Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Housing Bubble Myth: A Construct of the Left?

Everywhere you look today, it seems like people are talking about a "housing bubble". The MSM has been hyping this story for several years now, and while the market is definitely slowing down, there is no real evidence that the "bubble" is about to burst. wrote an interesting piece in July of this year that goes into great detail on why there is no housing bubble to burst. The following month Neil Barsky, managing partner of Alson Capital Partners, LLC., wrote another myth-busting piece in the Wall Street Journal (here via Nations Building News Online) that illustrates why past and current housing markets differ, and why the "bubble" won't burst anytime soon. In fact, he warns of a shortage of housing.

Despite these strong and convincing arguments, there are many who are convinced that the housing market is way over inflated, and is due for a major 'correction' soon. Their reasons for such a belief are many, but I can't help but notice that many seem to also hold generally liberal political views. I have no doubt that there are many conservatives who agree that a housing bubble is real and about to burst, but my suspicions are that that group is quite a small subset of the housing bubble crowd. I would go further and argue that these conservative 'bubblers' are probably the analytical type who's view is that the easy access to mortgage loans seemingly without regard for credit worthiness has 'artificially' brought too many buyers into the market, pushing up home prices to unsustainable levels. No doubt there is some truth to that viewpoint, but I believe that segment of the housing market is a significant minority.

The bigger question, and the real focus of this post is the apparent political component to this important debate.

Their position goes essentially like this: First, the GOP, led by GWB and Alan Greenspan made access to credit very easy by lowering short term interest rates, and more importantly, by pumping lots of liquidity into the economy, which made borrowing and buying more available to people who would not have had access to mortgages in the past due to credit and/or income issues. Second, after these people bought into the market with low or no-interest loans, assuming that the market would continue to appreciate, the GOP-controlled Congress changed bankruptcy laws to make personal bankruptcy more difficult, and consequently foreclosure easier. Couple this with the false perception of a poor economy and rising unemployment rates, and you have the beginnings of a "bubble".

Then, as rates began to rise (note the evil Alan Greenspan again) from their historical lows, many of the people with adjustable loans found that they could not make the payments, and also, now that credit began to tighten, could not refinance their loans, could not declare bankruptcy, and were foreclosed. This allowed evil, rich Republicans to buy these foreclosed properties at a giant discount, then sell them later for quick profit. Our friends at the illustrate this point clearly.

Unfortunately, the facts just don't bear this scenario out. Yes, bankruptcy laws have changed, and yes, rates are rising slightly, but are still very low. More importantly, the economy is very solid. Add in the opinions of the experts (above and below) along with the fact that regional economic conditions are far more indicative of healthy or not-so-healthy housing market, and it becomes clear that the only thing bursting is the MYTH of a housing bubble.

Regarding regional situations, I live in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country: San Diego County California, and know it well from a buyer's perspective. I bought my first house here in 1996 at the bottom of the last housing bubble crash. In the years prior, the economy in San Diego was heavily influenced by military spending. There was (and still is) a large Navy and Marine presence, and the large industrial economy was mostly defense-related. In the very large scale-back of defense spending and base closings following the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, San Diego, as were many other markets, was hit very hard, and the recession of the early 1990's put the housing market here on its heels. Foreclosures were everywhere, as defense workers moved elsewhere to find jobs, they had bigger mortgages than their homes were worth, and many just walked away from them.

It was sad, and I couldn't bring myself to profit from their misfortune. I ended up buying a new, 2,400 square foot home for $169,000 that had stood unoccupied for more than a year. It was so bad then that the original builder of the tract had even gone bankrupt. There is no doubt that there was a housing bubble here then, and equally no doubt in my mind that now. I still own that house today, and it is worth about $680,000 based on a search today.

But to get back to the people who believe in the "bubble", it is that envy drives much of their enthusiasm for a housing 'bubble'. As writes, envy and and a strong need for "equality" is the driving force behind much of the leftist agenda. Many people are angry that so many have gotten rich (on paper anyway) from the recent strong appreciation in housing prices. They believe that it is unfair that many are left out of the housing market since prices have risen faster than incomes. They seem to actually relish the idea of a 'bubble', and are even hoping for a crash to 'show those rich people' that they are not so rich after all. It is really the classic liberal cause; If somebody is getting rich, then somebody is getting poor as a result. Too bad these people don't understand the concept of wealth creation.

Their anger toward anyone who disagrees with their view is becoming as vicious as the anger directed at those of us who remain unconvinced of anthropomorphic global warming. Consider this respected financial columnist from a San Diego area paper who recently wrote that a . Be sure to read the comments from readers and see if you don't agree that it is unwise to rile these people up. In fact, Mr. Chamberlin, who, by the way I have read and followed for years and highly respect, wrote a follow-up piece wherein he described the vitriol sent his way over the original column. Be sure not to miss the comments to that column as well.

Is there a housing bubble? No, the facts don't support it. Will housing prices rise or fall? They are softening somewhat here in San Diego, and time-to-market is lengthening, but I do not believe a crash in prices is coming since the data I have seen does not support such a conclusion. But there certainly seems to be many who are hoping for such a crash, and, not surprisingly, many of these people have a political agenda aligned with the Left.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

More on the NSA Electronic Evesdropping Program

As the , thus degrading the ability of the United States government to protect Americans from foreign terrorisim, the blogosphere is repleat with legal experts who can speak elequently on the legality of the program, and are clearly a much better source for information than the hideously biased MSM.

Some excellent sources:

Baseball Crank (practicing attorney)
Volokh Conspiracy (via Baseball Crank)
(via Baseball Crank)


Friday, December 23, 2005

The President's Secret Surveillance Program

The New York Times broke the story on December 16th, 2005. In the aftermath of 9-11, the president authorized a secret eavesdropping program on international phone calls and emails originating within the United States. The order did not require court-issued warrants, and that has the Left even more frothing for George Bush's head—if you can believe it—than ever before.

First of all, the leaking of the existence of the program in the first place is illegal, and second it certainly helps the terrorists that the program was intended to catch. Moreover, it may even mean that some future terrorist act, possibly worse than 9-11, cannot not be stopped as the terrorists will switch to new forms and paths of communication, now that they know they are being surveilled.

The legality of the program is obviously under intense scrutiny, as the both the Blogosphere and the MSM investigate and analyze. There are legal experts in the Blogosphere who are far more qualified than I to write on this important subject, and I will reference below their excellent posts that you should read in detail and follow all the links. First, though, I want to quote from the president's recent statement prior to a press conference last week:

"And after September the 11th, the United States Congress also granted me additional authority to use military force against Al Qaida.

After September the 11th, one question my administration had to answer was, using the authorities I have, how do we effectively detect enemies hiding in our midst and prevent them from striking us again?

We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to Al Qaida here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives. To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks.

So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorize the interception of international communications of people with known links to Al Qaida 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. [emphasis added.]

