the Patriot Act as actual legislation rather than a symbol of the Bush Administration, this is rather puzzling stuff. The dirty little secret about the Patriot Act is that only about 3% of the Act is controversial, and only about a third of that 3% is going to expire on December 31st. Further, much of the reauthorization actually puts new limits on a number of the controversial non-sunsetting provisions, and some of the sunsetting provisions increased privacy protections. As a result, it's not immediately obvious to me whether we'll have greater civil liberties on January 1, 2006 if the Patriot Act is reauthorized or if it is allowed to expire. (To be fair, though, I'd have to run through the effect of every expiring section and all of the reauthorization language to check this - maybe I would feel differently if I did.)”

A large part of the problems arising in these debates is caused by the inability to vote selectively. The senators are presented with a mammoth collection of laws, the parts of which are often not even vaguely related to each other, some good, some bad, some indifferent, and every other shade between. Assuming the bill gets to a vote - the majority do not - the politicians must vote yes or no for the collection.

In the case of the Patriot Act, the bureaucrats ever attempt to add items from their wishlists, items that are invariably not good for liberty. Despite the constant invocation of “terrorism” on the right, the Patriot Act is in reality more aimed at the idiotic “war on drugs”. Despite the constant invocation of civil liberties on the left, the Patriot Act is mostly neutral on civil liberties: all of Feingold’s complaints are in the end related to government attempts to avoid oversight, rather than directly to the at least plausibly necessary created/extended exceptions to various rights. On the moonbat left, the Patriot Act performs rather as a useful Bush-bashing tool, useful because the complaints at least sound reasonable or plausible.

“I voted for that bill because of this orphanage for the children. Of course, I don’t like this billion dollar grant to my friends at Corruption Inc. to barcode and track every baby. However, in the end we must think of the children.” Or: “of course I support the troops and I greatly regret being forced - by this part that would close one library in my district - to vote against this bill to fund buying body armour.” This system of non-specific voting has great advantages for a dishonest or corrupt politician: it gives the weasels a strong degree of deniability.

The politician can always disclaim responsibility, because their vote is for a diverse package, rather than for a specific one. Similarly with pork-busting attempts, you cannot vote against someone’s pork because at the same time you will probably be voting against your own pork, or against something “important”.

Most of the pork bills are huge messy compromises, designed to make sure that nobody gets left out, all inserted into something else that could be reasonably considered important. Thus all can and do claim that they were not voting for the pork, but were actually voting for the important bits. For example, the recent Highways Bill that has been the main focus of the Porkbusters Campaign has at its centre a core of work to modernise the American road infrastructure, something clearly important for the functioning of a modern industrial nation. Of course it also has the “bridge to nowhere”, an unwanted “parking garage” and much more. It is reckoned that there is at least $24 billion ‘worth’ of pork in that one transportation bill. It is a show.

There is an obvious and easy solution:

“A single-subject, descriptive-title (hereinafter, SSDT) requirement for all Congressional bills — more popularly labeled a truth-in-legislation amendment as suggested by law professor Brannon Denning and attorney Brooks Smith (see their “Uneasy Riders: The Case for a Truth-in-Legislation Amendment,” 1999 Utah Law Review 858) — would only help cure some of the legislative abuses inflicted upon the populace by both chambers of Congress. The Denning/Smith version would read: "Congress shall pass no bill, and no bill shall become law, which embraces more than one subject, that subject being clearly expressed in the title."

There are a few more honest politicians, such as Coburn, who are very slowly improving the situation, despite the ‘help’ of their friends. If you are determined enough, it is possible to force the corrupt or craven into the light:

“In a 279-109 vote, the GOP-controlled House approved a resolution saying the chamber is committed "to achieving victory in Iraq" and that setting an "artificial timetable" would be "fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory." [...]

“It says that "setting an artificial timetable for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq, or immediately terminating their deployment in Iraq and redeploying them elsewhere in the region, is fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory in Iraq." [...]

