Jane Galt

Recent Posts From Jane Galt

The Drone Dilemma

Yesterday, I read an article from the Council on Foreign Relations called “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies.” The opening paragraph read:

Over the last ten years, drones have become a critical tool in the war against terrorist and militant organizations worldwide. Their advantages over other weapons and intelligence systems are well known. They can silently observe an individual, group, or location for hours on end, but take immediate action should a strike opportunity become available—all without putting a pilot at risk. This combination of capabilities is unique and has allowed the United States to decimate the leadership of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and disrupt the activities of many other militant groups.

The paragraph seems to be a wholehearted endorsement of drones. But everyone knows what happens when you start peeling the layers of an onion. What appear to be reasons for drone strikes also happen to be reasons against them.

EPA Sued Over Alleged Illegal Human Testing

The EPA has been sued in Federal Court by the American Tradition Institute (ATI) for allegedly pumping “…what they termed ‘lethal’ amounts of diesel exhaust, specifically small particulate matter termed ‘PM2.5,’ directly into the lungs of human volunteers who were not properly advised of the risks.” ATI’s  Environmental Law Center Director, Dr. David Schnare had this to say:

It is difficult to overstate the atrocity of this research. EPA parked a truck’s exhaust pipe directly beneath an intake pipe on the side of a building. The exhaust was sucked into the pipe, mixed with some additional air and then piped directly into the lungs of the human subjects,

Apparently, the EPA recruited subjects (many of them sick and poor individuals) for the experiments but failed to inform them of the dangers of their participation (the Tuskegee experiments come to mind). Put bluntly: this violates every legal and ethical rule for proper scientific investigation there is.

Steve Milloy over at the Washington Times, penned:

Benghazi Attack Fallout: Hillary vs the White House

Political junkies have long known that the relationship between the White House and Sec of State Hillary Clinton is far from great. I am actually surprised she’s held on this long— considering the vicious exchanges they both had (along with Bill) during the 2008 campaign.

Maybe all is forgiven in politics? Not really. Last year, the Hillary-Obama relationship reached a boiling point over the invasion of Libya. The Sec of State— who was pushing for military action— was not pleased with Obama’s lack of resolution on the issue:

Obviously, she’s not happy with dealing with a president who can’t decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can’t make his mind up…She’s exhausted, tired.

Fast forward to the Benghazi embassy attacks— where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed— and we can again see the tension boiling.

VP Debate Reactions: Joe Biden’s Pearly Whites

If you were to ask someone on the street what they remember about last week’s debate, most would probably say that Obama “looked tired” and/or was “mumbling” too much. There are very few people who actually remember anything that was said (mostly because of the vacous one-liners). And there’s a reason for this. In the new age of digital media, what you say counts much less than how you present yourself (unless of course you say something earth-shatteringly stupid). As Paul Begala puts it in his 10 Rules for Winning a Debate:

 

6. The camera is always on. So, by the way, is the microphone. Al Gore had been promised that there would be no reaction shots in his first debate with George W. Bush. That, of course, was wrong. So, while Gore trounced Bush on the issues, the post-debate cut-and-paste jobs caught Gore sighing repeatedly and rolling his eyes endlessly.

Gore was in fact frustrated, perhaps understandably so. But never let ‘em see you sweat — or sigh. No matter what they tell you, the camera (and the microphone) is always on.

One of the most important skills for a debater is knowing what to do when the other candidate is attacking you. Poor Dan Quayle had his famous deer-in-the-headlights moment when Lloyd Bentsen skewered him (“Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”)

 

 

QE3: A Nice Kickback For Bankers

Merely two weeks after Ben Bernanke announced one more round of quantitative easing (QE3), the results are already becoming apparent. And once again, it shows how the culture of “too big to fail” is both immoral and economically devastating.

The immorality of QE3 can be summarized by this quote, from Businessweek: “It’s very good to be a mortgage originator right now,”

Gosh, I wonder why? Is it perhaps because QE3 is benefiting banks/bankers…to the detriment of everyone else? But I thought our president wanted the top 1% to “pay their fair share”! So how do bankers and loan originators end up cashing in on yet another bailout? Yes, I realize I shouldn’t be shocked by a politician saying one thing…and doing the opposite. But I am.

Since images often speak louder than words, here’s an illustration of why it’s “…very good to be a mortgage originator right now”.