And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy while safeguarding our civil liberties. This program has targeted those with known links to Al Qaida.

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

Powerline, Powerline, Powerline, Powerline


Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Silent American Revolution

Is there a revolution underway in America? Have parts of the bureacracy of the US government been in silent revolt against the duly elected executive?

Consider these events and decide for yourself:
  1. Did elements within the CIA who disagreed with the administration's Iraq policies deliberately select Joe Wilson, the husband of CIA officer Valerie Plame, in an effort to discredit the administration with his highly critical post-Niger "yellowcake" uranium report? Wilson was not required by the CIA to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to making the trip to Niger, nor was he required to even give a written report upon his return. Was that omission, usually a requirement under such circumstances, a deliberate effort to allow Wilson to write his infamous op-ed piece? By appearances, it looks like his trip was simply an effort by at a minimum a rogue CIA operation, and possibly something even larger. Too bad most of what Wilson had to say in his and untruths. In fact, there , and it's likely source was Niger.
  2. CIA. Plamegate was merely a battle in an on-going war between the CIA and the Whitehouse. Following the resignation of former director George Tenet, Porter Goss was named to head the agency, with clear marching orders to reform the organization post-9-11, and to attempt to purge the organization of politically partisan operatives who sought to undermine administration policy.
  3. The State Department. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, in a speech in 2003 as well as in subsequent articles has written of a systemic, institutionalized resistance by certain parts of the State Department, specifically career officers, to the authority of the president. He suggests that this has been going on for at least several decades now. Here is an excerpt from a recent Gingrich article in (reproduced with permission by American Diplomacy):

"Some critics, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Republican Rep. Jack Kemp of New York, have taken me to task for my remarks at the American Enterprise Institute on April 22, 2003, where I argued that the State Department was engaging in a “deliberate and systematic effort” to undermine Bush’s foreign policy. Yet that charge has proved true historically, and additional examples have emerged even since the speech.

Only six days following my remarks, Bush made the following statement to a group of Iraqi Americans in Dearborn, Michigan: “I have confidence in the future of a free Iraq. The Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government.” He also told them that “You are living proof the Iraqi people love freedom and living proof the Iraqi people can flourish in democracy. People who live in Iraq deserve the same freedom that you and I enjoy here in America.”

Contrast that vision with a recent classified report by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research titled “Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes,” which was leaked in March 2003 to the Los Angeles Times. As reported by that newspaper, the document stated that “liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve [in Iraq] . . . Electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements.” And according to an anonymous intelligence source interviewed by the newspaper, the thrust of the report argued that “this idea that you’re going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible.”

The Los Angeles Times has also reported that U.S. diplomats (insisting upon anonymity) “said they are profoundly worried about what they describe as the [Bush] administration’s arrogance or indifference to world public opinion, which they fear has wiped out, in less than two years, decades of effort to build goodwill toward the United States.” Meanwhile, as reported recently by National Review Online contributor Joel Mowbray, a Bush administration official believes the outgoing director of policy planning at the State Department, Richard Haass, has “made it his mission to loosen sanctions on Iran,” despite Bush’s designation of Iran as part of the “axis of evil.”
None of the people involved in these activities or 'leakers' were elected to serve the people. All are either career officers, hired to execute certain tasks as directed by their superiors. Their surperiors were either hired (if career officers), or appointed by the President if a political appointee. All serve at the pleasure of the President. The President is the chief executive of the United States. His job is to execute the laws enacted by Congress. The various departments under his command are there to serve him and his policies. Whether those working in these departments agree with the policies of the President is irrelavent. If their personal views interfere with their duties as agents of the United States, and their abilities to carry out the policies as directed by the President, then they should at a minimum be fired, and possibly charged with treason.

More views on this subject:

More Powerline


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Able Danger and its Inconvenient Facts (as Ignored by the 9-11 Commission) **UPDATED**

[Scroll down for updated analysis*]

Andrew McCarthy has an excellent article today in the National Review Online on , and how the 9-11 Commission utterly failed in its investigation. In fact, this article outlines what certainly appears to be a cover-up of the findings of Able Danger by the 9-11 commission.

Here is an especially pointed excerpt:

Consider for a moment the dimensions of this omission by reference to another current controversy. The Bush administration is being accused by Democrats of lying about intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. One of the key allegations involves the purported suppression of State Department dissent from the conclusion that Iraq was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

But the objections lodged by State's intelligence shop were not suppressed. They are set forth in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, although relegated to the footnotes. Essentially, the administration is said by Democrats to have "lied" because, even though it did acknowledge the dissenting information, it purportedly minimized the dissent's significance.

The 9/11 Commission, by contrast, did not do even that with Able Danger. It didn't report the dissent at all. Not in the text, not in the footnotes, not anywhere. It tried, Pravda-like, to erase completely from historical memory any version of events but its own.

Think about that. The commission's mandate was to conduct a thorough investigation and tell us exactly what it found. Its job was not to produce a carefully marketed narrative so media-starved commissioners would have a best-selling launch-pad from which to score sugary interviews. This panel was not supposed to have a vested interest in a single, definitive, air-brushed version of events. It was supposed to give us the facts as it found them, including on disputed issues it could not resolve. Why on earth did it decide to kill Able Danger?
*Many questions remain remain unanswered in the Able Danger story, as Mr. McCarthy so elequently writes in his column. The main issue seems to be the potential coverup by the 9-11 Commission and its staff over the allegations made by the Able Danger operation. Many questioned the inclusion of Jamie Gorelick as a commissioner, given that she was the author of the infamous "wall" between domestic and international intelligence gathering and analysis operations.

A thorough investigation of the Able Danger project and its findings must be conducted commencing immediately, as well as a thorough investigation of the 9-11 commission and staff to determine if they acted properly, especially given the clear conflict of interest of at least one commissioner, and lat least part of the commission staff. The safety of our country and our children may be at stake.

Previous posts:

Able Danger and the 9-11 Commission
Able Danger: A Third Source Corroborates Initial Claims
Able Danger Getting Uglier by the Day
Able Danger: Were the 9/11 Hijackers Known to the US Government As Early As 1999? ***UPDATE***


Monday, November 28, 2005

The "Fraud" of the 2004 Ohio Election

The Left has been agitated since the November 2004 elections with what they believe was a 'stolen' election in Ohio. They believe that GWB's cronies who make electronic voting machines rigged the election for Bush through fraudulantly compiled votes.

Silly, I know, and now a new analysis of the 2004 Ohio vote cited by The Mystery Pollster proves just how silly was the notion that the election was rigged.


Randy "Duke" Cunningham

Duke Cunningham has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to accept bribes and income tax evasion, and will resign from the US House of Representatives. The 63-year old former fighter pilot faces a possible 10-year prision sentence.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving to All

May your Thanksgiving be filled with laughter, joy, and happiness. Please remember also all those who have given the Ultimate Sacrifice to secure our freedom.

