Saturday, December 31, 2005

Watermelons' Subterfuge Revealed

Nature cultists such as Earth First and others have been lying for decades about the supposedly "devastating" impacts of ranching, mining, lumbering, and just about any other productive use of the Western lands that you can think of.

One of their favorite tactics is to post misleading photos of "damaged" lands on their Web sites – blithely ignoring the fact that many ecosystems depend on large ungulates (today's cattle partially replacing yesterday's bison, elk or antelope) to trample grass seeds into the ground, fertilize and stir up creeks to promote insect hatches, etc.

Down in Arivaca, Ariz., near the Mexican border, rancher Jim Chilton, 66, went on the Internet and was shocked to find a bunch of green extremists dubbed the Center for Biological Diversity had done the same job on him, posting photos which they claimed showed the harm Chilton's 425 cattle were doing to his mountainous leased allotment of U.S. Forest Service land.

Mr. Chilton set about taking his own photos of the very areas the nature cultists contended his cattle had destroyed – showing the pro-desert group's photos had been carefully framed to make isolated dirt patches amidst plentiful greenery look like some kind of war zone.

His real coup, though, concerned photo No. 18 – a shot of Chilton's cattle resting on a bare stretch of sand.

Chilton filed a defamation lawsuit against the center in January 2004, contending the stretch of sand depicted in photo No. 18 had been the site of a big May Day weekend campout involving several hundred people only two weeks before the center's posted photo had been taken.

And he produced a photo of the campout.

Under oath at the two-week trial, CBD member A.J. Schneller admitted that he had attended the camporee on the Forest Service site, and knew darned well what had trampled down the land.

Mr. Chilton said he would have been happy with the vindication of a $1 damage award.

But the Tucson jury was not so forgiving, awarding $600,000, including $500,000 in punitive damages against the lying anti-human green extremists, whose co-founder now says the jury award could financially devastate the group.

And the Center for Biological Diversity is actually among the more litigious of these gangs; a third of its $3 million income in 2003 came from court awards and settlements.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Imperial Terror in Iraq

Earlier this month John Kerry accused U.S. servicemen of "going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children." This is doubtless an example:

U.S. Imperial storm troops raided a Baghdad home in early December.

As the parents of an infant girl nervously watched the soldiers search their modest home, the baby's unflinching grandmother thrust the little girl at the Americans, showing them the purple pouch protruding from her back.

The child, barely three months old, was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal column fails to completely close. Iraqi doctors had told her parents she would live only 45 days, but she was still clinging to life.

The evil imperial storm troopers began working to get the child, Noor the help she needs.

Doctors at a U.S. military base examined Noor and an Atlanta physician, Roger Hudgins, has promised to operate free. Lifeover Ministries reports that the girl they call "Baby Nora" and her grandmother "have airline reservations to arrive in the US." The link includes information on where to send donations to help with medical and personal expenses. Act by Saturday and you can claim a deduction on this year's taxes. The child can thank Allah for a resourceful and perceptive grandmother.

Maybe John Kerry could write a check as a small gesture of apology to the American servicemen he has slandered over the past 35 years. Yep, and pigs will fly.

hat tip: James Taranto


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Root Causes" Fact vs Fiction I

It was but a few hours after the events of 9/11/01 that the collectivists were cautioning the U.S. to measure its response in consideration of the "root causes" of the outrage. This post examines one of the "root causes" put forward by the religion of peace and its collectivist apologists for the act of war committed against the United States.

Fury at the West's "mistreatment" of Moslems?

This is perhaps the most frequent and vociferous of false causes. It sounds reasonable until one takes even the briefest look at the reality of the Moslem world:

A) Moslems kill Moslems by the millions and no one in the Arab world cares.

Saddam killed far more Moslems than any other leader in the world at any time in history (1,200,000 during his 32 year reign = 3,125 per month, on average), but he is a hero to many in the Arab world. Saddam killed thousands of children, letting them starve to death in the streets of his cities, while he used the Oil-for-Food money to rebuild his army and replenish his WMD arsenal. Yet Osama justifies his terror attacks by blaming the West, and especially the USA, for the deaths of those children.

Mauritania and Sudan legally enslave Moslems, but no one in the Arab and Muslim world seems to care (except the enslaved).

Syria's occupation of Lebanon (1975-2005) has wrecked the country, destroyed the economy, killed literally tens of thousands, rendered close to a million homeless, but both Hafez and young Bashir are doyens of Arab leadership.

Arafat killed, imprisoned, or tortured far more Palestinians than Israel, yet he was adulated as a modern Saladin.

The Algerian government has maintained a 10-year war against Islamist Moslem Brotherhood groups that seek to replace the secular Algerian government with Shari'a law and Islamofascist rule. This war has resulted in the deaths of 200,000 and left a million homeless (due to government retaliation when there is an attack on government forces: level the entire village from which the attack came, kill thousands and render the survivors homeless). Yet no one in the Arab world cries out at the terrible slaughter of Moslem Arabs by the Algerian army.

Sudanese Arabs have killed almost 2,000,000 Christian Arabs, black African Moslems, and Animists in their 21-year war, erroneously or misleadingly described by the western media as a civil war. In actuality, it is a genocide by the Moslem Arab north against the Christian, Moslem and animist black African south. This is part of a vast land-grab strategy now spearheaded by the mounted Janjaweed militias that are indiscriminately killing tens of thousands of black African Moslems in the western province of Darfur. They terrify and murder these people, so that the survivors will flee and the Arab Moslem gentry will take their lands. Two million dead and millions more homeless refugees... and until just recently, no one seemed to care.

The Wahhabi Saudi royal family's security forces have killed hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite Arabs over the past few decades. No one in the Arab world is threatening to fly planes into their buildings. [1]

B) The USA defends Moslems and the Arab world does not notice.

When Christians attacked Moslems in Bosnia, the Arab world was silent. Serbs massacred 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica 10 years ago, but not a ripple disturbed the serene calm of Muslim opinion. Western Europe would not take up arms against the Christian Serbs to save Moslems, so the USA did instead. We will never know how many thousands or tens of thousands of lives were saved by U.S. intervention in Bosnia -- but it hardly seems to matter. The Arab world still demonizes us.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in Gulf War 1 was an operation that saved two religious Islamic countries (Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) from conquest by a totalitarian Iraq.

C) Moslem countries support Russia, which oppresses Moslems.

Chechnya has been ravaged by Russian occupation for decades, yet last October, the Muslim summit in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) gave a hero's welcome to Vladimir Putin, the man who has presided over the massacre of more Chechen Moslems than anyone in any other period in Russian history.

D) U.S. and Western money has supported the Arab and Moslem world for decades.

The USA, EU, UK and UN (with predominantly western money) have supported Moslems, Moslem states, and Moslem causes for 50 years. Far from having neglected or marginalized these countries, U.S. aid to Moslem countries throughout the world has been in the billions per year for decades (despite the fact that some of these same countries oppose us in the UN, vilify us in their media and sermons, and provide support and haven for the same terrorists that want to destroy us). Egypt alone receives almost $3 billion per year from the USA.

A large part of Egypt's population is alive today because of the millions of tons of free wheat that Eisenhower gave them in the 50's when Nasser's coup left their economy in a shambles.

The EU has given 50 percent of its foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority for the past ten years, even while knowing that most of those billions were being used to fund terror.

