Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Iraq's difficulties of today, the pains of today, and the disappointments of today pale in comparison to what we Iraqis had to endure under Saddam Hussein

"Iraq, today, 10 years on from the war, from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, is not what the Iraqi people hoped for and expected. We hoped for an inclusive democracy, an Iraq that is at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbors," Salih said. "To be blunt, we are far from that."
Thus reports The Atlantic's J J Gould. from Jeffrey Goldberg;s conversation with Barham Salih, the former prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan's regional government and a former deputy prime minister of Iraq's federal government.
"But," he added, "it's important to understand where we started from. ... Literally hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were sent to mass graves. Ten years on from the demise of Saddam Hussein, we're still discovering mass graves across Iraq. And Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein -- the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein."

Salih acknowledged that the contemporary reality is grim: "This is a new experiment in the Middle East. I don't want to whitewash the many missteps and the terrible things that happened in the country to date. ... I'm not telling you that it is a utopia and all is fine and wonderful." And yet:
... for those of us who lived under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and understand what tyranny means, ... the difficulties of today, the pains of today, and the disappointments of today -- and they are very profound, because Iraqis deserve better -- these pale in comparison to what we had to endure. ... Then, people had the certainty of the knock on the door late at night, and could possibly end up in a mass grave. Two weeks ago, in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, a new mass grave in which there were some five-six people who were shot. Their families never heard from them since 1988. They were found and they could only be identified by the pajamas they were wearing as they were taken from home. These are the type of stories that my people, my community, had to endure.
It's important not to be cynical or dismissive when someone speaks about the impact genocide has had on his view of the world.

Still, it's important to recognize that, in this case, his answer doesn't vindicate the Iraq War in the terms in which its critics have come to impugn it -- which are, really, the same terms in which the Bush Administration justified the war in the first place: It was the right course of action not just because it would succeed in removing a murderous dictator from power, or even because it would lead to circumstances that would be in some significant respects better than the status quo, but because it would clear the way for democracy, peace, and prosperity in Iraq.

You might even find the implications of Salih's thinking kind of scary -- which are arguably these: If the United States chooses to destroy a political regime, the U.S. is both in the right and absolved from responsibility for what comes next -- as long as it puts an end to atrocities on the scale of those Saddam perpetrated.

Salih doesn't seem to accept that logic, though. He acknowledges that the U.S. coalition made serious mistakes. But: "In my view -- and I say this without equivocation; I say this in Kurdish; I say this in Arabic when I'm in Baghdad -- this has been fundamentally a failure of leadership by the Iraqi elite that assumed power after the demise of Saddam Hussein."

So the Iraq war was, despite all that went wrong, a good thing; the "overwhelming majority" of Iraqis are (and presumably feel) better off because of it; and the fault for all that has gone wrong is ultimately with Iraqis themselves: It's a remarkable point of view to encounter in June 2013.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thomas Jefferson’s Tea Party Speech

From Robert Tracinski (be sure to check his Tracinski Letter out regularly), we get the following:
At the Jefferson Area Tea Party’s Independence Day celebration in Charlottesville, Virginia, we were favored by a surprise visit from our most famous local celebrity, the Sage of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson came to read the Declaration of Independence to our audience, but after he was done, our emcee, radio talk show host Joe Thomas, asked the third president if he could favor us with his views on today’s Tea Party movement. Here is what Mr. Jefferson said. — RWT
A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.1 What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?2

Our grievances we have [set forth] with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people, claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate. Let those flatter, who fear: it is not an American art.3

Lay down true principles and adhere to them inflexibly. Do not be frightened into their surrender by the alarms of the timid.4

Our legislators are not sufficiently apprised of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him. The idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right.5

If we are made in some degree for others, yet in a greater [degree] are we made for ourselves. It were contrary to feeling and indeed ridiculous to suppose a man has less right in himself than one of his neighbors or all of them put together. This would be slavery and not that liberty which the Bill of Rights has made inviolable and for the preservation of which our government has been changed.6

I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That “all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.” To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition. Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers.7

It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice, [our representatives], to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism—free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence. In questions of powers, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.8

