Jun 27 2008

President on training wheels?

Category: election 2008,terrorism,Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 3:56 pm

From Hugh Hewitt’s Blog:

From the San Francisco Chronicle’s coverage of a National Academy of Sciences meeting underway in D.C.:

It is a grim, almost unthinkable scenario: a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon, smuggled into the United States, is detonated in a major U.S. city, perhaps even the Bay Area.

Top federal officials and medical experts gathered in Washington on Thursday to consider this nightmare vision. Their conclusion: Cities and states are frightfully ill-prepared for dealing with an attack using a small nuclear bomb.

“Few of them have coordinated response plans for the aftermath of nuclear terrorism,” said Brooke Buddemeier, a specialist in the radiological and nuclear counter-measures division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “There is a general lack of understanding of the response needs and uncertainty over federal, state and local roles and responsibilities.”

Federal officials are worried enough to have convened a National Academy of Sciences committee on medical preparedness for a nuclear attack by terrorists. The panel is holding its first two-day meeting in Washington this week.

The presentations got specific:

The committee began its first session with a ghastly overview of what a 10-kiloton nuclear blast would look like: If detonated at the White House, it could destroy virtually every building within 1,500 yards. People in an area out to 1.55 miles could suffer second-degree burns, while others would be injured by flying debris and shattered windows. Those 4.5 to 7.5 miles away could suffer momentary “flash” blindness, causing traffic accidents.

A lethal plume of radioactive material would, depending on winds, stretch as far as 9 miles, affecting up to 300,000 people, although injuries would depend on a person’s exposure to radiation.

“It’s not just about radiation exposure,” Buddemeier said. Many of the injured would have shards of glass in their eyes, ruptured eardrums and other impact injuries from the blast’s shock waves.

Read the whole thing and understand that there are millions of people who go to sleep every night and dream of such a scenario –and take pleasure in it.

Good Lord. I don’t usually quote an entire post of someone else, but: Good Lord.

The 2008 elections are not just about health care and the economy, or even the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Which of our candidates do YOU want running the show? Which one do YOU think is likely to know more about this threat, and be highly focused on doing something about it?

This is no time for a President on training wheels.

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Jun 27 2008

Canadian Healthcare: NOT the model for USA

Category: healthcare,socialismharmonicminer @ 3:31 pm

I wrote earlier on the problems of “universal health care”, or pretty much any heavily regulated or government funded health care scheme, which inevitably leads to rationing. That is, while we can find cases in free market systems where people won’t get care, through no fault of their own, we’re foolish to ignore the fact that in government run systems, which will of necessity be rationed, there will also be people who suffer for lack of care.

Writing in Investor’s Business Daily, David Gratzer gives the lowdown on the Canadian experiment with socialized medical care. Claude Castonguay was perhaps the most powerful driving voice behind Canada’s adoption of government run healthcare.

Castonguay’s evolving view of Canadian health care, however, should weigh heavily on how the candidates think about the issue in this country.

Back in the 1960s, Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform …..

The government followed his advice…. until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.

Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in “crisis.” [emphasis mine]

“We thought we could resolve the system’s problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it,” says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: “We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice.”

Castonguay advocates contracting out services to the private sector, going so far as suggesting that public hospitals rent space during off-hours to entrepreneurial doctors. He supports co-pays for patients who want to see physicians. Castonguay, the man who championed public health insurance in Canada, now urges for the legalization of private health insurance. [emphasis mine]

In America, these ideas may not sound shocking. But in Canada, where the private sector has been shunned for decades, these are extraordinary views, especially coming from Castonguay. It’s as if John Maynard Keynes, resting on his British death bed in 1946, had declared that his faith in government interventionism was misplaced. [emphasis mine]

What would drive a man like Castonguay to reconsider his long-held beliefs? Try a health care system so overburdened that hundreds of thousands in need of medical attention wait for care, any care; a system where people in towns like Norwalk, Ontario, participate in lotteries to win appointments with the local family doctor. [emphasis mine]

Years ago, Canadians touted their health care system as the best in the world; today, Canadian health care stands in ruinous shape.