“By putting the resolution to a vote, Republican leaders forced Democrats to make a choice: either break ranks with their party and support the GOP resolution, or oppose it and open themselves to criticism, ahead of a congressional election year in which Iraq will be a focus, that they had rejected the notion of victory in Iraq.”

Of course, the politicians will both do all they can to avoid being forced to make clear acts; and when so forced, politicians will do all they can after the fact to muddy the clarity of, or distract from, that act: just watch the democrats now quibbling over the definition of “victory” and bemoaning this “political stunt”, as if it being political or a stunt has any relevance to their now recorded votes.

There is too much of both pessimism and optimistic credulity in discussion of the actions of politicians. They are not invulnerable, things do slowly improve. Neither are they to be trusted, no matter how nice today’s soundbite may appear. Another example: McCain has managed to build a considerable degree of credibility as a social moderate, who is willing to act against corruption and is hardheaded enough to face problems out there in the non-American world. Now watch carefully as he attempts to spend that capital and get the votes of the fundamentalists in his party:

McCain has also been tacking rightward in less obvious—or at least less aggressively publicized—ways. He has thrown his support behind the teaching of “intelligent design” along with evolution in public schools. He has endorsed a constitutional amendment in Arizona to ban gay marriage and deny benefits to unmarried couples of any kind. He has met privately with Jerry Falwell, in an apparent attempt to gin up a rapprochement with the Christian right, which he famously and vividly attacked at the height of the 2000 campaign.

A politician’s life is votes. Nothing more or less. In order to gain the Republican nomination this sort of pandering to idiocy is necessary, as McCain found when he failed to do so last time. To get the Democratic nomination, one must pander to a different breed of idiocy, but the political pattern is the same.

So now McCain does his pandering, opening himself wide open to hypocrisy charges, but giving himself a very good chance of getting the nomination. He has to calculate whether gain in support from a large section of the sheep will be enough to compensate for the damage to his reputation in the eyes of the serious. This is the reality of a politician’s life. Just as the reality for those watching is never ever being certain just which parts are real and which parts are for the votes. All we observers can be certain of is that Mr .Politician did say x, they did vote y and they did act z - at least assuming you trust your sources sufficiently for your purposes at this instant.

There are also some votes in at least appearing honest and there are some votes in acting “courageously”. The more courageous politicians will at times act despite the feckless sheep, as Blair did in Britain vis the necessary action in Iraq - but always the politician must calculate whether they can get away with it, that is whether the sheep will keep voting for them, and many (eg Churchill) pay a heavy price for that courage when they miscalculate.

For sanity: do not despair; do not trust; study, make judgments and slowly improve the world. There are many ways to improve the world, most are at least in some sense outside politics.

Alternatively you can keep passively watching the show, fooling yourself that you understand or care.

Or you can simply bury your head and hope it all “works out” somehow, which it probably will because they are many many good people willing to act where you are not.

It is your choice - although I would suggest that options two and three are no real options for any who wish to honestly claim to be a citizen or a man.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#patriot_act_191205

dare the british hope that the socialist coup in the tory party has now ended

For several years, there has been no legitimate or genuine Conservative [Tory ] opposition to Tony Bliar’s socialism. Bliar has been given an easy ride by socialists who captured the Tory Party on the fall of Thatcher.

A last, there are considerable signs that this may be changing.

From libdems4cameron.com

“wouldn't you like to help build a modern, progressive, liberal, mainstream, opposition to labour?
why not support a party that believes in green politics, social justice and localism?

“ "My Conservative Party believes passionately in green politics; is committed to decentralisation and localism; supports open markets; is prepared to stand up for civil liberties and the rule of law....

“....and wants Britain to be a positive participant in the EU, as a champion of liberal values." ”

marker at abelard.org

David Cameron pledges to remove the National Statistics Office from government manipulation!

