Oh, stop whining

VDH is upset about the UN’s call for prosecuting former Bush administration officials:

An Austrian, Prof. Manfred Nowak, who serves as something called a U.N. special rapporteur in Geneva, is now warning the United States that former Bush administration officials should be tried and prosecuted for torture, including the lawyers who gave advice about statutes on interrogation.

I’m all for the prosecution of former Bush administration officials, up to and including George W. Bush himself, although torture is one of the least of their crimes. The trial, however, should be conducted by the American people, who actually have authority over those officials, not the United Nations. And I have no sympathy for Republicans – although VDH is actually a conservative Democrat, if I recall correctly – who cry about the UN going after their erstwhile political allies. The Republicans controlled the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, but instead of pulling out of the UN and evicting the organization from New York City, they elected to kowtow to it. Congress didn’t declare war on Iraq or Afghanistan, instead Bush and Powell went to the UN and obtained permission authorizing the use of force.

So the Bush administration recognized the UN’s authority over its personnel and their actions. Therefore, these former officials have nothing to complain about. If you lick the jackboot, you shouldn’t be too surprised when it kicks you out of sheer contempt, if nothing else.

Pandemonia

A doctor in Mexico City claims that the swine flu outbreak is worse than reported:

I’m a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.

There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.

This is grim news, not just due to the chance that there will be a flu pandemic, but because it’s pretty close to the last thing that the global economy needed at the moment. If you’ve got vacation accrued, this might be a good time to take it and work on your Call of Duty skillz. Or to look into the possibility of tele-commuting.

Meanwhile Stratfor sees not only economic concerns, but worries about the geopolitical impact: “Depending on the extent of the virus’s spread, it could directly affect production: Offices and factories would shut down in areas where the flu was particularly rampant, amid efforts to control it. International travel and trade might well be affected, both voluntarily (as people avoided travel and refused to buy goods from countries heavily infected) and involuntarily (as states acted to protect their populations). The greatest effect would be psychological. In a world where consumer confidence has already been deeply affected by the economic downturn, a pandemic would dramatically darken the mood of the international system, with potential impact on governments.”

WND column

Obama’s First 100 Days

Obama’s first 100 days have been more important than has historically been the case with most presidents, because unlike past presidents, Obama’s lack of a track record renders him somewhat of an enigma. While legislative voting records provide a picture of an individual’s ideology, they tell very little about his character, his executive capabilities or his willingness to set aside ideology in the interest of achieving practical objectives. So, the first three months of Obama’s administration have been the first opportunity to really see if there is any substance beneath the marketing hype….

A battle of the sexes

The Battle of the Sexes, where the women’s field of elite runners competed against the men, didn’t pan out the way race officials had hoped. Even after giving the women an 18 and a half-minute head start, five of the Elite men finished before the top woman.

The interesting thing isn’t that the men won even when the women were given an unfair advantage. What’s interesting is the fact that the officials were hoping that a woman would win. But if stacking the deck so that a woman will win is the point, then why not go all the way and make it a five-hour head start?

Principles always matter

Exhibit One. Donald Luskin on TARP, December 22, 2008:

I supported TARP when it was being debated in September, and I still do — all the more so, since it has been transformed primarily into a mechanism for recapitalizing banks (temporarily) rather than buying illiquid assets (permanently). As a conservative and a libertarian, I am repelled by government intervention like this. But we don’t have the luxury to stand on principle.

Exhibit Two: Donald Luskin on TARP, April 24, 2009:

Is TARP a criminal enterprise? When a CNBC producer called me on Wednesday to see if I’d debate that question on the Kudlow Report that evening, I thought the allegation was ridiculous. How could the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Assets Relief Program to rescue the banking system possibly be compared to the Sopranos? But now I’m not so sure…. there’s not one single solitary word in the act that authorizes the Treasury to do anything at all for auto companies like General Motors and Chrysler. The act only authorizes helping “financial institutions.” Yet billions of TARP dollars have gone to the two automakers.

I’m sure every real libertarian who did not divest himself of his libertarian principles the moment that Henry Paulson cried wolf is shocked that a significant chunk of the $700 billion in emergency cash should have found its way into unintended pockets. In related news, rumors have recently begun circulating throughout the adult film industry that not all of its actresses are 100-percent silicone-free as had been previously believed.