To further mark this day, here is George Washington's proclaimation of the first official Thanksgiving, in 1798:

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."

Go: Washington"

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

White Phosphorus: Was it Used by US Forces in Iraq?

The short answer is "yes". But there is a longer answer as well. (San Diego) staff writer Darrin Mortenson, along with photojournalist Hayne Palmour, was embedded with a Marine unit involved in the aborted April, 2004 assault on Fallujah. His account of their use of "Willie Pete" is excellent, and discusses how was used when they were there.

(Don't forget to view excellent slide shows of their embed's in Iraq)

Linked to open trackbacks: PoliticalTeen, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Saturday, November 19, 2005

How Different Would the World be Were it Not for Talk Radio and the Blogosphere?

I'm one of those idiots who enjoyed watching the House debate last night the resolution to . What kind of a moron spends even a few minutes of his Friday evening watching C-Span? That's a subject for a different post, but while watching the debate I got to thinking how different would the world be today if there were no conservative voices being heard? What would the world be like if talk radio and the blogosphere were not around to counter the voices of the Left in the MSM?

For one thing, were it not for the Blogosphere and talk radio, . But let's look back on the war in Vietnam, which is another good example.

I was too young to have participated in Vietnam, but was something of a political "hack" even then in my youth. I followed politics, and remembered watching Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite report every day on how badly the war was going. Never was there any good news. The the as a victory for the North, when in fact it was a stunning victory for the South Vietnamese and the US. The MSM—and especially —got the story wrong, and this error ultimately led to the growing disillusionment of the American people toward the war. It cost LBJ his job, in that he chose not to seek re-election in 1968, and emboldened the North Vietnamese as they saw public support for the war erode. Richard Nixon won the presidential election that year, partly on the grounds that he would end the war. His former Defence Secretary, Melvin Laird, wrote an excellent article on the Vietnam war, his efforts to get the US out, and the . An important excerpt:

The truth about Vietnam that revisionist historians conveniently forget is that the United States had not lost when we withdrew in 1973. In fact, we grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory two years later when Congress cut off the funding for South Vietnam that had allowed it to continue to fight on its own. Over the four years of Nixon's first term, I had cautiously engineered the withdrawal of the majority of our forces while building up South Vietnam's ability to defend itself. My colleague and friend Henry Kissinger, meanwhile, had negotiated a viable agreement between North and South Vietnam, which was signed in January 1973. It allowed for the United States to withdraw completely its few remaining troops and for the United States and the Soviet Union to continue funding their respective allies in the war at a specified level. Each superpower was permitted to pay for replacement arms and equipment. Documents released from North Vietnamese historical files in recent years have proved that the Soviets violated the treaty from the moment the ink was dry, continuing to send more than $1 billion a year to Hanoi. The United States barely stuck to the allowed amount of military aid for two years, and that was a mere fraction of the Soviet contribution.
The fall of Saigon later in 1975 led directly to the deaths of millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians as the communists in the region were freed from interference by the forces of freedom and democracy.

How many lives could have been saved had the Blogosphere and talk radio been around in those days? How much differently would the world be today had the blogosphere and talk radio been around to challenge the lies of the Left? Would the MSM have been able to ignore the inconvenient facts asthey did in 1968? (And still do today!)

While I have always resisted comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, in this case The debate last night in the US House of Representatives brought this point into crystal clarity: The Left's strategy on Iraq is following the Vietnam model. They seek to undermine public support for the war in an attempt to gain political advantage. So far have been very successful in doing so, as public opinion polls clearly show waning support among the American people.

I hope we on the Right will remember the lessons from Vietnam, or I fear a bloodbath will ensue in the Middle East following our premature withdrawl and likely failure to fund Iraqi forces, just as a bloodbath ensued in southeast Asia following our failure to keep our word to the people of Vietnam.

Linked to open trackbacks: The Political Teen, Cao's Blog, Stop The ACLU, Mudville Gazette, California Conservative,

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Withdrawl from Iraq Voted Down in the US House

The United State House of Representatives voted late tonight to defeat a Democratic effort to , 403-3.

May God bless the USA and our troops wherever they may be.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Iraq and WMD's

Wisbang links to a great post in FrontPage Magazine that reports an interview with former , who describes in great detail the elaborate deceptions by Iraq to hide their relentless pursuit of WMDs.

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Opinion Polls on How the Bush Administration is Handling the War in Iraq

So you've been listening to the MSM and the Left say that Iraq "posed no threat", or "had no WMD's", or maybe that "Bush Lied" about the pre-war intelligence to launch this 'illegal" war. Reading the polls, it seems like you're not alone.

63% of those polled disapproves of the way the war is being handled. But you also have to look at the question that was asked to gain the answer many gave: "Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?" That was the question posed by a recent . While I support the war, and continue to do so, but the way that question was formed, I might answer "disapprove". I wish the president would be MORE aggressive in dealing with the insurgents, and root them out. I suspect that a fair percentage of those polled agree with my view.

What's your's?

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Able Danger and the 9-11 Commission

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh writes in today's OpinionJournal (by the Wall Street Journal) a very interesting article about the the failures of the . Here is an excerpt:

"It was interesting to hear from the 9/11 Commission again on Tuesday. This self-perpetuating and privately funded group of lobbyists and lawyers has recently opined on hurricanes, nuclear weapons, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and even the New York subway system. Now it offers yet another "report card" on the progress of the FBI and CIA in the war against terrorism, along with its "back-seat" take and some further unsolicited narrative about how things ought to be on the "front lines."

Yet this is also a good time for the country to make some assessments of the 9/11 Commission itself. Recent revelations from the military intelligence operation code-named "Able Danger" have cast light on a missed opportunity that could have potentially prevented 9/11. Specifically, Able Danger concluded in February 2000 that military experts had identified Mohamed Atta by name (and maybe photograph) as an al Qaeda agent operating in the U.S. Subsequently, military officers assigned to Able Danger were prevented from sharing this critical information with FBI agents, even though appointments had been made to do so. Why?

There are other questions that need answers. Was Able Danger intelligence provided to the 9/11 Commission prior to the finalization of its report, and, if so, why was it not explored? In sum, what did the 9/11 commissioners and their staff know about Able Danger and when did they know it?"
It is long past time to investigate this shameful disregard of the facts by the 9-11 Commission. Remember the infamous during the Clinton administration?

Previous posts on Able Danger:

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Note to Readers

I recently changed my "comments and trackack" software, and in so doing have somehow lost previous comments. I am working to recover them, but in the meantime feel free to re-post any comments you feel need to be shown.

I apologize for this inconvenience.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bush Lied! (Not!)