I think, myself, that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.9

When we consider that this government is charged with the external and mutual relations only of these states, we may well doubt whether our organization is not too complicated, too expensive; whether offices or officers have not been multiplied unnecessarily. Considering the general tendency to multiply offices and dependencies, and to increase expense to the ultimate term of burden which the citizen can bear, it behooves us to avail ourselves of every occasion which presents itself for taking off the surcharge; that it may never be seen here that, after leaving to labor the smallest portion of its earnings on which it can subsist, government shall itself consume the residue of what it was instituted to guard.10

[In short,] we [must] prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them.11

The earth belongs to each generation during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and encumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on. For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation. [Thus], no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.12

We are overdone with banking institutions which have banished the precious metals and substituted a more fluctuating and unsafe medium.13 Paper is poverty. It is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.14

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.15

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned—this is the sum of good government.16

A little patience, and we shall see the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.17 Here will be preserved a model of government, securing to man his rights and the fruits of his labor, by an organization constantly subject to his own will.18

The kind invitation to be present at [your] celebration of the anniversary of American Independence is most flattering. In the bold and doubtful election we [made] between submission or the sword, [it is] a consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens continue to approve the choice we made. May it be to the world, what I believe it will be—to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all—the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that that mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.19

The flames kindled on the fourth of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.20

For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.21
1. Letter to James Madison, 1787,  
2. Letter to William Stephens Smith, 1787,  
3. A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1774,  
4. Letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1816,  
5. Letter to Francis W. Gilmer, 1816, 
6. Letter to James Monroe, 1782,  
7. Opinion on Creating a National Bank, 1791,  
8. Kentucky Resolution, 1798,  
9. Letter to William Ludlow, 1824,  
10. First Annual Message to Congress, 1801,  
11. Letter to Thomas Cooper, 1802,  
12. Letter to James Madison, 1789,  
13. Letter to Abbe Salimankis, 1810,  
14. Letter to Edward Carrington, 1788, 
15. Letter to John Taylor, 1798,  
16. First Inaugural Address, 1801, 
17. Letter to John Taylor, 1798, 
18. Letter to William Plumer, 1815,  
19. Letter to Roger C. Weightman, 1826, 
20. Letter to John Adams, 1821,  
21. Letter to Roger C. Weightman, 1826.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Lance Armstrong: Impossible to Win the Tour de France Without Doping

While new rumors holds that Yankee capitalists entered a pristine Europe and threw money at the Tour de France, thereby destroying it (and while the current Tour de France comes under new doubts), Lance Armstrong gives an exclusive front-page interview to Le Monde's Stéphane Mandard (excerpts in English), in which the former champion says that, because of the necessity for oxygen in what is essentially an endurance trial, it is impossible to win the French bicycle race without doping.

Related: In the Tour de France's doping race, Lance Armstrong was far behind "King Miguel"
Vous continuez à faire du vélo malgré tous les ennuis que vous a apporté la pratique de ce sport ?
Absolument, je continue à faire du vélo et à m'entraîner. Faire du vélo a toujours été une thérapie pour moi. Et ce qui était vrai lorsque je m'entraînais pour le Tour l'est toujours aujourd'hui. Une bonne grosse sortie de trois ou quatre heures vous vide la tête comme rien d'autre.

 … Vous considérez-vous toujours comme le recordman de victoires ?


Avez-vous gardé vos sept maillots jaunes ou les avez-vous brûlés ?

Ah, ah ! Hors de question. J'ai travaillé dur pour ces maillots. Je les aime pour ce qu'ils sont et tous les souvenirs qu'ils représentent.

Comprenez-vous que l'Union cycliste internationale (UCI) et les organisateurs du Tour vous aient rayé du palmarès ?

Oui et non. C'est bien d'effacer mon nom, mais le Tour a bien eu lieu entre 1999 et 2005, n'est-ce pas ? Il doit donc y avoir un vainqueur. Qui est-il donc ? Je laisse le soin aux autres de débattre à l'infini qui était le vrai vainqueur de ces Tours. Mais personne ne s'est manifesté pour réclamer mes maillots.