It should be most amusing to hear these geniuses defend their support for TARP after GM and Chrysler go bankrupt and all those bailout billions vanish with them.

NFL draft 2009

Well, it’s hardly a surprise that the Lions managed to screw things up somehow. Although I suppose that if the rest of your roster is terrible, it doesn’t matter if you devote a ridiculous percentage of your salary cap to an unproven rookie quarterback.

This would be the place to discuss the draft. Given the Vikings’ problems in the passing game and the very low rate of rookie WR success, I’d like to see them take an offensive lineman in the first round.

The Catkiller’s Apprentice

I really dislike cats. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I hate them, but I dislike them. I consider them to be nasty little beasts, although I suppose I can understand how people who want to be able to ignore their pets for days at a time might find them to make reasonable companions. That being said, I don’t take any particular joy in seeing them dead.

So, it was a bit disturbing to see an idiot cat run out right in front of the truck that was preceding me. The next thing I saw was the cat lying directly in my path, which presented me with a limited range of options:

1. Slam on my brakes and hope the [presumed] female driver in the Smart car behind me was paying close enough attention to stop as well.

2. Veer right and hit the van that was next to me.

3. Veer left onto the sidewalk.

4. Swerve slightly right so that the tire didn’t hit the cat without hitting the van.

5. Run right over it.

I had only a split second to decide, so acting on the assumption that the cat was either dead or dying after getting hit by the truck, I went with option five. I decided that finishing the poor thing off fast would be the most merciful thing to do. Since my initial pre-cognitive reaction had been to begin swerving right in preparation for option four – which I think was doable as the van wasn’t so close that there was any significant risk – I turned the wheel back to the left and winced a little as I added insult to injury.

Did I do the right thing? I really don’t know. The driver of the van didn’t seem to think so, as our windows were both open and he said something about it having been far enough ahead to avoid. It’s not like I’m wracked with guilt over it or anything, but I do wonder if it was the right decision. What do you think? What would you have done?

Starving the beast

I’ve long expected tax receipts to go down, but the speed with which government revenues have declined is jaw-dropping. Now this decline won’t necessarily affect anything, since the government funds itself by borrowing the money that the Fed is printing and this just means it might have to borrow more money in order to make payments on the interest. But, it is another indicator that change of a drastic sort is could be coming sooner than anyone expects.

Indict the Washington mafia

Mike Shedlock calls for the indictment of Ben Bernanke, Henry Paulson, and Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis:

Coercion To Commit Securities Fraud

It’s crystal clear from the letter that a strong case can be made that Paulson and Bernanke coerced Lewis to carry out a merger agreement that was not in Bank of America’s shareholders best interest…. As far as I am concerned, Paulson just pleaded guilty. I do not care what Paulson’s reasons were, no one is above the law.

Let the criminal indictments begin: Paulson, Bernanke, and Lewis.

I wholeheartedly concur. And I have little doubt that this is just the merest fragmentary tip of the massive iceberg that is the ongoing criminal government racketeering. Karl Denninger further explains the criminal action involved:

“Your first obligation isn’t to your regulator, it is your fiduciary responsibility to your share and bondholders. If your regulator decides to remove you from office as a consequence, they do. That doesn’t change a thing; your personal interests cannot override your responsibilities. As the CEO of a public firm you don’t work for the govermment, whether you think you’re some “left arm adjunct” or not. You work for the holders of your stock and debt – period. On this matter the law is clear, and the government, even post-TARP, had a minority stake. As such they lack standing to tell you to shut up when your obligation to disclose is a matter of black-letter law.”

Licking the jackboot

Most people don’t deserve freedom, because they don’t actually want it:

Police officers will be back on the street today in Elko New Market. The City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to reinstate the city’s police force. The vote, which came with some conditions, brought cheers from more than 150 residents who had crowded into Eagle View Elementary School, where the meeting had been moved because it offered a larger venue than City Hall.

Police officers in the community south of the Twin Cities had been on administrative duty since the City Council voted to remove them from patrol, effective at midnight April 9, with the intent of disbanding the department entirely on May 13.

It’s good to know the people of Elko New Market are once more free to enjoy no-knock raids, arbitrary traffic stops and indiscriminate fines. Those lawless two weeks of murder and mayhem must have taken a terrible emotional toll on them. And I can’t help but notice that the Star & Sickle report never bothers to explain why the City Council originally voted to get rid of the police, or why two members of the department require personnel reviews.