Sick with ovarian cancer, Sylvia de Vires, an Ontario woman afflicted with a 13-inch, fluid-filled tumor weighing 40 pounds, was unable to get timely care in Canada. She crossed the American border to Pontiac, Mich., where a surgeon removed the tumor, estimating she could not have lived longer than a few weeks more.

The Canadian government pays for U.S. medical care in some circumstances, but it declined to do so in de Vires’ case for a bureaucratically perfect, but inhumane, reason: She hadn’t properly filled out a form. At death’s door, de Vires should have done her paperwork better.

Read the whole thing.

The facts of economic life are these:

1) When governments engage in any form of price fixing, whether it is intervention in the market by fiat, or wholesale takeover of a sector of the economy, shortages will result. Period. No credible economist denies this. But politicians, or populist/progressive politicians, at any rate, would like to pretend that they can repeal the laws of economics whenever they think they see a good reason (that is, one that will help them get elected or stay in office).

2) No one, absolutely no one, nor any conceivable consortium of geniuses, is able to centrally plan a health care system that is more humane, supplying more health care to more people in a timely way, than the one now in the USA. The very best in the world have tried… and they have failed, pretty much without exception.

3) The US government’s interventions in the health care market, and earlier in wage fixing (in WWII, which led to our entire system of employer provided health insurance, which hid the true costs of health care from the users of it, and, along with Medicare, led directly to our current price spiral), is the single biggest factor in the high health care prices in the USA. But at least we don’t have serious shortages, mostly…. yet.

All of which leads to:

4) The government can only make things worse by further regulation, and most especially by dreaming up more plans that involve taking money from some people in the form of taxes to pay for the health care of others.

As Lazarus Long said (more or less… I didn’t take time to look up the exact quote), “No one ever learns anything from other people’s experience.”

He was wrong, of course, because some people clearly do. But it certainly seems to apply to governments, in spades.

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Jun 27 2008

Maybe they can carry a tune, but first they have to be able to lift it

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 2:45 pm

Maybe most people can sing a song….or maybe the researchers are tone-deaf

Despite the hilarity of early-season “American Idol” episodes, nearly everyone can carry a tune, new research shows.

Of those who can’t, there are two types – those that know they sound bad and those that think they sound fine.

OK, I admit it… I’m in that last category.


Jun 27 2008

Child Rape in Islam

Category: child marriage,Islamharmonicminer @ 10:09 am

Muhammad married a girl of six, and consummated the marriage when she was nine. I know, someone will say that standards were different then, and modern sensibilities do not apply. But this is still law in Islamic countries. (video at the link)

Clip Transcript

Following are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu’bi, a Saudi marriage officiant, which aired on LBC TV on June 19, 2008:

Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu’bi: Marriage is actually two things: First we are talking about the marriage contract itself. This is one thing, while consummating the marriage – having sex with the wife for the first time – is another thing. There is no minimal age for entering marriage. You can have a marriage contract even with a one-year-old girl, not to mention a girl of nine, seven, or eight. This is merely a contract [indicating] consent. The guardian in such a case must be the father, because the father’s opinion is obligatory. Thus, the girl becomes a wife… But is the girl ready for sex or not? What is the appropriate age for having sex for the first time? This varies according to environment and traditions. In Yemen, girls are married off at nine, ten, eleven, eight, or thirteen, while in other countries, they are married off at 16. Some countries have legislated laws forbidding having sex before the girl is eighteen.

[...]

The Prophet Muhammad is the model we follow. He took ‘Aisha to be his wife when she was six, but he had sex with her only when she was nine.

Interviewer: When she was six…

Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu’bi: He married her at the age of six, and he consummated the marriage, by having sex with her for the first time, when she was nine. We consider the Prophet Muhammad to be our model.