Dans son rapport, l'Usada vous accuse d'avoir bénéficié du « programme de dopage le plus perfectionné, le plus professionnel et le plus efficace de l'histoire du sport »...

Tout ça, ce ne sont que des conneries. On a vu que l'affaire « Puerto » [le vaste réseau de dopage sanguin organisé par le médecin espagnol Eufemiano Fuentes] était cent fois plus sophistiquée. Notre système était très simple, très conservateur, et pas maléfique comme je l'ai entendu dans la bouche des représentants de l'Agence mondiale antidopage, entre autres. Il y a beaucoup de preuves de ce que je dis et l'histoire montrera que tout cela n'était qu'une simple posture de l'Usada dans le but de faire du buzz. Par ailleurs, sur combien d'autres équipes l'Usada a-t-elle enquêté ? Si la réponse est aucune, alors comment peut-elle clamer que notre système était si sophistiqué ? C'est totalement irrationnel.

 …  Pourquoi êtes-vous prêt à parler devant une commission de ce type ? Que voulez-vous dire ?

Toute l'histoire n'a pas encore été racontée. La « décision motivée » de l'Usada n'a pas dressé le portrait fidèle du cyclisme de la fin des années 1980 à nos jours. Elle a parfaitement réussi à détruire la vie d'un homme, mais n'a pas du tout bénéficié au cyclisme. Qu'est-ce que je dirais devant la commission ? Je comparaîtrais, je m'assoirais, j'écouterais et je répondrais honnêtement aux questions.

Une des questions pourrait être : quand vous couriez, était-il possible de réaliser des performances sans se doper ?

Cela dépend des courses que tu voulais gagner. Le Tour de France ? Non.
Impossible de gagner sans dopage. Car le Tour est une épreuve d'endurance où l'oxygène est déterminant. Pour ne prendre qu'un exemple, l'EPO ne va pas aider un sprinteur à remporter un 100 m, mais elle sera déterminante pour un coureur de 10 000 m. C'est évident.

 … Comment en finir avec la culture du dopage dans le vélo ?

A bien des égards, ça ne finira jamais. Je n'ai pas inventé le dopage. Désolé Travis [Tygart, le directeur de l'Usada] ! Et il ne s'est pas non plus arrêté avec moi. J'ai simplement participé à ce système. Je suis un être humain. Le dopage existe depuis l'Antiquité et existera sans doute toujours. Je sais que ce n'est pas une réponse très populaire, mais c'est malheureusement la réalité.

Devant la commission d'enquête sénatoriale sur le dopage, votre ancien rival, Laurent Jalabert, dont les urines prélevées lors du Tour 1998 contenaient de l'EPO, a déclaré : « Armstrong était un tortionnaire. » Il a aussi juré qu'il ne s'était jamais volontairement dopé, et que son médecin, dans l'équipe ONCE, était surnommé le « Docteur Citroën », par opposition au vôtre, Michele Ferrari...

Ah, « Jaja », avec tout le respect que je lui dois, il est en train de mentir. Il aurait mieux fait d'éviter de parler de Ferrari et de Citroën, car il sait très bien que Michele était le médecin de la ONCE au milieu des années 1990.

Comprenez-vous la déception, voire la colère, de ceux qui ont cru en votre histoire ?

Je comprends parfaitement, et j'en suis profondément désolé. A bien des égards, je ne parviendrai jamais à réparer cela, mais je passerai ma vie à essayer.

 … Que vous inspire le dénouement de l'affaire « Puerto », où la juge a ordonné la destruction des poches de sang qui auraient pu permettre d'identifier les autres clients non cyclistes du docteur Fuentes ?

Je suis sûr que certains grands clubs de football ont eu de l'influence sur ce jugement. En tout cas, c'est encore le cyclisme qui a été tenu pour seul responsable.

Vous avez le sentiment que le cyclisme est le bouc émissaire du sport professionnel ?


Et vous avez l'impression de payer pour tout le monde ?

Je laisserai les autres décider.

 … Sarkozy semble vouloir revenir pour la présidentielle de 2017. Pourquoi avez-vous fait un come-back en 2009 ?