“Mr Cameron said the Conservative guarantee of independence for the Bank of England to set interest rates would be reinforced with a promise not surrender that role to the European Central Bank. "Under the Conservatives, the United Kingdom will retain its own currency, and interest rates will be set in the United Kingdom, for the United Kingdom. No other party is prepared to make this pledge," he said.

“Meanwhile, an independent panel to judge the Chancellor's so-called 'golden rule' on borrowing would ensure that the rules were clear and being met by ministers.

“In addition, the third lock on economic stability would be provided by granting independence for the Office for National Statistics. "Only with truly independent statistics can the business community and the public believe the figures," he declared.” [Quoted from conservatives.com]

marker at abelard.org

Meanwhile in parliament, David Cameron shreds Tony Bliar’s failure and dishonesty in the EU:

Response to the Prime Minister's statement on the EU Budget in the Commons

This is incredible stuff, at long last - scanning advised.

“On the budget, does the Prime Minister remember having three clear objectives?

“First, to limit its size, when almost every country in Europe is taxing and borrowing too much.

“Second, to ensure fundamental reform of the CAP.

“And third, to keep the British rebate unless such reform occurs.

“Isn't it now clear that he failed in every single one?”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#david_cameron_191205

us military learning curve in the m.e.

“Every brigade in Iraq and Afghanistan now has a secure intranet page, which soldiers are encouraged to fill with observations and queries. Early this year a secure online chat-room, the Battle Command Knowledge System, appeared. Besides circulating thousands of tactical questions and answers, it can help soldiers find technical experts, learn foreign languages, contact counterparts in the war zone, or squint through the web camera of an armoured vehicle in Iraq.”

“According to the new doctrine's authors, at Leavenworth's Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate, key changes will stress the strategic importance of civilian populations. The army's basic doctrinal aim is to move from high-intensity offensive to low-intensity security and stability operations - from creating shock and awe to winning hearts and minds. The new doctrine will emphasise that, where possible, the two levels should co-exist - where possible, for example, the army should exercise restraint in its offensive operations. In addition, the revised "Operations" will stress the need to protect civilians from external threats (such as Islamic terrorists) and internal disorder (such as looters), while ensuring the provision of "central services", including power and water.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#us_military_181205

very nice little item by andrew neil on hayek and current world power Four GoldenYak (tm) award

“Those who follow this route believe they have it within their power to build, organise and mould society so that it conforms to their concept of what is just and efficient. But it leads, argued Hayek, to economic decline, poverty, social regression and, in extremis, famine, starvation and the collapse of civilisation. Historic examples, said Hayek, included Sparta, Revolutionary France, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany - and all the tyrannies that blighted the 20th century. Constructivist rationalism is The Road to Serfdom.

“Hayek favoured 'evolutionary rationalism' which understands that there 'exists orderly structures which are the product of the actions of many men [and women] but are not the result of human design'. He believed this was the right approach because it is compatible with the teachings of economic science and goes with the grain of human nature; for these reasons, he thought, it leads to prosperity, progress and the flourishing of humanity.”

“China has a long way to go to meet Hayek's demanding criteria of a free and prosperous society. This is still a country whose leaders cannot even bring themselves to tell their own people about a massive environmental disaster. Huge economic distortions remain, including a deeply defective banking system plagued with bad debts. Inflation is too high, corruption endemic. Nor can there be any proper market economy or individual freedom in the absence of the rule of law and entrenched property rights, two democratic necessities that dictatorships always deny, China's included. But at least China is moving in the right direction.

“With each step away from communist constructivism to Hayekian capitalism, China has been richly rewarded. It is now the world's number one producer of LCD screens and TVs; it makes 90 per cent of the world's toys, 70 per cent of its photocopiers, 50 per cent of its cameras, 40 per cent of its microwaves, 30 per cent of its handbags and suitcases and 16 per cent of its clothing.”

