Apr 21 2009

Arrogant Americans?

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 9:58 am

Arrogant Americans, Mr. President?

As I was sitting in church waiting for the start of the service, my grandpa came walking towards me pointing his finger. No matter how old I get, and no matter how long he’s been out of the U.S. Navy, that’s still an intimidating sight. As he approached me, his voice quivered as he said, “We saved that continent twice…how dare my president apologize for this country’s arrogance.” My grandpa is right. Americans need not apologize to the world for their arrogance; rather, Americans should apologize to their forefathers for the arrogance of their president.

Barack Obama’s first foreign trip as President of the United States has confirmed the naiveté so many of us feared during the election cycle. But worse than that, it has also demonstrated that our president suffers from either a complete misunderstanding of our heritage and history, or an utter contempt for it. Neither is excusable.

Read it all.

Apr 20 2009

“Not yours to give”

Category: Congress,governmentharmonicminer @ 8:21 am

A friend alerted me to a fascinating excerpt from a book on Davy Crockett.  While some dispute the authenticity of the passage, it has never been proved false, and it does fit with what we know of Crockett’s politics.

The passage is just a bit long, but well worth the read, and I recommend it to you for it’s clear application to our current circumstances.

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Apr 18 2009

Touchstone for anti-gun, universal healthcare true believers

Category: guns,healthcareharmonicminer @ 8:27 am

With the recent spate of shootings,  false allegations about how the Mexican drug wars are being fought primarily with guns directly obtained in the USA from gun shops, and the Left’s ambition to institute universal health care of some kind, it seemed good to repost this from last September.


A lot of folks believe themselves to be very righteous because they care so much about the children (even though they’re pro-choice on abortion). They want you to believe that they care more about human life than you do. So they’re really big on universal health care, and they’re anti-gun. In the first instance, they want you to be forced by government taxation to pay for it. In the second instance, they want to remove your right to self-defense (only meaningful if you have the tools to do so, correct?).

Is it clear yet that they don’t care about you? I hope so. If you don’t grasp that, reread the first paragraph. Their concern is for other folks, not for you. Not even for your children, because, you see, your children are yours, and the universal health care/anti-gun true believers don’t really care about them, just the children of those other people, more or less in the abstract. Otherwise they would not try to take away from you the tools you need to defend them, and the money you need to take care of them.

A few facts to set the table:

1) Auto accidents are the single biggest cause of death in children (and, for that matter, adults up to age 30 or so). At least 40% of those are alcohol related.

2) Since 2004, the next biggest cause of death is poisoning, according to the CDC.

For at least the 40 years prior to 2004, the two leading causes of injury death were MVT deaths and firearms. Beginning in 2004, poisoning deaths outnumbered firearm deaths and have increased at a greater pace than firearm deaths since then. Unintentional drug poisonings are the largest component of poisoning deaths; they are primarily related to drug overdose and their rates of increase have outpaced those of all poisonings. Physicians who prescribe narcotics (e.g., opioids such as methadone or oxycodone) should be aware of the risks associated with the drugs that are contributing to these deaths. Whether the drugs are not prescribed correctly, are not taken according to the physicians directions, or are diverted from a patient to someone else cannot be ascertained, but all possibilities must be considered (3)

3) Of the firearms deaths, despite anti-gun accident-fear propaganda, the biggest causes are suicide and homicide. Of the homicides, most are below age 30 or so. Estimates of the number of gang related murders run from 10-50%, depending on who is asked, and the methodology of classification. There are far fewer firearms “accidents” than the anti-gun industry wants us to believe, and some of those “accidents” may be murders that cannot be proved. (“Yes, officer, I accidentally shot him while cleaning my gun.” Nearly unbelievable to anyone who knows anything about firearms.) Men are more likely to be murdered by strangers, unless it is gang related. Women are somewhat more likely than men to be murdered by someone they know.