The Left's lies that the president and his administration "lied" about prewar intelligence on Iraq are beginning to unravel. Oh, how they wish the internet and bloggers didn't exist! All you need to do is "Google" the subject and you'll find page after page of clear and compelling evidence that virtually EVERYONE who had even tangential access to intelligence agreed prior to the Iraq war that Iraq was a threat, had and continued to pursue the acquisition and/or development of WMD's, and that regime change in Iraq was in the US, the Iraqi people's, and the world's best interests.

JunkYardBlog, guest-blogging on Michelle Malkin's blog, created the great graphic above to illustrate the search, and you can use this link to see the real search on Google.

You can see for yourself how clear the lies of the left are on this subject, but for reference here are some of my favorite examples:

President Bill Clinton's official statement at the signing of the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998".

Sentor Hillary Clinton's Senate floor speech regarding the authorization for war in 2002.

Senator Carl Levin's floor speech in 1998 regarding Iraq and the threat of thir use of WMD's.

President Bill Clinton's speech to the nation in December, 1998 regarding the US-UK airstrikes on Iraq.

Mark Levin's NRO piece in July, 2003 regarding Iraq, President Clinton, the 1998 bombings, and WMD's.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Bush's Veteran's Day Speech **UPDATE**

**UPDATE** Michelle Malkin links today to Indepundit and Powerline who have similar posts to this subject. Their takes refer to the pathetic Democrats and their tired response to the president's speech on Friday.
During his yesterday, president George W. Bush yesterday finally shot back at his critics over the origins and reasons for going to war in Iraq. Like many, I have remain in strong support of the war and our aims there, and have been watching incredulously as the Left keeps telling the Big Lie over and over about how GWB "lied" about WMD's to get us to go to war. There is not a shred of evidence to support that contention, as the found.

It has truely been amazing to watch the Left transform from fairly strong support of the war, to now actually trying to claim that they were always against it, and 'knew Bush was lying' about WMD's. The more the tell this lie, the more they convince themselves that it's true. But it isn't, of course.

If anyone is lying about the war or why we went to Iraq, it's the Left. Senator Ted Kennedy, for example, issued a last Thursday, November 10th, 2005, regarding the intelligence on the threat that pre-war Iraq posed, wherein he said:

"150,000 American troops are bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq because the Bush Administration misrepresented and distorted the intelligence to justify a war that America never should have fought.

As we know all too well, Iraq was not an imminent threat. It had no nuclear weapons. It had no persuasive links to Al Qaeda, no connection to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

But the President wrongly and repeatedly insisted that it was too dangerous to ignore the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein, and his ties to Al Qaeda."
Compare those words with these that on the same subject:

"No one disputes that America has lasting and important interests in the Persian Gulf, or that Iraq poses a significant challenge to U.S. interests. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed."
While Senator Kennedy went on in that 2002 speech to argue and later to vote against war with Iraq, he certainly agreed—as did virtually everyone with access to the intelligence—that Iraq possessed and continued to pursue the development of WMD's. To deny that position now is ludicrous.

This is but one of many examples that I could cite, as the public record is rich with similar contradictive statements by the Left.

Finally, Bill Kristol writes an excellent article today in the regarding the President's Veteran's Day speech.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day

To all those who have served their country in the armed forces: Thank you for your service and your sacrifice, and may God bless you and your families.

I know of no one who likes war. I know of no one who wants US armed forces to be engaged in armed conflicts. Everyone I know hopes that our troops can come home very soon. Many of us hold these views and yet we also support the president's decision to go to war in Iraq, and continue to support the efforts underway to complete the mission. Many on the Left claim to support the troops but not the war. Is it possible to do both? I don't think so.

For those most vociferously object to the War in Iraq, their idea of "supporting the troops" appears to mean 'bring them home immediately, then muster them ALL out of service and dismantle all but a tiny core of our military forces.' They don't really support the troops, of course, but many of them learned their lesson from the horrible way the Left treated the returning veterans from Vietnam. They still fee the same way as they did then, they've just gotten smarter about expressing it.

Let's face it, they hate the military, they hate everyone who serves in the military, and they hate everything that the military stands for. They hate the money spent on the military, and think it could be better spent on the poor, the homeless, and downtrodden. My view is that without the freedom that the threat of military force to our enemies provides us all, we'd have many more poor, many more homeless, and many more downtrodden.

Thank you again to all veterans everywhere.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

California Election Results

As I went to bed last Tuesday night, it looked like Prop's 73 and 75 would pass, and possibly 74. Props 76 through 80 appeared to be heading for a resounding defeat. When I awoke on Wednesday morning, I was surprised to see that .

This blog, like the Governor, endorsed Prop's 74 through 77, and did not support 73, 78, 79, nor 80, so to look on the bright side, I batted .500 in the election! But seriously, I am disappointed that 74, 75, 76, and 77 were defeated, but if that is the will of the people then I support and accept their decision.

I am not too surprised that 74 through 76 lost, since all directly affected unions, and they spent something like $100 million to defeat them. 76 was the most important of those three, as it would have helped smooth-out spending. The only problem with it, and part that concerned me (and likely was it's ultimate downfall) was it's potential to reduce school funding. It didn't specifically do that, and if the legislature and the governor agreed, funding could go UP, but the minimum school funding guarantees of Prop 98, passed by the voters in 1988.

State spending will still have to be addressed, and only time will tell how the governor and the legislature will figure it out. For those of us who want to see spending brought more in line with revenues, we will have to stay on top of this issue and 'hold their feet to the fire' on spending.

I am mostly disappointed by the defeat of Prop 77, the proposition to change how legislative districts are drawn. Those in power—mainly the entrenched political parties—. They ran TV ads that were false and misleading at best, claiming that 77 was a "power grab" and would take the power from the people and give it to retired (white male) judges. Nothing could be further from the truth, and unfortunately, they won.

As I have laid out in previous posts, , and the vote on 77 is the best evidence that our current system is broken. Based on the radical proposal laid out in that post (above), perhaps 77 should have been structured differently. Maybe instead of a three-member panel of retired judges, a pool of average citizens could have been assembled to draw up legislative districts. The guidelines for drawing districts laid out in 77 could still be used, and the final plan would still go to a vote of the people.

Would the power structure in Sacramento fight this proposal? I am sure they will. But the only way to return power to the people is to break the grip of centralized power and control on elections, and the only way to do that is by changing how——and most importantly WHO——draws up legislative districts.

If you have a better idea, please add your comments.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

The Pinnacle of Foolishness

The North County Times (of San Diego county) has one of the best 'letters' pages of any paper I have ever read. There is usually a good selection of intelligently written letters from both sides of the political spectrum, but yesterday the "moonbats" of the Left were so far out of touch with reality that I just had to reprint the highlights for your reading enjoyment:

"Libby, as the alter ego of the vice president, is probably one of the five most powerful individuals in the regime that occupies the Oval Office. Libby was one of the authors of the 48-page draft speech prepared in January 2003 that was intended to make Bush/Cheney's case for the illegal war in Iraq before the United Nations. Fortunately, most of its contents were cast aside because many of the document's claims related to Iraq were exaggerated and unwarranted or, better put, lies.

