"Fascism and communism both promise "social welfare," "social justice," and "fairness" to justify authoritarian means and extensive arbitrary and discretionary governmental powers." - F. A. Hayek"

"Life is a Bungling process and in no way educational." in James M. Cain

Jean Giraudoux who first said, “Only the mediocre are always at their best.”

If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law. Sir Winston Churchill

"summum ius summa iniuria" ("More laws, more injustice.") Cicero

As Christopher Hitchens once put it, “The essence of tyranny is not iron law; it is capricious law.”

"Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." Ronald Reagan

"Law is where you buy it." Raymond Chandler

"Why did God make so many damn fools and Democrats?" Clarence Day

"If I feel like feeding squirrels to the nuts, this is the place for it." - Cluny Brown

"Oh, pshaw! When yu' can't have what you choose, yu' just choose what you have." Owen Wister "The Virginian"

Oscar Wilde said about the death scene in Little Nell, you would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.

Thomas More's definition of government as "a conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of a commonwealth.” ~ Winston S. Churchill, A History of the English Speaking Peoples

“Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.” ~ Jonathon Swift

Monday, June 28, 2010

LaHood Acts Like a Hood — Again

LaHood Acts Like a Hood — Again » The Antiplanner
This like reading a chapter from "Atlas Shrugged"!
Where is the John Galt Line?

Justices extend gun owner rights nationwide

Justices extend gun owner rights nationwide
Let us hope that Nationwide Right to Carry is also to be upheld!!!

Another 5 to 4 decision. Can't 4 of the justices read?

Princess Beatrice is beaming in blue as she attends cousin Prince Harry's "Fall" charity event in New York

Princess Beatrice is beaming in blue as she attends cousin Prince Harry's charity eventin New York
That is how I broke my ribs!
Polo is fast, lively, hard, scary, dangerous (sometimes, anything to do with horses can be) and most of all- a blast!!!!

Creepy 'horseboy' photo on Scottish road becomes latest mystery

Google Streetview 'horseboy' photo on Scottish road becomes latest mystery | Mail Online
Looks more like Horse-Hoe, the street-trotter.

Senator Robert C. Byrd, 92, was longest-serving US Senator

Senator Robert C. Byrd, 92, was longest-serving US Senator - The Boston Globe
It was hard to find anything in West Virginia that didn't have Byrd's name chiseled into it.
No tears are shed here, as with Ted Kennedy, his abuse of power outweighed his tenure.

When Mr. Byrd ran for the US House of Representatives in 1952, a Democratic primary opponent disclosed that he had been a kleagle, or organizer, in the Klan in 1942 and '43. Owning up to his membership, Mr. Byrd dismissed it as a "mistake of youth.'' Then in the general election, the Republican nominee revealed that Mr. Byrd had written to the Imperial Wizard of the Klan in 1946 that the KKK "is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here [and] in every state of the Union.'' Disowned by the governor and most West Virginia newspapers, Mr. Byrd nonetheless managed to win the House seat. Reelected in 1954 and 1956, he moved up to the Senate in 1958.

Mr. Byrd voted against the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the nomination of the first black to be named to the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall. He later expressed regret for all three votes, but over the remainder of the '60s he offered consistently sharp views on race. "We can take the people out of the slums,'' he declared at that time, "but we cannot take the slums out of the people.'' Because of his conservative social views, President Nixon later gave serious consideration to putting Mr. Byrd on the Supreme Court.

A kleagle, or organizer, in the Klan, is that like a community kleagle?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Obama's race-rant Rev. rages on - and on - and on-

Obama never heard of him in the 20 years of going to his 'church' and being married by him..."Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect," Obama said.
Did you know, according to the Rev. Wright:
  • " that whites and Jews are controlling the flow of worldwide information and oppressing blacks in Israel and America."
  • "White folk done took this country," Wright said. "You're in their home, and they're gonna let you know it."
  • Wright referred to Italians as "Mamma Luigi" and "pizzeria." He said the educational system in America is designed by whites to miseducate blacks "not by benign neglect but by malignant intent."

Obama's race-rant Rev. rages on - NYPOST.com

Last Updated: 11:50 AM, June 27, 2010

Posted: 2:35 AM, June 27, 2010

CHICAGO -- He's been keeping such a low profile since nearly derailing Barack Obama's campaign for president in 2008 -- is it possible that the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright has mellowed?


During a five-day seminar Wright taught last week at the University of Chicago, he was back at it, claiming that whites and Jews are controlling the flow of worldwide information and oppressing blacks in Israel and America.

"White folk done took this country," Wright said. "You're in their home, and they're gonna let you know it."