What does all of this mean? Among other things: the causes of death up to early middle age are overwhelmingly not precisely “medical” or “health” related, but are related to accidents, poisonings, suicides and murders. If one was deeply concerned about the health status of children and young adults, the single biggest place to start is those causes of death, NOT whether or not they have “health insurance”. And in the case of poisonings with prescribed medications (the second largest cause of death of younger people after auto accidents), it could reasonably be argued that those deceased would have been better off with LESS medical attention….. Note that drug-overdose with illegal drugs seems to be much less a cause of death than overdose with prescribed drugs.

To the biggest cause of death, auto accidents: the leading cause of death of people under age thirty is traumatic brain injury in a vehicle accident. And outside of fatality, the leading cause of disability and enormous medical expense for young people is the same. Who among us does not know, or know of, a young person with such an injury? It is exceedingly common, sadly. Just in my circle of friends and family, I know of perhaps a half dozen such injuries in young people in just the last couple of years. I personally knew of only two people who were murdered in the last 35 years, one who was the child of a friend (murdered by her new husband), and one who was the brother of a former student (murdered by a jealous rival in a love triangle). People who live in gang-ridden neighborhoods will have a different experience, of course. Over those same years, I have known, or known of, more young people than I can remember who have died or been very seriously injured (often permanently) in auto accidents.

Again, a reminder: 40% of those vehicle deaths are alcohol related.

Regarding medical insurance coverage, according to the CDC, in the year 2007:

…the percentage of persons who were uninsured at the time of the interview was highest among those aged 18-24 years (27.5%) and lowest among those under 18 years (8.9%) (Figure 4). Starting at age 18, younger adults were more likely than older adults to lack health insurance coverage. [emphasis mine]

That 27.5% is about TWICE the national average for uninsured status (around 14.5%), which includes all ages, races and sexes. Why is the rate of uninsured status lowest for children under age 18? Simple enough: they tend to be covered on their parent’s insurance until they are 18. The implication of this is straightforward: about 8.9% of adults with children do not have health insurance themselves, and so do not have it for their children.

Even before age as a consideration, the CDC had this to say about race/ethnicity:

Based on data from the 2007 NHIS, Hispanic persons were considerably more likely than non-Hispanic white persons, non-Hispanic black persons, and non-Hispanic Asian persons to be uninsured at the time of interview, to have been uninsured for at least part of the past 12 months, and to have been uninsured for more than a year (Table 7). Approximately one-third of Hispanic persons were uninsured at the time of interview [emphasis mine] or had been uninsured for at least part of the past year, and about one-fourth of Hispanic persons had been without health insurance coverage for more than a year.

And now, as promised, I present the touchstone to determine whether a true believer in univeral health care actually “cares about the children”, or is simply pursuing a political agenda for which such poses are convenient.

One touchstone is very simple: more children die of head injuries in auto accidents than any other way, certainly HUGELY more than die for lack of health insurance, or by firearm. If a person is not willing to demand and campaign for a law requiring everyone under the age of, say, 18 to wear a protective helmet when riding in a car (cost, maybe $50 per person), they have no moral standing to demand and campaign for universal health insurance (cost, maybe $3000-4000 per person per year). It is clear that the helmets would save FAR more lives and reduce FAR more suffering than any amount of health insurance.

What is more evidence of your compassion and concern for human beings?

1) your willingness to take a cheap step to reduce the NEED for medical care, and the liklihood of severy injury or death? Or,

2) your willingness to spend a very large amount of money to try to fix problems after they have occurred?

I think the answer is obvious.

Another touchstone: since 40% of fatal auto accidents are alcohol related, we should adopt very radical anti-drunk-driving laws, sufficiently toothy that almost no one will take the risk. Curiously, people who are FOR universal health care (again, requiring tax payer money) are often heard to recommend that we should be more like Europe in our health care policy. I wonder if they would resist our adoption of the drunk driving laws of, say, Germany? Or, we could make it really simple. Drive drunk (defined as a minimum percentage, and/or obvious impairment), and you lose your license for five years. Do it again, and you can never again have a license, and driving without a license in this circumstance is punishable by serious prison time. There would surely be less drunk driving, and MANY lives saved.