C'est une bonne question. Cette décision a été la plus grosse erreur de ma vie. Je ferais n'importe quoi pour l'effacer, mais ce qui est fait est fait. J'aurais dû écouter Jean-Marie Leblanc [l'ancien directeur du Tour] lorsqu'il m'écrivit une lettre ouverte à l'automne 2008 pour me conseiller de ne pas revenir. Il avait raison.

Monday, July 08, 2013

This administration is focusing like a laser beam on jobs; or rather like a super-powered death ray

… the country as a whole has decided that the Democratic Party is where their bread has buttered
writes Benny Huang at Patriot Update.
Liberalism is on the march and there’s nothing those squarish, reliably red states in the geographical center can do about it. Florida has gone blue; Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia too.

Obviously, more Americans are voting in their economic best interests now, right? Not so fast.

[The thesis of Thomas Frank’s 2004 book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”], which has been borrowed many times over since 2004, is one of the great unexamined assumptions of American politics. Yes it’s true that plenty of Americans have issues in mind besides the economy when they enter the voting booth but it doesn’t follow that the Left offers economic prosperity.

First it’s necessary to define the term “economic best interests.” Words don’t mean the same thing to liberals that they do to other people. For liberals, “economic best interests” does not meaning lower taxes, lower living expenses, or having a job.

It would be in the economic best interests of plenty of Americans to pay less at the pump. There’s a path from here to there but there’s a giant roadblock along the way—the Democrats. They oppose fracking, drilling in ANWR, and the Keystone pipeline. Under no circumstances will they consider reducing state or federal gasoline taxes. In my state, the governor is proposing an increase in the already high gas taxes.

It isn’t just the gas we put in our cars and the heating oil we use to heat our homes that the Democrats want to make more expensive, but the electricity that keeps the lights on. As then-Senator Obama explained in 2008, “When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, you know, under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

Of course they would. And as bad as that would be for Americans in general, it would be hardest on those who make their living in the coal mines of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Is it really in their economic best interests?

This administration is focusing like a laser beam on jobs; or rather like a super-powered death ray. Everywhere it sees jobs being created it destroys them, and not just in coal country either. Take, for example, the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to prohibit Boeing, our nation’s largest exporter by value, from establishing a new plant in South Carolina because of its right-to-work laws. (Boeing later fought that decision and won.)

Chrysler and General Motors seem to have more latitude. The federal government is still a major stakeholder in both of these companies, yet both are setting up new factories in China. GM announced earlier this year that Shanghai would receive a new Cadillac factory, while Chrysler plans to manufacture Jeeps in China starting in 2014.

How’s that for chutzpah? The federal government arrogantly dictated to a private company that it could not open a factory in a right-to-work state, while two companies with substantial government ownership were setting up shop in an entirely different country.

The great job-killing Death Star of the Obama Administration is its health care fiasco, farcically called the “Affordable Care Act” or Obamacare. There’s nothing affordable about it, and that’s one problem. The other problem is that employers across the country are cutting employees’ hours or laying off workers to avoid the onerous expenses imposed by a law that was supposed to make health care cheaper. Papa John’s has already promised to reduce employees’ hours, as has the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Long Beach, California.

The new law is making it more and more difficult for less educated workers to find full time employment. Soon their only means of survival will be to take on a hodgepodge of part-time jobs without benefits. Temps will fill the jobs once performed by full-time employees.

Yet it is axiomatic to the average liberal that any American who doesn’t own a yacht ought to be voting Democrat. The problem is their definition of the term “economic best interests.” Here’s how they define it: SSDI, EBT, Obamaphones, and section eight housing. “Economic best interests” means never having to work a day in your life, which, given their other economic policies, is a very distinct possibility.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

France's Big Brother, by contrast with the United States, is totally illegal

France's Big Brother, by contrast with the United States where the NSA program has been validated by the Congress, is totally illegal, writes Le Monde on its front page, followed by a lengthy article inside the newspaper called Révélations sur le Big Brother français Le Monde (here in (odd) English).
Ce Big Brother français, contrairement aux Etats-Unis où le programme de la NSA est secrètement validé par le Congrès, est totalement illégal.
La Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL) confirme que « de telles pratiques ne seraient pas fondées légalement ».
Le député européen Arnaud Danjean, lui-même ancien de la DGSE, confirme que « les moyens techniques d'interception électronique sont entre les mains de la seule DGSE » et que « le système français n'offre pas nécessairement les meilleures garanties ».