The course, advertised as focusing on politics and public policy in South Africa and America, was taught in a small, ground-floor room at the Chicago Theological Seminary on the university campus, where Wright's voice echoed out an open window. The class was composed of about 15 to 20 students, mainly older African-American women who would arrive early and giddily linger during lunch breaks and after class, looking for the reverend's attention. (The course cost a little over $1,000 if taken for college credit and $300 if taken without.)

The absence of young people was telling: The lectures seemed ossified, relics of a pre-civil-rights America -- a point that Obama himself made during his famous speech on race in March 2008, prompted by the incendiary comments ("God damnAmerica!") made by his former pastor and mentor.

"Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect," Obama said.

Yet during this course -- which was described as asking, "What is the response and public witness of persons of faith to ongoing developments in both countries?" -- Wright made many statements about what he believes are the true aims of whites and Jews.

"You are not now, nor have you ever been, nor will you ever be a brother to white folk," he said. "And if you do not realize that, you are in serious trouble."

He cited the writings of Bill Jones -- author of the book "Is God a White Racist?" -- as proof that white people cannot be trusted. "Bill said, 'They just killed four of their own at Kent State. They'll step on you like a cockroach and keep on movin', cause you not a brother to them.' "

Wright referred to Italians as "Mamma Luigi" and "pizzeria." He said the educational system in America is designed by whites to miseducate blacks "not by benign neglect but by malignant intent."

He said Ethiopian Jews are despised by white Jews: "And now the Knesset [Israeli parliament] is meeting with European Jews, voting on whether or not these African Jews can get into [Israel]."

The civil-rights movement, Wright said, was never about racial equality: "It was always about becoming white . . . to master what [they] do." Martin Luther King, he said, was misguided for advocating nonviolence among his people, "born in the oven of America."

"We probably have more African-Americans who've been brainwashed than we have South Africans who've been brainwashed," he said, and seemed to allude to President Obama twice: "Unfortunately, I got in trouble with a fella for saying this . . . All your commentaries are written by oppressors." At the mention of Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan -- whom Obama disavowed during the campaign -- black leaders "go cuttin' and duckin'," he said.

In March, Wright told The Washington Post that he expects to speak to Obama again, when "he is out of the White House." Last June, he told a Virginia newspaper that the only reason he and the president were not speaking at the moment is that "them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me."

From 1972 until May 2008, Wright served as pastor of Trinity United Church of Chicago, located in a rough area of the city's South Side. Today, he is "pastor emeritus" and identified as such on the rugs that line the doorways at Trinity.

Until very recently, Wright lived with his wife and children in a nearby two-story house, in a more affluent subdivision surrounded by roadblocks; the line between rich and poor is literal. His former neighbors all say he kept to himself.

A few months ago, Wright and his family moved into a brand-new million-dollar home located near a golf course and made of stone with a recessed doorway surrounded by pillars. It's the only house on a cul-de-sac. Records show it was sold by Trinity United Church to a company called ATG Trust and paid for in cash.

Since leaving Trinity, Wright has traveled the country, preaching and lecturing. He said he's been working "all year long" with Trinity's preschool program and called US Education Secretary Arne Duncan a disaster. Duncan, a former college basketball star, was given the job only because Obama enjoys his "good jump shot in the back yard," Wright said.

Wright gives interviews intermittently but declined to speak to The Post. He recently headlined a two-day "men's empowerment revival" in Florida but in mixed company is careful not to say anything racist or inflammatory.

The most he had to say about the African-American experience that day was "God is working on your behalf."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wimbledon 2010: Tennis star Hanescu escapes lifetime ban

Wimbledon 2010: Tennis star Hanescu escapes lifetime ban

after being accused of SPITTING at crowd

| Mail Online

Sometime its' hard to tell the difference between international tennis and international soccer, isn't it?... Lacrosse anyone?

Mediasaurus- Breaking News from 1993

This was written for Wired in 1993 at the emergence of the Internet and before the World Wide Web.
Wired 1.04: Mediasaurus
Today's mass media is tomorrow's fossil fuel. Michael Crichton is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.

By Michael Crichton-

Issue 1.04 | Sep/Oct 1993

I am the author of a novel about dinosaurs, ...But I want to focus on another dinosaur, one that may be on the road to extinction. I am referring to the American media. And I use the term extinction literally. ...

There has been evidence of impending extinction for a long time. We all know statistics about the decline in newspaper readers and network television viewers. The polls show increasingly negative public attitudes toward the press - and with good reason. A generation ago, Paddy Chayevsky's Network looked like an outrageous farce. Today, when Geraldo Rivera bares his buttocks, when the New York Times misquotes Barbie (the doll), and NBC fakes news footage of exploding trucks, Network looks like a documentary.

According to recent polls, large segments of the American population think the media is attentive to trivia, and indifferent to what really matters. They also believe that the media does not report the country's problems, but instead is a part of them. Increasingly, people perceive no difference between the narcissistic self-serving reporters asking questions, and the narcissistic self-serving politicians who evade them.

