Sunday, February 06, 2011

Subhuman parents

Feel sorry for their children

Like so many other couples these days, the Toronto-area business executive and her husband put off having children for years as they built successful careers. Both parents were in their 40s — and their first son just over a year old — when this spring the woman became pregnant a second time. Seven weeks in, an ultrasound revealed the Burlington, Ont., resident was carrying twins. “It came as a complete shock,” said the mother, who asked not to be named. “We’re both career people. If we were going to have three children two years apart, someone else was going to be raising our kids. ... All of a sudden our lives as we know them and as we like to lead them, are not going to happen.”

She soon discovered another option: Doctors could “reduce” the pregnancy from twins to a singleton through a little-known procedure that eliminates selected fetuses — and has become increasingly common in the past two decades amid a boom in the number of multiple pregnancies.

Selective reductions are typically carried out for women pregnant with triplets or greater, where the risk of harm or death climbs sharply with each additional fetus. The Ontario couple is part of what some experts say is a growing demand for reducing twins to one, fuelled more by socio-economic imperatives than medical need, and raising vexing new ethical questions.

It's hard for me to fathom a society that would embrace this sort of thing. It's a new low and we'd already sank to new depths. Seriously sick and twisted stuff.



Unemployment Numbers Don't Add up to a Growing Economy

Strange statistics: The unemployment rate supposedly dropped sharply last month to 9 percent. But the economy generated only 36,000 net new jobs. Gallup says unemployment rose to 9.8%

Americans for Limited Government Director of Communications Rick Manning, former Public Affairs Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Labor, today issued following statement on today's unemployment report:

"It simply is not credible that the unemployment rate could drop by .4% with only 36,000 jobs created. This supposed drop is at least partially a result of the Obama Administration changing the methodology for determining who was in the workforce. This change in methodology coupled with a massive drop in the top line unemployment rate leaves the data open to the perception that they may have been politically manipulated.

"However, taking the numbers at face value, the Obama Administration cannot avoid the harsh reality that their economic policies have resulted in almost one million people leaving the workforce in the past two months alone. The January reported decline of 504,000 is a startling indictment of the failure of the past two years, as Americans have voted with their feet to leave the workforce.

"The bottom line is that our nation needs to create more than 100,000 jobs a month for sustained economic growth, and this report reveals that the main driver of the unemployment rate decline is that Americans are giving up on the American dream of getting a job and making a better life for their families.

"In the past year, more than two million Americans have left the labor force with the labor participation rate dropping from 64.8% to 64.2%. The labor participation rate when Obama took office in January 2009 stood at 65.5% when Obama took office in January 200%.

"This is a devastating indictment of the Obama economic policy, and if not reversed will have severe implications for our nation's economic future."



Kwikset, Green Chemistry and Taxes: The Business Wasteland That Is California

Hugh Hewitt

Many readers don’t want to hear another horror story about doing business in California. Because I live and practice law in California, I am perhaps more sensitive than other pundits to the ongoing collapse of the state’s economy, and I also have a front row seat to the parade of regulatory insanities that march by on a near-weekly basis, even as the businesses that once made the state an economic titan line up to head east.

Earlier this week I wrote on the so-called "Green Chemistry Initiative” for the Washington Examiner, and one of my law partners quickly emailed to let me know that wasn’t even the worst business news out of the state that week! Gary Wolensky subsequently posted at about the California Supreme Court’s decision in Kwikset Corporation v. The Superior Court of Orange County, and the phone has been ringing and email in-box filling up since then with exclamations of disbelief. The decision opens the doors to thousands of new nuisance lawsuits against every product on every shelf in California, even as the new “green chemistry” regulations when they appear in final form will apply to all products sold in the state. 2011 is opening with a double feature horror flick for job generators even as the state careens towards unofficial but very real bankruptcy.

None of this made it into Governor Jerry Brown’s state-of-the-state address Tuesday night. The always charismatic Category 5 political force delivered a characteristically interesting and provocative talk, but not a paragraph of it dealt with the underlying woes besetting the state: No one in their right mind would start a new manufacturing concern here.

