November 28, 2003

'Reunification'

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FoxNews reported last week in an AP article that manages to avoid using the word "communist": China: Force Against Taiwan May Be 'Unavoidable'.

Raising the stakes in an already tense situation, China threatened in remarks published Wednesday that "the use of force may become unavoidable" if Taiwan pursues independence -- the mainland's strongest statement in years against its archrival. [...]

"If the Taiwan authorities collude with all ... forces to openly engage in pro-independence activities and challenge the mainland and the one-China principle, the use of force may become unavoidable," Wang [Zaixi, a top mainland official who deals with the Taiwan issue,] was quoted as saying in the China Daily.

Separatists were "set to pay a high cost if they think we will not use force," Wang said. "Taiwan independence means war." [...]

Beijing has long threatened the use of force against Taiwan if it formally declares independence, but rarely so dramatically. The two sides split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing insists that Taiwan belongs to China and must accept eventual unification.

Today, FoxNews reports the result of this threat: Taiwan's Premier May Overturn Day-Old Referendums Law.

"The referendum law has created a legal basis for Taiwan independence, which the mainland strongly opposes," the newspaper China Daily quoted Liu Guoshen, director of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, as saying.

The ruling party of President Chen Shui-bian wanted a stronger bill that would have made it easier for the government to call an independence vote. But Taiwan's opposition coalition, which has a slight majority in parliament and favors the island's eventual unification, was against.

This cartoon is from March 2002 and is in our book, Black & White World, which can be purchased at The Intellectual Activist and also at our new sponsor, Quent Cordair Fine Art.

Posted by Forkum at 08:34 AM

November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving Day

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Eating turkey is not the only thing worth thinking about today. The Ayn Rand Institute released an op-ed by Gary Hull regarding the little recognized importance of the holiday: Thanksgiving: The Producer's Holiday.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, because this country was the first to create and to value material abundance. It is America that has been the beacon for anyone wanting to escape from poverty and misery. It is America that generated the unprecedented flood of goods that washed away centuries of privation. It is America, by establishing the precondition of production -- political freedom -- that was able to unleash the dynamic, productive energy of its citizens. [...]

This virtue of productiveness is what Thanksgiving is supposed to recognize. Sadly, this is a virtue rejected not only by the attackers of this holiday, but by its alleged defenders as well.

Posted by Forkum at 08:24 AM

November 26, 2003

Blistered

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CNN reported yesterday: U.S. economic growth revised up.

The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter at an even faster pace than originally reported, the government said Tuesday.

Gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic activity, grew at an 8.2 percent annual rate, the fastest pace since the first quarter of 1984, the Commerce Department reported. GDP grew at a 3.3 percent pace in the second quarter.

Posted by Forkum at 06:08 AM

November 25, 2003

Command Performance

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CNN reported yesterday: Chirac bullish on Iraq, EU defense.

On U.S. proposals for transfer of power to the Iraqi people, Chirac said: "It seems to me to be set to take place over too long a period. It seems to me to be incomplete."

It seems to me that Chirac is qualifying his statements in case things go bad after he gets his wish.

Posted by Forkum at 07:29 AM

November 24, 2003

Bitter Pill

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From FoxNews yesterday: Senate Showdown on Medicare Bill Looms.

See our related cartoon and links from last week: The World According to AARP.

UPDATE: Michael Van Winkle at The Chicago Report highlights the Republicans' head-long rush to increase government spending: The Republican Party's Paradox. Blogger Tyler Cowen reacts to a Washington Post article on the subject:

We all know about the $33 billion for the energy bill, or the $400 billion for the Medicare bill. It is less well-known that Congress is moving to increase veterans' benefits by $22 billion. Or how about peanut subsidies jumping from zero (1998) to $1.5 billion? Dairy subsidies from $318 million (1998) to $2.45 billion? The Agricultural Marketing Service is up from $726 million (1998) to $1.43 billion. The Amtrak budget has doubled to over $1 billion. And so on, and so on, and so on.

The bottom line: government spending this year will total $20,000 per household, a level we have not seen since World War II.

Being that the military is a legitimate function of government, the increase in veteran's benefits is most likely justifiable -- I haven't looked into it. But clearly the other items are just increases in socialism -- by a Republican-dominated government. It's shameful.