And I am troubled by the media's response to these criticisms. We hear the old professional line: "Sure, we've got some problems, we could do our job better." Or the time-honored: "We've always been disliked because we're the bearer of bad news; it comes with the territory; I'll start to worry when the press is liked." Or after a major disaster like the NBC news/GM truck fiasco, we hear "this is a time for reflection."

These responses suggest to me that the media just doesn't get it - doesn't understand why consumers are unhappy with their wares. It reminds me of the story of the man who decided to kill his wife by having a lot of sex with her. Pretty soon this beaming, robust woman shows up, followed by a wizened little man with a cane. He whispers to a friend, "She doesn't know it yet, but she has only two weeks to live."...

The media are an industry, and their product is information. And along with many other American industries, the American media produce a product of very poor quality. Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it's sold without warranty. It's flashy but it's basically junk. So people have begun to stop buying it.

Poor product quality results, in part, from the American educational system, which graduates workers too poorly educated to generate high- quality information. In part, it is a problem of nearsighted management that encourages profits at the expense of quality. In part, it is a failure to respond to changing technology - particularly the computer-mediated technology known collectively as the Net. And in large part, it is a failure to recognize the changing needs of the audience.

...American companies have undergone a wrenching, painful restructuring to produce high-quality products. We all know what this requires: Flattening the corporate hierarchy. Moving critical information from the bottom up instead of the top down. ...

Generally speaking, the American media have remained aloof from this process. ...But the news on television and in newspapers is generally perceived as less accurate, less objective, less informed than it was a decade ago. Because instead of focusing on quality, the media have tried to be lively or engaging - selling the sizzle, not the steak; the talk-show host, not the guest; the format, not the subject. And in doing so they have abandoned their audience.

Who will be the GM or IBM of the '90s? The next great American institution to find itself obsolete and outdated, while obstinately refusing to change? I suspect one answer would be The New York Times and the commercial networks. Other institutions have been pushed to improve quality. Ford now makes a better car than it has any time in my life; we can thank Toyota and Nissan for that. But who will push The New York Times?

The answer, I think, is technology.

...But what if somebody offered me a service with high-quality information? A service in which all the facts were true, the quotes weren't piped, the statistics were presented by someone who knew something about statistics? What would that be worth? A lot. Because good information has value. The notion that it's filler between the ads is outdated.

There is a second and related trend. I want direct access to information of interest to me, and increasingly, I expect to get it. This is a long- standing trend in many technologies. When I was a child, telephones had no dials. You picked up the phone and asked an operator to place your call. Now, if you've ever had the experience of being somewhere where your call was placed for you, you know how exasperating that is. It's faster and more efficient to dial it yourself.

Today's media equivalent of the old telephone operator is Dan Rather, or the front page editor, or the reporter who prunes the facts in order to be lively and vivid. Increasingly, I want to remove those filters, and in some cases I already can. ... I am no longer solely dependent on the lively and vivid account in The New York Times, which talks about Perot's folksy homilies and a lot of other flashy chrome trim that I am not interested in. I can turn on C-SPAN and watch the hearing myself. In the process, I can also see how accurate The New York Times account was. And that's likely to change my perception of The New York Times, as indeed it has. Because The New York Times seems to have a problem with Ross Perot. It reminds me of the story told about Hearst, who remarked upon seeing an old adversary on the street, "I don't know why he hates me, I never did him a favor."

But my ability to view C-SPAN brings us to the third trend: the coming end of the media's information monopoly - a monopoly held since the inception of our nation. The American Revolution was the first war fought, in part, through public opinion in the newspapers, and Ben Franklin was the first media-savvy lobbyist to employ techniques of disinformation. For the next 200 or so years, the media have been able to behave in a basically monopolistic way. They have treated information the way John D. Rockefeller treated oil - as a commodity, in which the distribution network, rather than product quality, is of primary importance. But once people can get the raw data themselves, that monopoly ends. And that means big changes, soon....

So the media institutions will have to change. Of course, I still don't know what I don't know, which means broad-based overviews or interpretive sources will have value - if these sources engage in genuinely high-quality interpretive work, or genuinely high-quality investigative work. At the moment, neither occurs very often.

On the contrary, superficiality is the norm, and everybody in the world knows it. When Barry Lopez went to a remote Eskimo village in 1986, one of the residents asked him how long he was staying. Before he could answer, another Eskimo said: "One day - newspaper story. Two days - magazine story. Five days - book." Even in the Canadian Northwest, the audience is way ahead of the press.