Of the billions and billions of dollars coming through the UN to UNRWA for Palestinian refugees, approximately 30 percent comes from the USA alone, while only about 3 percent comes from the Arab world. But none of the terrorist spokespersons faults the Saudis for not being generous enough, or thanks us for our assistance.

In sum, even the most superficial glance as the last 50 years of USA-Moslem interaction demonstrates that far from attacking Islam or ignoring the plight of Moslems, the USA has been a strong supporter and defender of the weak, poor, hopeless, and helpless in the Arab world ... and what good does that do us when the Islamofascists shriek about America's war against Islam? Right now there are 22 active conflicts across the globe in which Arabs are at cause, but Islamofascist propaganda publicizes only those conflicts that can be twisted and spun to provide excuses for fomenting hatred against the United States.

An excellent example is the recent spate of vitriolic anti-American demonstrations (in which scores died) throughout the Moslem world as expression of rage about the as yet uncorroborated report that some American official in Guantanamo may have flushed a Quran down a toilet. Surely disrespecting sacred text is wrong but the Saudi government authorizes the burning of Christian Bibles to the tune of 30,000 per year, confiscated from Christians in Arabia.

Sunni Moslem terrorists have routinely blown up Shi'ite Moslem Mosques with Shi'ite Moslem worshipers in them, destroying Moslem holy places and killing hundreds of Moslems throughout Iraq. And the entire Arab and Moslem worlds are silent!

If the "Arab Street" is silent to the destruction of Moslem holy places and the mass murder of Moslem worshipers by other supposedly hyper-orthodox Moslems, why are there massive riots across the entire Moslem world in response to an uncorroborated journalistic assertion of American mistreatment of the Quran?

It should be obvious that the riots are staged by totalitarian Moslem governments as just another manifestation of the "hate America" strategy of Moslem leaders who support Islamofascism and seek to destroy the West.

The hatred exists independently of the actions of the USA. But the terrorists create fictitious excuses for their terrorism by accusing the USA and the West (and Israel) of horrific crimes of which we are innocent, but which in fact are more akin to what the Moslem world has been doing to itself for hundreds of years.

This site will examine other so called "root causes" of the ongoing war in future posts. Additionally, Leonidas is acquainted with Saudi nationals and their families who have contributed a limited understanding of the middle east conflict. One such acquaintance has two female family members married to important players in the drama. One is the wife of Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader in the Bekka Valley of Lebanon and the other is the wife of the Saudi Minister of Finance.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Charity vs Transfer by Theft

Several members of that esteemed world body called the United Nations have complained about the "stingyness" of the United States. Is the forced extortion of cash from those who earn it and its subsequent transfer to a body that skims off the major portion to purchase luxury autos for corrupt bureaucrats really "charity"?

The American people are extraordinarily generous.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

Americans are "stingy." This was the accusation hurled at the U.S. almost exactly one year ago today by Jan Egeland, United Nations Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, immediately after the Asian tsunami disaster.

Even by U.N. standards, it was a particularly absurd anti-American slur--although it no doubt expresses the view of many foreign elites, who have come to believe that government is the only true source of goodness and charity. In the weeks and months that followed the tsunami, American citizens dug deep into their wallets, donating some $1.78 billion to the relief effort in Asia--dwarfing the contributions of other developed nations. Since October Americans have also contributed $78 million to assist the casualties of the Pakistan earthquake.

And lest there be any doubt that the Good Samaritan ethic is alive and well in America, consider the latest totals of charitable giving to help the New Orleans victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University announced last week that the total value of private donations in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has reached $3.12 billion, thus "setting what is believed to be a record for a single disaster and recovery effort." This tsunami of aid dollars was donated in just three and a half months.

More astounding still is that this Gulf Coast aid is only a little more than 1/100th of what Americans donate to charities and churches every year. The quarter trillion dollars a year that Americans provide to sustain the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, the American Cancer Society, their local churches, universities and such is greater than the entire GDP of most countries. Bill and Melinda Gates have given more dollars to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa than have many nations. And all of this comes on top of the $1 trillion in taxes that Americans pay each year to support government income-transfer and benefit programs.

This generosity in money and volunteerism has been a hallmark of American society since its earliest days. Some 150 years ago Alexis de Tocqueville lauded the impulse of Americans (in contrast to Europeans) to set up churches, schools, orphanages, hospitals, homeless shelters and other civic aid organizations throughout the land.

What impels Americans to engage in such kindness to strangers? We suspect that Americans give to private charities because they recognize that these initiatives work best. Bobby Jindal, a Congressman from New Orleans whose own home was badly damaged by flood waters, tells us that "by far the most effective relief efforts have come from private charitable aid organizations. FEMA and other state/local government agencies set up bureaucracies and red tape, while private businesses and charities moved in swiftly to alleviate the human suffering on the ground."

Mr. Jindal tells the story of an elderly woman who dropped off a white envelope at a county sheriff's office in Louisiana filled with eight single dollar bills and a note of apology saying that this was all she could afford to give. Another woman wrote a quarter-million-dollar relief check with only one stipulation: that her generous act remain anonymous.

There is a mythology in the philanthropic world that Americans are motivated to give by the somewhat selfish pursuit of a tax deduction. But a surprisingly large percentage of charitable gifts aren't even itemized on tax forms. Moreover, the Tax Foundation has provided compelling evidence that over the past 50 years--as tax rates on the highest earners have fluctuated from a high of 90% to a low of 28%--American giving has hardly deviated from 2% of personal income. In the 1980s, as tax-rate reductions reduced the value of the charitable tax deduction by about half, the level of charitable giving nearly doubled. This suggests that charitable giving would continue to flourish under a flat-rate tax system with no deduction.

Which brings us back to the charge that Americans are Scrooges in providing international aid. The World Bank recently lectured the U.S. government to double its level of foreign aid. Never mind that the U.S. is now spending tens of billions of dollars in what is nothing if not a massive humanitarian mission to restore civil society and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. And never mind the humanitarian aid provided by the U.S. military in Pakistan and after the tsunami.

But yes, it's true, that when it comes to funding self-serving bureaucracies that don't produce results--such as much of the U.N. and most other multi-government foreign-aid schemes--Americans are skeptics. For good reason. Study after study has documented that there is no correlation between the amount of foreign assistance a nation receives and its subsequent rate of economic development. Think Africa, which has received hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to little positive effect. This suggests that the optimal amount of U.S. government development aid may be zero.

But at the same time, when it comes to private Good Samaritan undertakings that do alleviate poverty and despair, Americans are second to none, giving three to four times the amount of "official" foreign aid, according to Ian Vasquez of the Cato Institute's Global Liberty Project. That's not stingy. It's smart.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Successful Democratic Blogger Can't Afford Blue State

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga the man[?] that runs the most successful [collectivist and expletive filled] blog in America can't afford the Blue state of Kalifornia:
"So I'm getting a little frustrated with the Bay Area real estate market, and for the first time in years I'm casting about the rest of the nation to see if there's anywhere else where I could possibly live."
How about Leadville, Colorado? Or maybe Rifle in the same state? This is really ironic, a collectivist who supports a party that promotes Fannie Mae,Freddie Mac, land-use restrictions, zoning, open space laws, and unions is unable to buy a house in the [soviet] of Northern Kalifornia. All this from a guy who [claims to have] a law degree.What is it about Blue America that hates people that aren't rich??? Attention Markos Moulitsas Zúniga :did it ever occur to many in Blue state America that Houston(that doesn't have zoning) is a lot more affordable than let's say Berkeley,California.Also,Houston residents don't have a state income tax that they are paying.It appears Kos can't afford the very values he promotes,which is regulation of markets which leads to artificially high real estate prices.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Don't Tell the ACLU!