“Consider the following: in France, the outflow of direct investment abroad shot up from $16 billion in 1994 to almost $50 billion last year; in Italy it has gone up from $5 billion in 1994 to $19 billion last year; inward FDI to Germany and France fell sharply last year. In France the inflows almost halved. In the case of Germany the figures seem to have dropped off the bottom of the scale: foreign investors withdrew about $39 billion from the country last year.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#hayek_091205

unusually low us military death rate in iraq action

Action Duration Number killed KIA Avg. Rate per Year
Rev War 8 years 25,324 3,166
Civil War 4 years 562,130 140,533
WWI 1.58 years 116,708 78,866
WWII 3.75 years 408,306 108,882
Marine Iwo Jima 25 days 6,891 100,608
Korea 3.08 years 54,246 17,612
Vietnam 7 years 58,249 8,321
Desert Storm 42 days 363 2,135
Iraqi Freedom 2.667 years 2,096 786
the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#death_rate_021205

larf yet again (or cry) at socialists - with steyn

Of course, the recent news is that the Smellygraph intend to ‘let him go’, so there’s another surprise for the day - can’t have anyone laughing at the idiots’ legions.

“Meanwhile, how are things looking in the United States? As you'll recall, in a typically "pig-headed and blinkered" (Independent) act that could lead to the entire planet becoming "uninhabitable" (Michael Meacher), "Polluter Bush" (Daily Express), "this ignorant, short-sighted and blinkered politician" (Friends of the Earth), rejected the Kyoto treaty. Yet somehow the "Toxic Texan" (everybody) has managed to outperform Canada on almost every measure of eco-virtue.”

related material
steyn online

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#steyn_larfs_301105

brilliant sharon may well outflank extremist loons of both right and left

“Opinion polls published soon after Mr Sharon's decision to found his new party show him easily winning the next election, although in the Middle East what looks a sure bet in November does not always look so obvious in March, when the election will be held. But if anybody is to break the majority two-party mould of Israeli politics, Ariel Sharon is that man.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#sharon_271105

bush speech in japan - transcript

George Bush continues to pressure the dying cult of socialism.

“Japan has also shown that once people get a taste for freedom, they want more -- because the desire for freedom is written in the hearts of every man and woman on this earth. With each new generation that grows up in freedom, the expectations of citizens rise -- and the demand for accountability grows. Here in Japan, Prime Minister Koizumi has shown leadership by pushing crucial reforms to open your economy and make Japan's institutions more responsive to the needs of its people. The Prime Minister knows that nations grow in wealth and stature when they trust in the wisdom and talents of their people -- and that lesson is now spreading across this great region.”

“ This summer, we took an important step toward these goals by forming the Asian-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development. Together with Australia, and China, and India, Japan, and South Korea, we will focus on practical ways to make the best practices and latest energy technologies available to all. And as nations across this region adapt these practices and technologies, they will make their factories and power plants cleaner and more efficient. I plan to use my visit to the region to build on the progress we are making. By working together, we will promote economic growth and reduce emissions -- and help build a better and cleaner world.”

“Taiwan is another society that has moved from repression to democracy as it liberalized its economy. Like South Korea, the people of Taiwan for years lived under a restrictive political state that gradually opened up its economy. And like South Korea, the opening to world markets transformed the island into one of the world's most important trading partners. And like South Korea, economic liberalization in Taiwan helped fuel its desire for individual political freedom -- because men and women who are allowed to control their own wealth will eventually insist on controlling their own lives and their own future.”

“China can play a positive role in the world. We welcome the important role China has assumed as host of the six-party talks aimed at bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula. We look forward to resolving our trade differences in a spirit of mutual respect and adherence to global rules and standards. And we encourage China to continue down the road of reform and openness -- because the freer China is at home, the greater the
welcome it will receive abroad.”

“The United States is also concerned with the fate of freedom in Northeast Asia, where great powers have collided in the past. The Korean Peninsula is still caught in the past. An armistice -- a truce -- freezes the battle lines from a war that has never really come to an end. The pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens to destabilize the region. Satellite maps of North Korea show prison camps the size of whole cities, and a country that at night is clothed almost in complete darkness.”