Moving closer to home, let's consider some questions journalists recently asked public figures. I invite you to guess the answers:

Mr. Kantor, are you a protectionist? Mr. Christopher, do you think your Mideast trip was a waste of time? Mr. Aspin, do you think we'll really see homosexuals accepted in the military? Mr. Gergen, did the White House treatment of Lani Guinier hurt the administration? Mr. Reich, do you think Clinton's stimulus package will do enough to create jobs?

There are two points to be made here. The first is that the structure of the questions dictates the answer, because no one is going to say he's a protectionist, or a time waster, or that he's promoting policies that will fail. But the more important point is that such questions assume a simplified, either/or version of reality to which no one really subscribes. In the real world, no one is "a protectionist." Because in the real world, there is no such thing as a free market. Haven't you noticed how free market advocates want tenure?

So what we really want to know from Mr. Kantor is not some general characterization of his approach, because that characterization is too simplistic to be useful. We want to know his thinking on specific trade issues. Even to say, "What's your approach to Japan?" is too simplistic, because it is highly unlikely that Mr. Kantor thinks the same way about semiconductors, automobile parts, rice, and flat panel displays. No simple answer will satisfy the complex questions he faces. And no one imagines it does - except the press.

This is one reason why so many people who regularly interact with the press come to view it as an anomaly. They go about their daily work, which is specific and complex, and then they meet with the press, where interactions are general and oversimplified.

Why? One answer is that it's easy for the press to behave this way. You don't have to be knowledgeable about trade to ask Mickey Kantor if he is a protectionist. In fact you don't have to know much to ask any question that takes the general form of: "Are we doing enough?" Or "Are we going too fast or too slow?" Or "Is it fair?" Or "Is it really the best way to go about it?" I would argue this whole journalistic procedure is a way to conceal institutional incompetence.

Consider the following: I don't know much about the military. I don't follow it. Someone says to me, Okay, Crichton, you're doing an interview with Les Aspin. You have two hours to prepare questions. What am I going to ask? Well, let's see. I know he was in the hospital for some reason earlier this year. I'll inquire about his health, but I don't want to be obvious, so I'll frame it as a national security issue. Are you really fit to do the job? Then I'll ask him something about base closings. Are there too many? Is it happening too fast? Is the process fair? Then I'll ask him about defense conversion. Are we doing enough for unemployed engineers? Then let's see, waste in procurements. Wasn't there a $600 toilet seat? I know it was a few years ago, but it's always good for a few minutes. Then the Soviet Union, should we be downsizing so fast with all the uncertainty in the world? Then I'll ask him about gays in the military. Was Clinton's approach wise? Is this really the best way to go about it? And that should do it.

Unfortunately, that's also the standard Les Aspin interview. But I don't know anything about the military. Still, I managed to do the interview, because the questions are structurally very general.

This generality creates a fundamental asymmetry between subject and journalist - and ultimately, between journalist and audience. Les Aspin has to address very specific pressures to carry out his job. But I can frame very general questions and get away with doing mine. How do I justify my position? Well, I can tell myself that I'm too busy to do better, because the news rushes onward. But that's not really satisfactory. Better to say the American people don't want details, they just want "the basics." In other words I can blame my own shoddy behavior on the audience. And if I hear the audience criticizing me, I can say I'm being blamed as the bearer of bad news. Instead of facing what is really going on - which is that my customers are telling me that my product is poorly researched, and often either uninteresting or irrelevant. It's junk-food journalism. Empty calories.

The media's tendency to be general instead of specific is inherently superficial. It is also inherently speculative, because it focuses on attitudes - what people think - and not what they do. But what people think is far less important than what they do - because the two are often contradictory.

The tendency to characterize people's beliefs - instead of focusing on their actions - is one of the true abuses of the power of the media. Look how quickly Kimba Woods was transformed from respected jurist to Playboy bunny; just as I went from author to racist Japan-basher. In my case, what was striking was how many journalists applied the Japan-bashing label, without appearing to have read my book. The hazards of this practice became clear in a few months, when the Columbia Journalism Review reported last December that the term "Japan-bashing" was invented by an American public relations flack at the Japan Economic Institute, a Japanese lobbying organization. The term was promoted as a way to stifle debate, including legitimate debate, on relations with Japan. The man who coined the phrase said: "Anyone who uses that term is my intellectual dupe."

Worse still, characterization lies at the heart of the impulse to polarize every issue - what we might call the Crossfire Syndrome.

We are all assumed, these days, to reside at one extreme of the opinion spectrum, or another. We are pro-abortion or anti-abortion. We are free traders or protectionists. We are pro-private sector or pro-government. We are feminists or chauvinists. But in the real world, few of us hold these extreme views. There is instead a spectrum of opinion.