Grand Frère Comes To France: "Phone Calls, Emails, Web Use" All Spied On

This weekend's epic indignation by Francois Hollande at the NSA, coupled with his laughable ultimatum for Barack Obama to stop spying, was almost good enough to mask the fact that none other than France has its own version of the NSA happily intercepting and recording every form of electronic communication.
This from Zero Hedge's Tyler Durden (merci à RV).

Overnight French Le Monde reported that "France, like the United States with the Prism system, has a large-scale espionage telecommunications device. Le Monde is able to reveal that the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE, special services) has systematically collected and spied on the electromagnetic signals emitted by computers or phones in France, as well as flows between French and abroad all our communications. Politicians are aware of this, but secrecy about the Big Brother operation is the rule."

Reuters has more:
France's external intelligence agency spies on the French public's phone calls, emails and social media activity in France and abroad, the daily Le Monde said on Thursday.

It said the DGSE intercepted signals from computers and telephones in France, and between France and other countries, although not the content of phone calls, to create a map of "who is talking to whom". It said the activity was illegal.

"All of our communications are spied on," wrote Le Monde, which based its report on unnamed intelligence sources as well as remarks made publicly by intelligence officials.

"Emails, text messages, telephone records, access to Facebook and Twitter are then stored for years," it said.

The activities described are similar to those carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency, as described in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The documents revealed that the NSA has access to vast amounts of Internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video from large companies such as Facebook and Google, under a program known as Prism.

They also showed that the U.S. government had gathered so-called metadata - such as the time, duration and numbers called - on all telephone calls carried by service providers such as Verizon.

France's DGSE was not immediately available for comment.


France's seven other intelligence services, including domestic secret services and customs and money-laundering watchdogs, have access to the data and can tap into it freely as a means to spot people whose communications seem suspicious, whom they can then track with more intrusive techniques such as phone-tapping, Le Monde wrote.
What is amusing is that some are still surprised by such ongoing revelations. The sad truth is that every "democratic", "developed" government has been violating the privacy of its citizens for years and in this electronic day and age, no such thing as privacy exists.

Which is to be expected: Egypt just showed what happens to "democracy" when it is not properly cultivated by the 1% which has a vested interest in giving the peasantry the impression that people still have rights, and liberties and their vote "counts" just so the public attention is diverted from what truly matters: the endless transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich under the guise of "wealth effect", "democracy", "representation" and other lies.

Buzzfeed: Best Signs From The “Restore The Fourth” Rallies

Buzzfeed's Ellie Hall has the 40 Best Signs From The “Restore The Fourth” Rallies

The truth is: wind energy is just a tax scam

 … what the left and the green movement don't want to talk about regarding windmills is (as usual) the truth 
writes Craig's List (thanks to InstaPundit).
The truth is: windmills, like solar panels, break down. And like solar panels, windmills produce less energy before they break down than the energy it took to make them. That's the part liberals forget: making windmills and solar panels takes energy, energy from coal, oil, and diesel, energy that extracts and refines raw materials, energy that transports those materials to where they will be re-shaped into finished goods, energy to manufacture those goods. More energy than those finished windmills and solar panels will ever produce.

 …  The symbol of Green renewable energy, our saviour from the non existent problem of Global Warming, abandoned wind farms are starting to litter the planet as globally governments cut the subsidies taxes that consumers pay for the privilege of having a very expensive power source that does not work every day for various reasons like it's too cold or the wind speed is too high.

 … The truth is: wind energy is just a tax scam.

Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst focusing on energy and environmental issues for the Heritage Foundation, is not surprised. He asks:

"If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place? It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end."

And therein lies a lesson for those who seek to make fortunes out of tax payer subsidies, and for those who want to live in a dream world of "clean energy", the whole renewables industry of solar, wind and biomass is just an artificial bubble incapable of surviving without subsides from governments and tax payers. The Green evangelists who push so hard for these wind farms, as usual have not thought the whole idea through.