Leonidas ran across this article by Herbert London in the New York Sun (hat tip John Ray) and will post it in its entirity here. We tend to forget when reading rantings against America from all points on the political spectrum that our society, while not perfect is an improvement over what obtains on the remainder of the planet.

U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia to protect the Royal Family from terrorism are obliged to sail into the Red Sea in order to celebrate Christmas. This practice is designed to avoid any offense to their Muslim hosts.

So sensitive are Americans to the religious tradition of Muslims that crosses are covered up and any outward signs of Christian observance avoided.

Of course, Muslim denunciation of Christians and Jews is widely accepted. On an Egyptian television children's special, Jews were recently described as having "turned into apes," and the elderly of that faith as "having become pigs." Christians are deemed infidels and the progenitors of the Crusades, a historical condition that for many Muslims has contemporary parallels. Recently, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said: "I will stop Christianity in this country." Under Iranian law, committing apostasy can lead to the death penalty.

With this as a backdrop, there is an American scene that deserves full disclosure. On December 6, I went to the White House Chanukah party. Jews from the most to the least observant were present. At the top of the stairs on the second floor, the West Point Cadet Choir sang Chanukah songs in Hebrew. It should be noted that only about a quarter of those in the chorus are Jewish.

President Bush and Mrs. Bush greeted everyone with their usual cordiality. In fact, the president lit Chanukah candles and proceeded to tell the tale of this celebration.

For me, however, the most startling scene occurred at about 8 p.m. Several chasidic leaders noted that it was time for prayer. They sought a minyan, a prayer group of 10 males. Once assembled, these men proceeded to daven. There they were, 10 bearded men, bobbing up and down in prayer, in of all places the Dolley Madison room at the White House.

I could not conceive of a more incongruous scene. Here in what is ostensibly a Christian country, in a White House led by a born-again Christian, one can find chasidim praying in the Dolley Madison room.

All I could say to my wife was "only in America." I stood there frozen in astonishment. After all, Jews mostly lean Democratic. More significantly, my mind kept returning to the intolerance Jews and Christians face in the Muslim world. How would the Muslim Brotherhood respond to this White House scene? In fact, who cares?

My heart swelled; I was simply filled with pride. Despite all the criticism from the naysayers, despite all the braying from the left-detractors, America is a magical place. You don't have to hide your religious beliefs; you can even display them in the White House.

Imagine, if you can, the response to a group of chasidim that wished to pray in the Saudi Royal Palace. Their heads would be cut off before the first words were uttered.

The more I thought about this remarkable event and the contrast to the Muslim world, the more I came to realize what we are fighting to preserve and why this fight is so critical.

As I stood in the second floor corridor, tears were rolling down my cheeks. Yes, I have a love affair with America. I love our history, our traditions, and our tolerance. I recognize national imperfections, but despite them, there isn't any nation in the world that can reproduce the prayer service I observed on December 6. That was the essence of America.

With the new year soon upon us, I have only one resolution: a reasserted devotion to the land I love and a commitment to fight without restraint for its continued glory. This place is, indeed, the last best hope for mankind, and those who don't realize it are merely blinded by ideological rage.

Perhaps it was hyperbole when Nathan Hale said: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." Hyperbole or not, that is the sentiment that should inspire us for 2006. It is the spirit we need to sustain us. For doubters, I refer them to the scene I described in the Dolley Madison room. Only in America could it be found.

Mr. London is president of the Hudson Institute. He is also the author of the book "Decade of Denial" (Lexington Books).

Although Leonidas is a devout agnostic, he wishes one and all a very Merry Christmas and New Year of peace and prosperity.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

You Can't Make this stuff up

The following is the transcript of an exchange during the Senate confirmation hearings of Dr. Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State.

Sen HAGEL: We have troops in Iraq. You know that. I know that. Senator McCain knows that. What I know and McCain knows is we don't have enough troops. What are you going to do about troops, I mean to say adding more troops? Can you give this committee some specifics? Of what you've stated, you framed clearly. I think we understand what you've said. I support what you're talking about, your objective. But how will that change from what we have been doing? Fewer troops? Less troops? More NATO troops? Or what will envision the change in what you're anticipating our role to be and connect that to an exit strategy?

Dr. RICE: You are aware that I am nominated to be Secretary of State not Defense right?

Sen HAGEL: Might I point out that the goal here is quality face time. You are aware that I am not interested in your answers?

Dr. RICE: Yes.

Sen HAGEL: Well okay then.

Sen. SARBANES: I think the secretary who adopts a unilateralist approach in the international environment may miss important opportunities to prevent conflicts and to build alliances. And in that regard I just note that it's not enough to have the ear of the president. I think the secretary of state must also win the ear of the world. Are you going to make friends abroad?

For more idiocy spouted by members of the "Most exclusive deliberative body on the planet" go here. These are "legislators" constitutionally charged with "advise and consent". Heaven help us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

War Debate

Leonidas has always been uncomfortable with the term "global war on terror" (GWOT) for the simple reason that historically, war has been conducted between political entities such as: nation states, city states, and tribes. The current unpleasantness is no such event. It is an assymetrical shadow war between a nation state(s) and a spiritual philosophy (jihadism). For that reason there is a lack of understanding of what constitutes victory or defeat. The best discussion on this subject Leonidas has encountered thus far is available here. A somewhat different view here.

It is not necessarily obvious how a shadow war will end, even during the waging of it. In 1950, the West had no idea that the Cold War would end 25 years later with the Helsinki accords, 39 years later with the fall of the Berlin Wall, or 44 years later with the fall of the Soviet Union. Similarly, we cannot know today how the war against Islamic jihadism will end, or how clear it will be when the end comes that it has come. Nevertheless, the very ambiguity of this war makes it all the more important to debate the question of victory conditions. There will be no surrender ceremony on a battleship or signing of a cease fire agreement, so we need to know what to look for instead.

The entire post is a valuable discussion of the entire subject including the probable motivations of those opposing this so called "shadow" war.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Drug war development

It appears that an indigenous indian has won election to the presidency in Bolivia. Evo Morales is a self proclaimed socialist and two of the first items on his agenda are formally recognizing the right of Bolivian farmers to cultivate coca and nationalizing the natural gas industry.

Unofficial results showed Evo Morales - himself a coca farmer - with a decisive lead over seven opponents that would make him the first indigenous president in the 180-year history of independent Bolivia and solidify a continental leftward shift.

This would appear to impact the efforts of the U.S. drug war bureaucracy in limiting the supply of cocain and its derivatives at the source and could also result in the price of illegal drugs on the street in the U.S. falling.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


For those who honestly believe that the present "war on terror" is an "optional" conflict Leonidas must dissagree. This conflict began during the 7th century A.D. and continues.