The extreme positions of the Crossfire Syndrome require extreme simplification - framing the debate in terms that ignore the real issues. For example, when I watch Crossfire, or Nightline, or MacNeil-Lehrer, I often think, wait a minute. The real issue isn't term limits; it's campaign finance reform. The real issue isn't whether a gasoline tax is regressive, it's national security - whether we'd prefer to go back to war in the Gulf instead of reducing oil consumption by taxing it more heavily, as every other nation does. The real issue isn't whether the United States should have an industrial policy, it is whether the one we have - no policy is a policy - serves us well. The issue isn't whether Mickey Kantor is a protectionist, it's how should the US respond to its foreign competitors.

This polarization of the issues has contributed greatly to our national paralysis, because it posits false choices which stifle debate essential to change. It is ironic that this should happen in a time of great social upheaval, when our society needs more than ever to be able to experiment with different viewpoints. But in the media world, a previously established idea, like a previously elected politician, enjoys a tremendous advantage over any challenger.

Hence the familiar ideas continue to be repeated, long past their demonstrable validity. More than two decades after right-brain, left-brain thinking was discredited in scientific circles, those metaphors are still casually repeated in the media. After 30 years of government efforts to banish racism, persistent racial inequality suggests the need for fresh perspectives; those perspectives are rarely heard. And more than three decades after the women's movement began amid media ridicule, the men's movement finds itself ridiculed in exactly the same way - often by leading feminists, who appear to have learned little from their own ordeals.

This leads me to the final consequence of generalization: it caricatures our opponents, as well as the issues. There has been a great decline in civility in this country. We have lost the perception that reasonable persons of good will may hold opposing views. Simultaneously, we have lost the ability to address reasoned arguments - to forsake ad hominem characterization, and instead address a different person's arguments. Which is a tragedy, because debate is interesting. It's a form of exploration. But personal attack is merely unpleasant and intimidating. Paradoxically, this decline in civility and good humor, which the press appear to believe is necessary to "get the story," reduces the intensity of our national discourse. Watching British parliamentary debates, I notice that the tradition of saying "the right honorable gentleman" or "my distinguished friend" before hurling an insult does something interesting to the entire process. A civil tone permits more bluntness.

And where can you find this kind of debate in today's media? Not in television, nor in newspapers or magazines. You find it on the computer networks, a place where traditional media are distinctly absent.

So I hope that this era of polarized, junk-food journalism will soon come to an end. For too long the media have accepted the immortal advice of Yogi Berra, who said: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." But business as usual no longer serves the audience. And although technology will soon precipitate enormous changes in the media, we face a more immediate problem: a period of major social change. We are going to need a sensitive, informed, and responsive media to accomplish those changes. And that's the way it is.

Michael Crichton is the author of The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, and the soon to be released Disclosure. This article was adapted from a speech delivered before the National Press Club in April of this year.

Copyright © 1993-2004 The Condé Nast Publications Inc. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1994-2003 Wired Digital, Inc. All rights reserved.

Michael Crichton was an amazing visionary, also the author of 'Next' (my favorite) and 'State of Fear'. Michael Crichton died from cancer Nov. 4, 2008, age 66. He was the possibly the most prolific of modern authors, he was also a physician, director, speaker, film and TV creator. He was the epitome of the modern Renaissance Man.

He became vilified for his stance against environmentalists and global warning after the publication of “State of Fear” in 2004. Make a Google search on him, most are anti-Michael Crichton as a ‘climate change denier.’

Michael Crichton spoke of his deep introspection when he started to write a novel about a man made disaster. He found that the reports were manufactured and wrong and the facts were wildly different. He changed his views on much of what he had once believed. Subsequently he wrote ‘State of Fear’ and ‘Next’.

He was most prescient and his insight is missed even more today.

Ironic, The Stalin Statue Was Removed (from GORI, Georgia)

So now it's cool to be a communist. T-shirts of Che Guevara are one of the most popular t-shirts around. Che was a racist and mass murderer, yet we have schools banning kids from wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. If we're going to ban shirts, how about the one with the communist killer on it? It's not offensive because no one looks at the history of what they did.
How else can you explain everything going on today that happens with little or no outrage? Things like the statue of Stalin going up in Virginia? How does that idea not cross someone — anyone's — desk who said, "This may not be a good idea"? It happens because no one knows who these communists really were anymore. It's just cool.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The small town of Bedford, Va., is home to 21 men who sacrificed their lives on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It is now also the home of one of the world's few public memorial busts of communist dictator Josef Stalin.
Local citizens and organizations have expressed their outrage over the installation of the bust at the National D-Day Memorial, which honored the 66th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy over the weekend. The bust of the Soviet Union's wartime leader was unveiled last week to accompany existing busts of U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman as well as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
"Having Stalin in our backyard, people are really upset about that," said Karl Altau, the managing director at the joint Baltic American National Committee that has helped in movements against the Stalin bust.