And more.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#bush_speech_241105

open democracy growing in the tory party is undermining oldnewoldlabour

On Tony Bliar’s lack of legitimacy.

A poor and trivial article on the subject, but it raises most interesting matters, for instance the quite ridiculous comment, “Posterity will thank Michael H***** [Howard] for much of this”. Thank that idiot who tried to engineer a stitch-up in place of open debate? How daft can these scribblers get!

With the growing open government in the UK Conservative Party and the willingness to face public debate, the backroom fix-ups of oldnewoldlabour [UK Socialist Party], and the running from serious public debate will be far less of an option for future Labour leaders, as will be the lack of serious democracy in the party.

“This is the first time any party has forced its candidates to run the gauntlet of hustings in front of activists live on television at the annual party conference. As a follow-up, no aspirant prime ministers in Britain have ever then gone on to confront each other in a series of live television debates, in the way of the two Davids.

“Whoever wins, Cameron and Davis have already written themselves into the political history books. By the end of this campaign, the two men will have taken part in three full scale television debates, on BBC1, ITV1 (today at lunchtime), and Sky News (next Thursday), as well as sitting side by side on Radio 4's Woman's Hour and numerous breakfast TV sofas. The campaign will be remembered for these joint appearances. Traditional one-on-one interviews have had less impact, even those conducted by Jeremy Paxman.

“The debates have been fresh: the first proper televised events in this country in which the contestants have complied with the requirements of the broadcasting professionals over such vital questions as format and timing [...].”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#uk_politics_231105

the patriot act page 1 page 2

“Capping another tough week for President Bush and top Republicans in Congress, a bipartisan backlash yesterday forced congressional leaders to shelve a bill to extend provisions of the USA Patriot Act that expire at the end of the year.

“Sidetracking the White House's push to preserve the expanded police powers authorized after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a rare coalition of liberal Democrats and conservative Republican lawmakers are demanding that the bill's more controversial provisions -- set to run out at the end of December -- should include more civil-liberties safeguards.

“They want federal authorities to notify targets of secret, ''sneak-and-peek" searches within seven days of executing the warrant; get a judge's approval before searching medical, financial, and library records; and allow the subjects of an investigation to challenge court gag orders issued against them.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#patriot_act_201105

bush coherent on islamofascism and socialism [speech by George Bush]

“Last month, the world learned of a letter written by al Qaeda's number two leader, a guy named Zawahiri. And he wrote this letter to his chief deputy in Iraq - the terrorist Zarqawi. In it, Zawahiri points to the Vietnam War as a model for al Qaeda. This is what he said: "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam - and how they ran and left their agents - is noteworthy." The terrorists witnessed a similar response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993. They believe that America can be made to run again - only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.”

“ Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution [...].”

“The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this road - that this is the road to paradise - though he never offers to go along for the ride.”

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

“They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate - who had access to the same intelligence - voted to
support removing Saddam Hussein from power.”

marker at abelard.org

George Bush to China

“President Bush has arrived in China on the third stop of an eight-day trip to Asia. President Bush says China should give its people greater freedoms, holding up rival Taiwan as an example of successful Asian democracy.”

“In addition to economic reforms, President Bush is expected to discuss political change in China and what he says is the need for the Chinese people to have greater freedoms to express themselves, to worship without state control, and to print Bibles and other sacred texts without fear of punishment.

“Earlier in this trip, Mr. Bush gave a speech in Japan where he said Chinese leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous, and confident nation by meeting, what he called, the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness.

“ "As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is open even a crack, it cannot be closed," the president said. " As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well."

[George Bush is expected to raise such issues during his current visit to China.]

“ The White House warmly welcomed China's purchase as a demonstration of success in U.S. efforts to get China to follow through on promises to reduce the trade imbalance.