And why would they? There are a dozen states with not just better tax and regulatory legal regimes, but far, far better systems. Florida doesn’t have an income tax, for goodness sake, much less one that is in double digits. Texas doesn’t threaten every manufacturer and every purveyor of every product with “green chemistry” labeling regulations in excess of 90 pages. The Supreme Court of Arizona isn’t going to decree that lawsuits can proceed regardless of any allegation of actual injury.

California has become a giant experiment in how to kill job creation, and with the jobs all the tax revenue those jobs produce and all the good things those tax revenues support like public education and roads.

The state has fundamentally gone off the rails, and almost certainly will have to hit bottom before it can begin to rebuild.

Here’s the text of Jerry Brown’s speech. Read it and weep for California. It is mostly an argument on why the legislature should authorize an appeal to the people to extend “temporary” tax hikes. Brown is demanding that the Republican legislators in the state clear the way for a vote on the extension. They should do no such thing, as the voters overwhelmingly rejected just such a set of tax hikes less than two years ago. Going back for another “no” vote wastes time and diverts attention from the fact that California is a bloated state government with enormous unfounded pension liabilities and chaotic laws and budget rules.

Why would anyone take the new governor seriously when the absurd “green chemistry” regulations lurk, while legions of small time bureaucrats sit on permit applications, while the Coastal Commission routinely blocks ready-to-build projects and the schools refuse to adopt even the most basic reforms to empower charter schools to educate children.

If there was anything approaching a real investigative media in the state, story after story would flow revealing shocking stories of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers and businesses along the lines of the City of Bell scandal. Not all of them would involve trucks of misspent money, but also misspent time and effort. Just this week the Alliance Defense Fund had to sue the Los Angeles School District to force the district to allow a fifth grader to sing a Christian-themed song in an annual talent show. Just this week the absurd show-down over the Delta smelt continued, with the Los Angeles Times calling the fish “the most powerful player in California water.” Just last month, tens of millions in so-called “stimulus funds” were designated to purchase an existing train station as a sort of salve to disappointed special interests.

And now the California Supreme Court has declared open season for gold-digging plaintiffs.

California makes Greece look well run. The level of competence of many of the legislators is downright scary, and even America’s most interesting recycling project, Jerry Brown, seems out of new and novel ideas. There is no plan for the unfolding fiscal crisis, no serious budget cutting underway, no federal bailout on the horizon -- just an accelerating march towards a fiscal cliff, punctuated by new bursts of judicial and regulatory excess along the way.



Does Jimmy Carter Deserve To Be Sued?

In a suit filed in federal court in New York, former president Jimmy Carter, along with his publisher, Simon & Schuster, is being sued by five readers of his 2006 book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." The suit alleges that the defendants violated New York's consumer protection laws by committing "deceptive acts in the conduct of business, trade, or commerce."

The plaintiffs, who hope to be considered a class, were "members of the reading public who thought they could trust a former president of the United States and a well-established book publisher to tell the truth..."

Does Carter deserve this trouble? Oh, yes, he deeply, richly deserves it. Should the suit prevail? More on that in a moment.

Carter has preened that "my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents." Considering that he had four years as leader of the free world, the post-presidency claim sounds more like a bleat than a boast. And even still, it's false.

In fact, no former president including Richard Nixon has behaved as dishonorably as Carter. His post-presidency has been marked by truckling to America's enemies (North Korea, Syria, the PLO, Nicaragua) and actively impeding U.S. foreign policies of which he disapproved. Before the first Gulf War, for example, when President George H. W. Bush was attempting to assemble an international coalition to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, Carter wrote a letter to the U.N. Security Council urging members not to cooperate with the U.S.