Either of these approaches, the helmets, or zero-tolerance drunk driving laws, would save far more lives than covering the uninsured, and also avoid many greivous non-fatal injuries. Together, they would dramatically reduce death and injury in the USA, for HUGELY less money than universal health care.

To be blunt: if you’re for the universal health care, and not for both of these policies, you’re a fraud, pretending you care for people’s health, when what you really care about is some kind of political agenda.

It won’t do to say that society wouldn’t put up with requiring helmets in cars, or with more radical drunk driving statutes. People said that about seat belts, and motorcycle helmets, but the laws exist in most states. And people DO modify their behavior when legal penalties are severe and certain. I don’t remember the last time I saw a cigarette lit in a restaurant in California.

By the way: the same argument applies to being for gun control because you think it will save lives. Either, or both, of these other policies will save MORE lives than removing all guns from society (as if that were possible), and without infringing on the Second Amendment and the basic right of self-defense. Again, you’re a fraud if you’re for gun control, and against helmets in cars and far more stringent drunk driving laws than we have now.

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Apr 17 2009

When US judges follow precedents from foreign courts

Category: judgesharmonicminer @ 9:13 am

Greek to Me

Foreign law is entirely irrelevant to the exploration and determination of the Constitution’s meaning, unless. . . well unless you think the Constitution has no real meaning and is a trampoline from which the judges may launch themselves into all manner of argument, investigation, and philosophical debate. If you think it is impossible or simply foolhardly to determine what the Constitution means (and think your job is to look for intriguing ideas, interesting notions, and cultural trends to impose on the populace) then foreign law, or novels for that matter, are perfectly relevant.

But which law? Saudi Arabian on women’s rights? I think Justice Ginsburg would recoil in horror. Irish or Italian law on separation of church and state? Preposterous. It becomes obvious that foreign law soon devolves into a sort of grocery shelf from which individual justices can pluck whatever looks “good” and disregard the rest.

I think I have a novel I’d like Justice Ginsburg to use in her next foray into non-USA sources for jurisprudential input.

Starship Troopers

Or maybe she could just use the Torah, definitely a source of input from a foreign Court.


Apr 16 2009

Obama’s thinking hard… just not hard enough

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:00 pm

Apr 16 2009

Hard questions about embryonic stem cell research

Category: abortion,science,theologyharmonicminer @ 9:48 am

12 tough questions from Doug Kmiec, with excellent answers from Robert George.

This is a follow up to an excellent interchange between the two that is covered here.

Some of this is definitely college level reading, and requires you to think about the questions and the answers.  But it is rewarding, and thoroughly worthy of your time and attention.

The short story:  the hard questions do have answers.  This material is what you need to read to know what you’re talking about in the embryonic stem cell debate.

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Apr 16 2009

China makes first consumer product safety law

Category: Chinaharmonicminer @ 8:08 am

China to establish defective products recall system

Companies should recall products immediately if there is a defect which threatens people’s health and lives, according to a draft law submitted to the State Council, the country’s Cabinet, Wednesday.

If approved, it would be the country’s first law on product recall.

Well… it’s a start, I suppose.  I wonder how many Americans thought China already had such laws?


Apr 15 2009

Obamafiction: “Moderate” Taliban

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 12:31 pm

Are these the moderate Taliban Obama wants us to believe in?

A Taliban firing squad killed a young couple in southwestern Afghanistan for trying to elope, shooting them with AK-47s in front of a crowd in a lawless, militant-controlled region, officials said Tuesday.

Doesn’t sound “lawless to me.”  Sounds like too much law, of the wrong sort.  More here, but the main point: there is no chance of “negotiation” or “appealing to the better natures” when dealing with people like this.

All we can do is win, or quit.  And if we quit, we’ll just have to start again later.