“ "It's a very important thing, and I think it's a testament to how our approach to China is yielding real results," said Mike Green, senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council. "In this case, an order for 70 737 aircraft from Boeing." ”

“ Bush also planned to continue his push to maintain a unified front among all the U.S. partners in talks aimed at stripping North Korea of nuclear weapons. After sitting down with Hu, Bush will have met on this trip with all four other participants in the negotiations, which also include South Korea, Japan and Russia.”[Quoted from abcnews.go.com]

marker at abelard.org

balancing demands for freedom and cooperation on ‘terror’

“China says its biggest terrorist threat comes from separatist forces in its far-western region of Xinjiang, where most of the population is Muslim and belongs to the Uighur ethnic group. But international human rights groups and advocates of Xinjiang independence say China has exaggerated the threat in the region to suppress legitimate protest.

“Asked about the U.S. stance on China's efforts to combat terrorism in Xinjiang, Gonzales said: "We committed to try to be as helpful as we can, and cooperative as we can, with the Chinese government."

“Gonzales said the United States and China had established "liaison groups" to cooperate on counter-terrorism, and the two countries were also considering forming more such teams. He declined to be more specific.”

marker at abelard.org

From a BBC Newsnight interview, Gorbachev speaking:

“The Russian leadership really means what it is saying, they are truly committed to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons.”

related material
Authoritarianism and liberty

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#bush_on_dogmas_201105

an interesting article, not written by one of the best minds

“Restraining people from demanding ever bigger hand-outs of other people's money is the chief role of government in a democracy. Alexander Tytler, an 18th century Scottish historian and judge, used to insist that democracy could only last as long as people didn't realise that they could vote themselves as much as they wanted from the public treasury. Democracy has in fact survived that realisation, but only because voters have been persuaded that the other systems of government are so awful that they'll get more under democracy. And they do: in a democracy, everyone steals from everyone else, whereas in all the other systems, a small political elite plunders the population with a ruthlessness and efficiency the people as a whole can never quite manage to do to itself.”

I am unconvinced by the writer’s wish to obtain striver Davis as UK Conservative Party leader, rather than urbane Cameron.

A major problem with recent leaders has been dedicated mediocrity. Further, the under-educated striver tends to ‘have notions’, a chip on the shoulder and a excessive enthusiasm to ‘put things right’.

The writer is sane to refer to the great Hayek, but I do not want any more half-educated John Majors or Tony Bliars, let alone the some of the uneducated risers who have destroyed so many lives in the last century or two.

I want a person more rooted in history and culture, but not another mindless old fogey living in the past.

It seems to me that Cameron is a fair potential representative of this balance.

I quote once more:

“At about the same time, Aristotle composed the work, now lost, On Kingship, in which he clearly distinguishes the function of the philosopher from that of the king. He alters Plato's dictum - for the better, it is said - by teaching that it is not merely unnecessary for a king to be a philosopher, but even a disadvantage. Rather, a king should take the advice of true philosophers; then he would fill his reign with good deeds, not with good words.” [Quoted from Why Aristotelean logic does not work]

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#best_minds_171105

solid item by mister bean on free speech

On a crazy attempt by the UK goverment to force through an anti-religious hatred ‘law’.

“The prime motivating energy for the Bill seemed to come not from communities seeking protection from bullying by the British National Party but from individuals with a more aggressive, fundamentalist agenda. Those who have sought, from the very day of the publication in 1989 of Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses, to immunise religions against criticism and ridicule - or at least to promote legislation that is so sinister and intimidating, it can provide that immunity without even the need to prosecute anyone. In other words, to impose self-censorship.”