In any conflict it's a good idea to take seriously the motives the enemy professes and not rationalize or explain them away in terms of your own cultural assumptions. The murderers we call terrorists are traditional jihadists, as much as were the first Islamic armies that swept away the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman civilizations of the Mediterranean. They are not going to be bought off with votes, a free press, more cable channels, Wal-Mart, or any other material good that to us constitutes the good life. They are fighting for a spiritual cause, the establishment of Islam as a global order in fulfillment of the will of Allah, and the reduction of all those who will not become Muslims to dhimmi, inferiors who acknowledge the superiority of Islam and the rightness of their subjection to it. For example, Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden was the first accurate compendium of the terrorist leader’s words, threats and ruminations from 1994 to 2004.

Its editors have rooted out many statements which they identified as forgeries and retranslated to correct “horrendous” errors.

The Wahabbist's terms for America’s surrender appeared after the September 2001 suicide attacks and include demands that amount to the abandonment of much of western life. Alcohol and gambling must be barred and there is to be an end to women’s photos in newspapers or advertising. Any woman serving “passengers, visitors and strangers”, presumably anyone from air stewardesses to waitresses, would also be out of a job.

The West must: “stop the oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you” [defined as "cultural imperialism"] and has become the “worst civilisation witnessed in the history of mankind”. The following is a recent quote from the commander of the terrorists who carried out the bombings in Bali that killed over 200 civilians including 88 Australians:

"You who still have a shred of faith in your hearts, have you forgotten that to kill infidels and the enemies of Islam is a deed that has a reward above no other," says the 60-page polemic written in Indonesian by "Sheikh Mukhlas", posted on the website, which has since been shut down by Indonesian police.

"Aren't you aware that the model for us all, the Prophet Mohammed and the four rightful caliphs, undertook to murder infidels as one of their primary activities, and that the Prophet waged jihad operations 77 times in the first 10 years as head of the Muslim community in Medina?"
Many in the West were/are inclined to dismiss these statements as mere demented rantings of religious fanatics which indeed they would be except for the Tehran events of 1979, the Beirut incident of 1982, Somalia 1993, WTC bombing 1993, Khobar Towers, USS Cole and 911. These were all acts of war perpetrated against the U.S. and evidence that the Islamists posessed both the will and the means to actively pursue their stated aims.

We know that the Taliban government in Afghanistan provided sanctuary and support for those who had comitted acts of war against the U.S. We also know that the Saddamite regime in Iraq provided haven and financial support for those who committed acts of war against the U.S. as well as failing to comply with the cease fire agreement ending the gulf war in 1991. For these reasons it was legitimate to use military force to assure protection of U.S. national interests. The traditional collectivists both in the U.S. and abroad have opposed all of these legitimate actions. Indeed the Democratic party is only united in a single policy and that is opposing all policies of the Bush administration.

Leonidas as well as virtually all liberty loving people abhors war and would favor its renunciation as an instrument of policy whenever the enemies of western culture credibly do the same. In other words "when pigs can fly".

Dumb and dumber

This is probably a minor problem that can be solved by the flushing of more cash but one in 20 adults in the U.S. is not literate in English, meaning 11 million people lack the skills to handle many everyday tasks, a federal study shows.

From 1992 to 2003, adults made no progress in their ability to read sentences and paragraphs or understand other printed material such as bus schedules or prescription labels.

The adult population did make gains in handling tasks that involve math, such as calculating numbers on tax forms or bank statements. But even in that area, the typical adult showed only enough skills to perform simple, daily activities.

Perhaps most sobering was that adult literacy dropped or was flat across every level of education, from people with graduate degrees to those who dropped out of high school.

So even as more people get a formal education, the literacy rate is not rising. Federal officials say this trend is puzzling and worthy of research.

Adults with ability to perform challenging and complex reading tasks made an average yearly salary of $50,700 in 2003. That is $28,000 more than those who lacked basic skills.

The adults deemed illiterate in English include people who may be fluent in Spanish or another language but cannot comprehend English text at its most simple level.

However, under close supervision by unionized public school indoctrinators, school children can write letters to their legislators protesting or advocating this or that collectivist cause, even though they may lack an understanding of the cause itself. And they can RECYCLE!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Economics for Dummies I

We often see in the media proposals for various government economic policies. Dr Walter Williams, chairman of the economics department of George Mason University has a gift for clearing away the bullshit. The following is an excerpt from one of his lectures.

The first lesson in economic theory is that we live in a world of scarcity. Scarcity is a situation whereby human wants exceed the means to satisfy those wants. Human wants are assumed to be limitless, or at least they don't frequently reveal their bounds. People always want more of something, be it: more cars, more food, more love, more happiness, more peace, more health care, more clean air or more charity. Our ability and resources to satisfy all those wants are indeed limited. There's only a finite amount of: land, iron, workers and years in a lifetime.

Scarcity produces several economic problems: What's to be produced, who's going to get it, how's it to be produced, and when is it to be produced? For example, many Americans, and foreigners, too, would love to have a home or vacation home along the thousand miles of California, Oregon and Washington coastline. Shipping companies would like to use some of it as ports. The U.S. Defense Department would like to use it for military installations. There's simply not enough coastline to meet all the competing wants and uses. That means there's conflict over coastline ownership and its uses.

There are several methods of conflict resolution. First, there's the market mechanism -- let the highest bidder be the one who owns and decides how the land will be used. Then, there's government fiat, where the government dictates who gets to use the land for what purpose. Gifts might be the way where an owner arbitrarily chooses a recipient. Finally, violence is a way to resolve the question of who has the use rights to the coastline -- let people get weapons and physically fight it out.

At this juncture, some might piously say, "Violence is no way to resolve conflict!" The heck it isn't. The decision of who had the right to use most of the Earth's surface was settled through violence (wars). Who has the right to the income I earn is partially settled through the threats of violence. In fact, violence is such an effective means of resolving conflict that most governments want a monopoly on its use.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Greenies: Don't bother me with facts...

...we're dooooomed!!!

In the UK Telegraph Mark Steyn writes:

In the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown 45 per cent. During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet.

Had America and Australia ratified Kyoto, and had the Europeans complied with it instead of just pretending to, by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07C - a figure that would be statistically undectectable within annual climate variation. In return for this meaningless gesture, American GDP in 2010 would be lower by $97 billion to $397 billion - and those are the US Energy Information Administration's somewhat optimistic models.

I've mentioned before the environmentalists' ceaseless fretting for the prospect of every species but their own. By the end of this century, the demographically doomed French, Italians and Spaniards will be so shrivelled in number they may have too few environmentalists to man their local Greenpeace office. Is that part of the plan? To create a habitable environment with no humans left to inhabit it? If so, destroying the global economy for 0.07C is a swell idea.

But even the poseurs of the European chancelleries are having second thoughts. Which is why, in their efforts to flog some life back into the dead Kyoto horse, the eco-cultists have to come up with ever scarier horrors, such as that "New Ice Age". Meanwhile, the Bush Administration's Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate brings together the key economic colossi of this new century - America, China and India - plus Australia, Japan and South Korea, in a relationship that acknowledges, unlike Kyoto, the speed of Chinese and Indian economic growth, provides for the sharing of cleaner energy technology and recognizes that the best friend of the planet's natural resources is the natural resourcefulness of a dynamic economy.

It's a practical and results-oriented approach, which is why the eco-cultists [collectivists] will never be marching through globally warmed, snow-choked streets on its behalf. It lacks the requisite component of civilisational self-loathing.