Any thinking individual knows that the outing of an intelligence agent, thus risking that individual's life is an act of treason, and when Cheney takes the stand in Libby's trial. he either lies or America will begin to understand the scope of the dishonesty of these men."


"This administration has been consistently wrong about everything and a running joke since Scalia cast the tie-breaking vote in the rigged election back in 2000. If our Congress wasn't as thoroughly incompetent and corrupt as Dubya himself, and doing its job rather than simply obeying the orders of their corporate bosses, they would have impeached him at least twice by now."


"Millions of Muslims are being trained and armed to kill the infidels in Iraq and other countries. The facts are Bush intended to invade Iraq months before 9/11; Iraq had no WMDs; there were no terrorists in Iraq before Bush invaded. Extremists don't take miles and miles of territory. Their sole goal is to bring death and destruction to non-Islamic people."


"President Clinton was indicted for lying about sex. Nixon resigned mostly due to a third-rate burglary. Drunk with power, Bush and his cabal of neocons have lied to the nation and the world about Iraq having nonexistent nuclear weapons.

Approximately 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of this administration's aggression. Over 2,000 of our soldiers are dying for wealthy corporations and other special-interest groups.

It's time to clean house. The vice president should resign. Everyone involved should be punished to the full extent of the law. Yes, that means you too, President Bush. Support our troops by bringing them home."


"It's long overdue for those involved in the long line of White House deceptions and cover-ups to start to be brought to justice. Leading up to the Iraq war, Cheney spoke before the Veterans of Foreign War declaring, "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction, and there is no doubt that he is amassing them to use on us."

In his State of the Union address Bush pontificated, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Colin Powell went before the U.N. with satellite photos purportedly showing mobile biological weapons labs and unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering biological or chemical weapons. All these statements were false. And all these statements took us to war.

So why would Bush and Cheney's point men want to discredit Joe Wilson and blow his wife's cover as a CIA agent? Apparently part of the war on terrorism includes destroying the reputation or lives of American citizens who don't espouse this administration's lies. Aren't we as citizens of the country considered the beacon of democracy supposed to tell and be told the truth? When did we become the bully telling lies to support needless killing and chaos?"


"Treason and lying us into war are serious crimes. Why are so many saying it's nothing? Do they think they can sweep so many dead under the rug? If guilty, everyone trying to cover up should all be in jail."


"Throughout life we are taught by our parents and society in general that when you do something wrong, your best chance is to confess and humble yourself to the fitting consequence. Why does our government remain so childish? We have moved passed the "if" they lied to the "when" they lied and now we all want to know "why" they lied.

Two thousand-plus troops have already died. Has our government looked into the mirror and admitted its greed? Not yet. The adult eyes of our country remain fixed upon the actions of our childlike president.

Will he act as our elected leader, as most of our other presidents have, by ridding the administration of cheats and thieves? Or will he remain proudly arrogant? What do you think?"


"On Oct. 30 we saw the tip of the iceberg of vicious and possibly criminal White House efforts to silence Americans, liberal or conservative, regardless of faith or party, who questioned the president's reasons for going to war in Iraq. His supporters have already begun to trivialize the indictments and attack the opposition in order to deflect attention away from the fact that the president, not Mr. Scooter Libby, is ultimately responsible for the cover-up.

They will fail because there is now undeniable evidence that the administration knew there were no weapons of mass destruction when the decision to invade Iraq was made and that officials used McCarthyism tactics to intimidate and silence anyone who said otherwise. In the wake of these troubling disclosures, we must speak up and not allow ourselves to be fooled or intimidated by the president or his attack dogs ever again."


"The indictment of Scooter Libby last week should be seen as the tip of a vast iceberg that needs to be explored. The facts that have come out of this investigation are frightening and require a closer look. It seems the president and his staff deliberately used lies and deception to sell the idea of war in Iraq to the American people and the world.

Two thousand American families have suffered a devastating loss of a son, a daughter, a father, or a mother because our president and his staff lied to us. In Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, he claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and had tried to purchase uranium from Niger. It now appears he knew these statements were false when he said them, but he was so bent on selling this war, the truth was secondary.

The American people deserve the truth. We need to call for a congressional investigation into the lies that brought us to war, and if it turns out that the president ordered or had knowledge of this campaign of deception, he should be impeached."


"Watching this latest White House scandal unfold, I find it hard to believe that I am not reading a John Grisham novel. But this is not fiction. This is our very own government, and this is very, very real.

I am appalled at the callousness of these men who have put so many lives at risk, from CIA operatives to young American soldiers, by lying to the American public in furtherance of their own misguided agendas. As the White House attempts to minimize the significance of the indictment of Scooter Libby, the American people must stand up and refuse to accept continued lies and cover-ups. Our future as individuals and as a nation relies upon men and women of integrity being at the helm. How do we explain to our children that they cannot trust their government?"


"Vice President Cheney's chief of staff was charged with obstructing an investigation into the White House cover-up of the lies that led our nation to war in Iraq. Two senior White House officials outed CIA operative Valerie Plame as punishment for her husband's revelations about the administration's Iraq lies.

Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were part of the White House Iraq group. This secretive team operated out of Cheney's office and was formed to sell the case for war. In 2002, Joe Wilson was sent by the CIA to Niger to investigate if Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials. He discovered those claims were a lie. He told the CIA, and they told the White House.

Bush made the discredited claim in his 2003 State of the Union address as he made the case for war. Nuclear threat was key to selling war.

The American people must know the truth about the indictment. The American people must know that Libby's indictment is about the White House cover-up of the lies that led our nation to war in Iraq. Bush must clean house. We will not be able to trust our government until every one of the White House officials who conspired to mislead the American public into war with Iraq are out of the administration."


"I am a lifelong Democrat who voted Republican once in my life. I will never do that again, unless it is the right person. I do not trust the Bush administration. I don't think they have the people of this great country first on their minds. It seems to be a greedy bunch up there on the Hill.

They are standing there feeding us a line of stuff right to our faces, hoping we will be good little citizens and believe it. I cringe at the fact that they will be there for the next three and a half years. Dick Cheney has got to be the most evil man in America. The things he is allowed to get away with keep adding up. Oh, I do love this country, but I pray for an awakening."


"Except in cases of treason, I am absolutely opposed to the death penalty. I believe Lewis Libby, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney committed treason by divulging the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the public.

After they have received the fair trial and due process they are accorded by our Constitution, and if they are found guilty, these traitors should be shot -- and then stood up and shot again."


"I have been a supporter of President Bush, but he has taken a wrong turn in regard to Libby and Karl Rove. This has become a cover-up and a very big waste of time for the FBI and special prosecutor. Both Libby and Rove should have come forward when the investigation began. Now Karl Rove must go."