Of course, there is much muddy water in discerning differences between religions, philosophies or beliefs.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#mr_bean_151105

integration, civil war or eurocaliphate? the seething of france

“It may well be that the motive for the rioting was nothing more than an inchoate grievance allied to youthful exuberance and a penchant for bad behaviour, but it was Islam which gave it an identity and also its retrospective raison d’être. The political aspirations of many French Muslim organisations and explicitly of the most important political Islamic organisation on the Continent, the Arab European League, is for much greater segregation, for Verwoerd’s ideal of separate development - the very essence, to my mind, of racism. The appalling Arab European League, in fact, likens assimilation or integration to ‘rape’ and calls upon all Muslims to resist such cultural imperialism. And the director of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, who delivered that nice fatwa, has seemed to request that the French government give Muslims autonomy within the state; to, in effect, allow them to follow their own rules. So for those pundits on French TV, apologies, but au contraire: the French Muslims do not, as a whole, want greater integration. They want less integration.” [Quoted from spectator.co.uk]

And on Muslim demography in France:

“Now go back to that bland statistic you hear a lot these days: ‘about 10 per cent of France’s population is Muslim’. Give or take a million here, a million there, that’s broadly correct, as far as it goes. But the population spread isn’t even. And when it comes to those living in France aged 20 and under, about 30 per cent are said to be Muslim and in the major urban centres about 45 per cent. If it came down to street-by-street fighting, as Michel Gurfinkiel, the editor of Valeurs Actuelles, points out, ‘the combatant ratio in any ethnic war may thus be one to one’ - already, right now, in 2005. It is not necessary, incidentally, for Islam to become a statistical majority in order to function as one. At the height of its power in the 8th century, the ‘Islamic world’ stretched from Spain to India, yet its population was only minority Muslim. Nonetheless, by 2010, more elderly white Catholic ethnic frogs will have croaked and more fit healthy Muslim youths will be hitting the streets. One day they’ll even be on the beach at St Trop, and if you and your infidel whore happen to be lying there wearing nothing but two coats of Ambre Solaire when they show up, you better hope that the BBC and CNN are right about there being no religio-ethno-cultural component to their ‘grievances’.” [Quoted from spectator.co.uk]

Organised and planned, land for peace. Part of how Hitler came to power was by organising street violence, which he then offered to control in exchange for concessions.

“In September, the Algerian Islamist terror group GSPC issued a communiqué describing France as "enemy number one" and called for Muslims to conduct attacks on France. Agence France Presse reported this threat without great fanfare, but the French authorities took it seriously enough to round up over a dozen suspected terrorist cell members throughout the country. The Post took a different look at the Algerian threat, noting that the training for terrorists had focused on younger French citizens, with a greater ability to move unrestricted through the streets of Paris and other target-rich environments. Among the training areas that intrigued the Post was the urban-warfare areas of Iraq:

“French police investigating plans by a group of Islamic extremists to attack targets in Paris discovered last month that the group was recruiting French citizens to train in the Middle East and return home to carry out terrorist attacks, sources familiar with the investigation said.”

“Amir Taheri noted in the New York Post that the French have already heard from people who claim that they can negotiate an end to the violence. Local "emirs" representing the sink estates want the French police to withdraw from the territories and allow sheikhs from the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization with ties to al Qaeda, to arbitrate an end to the riots. "All we demand is to be left alone," says Mouloud Dahmani, an "emir" who promises a return to quiet in exchange for autonomy. It is, in effect, a land-for-peace proposal aimed at the heart of France and Christendom.” [Quoted from weeklystandard.com]

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#eurocaliphate_121105

enemy territory in france

“Yet despite all the national and international headlines they occasioned, last week's disturbances were no freak occurrence. For at least 15 years, the immigrant and first-generation suburbs around France's large and medium-sized cities have been out of control. Crime rates have gone through the roof: According to the Renseignements Généraux, a division of the police, 70,000 violent crimes have been recorded in urban settings since the beginning of the year. They include the torching of more than 28,000 cars and 17,500 trash bins. According to the Interior Ministry, some 9,000 police cars have been stoned by youths this year.