Wake up and smell the CO2, guys. Sayonara, Kyoto. Hello, coalition of the emitting.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005


"Good news! On Thursday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, who recently called for Israel to be wiped off the map, moderated his position. In a spirit of statesmanlike compromise, he now wants Israel wiped off the map of the Middle East and wiped on to the map of Europe.

"Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces," Ahmadinejad told Iranian TV viewers. "Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true," he added sportingly, "if European countries claim that they have killed Jews in World War II, why don't they provide the Zionist regime with a piece of Europe? Germany and Austria can provide the regime with two or three provinces for this regime to establish itself, and the issue will be resolved. You offer part of Europe, and we will support it."

Big of you. It's the perfect solution to the "Middle East peace process": out of sight, out of mind. And given that Ahmadinejad's out of his mind, we're already halfway there.

So let's see: We have a Holocaust denier who wants to relocate an entire nation to another continent, and he happens to be head of the world's newest nuclear state. (They're not 100 percent fully-fledged operational, but happily for them they can drag out the pseudo-negotiations with the European Union until they are. And Washington certainly won't do anything, because after all if we're not 100 percent certain they've got WMD -- which we won't be until there's a big smoking crater live on CNN one afternoon -- it would be just another Bushitlerburton lie to get us into another war for oil, right?)"

In 1956 when the Leonidas was discharged from the Army he worked in the oilfields of southern California (it was not Kalifornia yet then) for Continental Oil Co. (now Conoco Philips). A fellow worker was a WW II veteran from the European theatre. He had pictures that he had taken of a concentration camp that his unit had "liberated" in 1945. For the information of Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Jew victims of Germany's collectivists were not killed in "furnaces". They were killed in GAS CHAMBERS. Their bodies were disposed of in FURNACES. For those of you who are products of government "schools" the acronym "NAZI" stands for: National SOCIALIST German Workers Party.

Goodbye Tookie

The Leonidas was definitely wrong in his prediction that the governator would spare Tookie Williams (may he rest wherever folks of his ilk spend eternity). Indirectly it can be argued that Tookie was a “victim” of the war on drugs. The Crips gang that he helped to found was begun in order to organize the turf conflicts generated by the criminals of the south and central areas of Los Angeles City and County. As Leonidas was working in that area at the time (early and mid 1970’s) at the Lennox station of the Sheriff’s Department, he had some contact with these folks. The rival gang at the time was the Bloods and both of the gangs although engaging in battles with each other had an obvious racist message and committed other crimes such as armed robbery, burglary and vehicle theft. The most important fuel for these and other criminal gangs are the huge profits from the distribution of illegal drugs. The drugs themselves are relatively cheap and easy to manufacture but the prices they command are astronomical due to the risks of apprehension. Incidentally, most of the narcotics involved in this tragic war were sold over the counter at your corner drug store prior to 1913. I guess that prior to that time the population was dropping in the streets due to drug overdoses. A huge thank you to the collectivists (Progressives) who gave us these and other wonderful laws such as the income tax. For some other horror stories caused by the multi billion dollar “war on drugs” industry go here.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Justice in Kalifornia?

The Kalifornia “Governator” has had his political obituary already written by the state collectivists who will not vote for him even if the dimocrats nominate Pol Pot to run against him. The decision in favor of clemency for crips founder Tookie Williams will be the final nail in Arnold’s political coffin for several reasons. Tookie was convicted and sentenced 24 years ago for EXECUTING 4 people and joking about it. Since then his case has undergone minute and absurd anal examination resulting in the trial and sentence being upheld in spite of the sob sisters’, race pimps’ and Hollywood collectivists’ wailing.

Leonidas predicts that the Kalifornia governor will spare this scum’s life, but would like to call attention to the following:

In its latest roundup of death penalty statistics, ''Capital Punishment, 2004," the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics notes that at least 101 murderers now on death row were already in prison when they murdered their victims; at least 44 others were prison escapees. Lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key may sound appealing. But some murderers will always escape and murder again. Others will kill in prison.

Kalifornia’s collectivists have succeeded in not only extorting tribute from the states taxpayers for such things as tattoo removal for “former” gang members and disarming law abiding citizens but the actual prosecution of citizens attempting to defend and protect themselves and families from lawless gangs.

Leonidas hopes he is mistaken in his prediction of Arnold’s actions but is not sanguine in a just outcome.


Hypocrisy Update

In his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Mohamed El Baradei of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) associated with the UN stated he wished nuclear arms would suffer the same universal condemnation as genocide and slavery. This is another example of the hypocrisy of the world body. Slavery is alive and well in Sudan today as Professor Uriah Kriegel of the University of Arizona reminds us:

One of the main reasons our awareness of modern slavery remains so meager is that the flagship human rights organizations seem completely uninterested in the phenomenon. This is primarily because the perpetrators do not represent the kind of highly visible figures that [collectivist managed] NGOs are eager to confront. Most human rights groups are driven today by a single, superficial principle: oppose the powerful and back the weak, no matter what the powerful stand for or what the weak stand for.

Perhaps the best example of such is Amnesty International, an erstwhile respectable organization that has, over the past few years, morphed at time into a well-oiled anti-American propaganda machine. (As I write this, the lead article on the Amnesty International Web site, is about the treatment of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram AFB. There is not a single mention of the horrors in Sudan on the front page.)...Today's slave-owners and slave-capturers are usually Muslim fundamentalists who ride the African plains on horseback terrorizing local populations. But on the global stage, they wield virtually no power. As such, they do not excite the imagination of the majority human rights activists.

Here Leonidas would have to disagree with the professor. While wielding considerable power, (does 9-11-01 come to mind?) Muslim fundamentalists are frequently supported by "civil rights" groups. Speaking of "genocide" the UN recently celebrated its annual "Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People", a group whose official governing body advocates the elimination of Israel as does the government of Iran which is estimated by Mr. El Baradei to be in the possession of nuclear weapons "within a few months".


Friday, December 09, 2005

No Good Deed goes Unpunished

Atlanta must be one hell of a dangerous area for law enforcement officers. As a retired deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County Leonidas was trained that: "If you hook em, you'd better book em".

Subway Rider Busted for Selling a Token
Dec 09 12:46 PM US/Eastern

ATLANTA - Transit police handcuffed and cited a man who sold a $1.75 subway token to another rider who was having trouble with a token vending machine. Transit authority spokeswoman Jocelyn Baker said Friday that the officer "acted within the law" after he spotted Donald Pirone, 42, selling the token Nov. 30 inside the West End subway station

Instead of giving Pirone a warning, the officer decided to handcuff him and give him the misdemeanor citation under a 1992 state law that bars passengers from selling Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority tokens, she said.

"What you've got to keep in mind is that fare abuse is a chronic problem," Baker said. "It costs MARTA millions of dollars every year."

Baker acknowledged that Pirone sold the token at face value and did not make a profit. But the law is the law, she said.

"There are customer service phones for people who are having trouble getting tokens out of the machine," Baker said. "The fact is, our officer acted within the law."

As for the handcuffs, Baker said the officer felt they were necessary.

"Our officers do that for their own safety," Baker said.

There was no answer Friday at a phone listed to a Donald V. Pirone in Atlanta. Pirone told WSB Radio that he was just trying to help a fellow passenger out who was having trouble with a token machine.