Stalin is infamous for his dictatorial rule of the Soviet Union, which ultimately led to the deaths of at least 20 million people, the largest number perishing during the terror famines he engineered in the early 1930s to collectivize Soviet agriculture. He also entered World War II on the side of Nazi Germany, and only became an ally of the Western democracies when Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.
The erection of the statue is ironic to some because statues and images of the dictator have been torn down all over Europe since the 1950s denunciation of him by his successors in ruling the Soviet Union.

25 Jun 2010 07:20:52 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Margarita Antidze

GORI, Georgia, June 25 (Reuters) - Authorities removed a towering statue of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin from the central square of his hometown in the dead of the night on Friday, carting away the monument to Georgia's most famous native.

The 6-meter-high bronze statue will be moved to the courtyard of a museum dedicated to Stalin in his native Gori and replaced on the main square by a monument to victims of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia, a local official said.

In an unannounced operation that began after midnight and was over before dawn, municipal workers and police took the statue down from its stone pedestal in the small city 80 km (50 miles) west of the capital, Tbilisi.

"It was very unexpected," Lado Bichashvili, a journalist with local television company Trialeti, told Reuters. "I think many people will be very angry."

He said police tried to prevent journalists from filming the process, in some cases beating them.

"This monument will be moved to the courtyard of the Stalin museum," Zviad Khmaladze, a city council leader, said later in televised comments. "A new monument dedicated to victims of the Russian aggression will be erected at this place."

Outward signs of Stalin's pervasive personality cult were removed after his death in 1953 across Georgia and the rest of the Soviet Union, but he is revered by many in his hometown, where the monument was erected year before his death.

It was one of the few monuments to Stalin still standing anywhere.

"People from around the world used to visit Gori to see this statue and to pay their respects to Stalin," said Nugzar Lamazov, who lives in a nearby village.

Widely reviled as a dictator responsible for millions of deaths in political purges, labour camps and forced agricultural collectivisation, Stalin is held up as a hero by supporters who say the Soviet Union would not have defeated Nazi Germany or industrialized without him.

For many Georgians including pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili, the monument was a symbol of Moscow's lingering influence two decades after the small nation gained independence in the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Gori was the hardest-hit Georgian city in the five-day war with Russia in August 2008. Bombs hit the main square near the statue and buildings nearby.

Gori was occupied by Russian troops for weeks after the conflict, which erupted when Georgia sought to recapture the Russian-backed separatist province of South Ossetia, just north of the city.

After the conflict, some officials and prominent Georgians called for the monument's removal, saying its presence in Gori was immoral after the Russian bombardment and occupation.

The government will hold a competition for the design of the monument to the war victims, Culture Ministry spokeswoman Salome Macharashvili told Reuters.

Russia recognised South Ossetia's independence after the war and has strengthened its grip on the rebel region.

Gori also hosts some smaller statues and busts of Stalin as well as the museum dedicated to the late leader, who was born on December 21, 1879.

Mainly elderly supporters traditionally gather outside the colonnaded museum twice a year, on his birthday and the day of his death.

Stalin, whose real name was Dzhugashvili, ruled the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death.

(Editing by Myra MacDonald)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Liberal Dumass" a representative sample...

Democrat County Supervisor Doesn't Know Arizona Borders Mexico but Democrat County Supervisor Doesn't Know Arizona Borders Mexico Supports Boycott

She is planning on achieving the heights of unread ignorance exhibited by Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano.

The Most Hated Phrase: "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help You."

The FDA Is Killing Private Enterprise - John Derbyshire on National Review Online

I suffered fools at the FDA for years in the Pharmaceutical Business. Our serfdom has been alive, growing and thriving at the behest of all levels of of bureaucratic 'help'! The article is here and linked above-

The first federal regulator I ever knew was a fellow named Ernie. This was 40 years ago, a few weeks after I’d first landed on these shores.

I’d run out of money and taken work as kitchen help at a small family firm in New Rochelle, N.Y. The firm made frozen kosher TV dinners. They had a kitchen of course, a preparation room with half a dozen big stainless-steel tables where we made up the dinners, and a couple of freezer rooms where we stored them. The dinners were shipped out to hospitals, nursing homes, and some retail outlets.

Because we sold to places in Connecticut and New Jersey, the Commerce Clause kicked in. The earthly incarnation of the Clause was Ernie, who had a couple of assistants.

Ernie was a power freak. If you showed him the respect he thought he was entitled to, he was generally harmless. If you crossed him, however, his wrath was terrible.

The boss of the firm was a no-nonsense former Marine. He ran a clean, efficient operation. He put up with Ernie as best he could, but sometimes the forbearance required was too great. The U.S. Marine Corps inculcates many fine virtues, but suffering fools gladly is not necessarily prominent among them.