“And property is not the only target. On October 27, the day the two died in Clichy-sous-Bois, three young thugs in another Paris suburb savagely killed a 56-year-old Frenchman who was photographing a lamppost. Plenty of witnesses were around, but none came forward to testify. The attackers were trying either to steal the man's digital camera or to "protect their turf" from an intruder. Ten days earlier, in Vaulx-en-Velin, a suburb of France's second largest city, Lyon, the police chased two teenagers on a stolen scooter and one fell and hurt his ankle. The rumor spread that he was in a coma because of the cops. A few nights of rioting ensued, with violent faceoffs between teens and police on the exact spot where similar, serious rioting occurred 15 years ago.

“At least as worrisome as such intermittent flare-ups is what happens every day in these ethnic neighborhoods. Most have become a no-man's land where police scarcely venture and the law of the jungle prevails. Honest, law-abiding inhabitants feel abandoned. As Bally Bagayoko, deputy mayor of Saint-Denis, a working-class suburb of Paris, put it: "People have totally lost confidence in the police. In most cases, they don't even file a complaint." Sometimes judges are physically threatened or attacked.

“What's more, none of this is any secret.....”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#guerilla_urbaine_101105

karma and the price of appeasement

“If President Chirac thought he was going to gain peace with the Muslim community in France by taking an appeasement line in the Iraq war, it certainly looks like he miscalculated. Today the streets of the French capital are looking more like Ramallah and less like the advanced, sophisticated, gay Paree image Monsieur Chirac likes to portray to the world [...].”

“ Back in the 1990s, the French sneered at America for the Los Angeles riots. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 1992: "the consensus of French pundits is that something on the scale of the Los Angeles riots could not happen here, mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger commitment to social welfare programs." President Mitterrand, the Washington Post reported in 1992, blamed the riots on the "conservative society" that Presidents Reagan and Bush had created and said France is different because it "is the country where the level of social protection is the highest in the world." ”

And then there was the canicule [heatwave] and far more deaths than in New Orleans.

Also see comment at tas.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#french_karma_081105

on that nasty confrontational mister bush

“If the Prince wants to take a few examples of the non-confrontational approach with him to the White House, here's a couple pulled at random from the last week's news: the president of Iran called for Israel to be "wiped off the map". Kofi Annan expressed his "dismay".

“Excellent. Struck the perfect non-confrontational tone. Were the Iranian nuclear programme a little more advanced and they'd actually wiped Israel off the map, the secretary-general might have felt obliged to be more confrontational and express his "deep concern".

“In Sulawesi, Indonesia, three Christian girls walking home from school were beheaded.

“ "It is unclear what was behind the attack," reported the BBC, scrupulously non-confrontationally.

“In the Australian state of Victoria, reports the Herald Sun, "police are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits". Tough luck for us infidel wife-beaters, but admirably non-confrontational Islam-wise.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#confrontational_bush_061105

some sound advice for george from victor hanson

“The key to Iraq is enfeebling those around it who are weakening the country - namely Syria and Iran. The U.S. should be calling for democratic reform in both countries - constantly, without interruption, and in the same idealistic fashion as we appeal to the Iraqis. The president must focus world attention on just how awful those two regimes are. After all, an Iranian president threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map at precisely the time his government lies and connives to obtain nuclear weapons - which alone could bring that avowed sick Khomeineseque dream to fruition, given Iran's conventional military impotence. Again, the government of Iran is not just talking about warring with the Sharon government or attacking the Israeli nation, but rather liquidating the Jewish people - as Hitlerian a promise of genocide as we have seen since the Holocaust. And he boasts like a leader who fully expects to have nuclear weapons in the near future.”

Some comments from abelard:

Regarding the notion of “serious threats”, you must control the oil fields as long as you are critically dependent upon them. Further, all the wealth resulting in oil cannot be allowed to be spent upon preparing military strength that can challenge the West.

Such a military threat cannot be permitted to allow to develop. Madsam [Saddam Huessein] was listed as controlling the 4th largest military operation on the planet before he was taken down a peg or five. He was actively seeking expansion.

It is not possible to make agreements with medieval dictators, they have a long history of breaking every agreement they make.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/politics0511.php#hansons_advice_031105

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