"I gave him a token and, I guess out of his generosity, he gave me the money for it," Pirone said. "But I didn't ask him for money."
Looks as if the ACLU was too busy attempting to locate "Merry Christmas" in some public context.

U.S. “Guilty” in spite of the Evidence

The collectivists and their grant-hungry junk scientists both here and abroad continue to blame the U.S. for global climate change in spite a lack of solid evidence. Leonidas would bet that you did not learn of this on the evening “news”:

"We know that we who reside in the United States emit about 6.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year," [therefore] "As [the] air mass travels from west to east, it should receive carbon dioxide and the East Coast concentration of CO2 should be higher than on the West Coast.

"But observations tell us otherwise. The mean atmospheric CO2 concentration on the East Coast has been observed to be lower than that over the Pacific coast. This means that more CO2 is taken up by land over the United States than is released by industrial activities."

In other words, the U.S. has been found to be a net ABSORBER of CO2! Nevertheless, the “scientists” reveal their agenda for justifying the imposition by the Kyoto protocol on the U.S. and its crippling reduction of industrial activity in the following paragraph:

“Team members emphasized that while the North American sink may prove important in worldwide management of atmospheric carbon absorption, their results should not be interpreted as justification for claiming that preexisting carbon sinks in a given region act to offset that region's combustion-produced carbon dioxide.”

Translation: The large producers in the “developing world” of CO2 such as China and India are EXEMPT from emissions reductions, but the Industrial west must reduce its living standards i.e. CO2 emissions in order to reduce the 0.03% of climate change attributable to human activity.

It would indeed require a cretin to fail to understand that the real agenda of the greenies is to restrict liberty (capitalism).

Leonidas, while not a great fan of G.W. Bush is willing to at least give him credit for enraging the greenies by “unsigning” the Kyoto treaty. Meanwhile Mr. Gore soldiers on.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Great Satan Strikes Again

The recent air crash of an Iranian air force C-130 into an apartment complex just outside Tehran which killed at least 128 people including scores of “women and children” is the fault of George Bush as he is the one in charge of the “Great Satan” these days. Karl Rove’s office did not return calls requesting a reaction.

Official sources in Iran blamed lack of spare parts due the U.S. embargo for the crash even though the parts are available from dozens of other countries around the world. (The absence of toilet paper in Cuba is also blamed on another U.S. embargo even though Cuba has trading relations with about 190 other countries.) This is apparently the first crash of a U.S. made aircraft in Iran since the 1979 revolution. The seemingly routine fatal crashes of Iranian aircraft have heretofore involved planes manufactured in Russia, Ukraine and Holland.

The great satan is also probably responsible for recently constructing the 10 story apartment building in the flight path of the airfield as well as the gas compression facility next to it. Investigation is doubtless under way to determine if in fact this was a suicide attack executed by operatives of the CIA. Valerie Plame’s husband is said to be preparing a “tell all” press conference.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Global Warming/Feminist Insanity

The continued idiocy of the collectivists is evident by the rantings of the 11th annual "United Nations Climate Change Conference" in Montreal, Canada:

The spokesman for a feminist-based environmental group accused men of being the biggest contributors to human-caused "global warming" and lamented that women are bearing the brunt of the negative climate consequences created by men.

"To give you an example from Germany, it is mostly men who are going by car. Women are going by public transport mostly," Rohr told Cybercast News Service. Rohr was standing in front of her booth, which featured a banner calling for "creative gender strategies" from "rural households to global scientific bodies."

"Women are frequently marginalized in a variety of ways ... Initiatives addressing adaptation to climate change require consideration of local customs while ensuring that all concerns and perspectives are voiced and valued," read signs at Rohr's booth.

Fore more idiocy go here.

Hat tip Tigerhawk.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ominous bedfellows

The conduct of the so called "war on terror" has produced strange bedfellows indeed. The fundamentalists who wish to extinguish western civilization are being joined by groups which will top the Islamic hit list should their (the Islamist's) agenda prevail. With regard to the collectivists:

...the disintegration of the communist block was a painful setback for the their hopes and aspirations. Although its loathing of capitalism and the West continued unabated, there was no one – at least for the time being – capable of taking them on.

This changed dramatically on September 11, 2001 when Islamic radicals burst on the scene in a spectacular fashion. Their attack and subsequent statements left no doubt about their goal – the annihilation of Western civilization. And like communists before them, they see capitalism as the source of our evil which is something their choice of target made painfully clear.

September 11 electrified the Left. More than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was once again someone whose thinking about the West and capitalism agreed with its own. Most importantly, Islamists possessed the will and capability to destabilize or perhaps even bring down the object of their hate.

Sensing the opportunity, the Left immediately sprang to action. The first order of business was to dampen the retaliatory wrath of the United States. The effort was already underway on September 12 when a missive appeared on a popular leftist website urging restraint in responding to the attack.

Since then the Left has done everything it could to undermine our efforts in the "War on Terror".

With regard to the wing of the Democratic party currently supporting the Islamists this is understandable. They are a party out of power and see partisan advantage in discrediting the governing administration. What is more puzzling is the joining in this cacophony by the "pacifist" wing of the libertarian movement. The libertarians' views are diametrically opposed to the Islamists stated aims and both of these groups (the collectivists and the libertarians) will in turn be annihilated by the Islamists should they prevail: and make no mistake, if the current struggle is lost due to the undermining of the west’s will to resist, the Islamists will prevail.

If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
-Winston Churchill

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lest We forget

With the approach of the Christmas (yes I, a devout agnostic, used the C word) season we should remember a Christmas in 1979 when the staff of our embassy in Tehran was imprisoned by adherents of the "great religion of peace" on the watch of the president who gave away the Panama Canal.

"December 1979: Christmas comes for the Great Satan

by Mark Bowden

But there were also heroes. Embassy staffer Michael J. Metrinko was one of those:

Michael Metrinko spent the holiday as he had spent all his days since the first week of the takeover, locked in a windowless basement storage room by himself. He had been invited to the Christmas party, but he wanted no part of a propaganda show. When his guards brought him a gift from the ceremony, a plate of turkey and stuffing, cookies, and decorated marshmallows, the food was tempting; Metrinko was hungry, but he was galled by how self-congratulatory his captors seemed, how generous and noble and proudly Islamic. He accepted the plate, and when they left him alone to eat, he sat staring at the food.

Then he knocked on the door and said he needed to use the toilet. When the door opened, Metrinko emerged holding the gift plate before him. He marched down the hall into the bathroom and dumped the contents into the toilet bowl. He made sure the guards saw him do it.

They were furious with him. He had insulted their hospitality and kind intentions. He was crazy! When they shoved him back into his room and slammed the door shut, Metrinko felt a momentary pang at having lost the meal. What a glorious treat he had denied himself! But his remorse was nothing next to the pleasure he took in delivering the insult. It had hit home and wounded them, and that was something that gave a more lasting pleasure than the food ever could have."

It is important that we remember who the heroes were, and who they were not. Mark Bowden has helped us do that.


Clueless on the Hudson

Few things in life are easier than determining the political agenda (" world to end on Tuesday. Women and minorities hardest hit") of the editors of The New York Times. In a column appearing November 30 we note the following:

"...Gasoline prices - the national average is now $2.15, according to the Energy Information Administration - have fallen [this just in] because higher prices held down demand and Gulf Coast supplies have been slowly restored.