UPDATE: Capitalism Magazine has an excellent editorial by Robert Garmong: The Medicare Frame-Up: Republican "Free Market" Medicare Bill is Closet Socialism.

[The new Medicare] agreement is based on the same socialist premise as the original Medicare system -- and it promises to be every bit as disastrous in practice. The premise is that one gains a moral claim to a good, not by earning it, but simply by needing it. On this premise, as long as any patient has an unmet need, other people must be coerced -- whether through taxes or regulations -- to meet it.

Economically, this guarantees skyrocketing expenses as more and more of the elderly cash the blank checks offered them by government. Medicare is already expected to face bankruptcy within 15 years -- and Senator Ted Kennedy calls the current prescription drug expansion "only a down-payment." Some have estimated that the new program's $400 billion estimated cost will quickly turn into $800 billion or more. [...]

Socialism with a "free market" veneer is still socialism. All the Republicans are doing, in their supposed attempt to "expand" the free market, is planting the government's smoking gun in capitalism's pocket.

There is only one way to bring the benefits of the free market into health care: end government intervention. As long as Republicans do not reject the socialist premise that the needs of patients authorize the sacrifice and coercion of producers, their supposed support for the free market will merely hasten its demise.

Read it all.

UPDATE Nov. 25: FoxNews reports: Senate Passes Medicare Bill.

Posted by Forkum at 07:12 AM

November 21, 2003

Come Together?

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Here's a light one, with apologies to The Beatles.

CNN reported yesterday: Mass anti-Bush protest in London.

InstaPundit had some interesting posts regarding the protests here, here and here.

FoxNews reports today: Bush, Blair Leave Tense London for Sedgefield.

"We could have less troops in Iraq, we could have the same number of troops in Iraq, we can have more troops in Iraq," Bush said when asked about U.S. troop levels. "Whatever is necessary to secure Iraq."

Aides quickly denied that the president was signaling a change in the Pentagon plan to reduce troops to 105,000 by May from the current 131,600. There are 9,000 British troops in Iraq.

Posted by Forkum at 06:10 AM

November 20, 2003

Faulty Thinking

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Yes, that says Iraq, not Turkey. This cartoon is from September when Al Qaeda bombed the Imam Ali mosque in Baghdad (CORRECTION: the city is Najaf ... thanks to reader Dave Jaroslav) (the cartoon ran at The Intellectual Activist). At the time, American-led coalition forces were blamed for the attack because of a lack of security, even though Muslim clerics had requested that American troops stay away from Islamic sites. Al Qaeda was quickly found responsible despite early denials from one of its "spiritual leaders."

After the recent Al Qaeda attack in Riyadh, some Saudi Arabians again blamed America. Little Green Footballs featured a cartoon from the Saudi Arabian newspaper Arab News that made the point: Our Friends the Saudis.

How long before the Istanbul Al Qaeda attacks are blamed on America?

UPDATE Nov. 23 It didn't take long. FoxNews has a pro-appeasement AP article: Experts Blame U.S. for Turkey's Turmoil.

To encourage favorable views among people in Turkey, the United States must allow Erdogan's government to contribute to the war on terror in a way that does not alienate moderate Muslims, said Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Such moderate Muslims despise terrorism, but they also are offended by "heavy-handed, anti-insurgent, preventive campaigns," said Aliriza.

I can't think of a better approach for encouraging more Islamic terrorism.

UPDATE Nov. 24: Little Green Footballs pointed to another this weekend: PM Says Bombers Were Turks, Protesters Rap US.

Several thousand Turks gathered in Istanbul and other cities to protest against the bombs and what some said was the underlying cause of the attacks -- the United States and NATO member Turkey's close links with the world's only superpower. [...]

A placard carried by a demonstrator in Istanbul read "We know who the murderers are" under pictures of U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Posted by Forkum at 08:03 AM

November 19, 2003

The World According to AARP

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FoxNews reported yesterday: Lawmakers Work to Wrap Up Medicare Bill.

Enjoying the blessing of the politically influential†AARP, President Bush on Monday began the push for one of his top legislative priorities -- providing a prescription drug benefit to America's seniors.

Bush met with lawmakers on the 10-year, $400 billion package of benefits -- the largest expansion of social services in America since the Great Society -- and practically dared negotiators to stop a bill that provides subsidized drug coverage to 40 million elderly Americans.