"The reason we have not had any refineries built in the past 30 years is because there was no need and/or the oil companies did not want any competition. For the last 30 years the oil companies have supplied oil and gas for an ever-expanding population, and the demand has steadily increased as the population grew.

The demand grows as the population grows, and few variations except in time of a staged war, which requires more fuel. Have you ever seen a report about the amount of oil products produced for a month or a year? The answer is no because they don't want you to know what the production rate is and they do not want to publish the maximum amount of oil products they can produce. If you don't know, then they can use the demand argument and no one can dispute the argument, and raise prices as much as they would like, which is what has happened over the past years.

Don't forget who controls the market -- the oilmen in Washington and Big Oil that helps put them in office. The profits are astronomical."


"People are not voting, as the voting system lacks credibility. A single, universal system where all votes are counted, not discarded on technical reasons, must be found.

Mail-in voting by reregistered voters in the two weeks prior to the date would provide time for the registrar of voters to verify each vote by comparing it to the registration. All voting should be stopped at a single time in all time zones and results held confidential until all verification has been completed. This would do away with the confusion at the polling place.

Bush and his administration must be held accountable for their actions by impeachment proceedings, as the war on Iraq was based only on speculation, contrary to our own investigations that had concluded there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, as well as the United Nations'.

The war has caused thousands of deaths and injury, wasted large amounts of taxpayer money and caused this government and its citizens to be held in disrepute by many residents of other countries, as we are reminded daily by the media."

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

California Proposition 75: Public Employee Union Member's Dues for Political Campaigns **UPDATE #2

Despite what the Unions say about members and non-members ability to "opt-out" of the union's fees for political campaigns, a federal judge on Friday ruled that and non-members to pay against their will fees to be used for political purposes. Irronically, this lawsuit is aimed at Prop 75!

VOTE YES on 75!

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Blog Round Up

I thought I'd post some quick links to articles I saw today that interested me.

Relating to my earlier post on and how the Left seems to want to use the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby to forwrad their anti-war, impeach Bush agenda:

  • has a very interesting article by Allan H. Ryskind.
  • Powerline has a great post that also questions the strategy of the Left on this issue.
  • The Anchoress has an interesting post on the Joe Wilson angle of Plamegate.
  • has a great article on the pre-war intelligence aspects of Plamegate, and how the Democrats have bungled their "strategy".

Friday, November 04, 2005

California Special Election: Statewide Ballot Recommendation Wrap-Up ***UPDATE***

**UPDATE** Here is a link to the .

Next Tuesday voters in California go to the polls in a special election to decide the fate of many important propositions, several of which are part of Governor Schwartzenneger's reform plan. I have spent the last couple of weeks reviewing these propositions in detail and will today summarise my positions on each of them.

I'll be voting NO on , , and I urge everyone who will be voting next week to do the same.

I'll be voting YES on , , , and , and again, strongly urge likewise votes by all Californian's.

Follow the links to my original posts for background and analysis.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Plamegate" Update

Some very interesting developments in the "" situation. Of course you already know that the 2-year investigation into the "outing" of CIA agent Valerie Plame by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has concluded, with criminal indictments being returned against Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's Chief of Staff.

It is important to note, however, that the investigation did not turn up any evidence that any crime was committed in the leak of Valerie Plame's name as a CIA operative, only that Mr. Libby lied to the grand jury during the investigation. Even more important is the fact that Karl Rove, chief political strategist for president Bush (and hated even more by the Left than the president) was NOT and will not be indicted for anything related to this episode.

The lack of an indictment against Rove has sent the Left into a complete meltdown, as it is now clear that they anticipated that this would be the first of many pieces to fall which would bring down the Bush administration. In their zeal, they even came up with a name for it: (like Christmas). Reading that last link you will see how the Left was so excited about "Fitzmas" that they almost couldn't contain themselves; like a child waiting out those last few days before Christmas.

But with "Fitzmas" having come and gone without the present the Left so desperately but confidently 'just knew' they would receive, they have begun to once again spin off their already unsteady axis. They forced a in a crazy stunt to "force an investigation" into pre-war intelligence and how it may have been "manipulated" by the Bush administration. This was probably planned in the run up to "Fitzmas", intended as the first salvo in their post-"Fitzmas" assault on the Bush administration. The lack of an indictment against Rove, however, threw a huge and very inconvenient 'wrench in the works'.

And as alluded to in the opening line of this post, a completely different picture is beginning to emerge in this affair. Instead of Bush, Rove, and Cheney as the conspirators, Valerie Plame herself and those within the CIA who are ideologically opposed to the Bush administration are looking more and more like the real culprits. This picture is certainly not one of my making, but the blogosphere and even the MSM to some extent have formulated this new theory on these events.

, and quotes an article in today's Wall Street Journal by Victoria Toensing on this issue"

• First: The CIA sent her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to Niger on a sensitive mission regarding WMD. He was to determine whether Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake, an essential ingredient for nonconventional weapons. However, it was Ms. Plame, not Mr. Wilson, who was the WMD expert. Moreover, Mr. Wilson had no intelligence background, was never a senior person in Niger when he was in the State Department, and was opposed to the administration's Iraq policy. The assignment was given, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, at Ms. Plame's suggestion.

• Second: Mr. Wilson was not required to sign a confidentiality agreement, a mandatory act for the rest of us who either carry out any similar CIA assignment or who represent CIA clients.

• Third: When he returned from Niger, Mr. Wilson was not required to write a report, but rather merely to provide an oral briefing. That information was not sent to the White House. If this mission to Niger were so important, wouldn't a competent intelligence agency want a thoughtful written assessment from the "missionary," if for no other reason than to establish a record to refute any subsequent misrepresentation of that assessment? Because it was the vice president who initially inquired about Niger and the yellowcake (although he had nothing to do with Mr. Wilson being sent), it is curious that neither his office nor the president's were privy to the fruits of Mr. Wilson's oral report.

• Fourth: Although Mr. Wilson did not have to write even one word for the agency that sent him on the mission at taxpayer's expense, over a year later he was permitted to tell all about this sensitive assignment in the New York Times. For the rest of us, writing about such an assignment would mean we'd have to bring our proposed op-ed before the CIA's Prepublication Review Board and spend countless hours arguing over every word to be published. Congressional oversight committees should want to know who at the CIA permitted the publication of the article, which, it has been reported, did not jibe with the thrust of Mr. Wilson's oral briefing. For starters, if the piece had been properly vetted at the CIA, someone should have known that the agency never briefed the vice president on the trip, as claimed by Mr. Wilson in his op-ed.