On one occasion the boss lost it and yelled at Ernie. Ernie then had his minions go round the firm “tagging” all the preparation tables with what looked like old-fashioned white luggage tags. Peered at up close, the tags revealed printed messages saying that no food product could go anywhere near the tagged table until the tag was removed, with ferocious federal penalties threatened against transgressors. The tags could, of course, only be removed by Ernie. The tables were out of commission. We had to scrub those suckers three or four times over with green scouring pads and Comet before Ernie would deign to remove his tags and let the firm get on with their business.

Another time, after some other go-round with the boss, Ernie determined that the firm’s ZIP code was printed on the dinner boxes in too small a font. The boss had to get rolls of stick-over labels printed up, and we menials spent a couple of days working our way through the freezer rooms relabeling the dinners so the ZIP code was in the FDA-approved font size. I guess this was real important to the nation’s health.

Federal regulation? Been there, done it. Baptism of fire. (Actually of ice: It was darn cold in those freezer rooms.)

* * * * *

I have therefore been casting a very jaundiced eye on these reports about the FDA regulators’ recent interest in genetic-testing firms.

The story seems to have begun early in May. A firm named Pathway Genomics, based in San Diego, is one of many that have come up in the past few years offering to scan a person’s DNA and report on any significant disease-risk or drug-response markers. You swab your cheek with a sterile Q-Tip they provide, or spit into a sterile plastic tube, and you send the saliva sample off to them. They scan it and send you back the information. The cost of a test can be from $20 to $500, depending on how many markers are scanned for.

Earlier this year Pathway entered into a deal with Walgreens, a nationwide drugstore chain with 7,500 outlets. The deal would have allowed Pathway to operate counters at 6,000 of those outlets, selling their service. Instead of signing up with Pathway via their website and sending in your saliva sample through the mail, you could do the thing right there in your local drugstore.

Health reporter Rob Stein at the Washington Post did a story on the Pathway-Walgreens deal. The story appeared in the May 11 edition of the newspaper. By way of researching it, Stein called the FDA to ask them for a quote. This is everyday journalistic practice — any reporter would have done the same. The call, however, woke the FDA from their dogmatic slumbers. They sent for Ernie — who, at some point between 1973 and 2010, changed his name to Alberto:
In response to a query from The Washington Post, an FDA official said that the agency planned to investigate the test.

“We think this would be an illegally marketed device if they proceed,” said Alberto Gutierrez, director of the FDA’s office of in-vitro diagnostics. “They are making medical claims. We don’t know whether the test works and whether patients are taking actions that could put them in jeopardy based on the test.”
The regulocrats lumbered into action. A letter went out to Pathway warning them that their test was a “medical device” likely subject to FDA oversight and pre-marketing approval. Hearing of this, Walgreens canceled the deal with Pathway.

Close behind the FDA, like jackals following tigers, came Congress. Henry Waxman, head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, demanded a comprehensive document dump from three of the firms — every letter, every lab report, every e-mail. Last week the FDA escalated the war, sending letters out to five more of the firms (23andMe, Navigenics, DeCode, Illumina, and Knome) couched in similar terms to the original Pathway letter.

Explaining himself to Newsweek, Ernie claimed that the FDA only wants to protect the poor, clueless, gullible consumer from the possibility he might make a bad medical decision based on results from one of the tests.
If you’re making a claim about [a genetic variant that affects the metabolism of the anticoagulant drug] warfarin, and somebody decides based on the result they get that they want to change their dosing, that is a fairly risky decision. That could affect their health. If they’re not feeling well on their current dose and the drug is expensive, we don’t know what they would do.
Heaven forfend that a consumer be left to make his own decisions without a federal employee present to hold his hand!

The logic of classifying these DNA scans as “medical devices” bears a closer look. What actually is a “medical device”? Answer: A medical device is anything the FDA declares to be a medical device. The humble tongue depressor, for example (known to English schoolchildren of my generation as an “aah stick,” from the doctor’s instruction to “Say ‘aah’”), is a Class I medical device. I suppose the FDA would argue that there is a tiny risk the consumer will swallow his tongue depressor and choke on it.

You might still think it’s a bit of a stretch to call these tests “medical devices.” They are, after all, merely informational. Consumers are not being dosed with anything, or having anything attached to or implanted in their bodies, nor even inserted into their mouths for purposes of tongue depression. “Medical device”? Huh?

Part of the answer to this little conundrum is buried in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. the health-care bill signed into law by President Obama in March. Somewhere in the bill’s thousand-odd pages is a wee clause imposing a 2.3 percent excise tax (a tax, that is, on sales, not on profits) on medical devices.

So not only are the DNA scanners going to have to submit to the attentions of Ernie and his pals, with years-long delays over niggling points of order, passive-aggressive temper tantrums over perceived slights, and business-stalling, privacy-invading document dumps, they’re going to be subject to a brand-new tax!