Interviewer: My question to you is whether the marriage of a 12-year-old boy with an 11-year-old girl is a logical marriage, which is permitted by Islamic law.

Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu’bi: If the guardian is the father… There are two different types of guardianship. If the guardian is the father, and he marries his daughter off to a man of appropriate standing, the marriage is obviously valid.

[...]

People find themselves in all kinds of circumstances. Take, for example, a man who has two, three, or four daughters. He does not have any wives, but he needs to go on a trip. Isn’t it better to marry his daughter to a man, who will protect and sustain her, and when she reaches the proper age, he will have sex with her? Who says all men are ferocious wolves?


Ah… now I feel better about it, since he explained that not all men are ferocious wolves. In Islamic countries, child rapists DO get the death penalty… unless they are married to the child, of course, in which case multiple rape is a conjugal duty.

Ah, here is another lovely couple, from the UNICEF Photo of the Year 2007

She has the look of the mouse watching the snake, unable to escape from the cage in which she has been placed with the predator. From Spiegel Online:

There are people who will look at this image and be able to continue with business as usual — without disgust, nausea and rage. We are beholding the fiercest barbarism imaginable. But a carefree cultural relativism — which this age has donned as its outward manifestation of decadent indifference — allows many to simply look away. They turn away from the sight of an 11-year-old girl, who is about to be raped by the man sitting next to her.


Diversity is a wonderful thing. We should invite the happy couple to the USA, and give them the honeymoon suite at a nice five star hotel, just to help them get started right.

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Jun 27 2008

By A Whisker

Category: constitution,guns,judgesharmonicminer @ 9:02 am

How many people understand that we were one vote from losing the Bill of Rights in the Constitution? That if judges could simply decide the words don’t mean what they say, and what they plainly meant at the time they were written, then the words mean nothing whatsoever, and the law is simply what some black-robed oligarchs decide it means?

Randy Barnett, writing in the Wall Street Journal: News Flash: The Constitution Means What It Says

Justice Scalia’s opinion is the finest example of what is now called “original public meaning” jurisprudence ever adopted by the Supreme Court. This approach stands in sharp contrast to Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissenting opinion that largely focused on “original intent” – the method that many historians employ to explain away the text of the Second Amendment by placing its words in what they call a “larger context.” Although original-intent jurisprudence was discredited years ago among constitutional law professors, that has not stopped nonoriginalists from using “original intent” – or the original principles “underlying” the text – to negate its original public meaning.

Of course, the originalism of both Justices Scalia’s and Stevens’s opinions are in stark contrast with Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion, in which he advocates balancing an enumerated constitutional right against what some consider a pressing need to prohibit its exercise. Guess which wins out in the balancing? As Justice Scalia notes, this is not how we normally protect individual rights, and was certainly not how Justice Breyer protected the individual right of habeas corpus in the military tribunals case decided just two weeks ago.

So what larger lessons does Heller teach? First, the differing methods of interpretation employed by the majority and the dissent demonstrate why appointments to the Supreme Court are so important. In the future, we should be vetting Supreme Court nominees to see if they understand how Justice Scalia reasoned in Heller and if they are committed to doing the same.

We should also seek to get a majority of the Supreme Court to reconsider its previous decisions or “precedents” that are inconsistent with the original public meaning of the text. This shows why elections matter – especially presidential elections – and why we should vet our politicians to see if they appreciate how the Constitution ought to be interpreted.

This all swung on a single vote. Imagine if the vote had been on “free speech” or “freedom of assembly” or “freedom of religion”? A 5-4 ruling would have been terrifying in its implications for our nation. It should be unanimous that the Constitution’s plain wording means what it says.

The Left wants desperately to pack the Court for the next generation during an Obama presidency. To the Left, specific issues they care about are more important than our nation’s fundamental character as a constitutional republic.

So I am happy at the outcome. And I am terrified of what could have been, and may well still be.

hat tip: addisonrd

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