• Fifth: More important than the inaccuracies is the fact that, if the CIA truly, truly, truly had wanted Ms. Plame's identity to be secret, it never would have permitted her spouse to write the op-ed. Did no one at Langley think that her identity could be compromised if her spouse wrote a piece discussing a foreign mission about a volatile political issue that focused on her expertise? The obvious question a sophisticated journalist such as Mr. Novak asked after "Why did the CIA send Wilson?" was "Who is Wilson?" After being told by a still-unnamed administration source that Mr. Wilson's "wife" suggested him for the assignment, Mr. Novak went to Who's Who, which reveals "Valerie Plame" as Mr. Wilson's spouse.

• Sixth: CIA incompetence did not end there. When Mr. Novak called the agency to verify Ms. Plame's employment, it not only did so, but failed to go beyond the perfunctory request not to publish. Every experienced Washington journalist knows that when the CIA really does not want something public, there are serious requests from the top, usually the director. Only the press office talked to Mr. Novak.

• Seventh: Although high-ranking Justice Department officials are prohibited from political activity, the CIA had no problem permitting its deep cover or classified employee from making political contributions under the name "Wilson, Valerie E.," information publicly available at the FEC.

Toensing concludes:

The CIA conduct in this matter is either a brilliant covert action against the White House or inept intelligence tradecraft. It is up to Congress to decide which.
on this new theory, and frankly the idea of a rogue CIA operation run specifically to undermine and potentially bring down the executive branch is very disturbingly treasonous.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

California Special Election: Statewide Ballot Recommendation Wrap-Up

Next Tuesday voters in California go to the polls in a special election to decide the fate of many important propositions, several of which are part of Governor Schwartzenneger's reform plan. I have spent the last couple of weeks reviewing these propositions in detail and will today summarise my positions on each of them.

I'll be voting NO on , , and I urge everyone who will be voting next week to do the same.

I'll be voting YES on , , , and , and again, strongly urge likewise votes by all Californian's.

Follow the links to my original posts for background and analysis.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

California Proposition 73: Parental Notification PRIOR to Abortion

is another ballot measure that Californians will be voting on next Tuesday. If passed, this proposition would amend the California constitution to require doctors to notify an "unemancipated minor's" parents at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on that minor. Notification is the only requirement; this measure does not require the doctor to obtain the minor's parent's permission for the abortion to take place.

This proposition was the most difficult for me to come to a decision on, but as a libertarian-leaning Republican, I have to err on the side of less government and urge a NO vote on Prop 73. On the one hand, I strongly support the right of parents to make decisions——especially a decision as important as ending a pregnancy—for their minor children. On the other, I don't like government getting too involved in healthcare and decisions that rightfully belong to individuals and their doctors alone.

I am confident that those who are strongly in favor of Prop 73 are probably the ones who least need its protection, as they likely have family relationships that have an excellent support system. However, there are many families who do not have healthy relationships between parents and children, and THEY are much more likely to need protection from the potentially violent reaction of parents upon learning that their daughter seeks an abortion.

I also understand the strong feelings on both sides of the abortion debate, and have . The upcoming debate over the nomination of appellate judge Alito to the US Supreme Court will further highlight this debate, and I will post again on this very important and yet very personal debate.

Until then, I strongly urge a NO vote on Prop 73.

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Monday, October 31, 2005

California Proposition 78, 79, and 80: VOTE NO!

These are the three upcoming California Special Election ballot issues that are the 'no-brainers' of the ballot. As a libertarian-leaning conservative who is a strong supporter of "promoting individual liberty and economic freedom through the idea of limited government, private property rights, and free market capitalism" (as our masthead states), I emphatically urge everyone to VOTE NO on 78, 79, and 80. All three are anti-capitalist, pro-big government measures that will result in shortages and more regulation.

and are competing attempts to regulate prescription drugs. One is sponsored by the drug companies, the other by trial lawyers and consumer advocate groups, and both would mean government regulation of prescription drug costs. Government imposed cost controls always result in lower quality, lower supply, and frustrated consumers. I cannot think of a single circumstance where the imposition of government bureaucracy and regulation has resulted in lower costs, more choice, better quality, and more supply. The opposite is ALWAYS the result.

, if passed, would re-regulate California's electrical supply. While deregulation of a decade ago was poorly planned, and even more poorly executed, the re-imposition of government controls is not the answer. Like Prop's 78 and 79, the result will be less supply, fewer choices, and lower quality.

If you doubt my conclusions on free markets versus a regulated market, consider how the telephone service market developed. First, under the regulated market of the first five or six decades of telephone service here in the USA we though we had good prices, features, and quality. However, compare those days to the current, relatively unregulated mobile phone market. Prices are lower, features are too many to list, and long distance is FREE! In addition, the monthly costs keep dropping, and the features list grows longer.

Don't put the prescription drug market nor the electrical markets back into the stone age.

Vote NO on 78, 79, and 80.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

California Proposition 76: State Spending and School Funding Limits

California's special election next month gives voters the opportunity to decide several important state issues. This post will discuss the merits of , which, if passed, would place limits on state spending and on state school funding.

Currently, there are spending limits in place in the state of California, but due to the nature of the source of state revenues, primarily personal and corporate income taxes and general sales taxes, revenues rise and fall dramatically as the state's economy rises and falls. Spending must rise and fall accordingly, or large surplusses or deficits result. The legislature hasn't shown the ability to restrain spending the surplusses, instead of holding it in reserve for the years when revenues fall below expected expendatures.

Prop 76 would change all that. In general, this proposition would limit spending to "the prior-year level of expenditures, adjusted by the average of the growth rates in combined General Fund and special fund revenues over the prior three years", as the non-partisan Legislative Analyst reports in the Voters Guide. This would have the effect over time of constraining spending during revenue-rich periods, but would allow more liberal spending in revenue-poor periods. It would accomplish this by placing excess revenues in reserve for those leaner times.

For school funding, this measure would alter the current minimum spending guarantees in place from previous propositions. It's rather complicated, but essentially would likely lower minimum spending guarantees, while at the same time reducing school funding volitility. School administrators would be able to better plan budgets with the knowledge that future funding would be more consistent.

It is important to note as well that just because minimum funding guarantees would likly be reduced, there is no reason to assume that actual school spending will decrease. The legislature and the governor can fund schools at higher than the minimum, and no limits are initiated by this proposal. It will be up to you and me to hold the state responsible if school funding is inadequate.

Finally, this proposal would grant new power to the governor to control spending. Under Prop 76, the governor could declare a "fiscal emergency", and then unilaterally reduce spending without legislative approval.

The Democrats and the public employee unions are, of course, opposed to this measure. They oppose any limits placed on their ability spend your money. The unions are specifically opposed to any limits that might impact their ability to implement pay raises and improve retirement benefits for their members. The legislature is heavily dominated by Democrats, and they, of course, oppose anything thing that limits their power to spend, and grants authority to the governor to override their spending plans.

They have never before shown any ability to restrain spending, and this proposal will bring some fiscal sanity and consistency to the budget process.