The Democrats are complaining about the bill, but only because they want it to be even more socialistic. This is what Bush gets for trying to out socialist the Democrats.

Capitalism Magazine has a two recent editorials on the subject that are well worth reading:

The New Medicare Program: A Prescription for Disaster by Richard E. Ralston

Rather than reduce the cost of drugs, like all government medical plans the new program will just add more of the poison that created the disease. Rigid controls and the vast bureaucracies of Medicare and the FDA already add billions of dollars to the cost of drugs. This, not the market place, is responsible for the current high cost of drugs. New government programs and "benefits" will further explode drug costs and result in rationing, restrictions, regulations, less research, and fewer drugs. Adding yet more federal bureaucracy to administer another program will just layer on more expense.

Fewer new drugs will become available as a consequence of these plans. When the government is "surprised" after the escalation in drug costs that result from a plan that promises to pay all of the bills, it will inevitably proceed to price controls and other new restrictions on drug companies

How do these Republican advocates of less government and free markets justify this huge new program? The woefully inadequate fig leaf they provide is the introduction of competition to Medicare from private insurance companies. However such competition will be available temporarily in only six cities during a six year test period beginning seven years from now (2010). What a triumph for Capitalism! Yet Senator Edward Kennedy says it will destroy Medicare. Yea. Sure.

Free-Lunch Medicine by Thomas Sowell

None of the various schemes for lowering the prices of medicines seems willing to face up to the simple fact that each new medicine developed costs hundreds of millions of dollars. This huge inescapable fact seems to just evaporate from the discussion as politicians vie with one another for the best way to make these medicines "affordable" at "reasonable" prices.

Politicians who claim to be able to "bring down the cost of health care" are talking about bringing down the prices charged. But prices are not costs. Prices are what pay for costs.[...]

Government price controls on medicines and medical care simply mean that these costs do not all get covered. This works in the short run -- and the short run is what politicians are interested in, because elections are held in the short run. But the rest of us had better think ahead, if we value our health.

Posted by Forkum at 07:26 AM

November 18, 2003

Intolerance

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From FoxNews yesterday: Report: Suicide Drivers Were Turks.

Picking through the rubble at one of the synagogues, searchers Monday found the remains of an 85-year-old Jewish woman, whose 8-year-old granddaughter also was killed in the blast.

Some analysts believe Saturday's attacks were meant as a warning to Turkey's Islamic-rooted government against continuing close relations with Israel and the West.

Turkey, a predominantly Muslim nation and NATO member, has close relations with Israel, including joint military exercises. Israeli has also helped modernize Turkey's military equipment.

Also: Report: Al Qaeda Behind Synagogue Bombings

The Sunday e-mail from al-Ablaj warned that attacks will be carried out against Japan, which was to send troops to Iraq but decided not to after the Italian bombing. It promised more attacks on other targets associated with Israel and the United States.

"The attacks against Jews and America will follow. Let America and Israel cry for their dead from today and the destruction that they will suffer," his e-mail said

There was no way to independently confirm the authenticity of either claim of responsibility.

Yesterday, Little Green Footballs posted these Letters from Turkey (comments 13, 16 and 17).

Posted by Forkum at 07:30 AM

November 17, 2003

Rendezvous

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FoxNews reported this weekend: Intelligence Report Links Saddam, Usama.

Iraqi dictator†Saddam Hussein gave terror lord Usama bin Laden's thugs financial and logistical support, offering†Al Qaeda money, training and haven for more than a decade, it was reported yesterday [Nov. 15].

Their deadly collaboration -- which may have included the bombing of the†USS Cole and the 9/11 attacks -- is revealed in a 16-page memo to the†Senate Intelligence Committee that cites reports from a variety of domestic and foreign spy agencies compiled by multiple sources,†The Weekly Standard reports.

Saddam's willingness to help bin Laden plot against Americans began in 1990, shortly before the first Gulf War, and continued through last March, the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, says the Oct. 27 memo sent by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

Here is the Weekly Standard story.

Critics of the Bush administration have complained that Iraq-Al Qaeda connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden have been routinely "exaggerated" for political purposes; that hawks "cherry-picked" bits of intelligence and tendentiously presented these to the American public. [...]