It all means the economy is likely to end the year with a splash. But before you splurge on a new car, consider this: Many economists do not expect the party to continue, especially if the Federal Reserve continues taking the punchbowl away and raises interest rates. That could further slow the housing market, damp consumer spending and crimp corporate profits."

While the Times appears to have just recently discovered the workings of basic demand and supply curves (available to students in most community colleges) it is ceaseless in attempting to spin the news, ANY NEWS, into fitting its template of hatred for the Bushies.

And by the way, members of the military in Iraq are less likely to die than if they remained in California.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Green party resolution

It would appear that the Green Party (as in a majority of the Arcata, California city Council?) has begun actively pursuing its "watermelon" (stressing the red over the green) agenda in support of those who machine gun travelers at the Rome airport, slaughter Olympic athletes, blow up crowded pizza parlors and murder wheelchair-bound Americans. These socialists have entered the lists against a fellow socialist state (Israel) in favor of the erstwhile (Jodanian) Palestinian effort to recover what was lost in an aggressive war designed to eradicate the Israeli state to wit: "RESOLUTION Adopted by the Green Party of the United States, November 21, 2005: 1. The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) publicly calls for divestment from and boycott of the State of Israel until such time as the full individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people are realized. To maximize the effect of the Green Party's support for divestment and boycott of Israel: 2. The party calls on all civil society institutions and organizations around the world to implement a comprehensive divestment and boycott program. Further, the party calls on all governments to support this program and to implement state level boycotts. 3. The party urges the Campus Greens network to work in cooperation with other campus organizations to achieve institutional participation in this effort.

Since the demise of the Soviet State the collectivists have redirected their efforts toward other anti liberty groups such as the environmentalists and militant feminists. Leonidas' evidence for this is in the activities of Mrs. Leonidas' Swedish schoolchum who has ended her vacation trips to the Black Sea resorts and now chairs several groups advocating additional "aggression " taxes on males in Sweden and ADDITIONAL restrictions on the speech of those who disagree with the enviromental wackos in that unfortunate nation.

In California:
The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

Designed "intelligence"

Several years ago some of our collectivist "leaders" were calling for the abolition of the Central Intelligence Agency. With the recent performance of that agency, they may be on to something. Not only was the "intelligence" prior to the Iraq operation less than up to date, but we are now witnessing the total politicization of the agency.

"Well, it's pretty much all over for America. Valerie Plame, the "glamorous secret agent" who has been the linchpin of U.S. national security, "will retire next month from the CIA after 20 years tracking proliferators of weapons of mass destruction," the New York Post reports. "She remained at the CIA for the past year in order to be eligible for a full government pension." Or at least that's her cover story." <>

"Al Qaida leaders Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi haven't been found 'primarily because they don't want us to find them and they're going to great lengths to make sure we don't find them,' [CIA director Porter] Goss said in the interview broadcast Tuesday on ABC's 'Good Morning America.' "--Associated Press, Nov. 29

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Illegal Immigration?

With all the recent hand wringing over the U.S. being over-run with illegal immigrants, it is useful to review the facts. Several million illegal immigrants are living in the country at present. Why have they come? It is obvious that their desire for a better life is a motivating factor. Those willing to work can find willing employers for their limited skills for wages which, although low by U.S. standards are considerably higher than in their home countries. Those unwilling or unable to work can often find alternatives available from government programs. They routinely work for wages that most native residents will not accept therefore the jobs go begging. Why? The illegal immigrants are competing with unskilled native American workers in a market that is not free. Legal U.S. residents are eligible for a plethora of government programs that make low wage employment an undesirable option. These programs are: welfare, unemployment insurance, minimum wage laws and medicaid to name but a few.

The cost to employers of raising wages to attract those who are eligible for the government programs would force them to raise the prices they must charge for their goods and services and thus make them less competitive. Employers will always attempt to keep their costs as low as possible in order to compete. In this case the employers are competing with the government i.e. the taxpayers. This competition is unlikely to end as there is no political will to reform the welfare state. Indeed, the welfare state appears to be expanding at the behest of the majority in both of the major political parties.

One of the alternatives propounded by many of those on the right and left of the political spectrum is to divert more resources to “security” measures such as a militarized border and increased enforcement of the immigration laws. All of these options were tried by the Roman empire unsuccessfuly and led eventually its descent into chaos. The Roman system of welfare (bread and circuses), once the provinces had been bled of tribute, led to the need to allow more barbarians into the empire to settle the land and produce the food as well as fill the ranks of the legions. The barbarians eventually assumed control of the military and dictated the succession to the imperial throne. This signaled the end of the empire.

A study of history reveals the life cycle of societies based on liberty and self government to average about 200 years. Our “constitutional” government is now 214 years old and showing signs of what Alexis DeToqueville described as “the citizens voting themselves largess from the public treasury”. Can the process be turned around or even arrested? Stay tuned.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Real Cuba III

The Real Cuba III

After a week at the Marina Hemmingway we obtained a “Despacho” (cruising permit) to continue sailing eastward along the Cuban north coast with stops at various anchorages. Most countries require “despachos” to keep track of foreign cruising boats along their coasts and this includes the U.S. We left for the first leg late in the afternoon to take advantage of the lighter trade winds which blow from the east during the night. The distance to Varadero was 65 nautical miles. We were constantly shadowed by a mysterious darkened motor launch and entered Marina Chapelin the next day about noon after being escorted in by a motor launch sent out by the marina. The employees of the marina were extremely helpful and friendly even to inviting us to a “night club” performance at one of the nearby tourist hotels as well as a Cuban ice cream parlor. Afterwards we decided to dine out and got in the long line at the only restaurant that was open. After several minutes the management discovering that we were foreigners escorted us past the line of waiting Cubans to a table. We were embarrassed by this treatment in the “workers paradise” but no one seemed disturbed.

We continued eastward anchoring at several beautiful coves and arrived at Puerto Padre, anchoring near the commercial dock to check in. We noticed that the local ferry was traveling more than a mile from its route in order for the passengers to view the “strange blue sail boat” flying the U.S. flag and its Canadian companion. No one had seen a U.S. flag vessel in Puerto Padre in living memory.

The bus trip to Puerto Padre was about 30 min. and gave us the opportunity to meet many friendly and curious Cubans including one old man who refused to believe that I was in fact an American. I produced my Los Angeles County Sheriff retirement badge and ID and he simply shook his head and walked away muttering “why would you want to visit Cuba?” to which I replied: "to meet charming people such as you and your grandson".

We continued eastward to the village where we intended to turn northward to sail to the Bahamas. I rowed the local commissar and a soldier out to the anchored boat to examine our paper work. Upon coming aboard he insisted that I take down the American flag which flew from the staff on the stern. I refused and indicated the Cuban courtesy flag that was flying from the ensign halyard on the starboard spreader. He examined all the papers and found them in order but again ordered me to take down the American flag. I refused and at this time the soldier interrupted stating that it was the ships flag and displaying it was indeed proper. This seemed to settle the issue and they returned ashore. The next morning at dawn we weighed anchor, waived farewell to the local guard tower and sailed the 70 miles to the Bahamas. This last out of the way village was the only occasion where the official representative was less than friendly. For the most part the officials bent over backwards to be helpful. In one anchorage the crew of one patrol boat gave us gifts of fish and fruit.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Herd

Mark Helprin makes an excellent point here on the view of the collectivists (left) with regard to the defense of the nation. "The nature of one's reaction to aggression against one's country will often be determined by whether one sees the polity primarily as individuals who must struggle with the imperfection of being bound into a collective, or as a collective that must overcome the circumstantial imperfection that it comprises individuals. For wildebeest thundering across a plain in Africa, it takes a village. The herd defends itself by sacrificing a minuscule proportion of its number and moving on. If the herd were to turn upon the jackals preying upon it, the jackals would be pulverized almost instantly. Nonetheless, if the price for the escape of ten thousand is the sacrifice of only a few, that is how it is done when the collective is paramount." The whole article is worth the read.

