Friday, February 11, 2005

Koranic duels

Here's an unexpected weapon in the war on Jihadistan.
Some freed militants were so transformed that they led the army to hidden weapons caches and offered the Yemeni security services advice on tackling Islamic militancy. A spectacular success came in 2002 when Abu Ali al Harithi, Al Qaeda's top commander in Yemen, was assassinated by a US air-strike following a tip-off from one of Hitar's reformed militants.

Eason Out

This just in: Eason Jordan quits CNN .
Jordan said he was quitting to avoid CNN being "unfairly tarnished" by the controversy.
A little late for that. I wonder if he said it with a straight face. Of course, it's not like he's used to embellishing the truth or anything.


In spite of the fact that he disses Pinochet, you know you just gotta have your VDH fix.
It is widely said that democracies rarely attack other democracies. Thus the more that exist in the world — and at no time in history have there been more such governments than today — the less likely is war itself. That cliché proves, in fact, mostly true.
What he's missing is the McDonald's Rule which says that no two countries with a McDonald's have ever attacked each other. It neatly sidesteps that whole Confederacy problem.

Your Papers, Please

So the House passed the Real ID Act which prohibits the states from issuing drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Who could be against that?

Well, I could. So could you if you believe in States rights. Or ever plan to buy a gun.

As GOA points out, it's not that simple.
Standardization of driver's licenses has long been recognized as a bureaucratic back-door to implementation of a national ID card. With its required linking of databases and ability of the Secretary of Homeland Security to require a prescribed format, HR 418 takes us well along that road. Concerns are further heightened when the bill fails to even provide lip service to privacy concerns, and proposes to share all of our data on the driver's license database with Canada and Mexico.

Update: Here's the rebuttal from the Editors at NRO.
The American Civil Liberties Union was stridently opposed to the bill, which is a selling point for conservatives. On the other hand, a few voices on the Right also opposed the bill, such as the American Conservative Union and the Free Congress Foundation, based on unfounded fears that the bill is the leading edge of a move toward a centralized national ID card. But the bill merely sets minimum standards for driver's licenses, e.g., that states have to check the legal status of the applicants, that the expiration date of the license should coincide with the visa expiration date of a visitor who obtains a license, and that licenses should be modernized to make them more secure. Insofar as they represent national-security and immigration-control functions that are within the legitimate ambit of the federal government, it is not overreaching for the feds to set minimal requirements. Even Phyllis Schlafly, who yields to no one in her suspicion of the federal bureaucracy, approves of the bill.
I'm not completely convinced by assertions that my fears are "unfounded". If you set the right minimum standards, you have effectively the same license, making it a de-facto National ID. Especially considering all the non-driving uses a license has now.

Corporate Welfare

An excerpt from today's Patriot worth quoting at length:
Speaking of entitlements, when you hear the term "corporate welfare," do you think of farm subsidies? That's right, boys and girls, your hard-earned money going to those little family farmers, Mr. John Hancock, Mr. Eli Lilly, Ms. Georgia Pacific, Ms. Kimberly-Clark, and Mr. Archer-Daniels-Midland-Supermarket-to-the-World. With the new Bush budget on the table, we anticipate the debate over farm subsidies will come fast and furious.

First, a few facts: The average farmer makes 17% more than the average non-farmer and is worth six times as much. Farmers tend to live in rural areas (you know, out in the farmland) where costs are lower, and they can often deduct their utility bills as business expenses. Curiously, farmers also tend to purchase less food than non-farmers. Furthermore, for a mere $4 billion, we could guarantee every full-time farmer in the country a minimum income that's 185 percent above the poverty level. (In addition, they could make money on the side by, say, farming). Instead, we spend $12 billion -- and another $30 billion on farm subsidies.

Where does that money go? In 2002, 13 companies received more than $2 million each, with several Fortune 500 companies on the farming dole. Between 1995 and 2002, over $2 million in subsidies went to five congressmen and four senators, five of whom just happen to have a day job on the agricultural committees of their respective legislative bodies. Other subsidies go to such poverty-stricken farmers as David Rockefeller, Ted Turner, and Sam Donaldson. Didn't you always wonder how those gentlemen could afford modern life without a little help from the taxpayers? Well, now you know, and you also know how they can afford to be so ambivalent about tax cuts.