(Sen. John Kerry justified the tax to the medical-device companies thus: “We’ve just expanded their marketplace by 32 million people who will now buy products from them. This is going to work out just fine.” Of course it is! When has anything enacted by Congress not worked out just fine? Some of the companies remain skeptical
, but no doubt a few sessions of compulsory reeducation will rectify their thinking.)

* * * * *

Lest you should think this is a straightforward tale of power-crazed regulators and tax-hungry politicians killing off an infant industry, please let it be noted that Big Government is by no means the only predator that struggling start-ups must face. There is also Big Business.

In seeking to widen its regulatory scope, the FDA has some support from big, established biotech companies. Back in 2008, biotech giant Genentech petitioned the FDA to expand its authority into products involving “laboratory-developed tests” (LDTs). An LDT is one with an expert in the loop. An example of a non-LDT would be a home pregnancy test — no expert between test and interpretation. LDTs are more lightly regulated than non-LDTs, for understandable reasons.

One of the early DNA-testing firms, Genomic Health, slipped through the LDT loophole back in 2001. (How? How do you think? It was a Republican administration, not much interested in killing businesses.) Where Genomic Health had found a gap in the fence, the other start-ups of the last decade followed, treading the less-regulated LDT route.

It was natural for Genentech and other established companies to look with disfavor on impertinent startups taking advantage of regulatory loopholes. Big Business is just as capable of hating entrepreneurial startups as is Big Government.

A business can only lobby, though. Government can act. Barack Obama’s government is mobilizing in major force against the scattered start-ups of the Genomics Age. A Congress with key committees chaired by the likes of Henry Waxman is of course ready to supply new laws; but really, no changes to the law are required, just brute executive power. As Pathway found, you can take a major business hit just by getting a letter from the FDA. Or, as a principal in one of the other firms told me bitterly: “You find out you’re illegal from reading the Washington Post.”

One cannot help but suspect, too, that along with normal Ernie-style bureaucratic cussedness at the FDA, combined with the business-killing instincts of red-diaper babies like Barack Obama and law-school socialists like Henry Waxman, there is deep cultural hostility on the liberal left to the whole business of DNA scanning.

We have at present merely skimmed the surface of the human genome. (The June 19–25 issue of The Economist has a good layman-level survey, though possibly subscriber-only.) Who knows what we shall find as we go deeper?

A great many people would rather not know. There is a sense in which DNA scanning is, for Obama and his people, what stem-cell research was to George W. Bush and his people: a zone of science seeded with ethical and ideological landmines.

As with stem cells, the work will get done anyway. A genomics start-up put out of business by Ernie and his pals will move to Singapore, whose government, far from harassing them, will give them a lab, a grant, and a tax break.

The U.S.A. is a real nice place to have a job in government, and still a pretty nice place to work for a big corporation — especially one designated “too big to fail.” For the start-up entrepreneur in an ideologically fraught field, however, the environment is increasingly hostile. Why do they even bother?

John Derbyshire is an NRO columnist and author, most recently, of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism.


Merkel Tells Obama Spending Cuts to Boost Economy, Not Put Brake on Growth

Merkel Tells Obama Spending Cuts to Boost Economy, Not Put Brake on Growth - Bloomberg

Chancellor Angela Merkel championed German export strength as “the right thing” for her country, spurning President Barack Obama’s call to boost private spending as both leaders prepare for Group of 20 talks.

Merkel, addressing a business audience in Berlin today, said she told Obama in a phone call that cutting government debt is “absolutely important for us,” exposing a second point of contention ahead of the June 26-27 G-20 summit in Canada.

...continued at above link

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal out; Petraeus picked for Afghanistan

McChrystal out; Petraeus picked for Afghanistan - Yahoo! News
More on this later, there is actually less. Much less than all that was reported said and if you you read the lame article for yourself you will see that this was just a fill in the blanks hit-piece with a point of view. It's right out of the Columbia School of Journalism and Broadcasting 101.
Even with the poor counterinsurgency strategy, lame rules of engagement and ridiculous time table, McChrystal must have read some history of Gen, Sherman, who began 'modern war'. Gen. Sherman hated the press. He considered them as his second enemy. Too bad McChrystal didn't remember his history and in turn, it's too bad the Commander-in-Chief doesn't know any, especially when in a war, it is to be won!
- Mooserider

From Laura Ingraham-
McChrystal met with Obama today after his rogue interview with Rolling Stone came to light. He offered his resignation and Obama accepted. General David Petraeus will take charge in Afghanistan. It's nice to see Obama affirming all of the decisions George W. Bush made, isn't it?

Here's a thought: Did Obama just tie up Petraeus through the 2012 election cycle?