The Real Cuba II

The Real Cuba II

Contrary to widely held belief, Cuba welcomes ALL foreign visitors warmly and they are free to travel wherever they wish. Travel to Cuba by those subject to U.S. law is not prohibited, however “trading” with Cuba is forbiden. This includes spending any money in that country. The U.S. does prosecute violators of this proscription, so U.S. tourists are non existent there.

Leonidas notified the Cuban port authority via side band radio from the Dry Tortugas of an e.t.a. of 72 hrs. for 1 U.S. and 1 Canadian sail boat and was instructed to enter at Marina Hemmingway 7 nautical miles west of Havana. Upon arrival, the harbor entrance was in the opinion of the two sailboat skippers unsafe due to adverse weather conditions and so advised the Cuban coast guard. A motor launch was sent out and led the two North American vessels safely inside where they tied up to the customs dock and cleared in the country. The officials were courteous but spoke no English. After completing the paper work the boats were led to a dock in the mostly empty marina. Our companion boat was Canadian and from this time forward we were officially “guests “ of the Canadian couple on that boat.

The marina management brought welcoming gifts of Cuban rum and baskets of fruit for both vessels and insisted over our protests that we enjoy the free telephone service offered by the marina. During our stay we always placed the telephone on the dock when we wished to converse privately. This was especially true when we entertained the U.S. interests officer and his wife for dinner aboard. An interesting social event indeed.

The trip to Havana was a 30 minute bus ride from the stop in front of the Communist Party high school across from the marina. The Buses were usually crowded with people getting on and off mostly not depositing any fare in the crude wooden box provided. We had no Cuban coins but gave them 5 swedish kroners.

Havana is a charming city which has seen no paint on its buildings since 1960. We were warned to not expect to be able to obtain food in Havana and thus brought snacks from the boat. We attempted to hail several taxis but as we were obviously foreigners they were not allowed to pick us up. Only special tourist taxis authorized to transport those with hard currency are allowed to pick up foreigners. The few cafes that were open had long lines waiting to be served. The menus, though having several options listed, invariably offered only one item. Most of the locals recognizing us as foreigners were surprised to learn Leonidas spoke Spanish instead of Russian. This resulted in lots of smiles and good cheer.

A shop at the marina selling items such as imported beer and canned goods to foreigners for hard currency had some lettuce which they refused to sell us saying that the scale to weigh it was broken. I estimated that the weight was 1 kilo and offered to buy it for the price of 2 kilos and this was refused. We returned on each of the next 2 days to buy the lettuce which was beginning to wilt. On the 3rd day with the scale still not repaired I asked to negotiate with the manager. Two phone calls were made to Havana and the merchant finally got permission to sell the head of lettuce for the 2 kilo price. No tomatoes were available in spite of viewing fields of ripe tomatoes on the TV. I asked why, and was advised that the tomatoes were rotting in the fields as the Russians had failed to send the wood necessary to make shipping crates. An apparently insoluable problem to the party leaders. When I advised that I had seen tomatoes transported in California in dump trucks and other tublike containers the informant looked at me as if I were insane.

We remained at Marina Hemmingway for 7 days and obtained a “despacho” (permission) to continue cruising eastward to the resort of Varadero.

Continued in The Real Cuba III

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Real Cuba!

Recently we have witnessed several testimonies for and comparisons between some of the surviving socialist (communist) regimes and the western countries. Leonidas has visited at least a score of countries and found that the most fascinating such visit was to Cuba during the early 1990’s aboard his 34' sail boat. A command of theSpanishh language was extremely useful in avoiding reliance on government “guides” and translators.

We found the Cuban people including the military to be extremely helpful and friendly. Every facet of life in Cuba is rigidly controlled and the citizens require ration books to purchase all food items even though the countryside is obviously suitable for agriculture. The country seems to be completely supplied with electrical power and a television set down to the smallest rural hut and we learned the reason for this. All tv broadcasting is superseded on a daily basis by Communist Party officials’ (usually Castro) 2 to 4 hour speeches during prime time.

Due to the U.S. trade embargo the pre revolutionary (1959 and earlier) vehicles have not been replaced and consequently many classic old cars and trucks are seen on the streets in various states of repair. No proper replacement parts are available. The Cubans seem quite resourceful in keeping them running by fabricating parts and adapting parts from Russian and Eastern European cars.

Tourists are able to rent Japanese cars that display distinctive license plates enabling them, with the use of special permits to obtain gasoline which is in very short supply and extremely difficult for ordinary Cubans to buy. This situation may recently have changed, though I doubt it, with the help of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Cuba has some oil fields along the north central coast but appears to have difficulty operating them. The Russian equipment in the fields is very poorly maintained and much crude oil is spilled and polluting the nearby streams and coast line. No one seems to be concerned with this situation. I suspect that environmentalists are not as influential in Cuba as in the “western world”.

The Cuban people for the most part are very curious about North America and this suggests that the official portrayal of the U.S. as oppressive, bigoted and racist is not as widely accepted as their leaders would wish. The ordinary citizens for the most part do not have access to many basic items such as toilet paper, tooth brushes, matches, tooth paste, coffee etc. but are skilled at making substitutes. Communist Party officials and tourists with foreign hard currency are able to shop in special shops that deny access to ordinary citizens. The shops and stores allowing access to ordinary citizens are for the most part empty. When some items do appear in them long waiting lines are generated.

The begging and aggressive peddlers so pervasive in most of the other islands and countries in the region are totally absent in Cuba. The beaches, cayos and countryside are mostly unspoiled and definitely uncrowded. The beaches outside the tourist areas are closely watched from government guard towers and patrol boats, apparently to discourage emigration but we thoroughly enjoyed the friendly and charming people of Cuba both bureaucrats and others.

This is by no means an exhaustive account of the 5 week cruise along the northern Cuban coast. If an interest is shown Leonidas will add to it.

Fighting in the shade

In the year 480 BC the Persian King Xerxes invaded Greece with his army of more than 100,000 men. The Greeks determined to resist the invasion and sent a detachment of hoplites (heavy armed infantry) to resist at the pass of Thermopylae. The Greek force was led by the Spartan King Leonidas and consisted of his 300 hoplite bodyguard and 1200 other infantryman from several Greek city states. Upon encountering the blocking force, the Persian king sent a herald to Leonidas stating "Deliver up your arms." Leonidas replied: "ΜΟΛΩΜ ΛΑΩΕ which romanized reads MOLON LABE" and translates: "Come and take them". After loosing several thousand of his best soldiers in the resulting next two days of fighting, the Persian king sent a further demand to the Greeks to surrender or he would have "the sun blocked out by the clouds of arrows" from his Persian archers. The Spartan reply: "Then we will fight in the shade"