One of the most interesting things to note about the 16-page memo is that it covers only a fraction of the evidence that will eventually be available to document the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda. For one thing, both Saddam and bin Laden were desperate to keep their cooperation secret. (Remember, Iraqi intelligence used liquid paper on an internal intelligence document to conceal bin Laden's name.) For another, few people in the U.S. government are expressly looking for such links. There is no Iraq-Al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA's 1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

Instead, CIA and FBI officials are methodically reviewing Iraqi intelligence files that survived the three-week war last spring. These documents would cover several miles if laid end-to-end. And they are in Arabic. They include not only connections between bin Laden and Saddam, but also revolting details of the regime's long history of brutality. It will be a slow process.

Posted by Forkum at 07:24 AM

November 14, 2003

Steal Industry

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This cartoon is from March 2002 and is in our book, Black & White World.

FoxNews reported yesterday: EU, Asian Countries Threaten Steel-Tariff Retaliation

Emboldened by a†World Trade Organization ruling, Japan, South Korea and the†European Union on Tuesday demanded the United States immediately drop its duties on imported steel or face the possibility of billions of dollars in retaliation.

From the Washington Times: Bush weighs lifting imported-steel tariffs.

Mr. Bush imposed duties on foreign steel in March 2002 to give U.S. producers breathing space as the industry consolidated and to shore up political support in steel-making states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

President Bush's import steel tariffs are protectionism plain and simple. Capitalism Magazine has featured a number of good articles since the passage of the tariffs that explain why they are wrong:

Let the Steel Tariffs Die by Bruce Bartlett
Who Pays The Tariffs? by Paul C Nagy
Steel Tariffs: President Bush Put Politics Above Principle by Radley Balko

FoxNews also has a story on Washington's influence peddling: Industry Caucuses Drive Capitol Hill Decisions.

UPDATE: Martin Lindeskog has some good commentary and links about the tariffs.

Posted by Forkum at 07:43 AM

November 13, 2003

Warm Up

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The Nov. 11 New Yorker editorial -- Getting Warmer -- is a typical example of global warming advocacy. It starts out sounding very certain about global warming with sentences like this:

[T]he evidence that human activity is changing the planetís climate has continued to mount, as has evidence of the consequences.

But later, when discussing criticism of the theory, you get less certain sentences like this:

Though it's impossible to determine exactly how much of the current warming trend is the result of atmospheric changes wrought by man and how much is caused by natural climate variation, the vast majority of credible studies in fact point to the former as the more significant factor.

Scientific certainty is crucial because there's nothing uncertain about the freedoms environmentalists propose to take away from us. Without scientific certainty, the alleged global warming can never be curtailed by government action, only mankind will be curtailed. And that is the real goal of environmentalists.

Here's what is being said about some of those "credible studies." From a National Post article by Tim Patterson, Kyoto debunked:

The growing number of scientists who dispute the treaty's scientific foundation [regarding global warming] have become increasingly vocal, regularly pushing their case in the media as groundbreaking studies continue to be published that pull the rug out from under Kyoto's shaky edifice.

Of these, none may have the long-term impact of the paper published yesterday [Oct. 28] in the prestigious British journal Energy and Environment, which explains how one of the fundamental scientific pillars of the Kyoto Accord is based on flawed calculations, incorrect data and a biased selection of climate records.

(Hat tip: Adam Ierymenko, via HBL)

One of those vocal scientist is S. Fred Singer, whose group, The Science & Environmental Policy Project, is known for debunking the "science" of environmentalism. In a recent press release, Singer commented on global warming and the Climate Stewardship Act:

"The UN-IPCC science panel, which is most often cited by supporters of this proposal, based its conclusions on three major claims. And although widely publicized, none of them pass muster. They have been or are being disproved by actual data."

But just to cover their bases, environmentalist scaremongers have a new doomsday scenario: Global warming could trigger a new ice age.

Posted by Forkum at 07:42 AM

November 12, 2003

Reaper

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From FoxNews: Report: Al Qaeda Claims Riyadh Bombings.

The latest al-Ablaj e-mail addressed criticism that Saturday's strike hurt Arabs and Muslims, not Americans, saying Al Qaeda also believed "working with Americans and mixing with them" was forbidden.