Apr 15 2009

Most weapons in Mexican drug wars are not from the USA

Category: guns,Mexicoharmonicminer @ 8:42 am

Golden Lies Too Good To Ignore

April 5, 2009: The mass media were embarrassed recently when someone did the math and revealed that the hot headline “90 Percent of Illegal Guns In Mexico Come From The U.S.” turned out to be false. However, the real story was not that the actual number was 17 percent. Nor was it that the “90 percent” number came from someone (accidentally or purposely) who misread the data (90 percent of the guns identified as of U.S. manufacture were, using their serial numbers, indeed traced back to the U.S., and not some other country they had legally been exported to.) The real story was that there were so many sources of illegal weapons in Mexico, with the U.S. being one of the more difficult places to get weapons from. It’s much easier to get a load of weapons in via ship, in a container labeled as something else. Port officials in Mexico are easier to bribe, than U.S. or Mexican border guards. South America is a magnet for international gun runners, many of them now swing by Mexico regularly, to take orders and make deliveries.

Like I said.

As usual, don’t believe ANYTHING the major media says about guns in the hands of US citizens.  They simply have an agenda, and it is to cancel the 2nd Amendment, one way or another.  And they count on the general ignorance of the non-gun owning populace to tell their lies.

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Apr 14 2009

Obama worship has its limits

Category: mediaharmonicminer @ 9:33 am

It is simply shocking that the president of the United States has some secrets he wants to keep.

What’s funny is that as Obama the president takes over, to any small degree, from Obama the campaigner, his supporters are loving the opportunity to pretend objectivity by lambasting him on relatively minor issues, all the while still supporting him, and not acknowledging their own complicity in failing to ask him any tough questions DURING the campaign.  This is all pretty small beans.  Every president tries to preserve and extend presidential power after entering office.  And maybe, just maybe, Obama has learned some things from intelligence briefings since taking office, things Bush knew and couldn’t discuss, that have altered our new president’s perspectives on a few matters.

But journalistic credibility is hard to come by these days, so those still in the tank for the annointed one have to make lots of noise on minor matters to hide their fecklessness in serious reporting on his economic policies, foreign tour debacles, and the like.

Keith Olbermann’s scathing criticism of Obama’s secrecy/immunity claims – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com

Several weeks ago, I noted that unlike the Right — which turned itself into a virtual cult of uncritical reverence for George W. Bush especially during the first several years of his administration — large numbers of Bush critics have been admirably willing to criticize Obama when he embraces the very policies that prompted so much anger and controversy during the Bush years. Last night, Keith Olbermann — who has undoubtedly been one of the most swooning and often-uncritical admirers of Barack Obama of anyone in the country (behavior for which I rather harshly criticized him in the past) — devoted the first two segments of his show to emphatically lambasting Obama and Eric Holder’s DOJ for the story I wrote about on Monday: namely, the Obama administration’s use of the radical Bush/Cheney state secrets doctrine and — worse still — a brand new claim of “sovereign immunity” to insist that courts lack the authority to decide whether the Bush administration broke the law in illegally spying on Americans.

The fact that Keith Olbermann, an intense Obama supporter, spent the first ten minutes of his show attacking Obama for replicating (and, in this instance, actually surpassing) some of the worst Bush/Cheney abuses of executive power and secrecy claims reflects just how extreme is the conduct of the Obama DOJ here. Just as revealingly, the top recommended Kos diary today (voted by the compulsively pro-Obama Kos readership) is one devoted to attacking Obama for his embrace of Bush/Cheney secrecy and immunity doctrines. Also, a front page Daily Kos post yesterday by McJoan vehemently criticizing Obama (and quoting my criticisms at length) sparked near universal condemnation of Obama in the hundreds of comments that followed. Additionally, my post on Monday spawned vehement objections to what Obama is doing in this area from the largest tech/privacy sites, such as Boing Boing and Slashdot.

In the meantime, too much of this post by Greenwald seems to be about what a cool guy he is, and how influential he is.

I wonder when the Left media will get around to serious consideration of the disastrous spending Obama is trying to ram through Congress?  Does anyone think they’re ever going to criticize him three or four times as much as they did Bush, for having deficits three or four times the highest Bush ever had, and doing it year after year (in even the rosiest scenario for the “out years”)?

But to the Left, the growth of government is virtually an intrinsic good.  The bigger the better.  So to divert us, let’s consider again the amazingly disgusting scene of a president keeping secrets.



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