Carter's apologies for the United States make Obama's seem chauvinistic. Meeting with Haiti's dictator Raoul Cedras, Carter allowed as how he was "ashamed of what my country has done to your country." And explaining why other Americans took a skeptical view of Syria's Hafez al-Assad and North Korea's Kim II Sung, both of whom, he wrote, "have at times been misunderstood, ridiculed, and totally condemned by the American public," Carter surmises that this is in part because "their names are foreign, not Anglo-Saxon."

And then there is Carter's festering abhorrence of the Jewish state, which reached its fullest expression in "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." The title expresses his sympathies and antipathies succinctly. It's a book about a land -- Israel -- that Carter would prefer become "Palestine." How else to interpret the latter part of the title -- "Peace Not Apartheid"? The leftist/Islamist slur against Israel is that it is a racist, apartheid state akin to South Africa and therefore lacking in legitimacy. Carter embraces this calumny.

And more. So much more. The book is a skein of falsehoods. Carter repeatedly gets history wrong -- as when he suggests that Israel attacked Jordan in the 1967 war. In fact, Israel pleaded with Jordan to remain neutral as it fought off Egypt and Syria. But Jordan elected to join the other Arab states in attempting to obliterate Israel. It lost Jerusalem and the West Bank as a consequence.

The former president surely knew, when he wrote this sentence, that it was completely untrue: "The unwavering official policy of the United States since Israel became a state has been that its borders must coincide with those prevailing from 1949-1967." In fact, no U.S. government, including Carter's, insisted on withdrawal to what Abba Eban called "Auschwitz borders."

Carter also repeatedly insinuates that U.N. Resolution 242 calls for such a withdrawal -- another lie. The resolution does speak of withdrawal, but was carefully crafted (against the objections of the Soviets) not to call for such a total pullout.

Carter writes that in the years since the Camp David accords, "The Israelis have never granted any appreciable autonomy to the Palestinians." Obviously, patently false. Concerning the 2000 Camp David/Taba negotiations, Carter suggests that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority rejected a compromise. But as former State Department chief negotiator Dennis Ross has countered, "Their (Israel's) government, meaning the cabinet, actually voted for it ... This is a matter of record, not a matter of interpretation." Carter's good friend Arafat walked away and started the second Intifada.

The former president's sloppiness -- or mendacity -- shows up on nearly every page of the book. He claims that an Arab document, the so-called "Prisoners Proposal," called for "a unity government with Hamas joining the PLO, the release of all political prisoners, acceptance of Israel as a neighbor within its legal borders... "

Or not. Here is Abdel Rahman Zeidan, a Palestinian minister, on the BBC: "You will not find one word in the document clearly stating the recognition of Israel as a state."

There's more. Carter's distaste not just for Israel but also for Jews is reflected in some of his anecdotes, as is his inexplicable attraction to autocrats and thugs in positions of power.

But a lawsuit is not the way to deal with this. The First Amendment trumps all. The courts cannot police books for accuracy -- not in America. But the rest of us can.



No Reservations: The Case for Dismantling the Indian Bureaucracy

If ever a federal agency were a candidate for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) would make for a good choice. The BIA combines patronage and ethnic separatism into a single package, wasting sizable tax dollars in the process. Yet few in Congress have the stomach for a fight with supporters of the bureau, now with a roughly $2.7 billion annual budget. That’s not the only Indian agency in need of serious downsizing.

In recent decades, the agency has become a conduit through which tribal leaders and their allies can accrue money and influence. It’s a variation on what public choice economists call “regulatory capture,” in which firms – especially large ones – effectively dictate policies and practices to the regulator, so as to maximize competitive advantage.

There are now 565 federally-recognized Indian (including Alaskan) tribes in this land of ours, representing nearly two million persons. Indian territories comprise some 55 million surface acres. Crucially, a tribe operates under a federal grant of sovereign status. Taken as a whole, Indian tribes are a loose confederacy of mini-nations, each with its own elected tribal government overseeing courts, schools, job training, health care, infrastructure development, and on due occasion, casinos. Within their respective reservations, tribal leaders enjoy enormous power. Too often, they and employees use this power as a cover for corruption. Recent cases abound.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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