Yet also reported is that Saudi Attack Shocks Arab World. The shock is apparently that Al Qaeda takes more seriously the militant Islamic fundamentalism preached by the Saudis than the Saudis do themselves. What is shocking is this quote from the article:

"If any good can come of such horror ... it is surely that no one who now hears the name Al Qaeda will have any image in their mind other than one which truly reflects what the organization stands for: Innocent men and women being rushed to hospital dripping blood or trying to comfort their terrified children," the Saudi newspaper Arab News said in an editorial Tuesday.

Oh really? Did the Arab News not get that image on September 11, 2001? The name Al Qaeda didn't sound so bad when Americans were being murdered by the thousands? But now it does? What better way to illustrate how their Islamic sympathies have blinded them to the evil of Al Qaeda until they themselves are viciously attacked. Not that they'll blame their Islamic fundamentalism...

UPDATE: OUCH! We thought this idea was very original. But we noticed today a cartoon by Mike Thompson at American RealPolitik. How many Saudi-eating plant cartoons can there be?

Posted by Forkum at 07:56 AM

November 11, 2003

Veterans Day

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Today is the 50th anniversary of Veterans Day. You can learn more about it here: VFW: Origins of Veterans Day.

The Ayn Rand Institute released an op-ed by Edwin A. Locke: Giving Real Meaning to Veterans Day.

Because human life is so precious, war should never be undertaken unless our rights are threatened. It is often said that our soldiers must sacrifice themselves for our country. This is precisely what we must not ask them to do. A sacrifice entails the surrender of a greater value for a lesser one. But if a man loses his life on the premise, "I would rather die than live in slavery," it is a tragic lossóbut it is not a sacrifice. Such a man is acting in his own interests, to protect his most precious values.

Meanwhile, Democrats Use Veterans Day to Attack Bush.

UPDATE: FoxNews reports: Vets Telling Stories of War for Congress and WW I Veterans Remember Their Service.

Posted by Forkum at 07:18 AM

November 10, 2003

plunder.gov

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Dow Jones reported Friday: Permanent Internet Tax Ban Stalls In US Senate.

Posted by Forkum at 07:48 AM

November 07, 2003

Past, Present, Future

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FoxNews reports: Rumsfeld: 85,000 Troops Going to Iraq.

Also: Bush Promotes Democracy in Middle East. I think there were serious problems in this speech, in particular Bush's complete excusing of Islam for the lack of freedom in the Middle East. But the overall theme was good.

"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe because in the long run stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," Bush said.

Posted by Forkum at 07:20 AM

November 06, 2003

Quackmire

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This cartoon was inspired by a Little Green Footballs post from Monday: Press In Quagmire Frenzy. Charles Johnson writes:

Well, this was entirely predictable; taking a run around the major media sites this morning reveals the press in full bore Quagmire Mode after yesterday's missile attack that brought down a US helicopter and killed 16 soldiers.

The New York Times: News Analysis: As Casualties in Iraq Mount, Will Resolve Falter?

The Washington Post: New Attacks Intensify Pressure on Bush.

And of course, what would a quagmire be without the Spectre of Vietnam?

Nowhere in any of these reports is the slightest hint of awareness that if the US were to pull out of Iraq now, jihadis around the world would be emboldened to launch more attacks against US interests everywhere, seeing the US as a paper tiger. Osama bin Laden said this outright -- that our withdrawal from Somalia (where there was much less at stake) proved to him the US had no spine.

The media is on the side of the enemy. Their desire to see the US fail in Iraq is palpable. And the Democrats aren't far behind, as their primary concern (after mouthing empty sympathies) is, very obviously, how to use this attack against President Bush.

The war isn't only taking place in the Middle East -- it's right here in America too.


Posted by Forkum at 07:32 AM

November 05, 2003

Trash Politics

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FoxNews reports on the latest Democrat presidential candidate debate: Dems Spar Over Confederate Flag at Debate. Here's CNN's report: Dems face off in 'Rock the Vote'.

And speaking of trash politics: Democrats Mull Politicizing Iraq War Intelligence.

Posted by Forkum at 07:58 AM

November 04, 2003

Courting Trouble

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FoxNews reported yesterday: High Court Won't Hear 10 Commandments Case. This cartoon was published in the October edition of The Intellectual Activist. Related links can be found at our last entry on this subject: Chief Injustice.

UPDATE November 10: FoxNews reports: Ala. Attorney General Asks Court to Remove Moore.

Posted by Forkum at 07:48 AM

November 03, 2003

Their Aim

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Posted by Forkum at 08:12 AM