Vote YES on 76

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

California Proposition 75: Public Employee Union Member's Dues for Political Campaigns **UPDATED**

**UPDATE** Recent television advertisements paid for by public employee unions deceptively suggest that (paraphrasing) 'there are already ways for members to opt-out of politcal fees and activities', and that Prop 75 is therefore unecessary.

What they don't say, but as this original post did below, is that the only way for a union member to 'opt-out' is to resign membership in the union. A member cannot opt-out.

Furthermore, if this proposition is "unecessary", then why will the public employee unions pay the tens and probably hundreds of million dollars on their "No on 75" campaign?

This third installment in my series of discussions about the California Special Election next month discusses , which, if passed, would require public employee unions to receive annual written permission from each member to use union dues for political purposes.

The public employee unions (police, fire, nurses, and teachers, primarily) are absolutely livid about this proposition because it's passage would mean that these unions would not be able to compel their members to contribute money to spend on the political campaigns that the union leadership supports.

Currently, public employees are not required to join unions, and those who choose not to join must pay a fee to the union for the union's collective bargaining work, though they do not have to pay a fee to the union for political activities.

Members of the union, however, don't have that right, and must pay whatever fee the union leadership decides is appropriate to support whatever political position the leadership chooses. The member who believes in and supports the right to collective bargaining, but is not politically allied with the generally far-left leaning union leadership, MUST support financially the leadership's political positions. The passage of Prop 75 would end that unfair practice and allow loyal members the option to 'opting-out' of political activity. That is the extent of the proposition if passed.

The union leadership views this issue as one of power; specifically theirs. They try to paint the backers of Prop 75 as evil corporations out to destroy the American way of life, when, in fact, this matter is really about freedom and the rights of the individual over that of the union. Many union members support the union in its efforts to help members, but don't necessarily support the political positions of the union leadership. This proposition would simply allow the members themselves——not union leadership——to decide if they wish to finacially support the union's political activities.

One of the is that it unfairly targets unions, and doesn't require corporations to receive shareholder permission prior to contributing to a given political campaign. However, their is a very big difference between unions and corporations in this regard. If you work as a police officer, firefighter, nurse, or teacher in the state of California, you must join the union, or be represented by them as a non-member. There are no other choices.

However, no one is required to buy shares in a corporation. The decision to own or not to own shares in publicly traded corporation is entirely that of the individual. Furthermore, you can still work and provide for yourself and your family while owning, or while not owning shares in a corporation. Your livelihood is not affected in any way by your personal decision to own or not to own corporate stocks.

This issue, despite what the unions are spending millions to convince you of, is simply about choice. Your choice versus theirs. The rights of the individual or of the union. Freedom versus central control.

Vote YES on 75

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

California Proposition 74: Teacher Tenure **Updated**

Next month's special election here in California has several important propositions on the ballot. These were placed on the ballot by Governor Schwartzenegger after failing to agree with the Democrat-controlled legislature on these important issues. In my previous installment on these propositions, I discussed , the redistricting issue, and this week I will discuss , the "teacher tenure" issue.

If enacted, the measure would be officially titled . This measure affects two employment criteria for public school teachers: First, the probationary period for new teachers would be extended from two to five years. Second, school administrators would have the ability to fire lower-performing teachers who have received two consecutive "unsatisfactory evaluations", regardless of their tenure status. The dismissed teacher can, within 30 days of their dismissal, ask for an administrative hearing on their dismissal.

The teachers unions obviously are very upset about this measure. They don't like the idea that their members can be fired for poor performance, and without a prior hearing. Welcome to the real world, teachers!

Most of us——some estimates say 60%* —are employed as "at-will" employees, which means that we can be fired "at-will", with no reasons given. We can also quit under the same circumstances. There are some exceptions to this, of course, but for the most part, an at-will employee can be fired or can quit without reasons or notice, or hearings. Why shouldn't teachers work under the same employment rules as most everyone else?

Obviously collective bargaining agreements have had a lot to do with this issue, and the teachers unions are viscously fighting this proposition, as they stand a lot to lose if it passes. While I am a strong supporter of teachers, and have argued previously that I believe the lion's share of blame for poor student performance lies with parents, I also believe that teachers should be held to the same employment standards as the majority of Americans in the workforce.

Vote YES on 74.

*New estimates are closer to 80%

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Is Atheism a Religion?

Yesterday's post about the spurred me into further investigation of the question of whether atheism is a form of religious belief. As I discussed yesterday,
"If belief in a Higher Power is considered a religious faith, then an equally powerful argument can be made that the non-belief in a Higher Power is also a religion. To put it another way, a religious person believes in a Higher Power. An atheist does not. Neither position can be proven with facts or science; each requires faith in an idea."
A Google search of the title of this post reveals many relevant links to this discussion. Many of those who consider themselves atheists bristle at the charge that atheism is a religion. Many of these people have a very simple adherence to atheism that they don't believe in any Higher Power, no After-Life, no Supreme Being, nothing.

There is also a very large segment of the atheist population who very actively seeks to abolish any references to any form of religious faith in any public forum, governmental agency, or public schools, or any organization or activity open to the general public. I would characterize this group of atheists as "activists", and suspect that many of them would also characterize themselves as politically liberal.

The latter group is the more vocal 'face' of atheism, and are usually the ones filing lawsuits to remove religious symbols from public buildings, schools, etc. These activist atheists zealously and ruthlessly pursue their non-believer goals—which seem to this writer as ultimately the elimination of all religious activity anywhere except possibly in the privacy of one's home. One such zealot sued to remove the Cross atop Mt. Soledad, and another sued to stop public schools from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and its reference to "under God".

In researching this question, however, I discovered a recent United State Appellate Court ruling that held that atheism is indeed areligiouss belief. The August, 2005 decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has spurred furious debate between those of religious faith and atheists, and even among atheists themselves.

Since the federal courts have now affirmed that , my argument that the San Diego judge who ruled that the public vote to transfer the land under the Cross on Mt. Soledad to private hands was an unconstitutional promotion of religion, was by her ruling violating the constitution by promoting atheism. Atheists want the Cross removed because their religion (atheism) says such symbols are opposed to their religion. If you are anti-religion, then you are pro-atheism. Therefore the removal of religion and religious symbols from public property is the promotion of atheism. The promotion of atheism is the promotion of a religion. The promotion of a religion by government is unconstitutional, therefore the order to removereligiouss symbols and practices from government property and institutions is, in fact, the unconstitutional promotion of a particular religious faith over others.

The Supreme Court has held (the ) that to beincompletelye with the1stt amendment, government must be secular in nature, must neither promote nor inhibit religious activity, and must not excessively entangle government and religion.

The ruling on the Mt. Soledad Cross, given the above, is in clear violation of the Lemon Test in that it promotes atheism, inhibits Christianity, and, through its promotion of atheism, excessively entangles government and religion.