This is what Bernanke imagines QE3 is doing:

And here is what is ACTUALLY happening:

I rest my case.

Free Speech and the Middle East Riots

Last year, I wrote a post on free speech during the whole Terry Jones Quran burning incident. It started out like this:

In 1987, artist Andres Serrano won the “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. The piece awarded was called “Piss Christ” and it depicted a crucifix, submerged in the artist’s urine.

In case you didn’t click on the link above, here are some Andres Serrano images (“Piss Christ” on the left; “Madonna and the Child II” on the right):

Now, suppose Pat Robertson (or any other Christian right winger) came out and said the following: “Andres Serrano should be jailed and prosecuted”. What would our liberal elite say? They would probably come out in defense of Serrano’s artwork. And guess what? They would be right to do so.

Missing from the 2012 Democratic Platform: Civil Liberties


Courtesy of http://bit.ly/OViBY6

In 2008, then candidate Obama appeared to be a strong defender of civil liberties. At least his speeches indicated so. He assured us that a President Obama would be vastly different from a President Bush on this issue (and many others). President Obama would close GITMO, stop torture and renditions, scrap the Patriot Act, etc, etc.

Yet, for those of us who care deeply about the issue of civil liberties, the current president has turned out to be a nightmare. GITMO is still open, torture and rendition have been outsourced to foreign governments (in a clever sleight of hand by the Obama administration), civil liberties on US soil are more curtailed after the President signed off on indefinite detention (after initially threatening to veto such measures), and the Obama drone program is four times larger than Bush’s (one of the reasons he’s called “Bush on Steroids”).

Paul Ryan: The Anti-Christ or the Savior?

Paul Ryan

Watching the reaction to Romney’s VP pick has been rather interesting. For those of us who read both liberal and conservative media, the nomination of Paul Ryan has been a rather schizophrenic event. To liberals, Ryan is an extremist devil. To conservatives, he’s the second coming of Christ (or at least the second coming of Romney’s candidacy).

From the Left:

The Unseen in the Gun Debate

Second Amendment

The recent Colorado theater shootings made the news again – tragic, visceral. But it seems that any discussion of guns revolves around a very strong selection bias, where all we see is violence, school shootings, highway snipers. This leaves the conversation incomplete.

These shootings constitute the “seen”. But what if—like economic processes—the issue of gun violence and gun control also has a “not seen” component?  And what if the “not seen” is of equal importance as the “seen”?  This recalls 19th century French political economist Frederic Bastiat’s famous essay, “That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen”, where Bastiat critiqued contemporary economic thinking by noting that for every economic process that is “seen” there are other equally important processes taking place that are “not seen” (his famous “broken window fallacy”).

There is therefore opportunity to stop viewing the gun control debate only through Constitutionality or even the “seen” and rather, to also address the “unseen.” Currently, most gun arguments are centered on the 2nd Amendment, especially its use of the word “militia.” Did the Founders purposely use “militia” in order to confer only a “collective” right to bear arms, or was the Amendment meant for individuals? The Supreme Court answered this question in its landmark Heller vs District of Columbia case, when the majority found that the Second Amendment indeed applied to individuals.

Human Rights Offenders to be Human Rights “Defenders”?

Opinions on the role of the UN in a modern world differ greatly. To some, the UN is a bureaucratic cesspool that brings nothing of value to the world. To others, it is a cherished organization that offers the possibility of resolving conflicts through diplomacy. To Manhattan commuters — even the ones who love what the UN represents — the organization has become synonymous with congested traffic, road closures, and being late for happy hour. I happen to fall somewhere in the middle: believing the UN is indeed a bureaucratic mess but also valuing the idea of voluntary associations and cooperation between nations.

But today, I do not wish to discuss the overall role of the UN. For that, click here, here and here. I will also devote some more time on this subject in the near future.

What I wish to discuss today is just how ridiculous the UN has become. The organization is a great example of what moral bankruptcy looks like in practice: say one thing, but DO the exact opposite.

Case in point: the recent news that Syria appears likely to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Yes, you read that correctly. A government that has been torturing and killing its own citizens for over a year is set to become a member of the body charged with protecting … human rights.

And in case anyone doubts the depravity of Al-Assad’s regime, click on the links below (Disclaimer: some of the images are shocking):

Jane Galt

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