Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ethanol folly

We need to find another silver bullet. Ethanol is not it. The US is subsidizing the growing of corn to make ethanol and is providing tax relief of 4.5 cents per gallon. Without these subsidies there would be no market for ethanol. Even its producers can't afford to burn it without the governement subsidy. Scientists studying the life cycle of ethanol have found that it takes more energy to produce and use it than it provides - far more. Ethanol is alcohol made from plant material, usually corn. The San Francisco Chronicle reports today that University of California Berkeley geoengineering professor Tad Patzek found that up to six times more energy is used to make ethanol than the finished fuel actually contains.
The fossil energy expended during production alone, he concluded, easily outweighs the consumable energy in the end product. As a result, Patzek believes that those who think using the "green" fuel will reduce fossil fuel consumption are deluding themselves -- and the federal government's practice of subsidizing ethanol by offering tax exemptions to oil refiners who buy it is a waste of money. "People tend to think of ethanol and see an endless cycle: corn is used to produce ethanol, ethanol is burned and gives off carbon dioxide, and corn uses the carbon dioxide as it grows," he said. "But that isn't the case. Fossil fuel actually drives the whole cycle." Patzek's investigation into the energy dynamics of ethanol production began two years ago, when he had the students in his Berkeley freshman seminar calculate the fuel's energy balance as a class exercise. Once the class took into account little-considered inputs like fossil fuels and other energy sources used to extrude alcohol from corn, produce fertilizers and insecticides, transport crops and dispose of wastewater, they determined that ethanol contains 65 percent less usable energy than is consumed in the process of making it. Surprised at the results, Patzek began an exhaustive analysis of his own -- one that painted an even bleaker picture of the ethanol industry's long- term sustainability. "Taking grain apart, fermenting it, distilling it and extruding it uses a lot of fossil energy," he said. "We are grasping at the solution that is by far the least efficient."
Even though Patzek's research was published in a peer-reviewed journal, There are scientists who disagree.
David Morris, an economist and vice president of the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has attacked the Berkeley professor's analysis because he says it is based on farming and production practices that are rapidly becoming obsolete..... Hosein Shapouri, an economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has also cracked down on Patzek's energy calculations. "It's true that the original ethanol plants in the 1970s went bankrupt. But Patzek doesn't consider the impact new, more efficient production technologies have had on the ethanol industry," he said.
But there are also others who agree:
Cornell University ecology Professor David Pimentel, however, sides with Patzek, calling production of ethanol "subsidized food burning." "The USDA isn't looking at factors like the energy it takes to maintain farm machinery and irrigate fields in their analysis," he said, adding that the agency's ethanol report contains overly optimistic assumptions about the efficiency of farming practices. "The bottom line is that we're using far more energy in making ethanol than we're getting out."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

CAFTA: Good for state, nation, Central America

I am very in favor of trade. All parties gain, except for a few vested interests that oppose change and growth. The opponents always frame their interest in nice words of concern for the environment or claiming that third-world people aren't happy to work for pay that is low to us, but is double what they can otherwise get. The Tacoma News Tribune discovered a Democrat who favors growth - Congressman Norm Dicks of Tacoma; we old timers recall him as a lineman on the UW Huskies football team that won upsets in the Rose Bowl twice over 40 years ago.
[Dicks] recognizes that enacting CAFTA is the right thing to do, both for the country and for this trade-dependent state. But it is far from clear that he will be joined by enough lawmakers to secure the approval of CAFTA, which would ease trade barriers between the United States and six Central American nations. It would be a shame if the treaty ultimately failed to win approval.... What'’s deceptive and disingenuous is the way the arguments against CAFTA are being couched in terms of protecting the very poor workers of Central America. Union leaders and their congressional allies, for example, complain about the fact that the treaty doesn'’t guarantee Central Americans the right to organize. Actually, CAFTA is probably the single best thing this country could do for those workers. If markets were to expand for Central American goods, Central American labor would be worth more, paid more and treated better. Workers would gain more leverage and find it easier to unionize if their employers persisted in exploiting and abusing them.... As Dicks understands, Washington has a big stake in free trade, in Latin America and elsewhere. At least one in four jobs in this state is tied to international trade. Washington farmers and software manufacturers especially stand to gain from free and fair access to Central American markets. But the national payoff transcends commerce. This country'’s poverty-stricken, Central American neighbors have long been opportune targets for anti-yanqui demagogues. The United States has a vital interest in helping build a prosperous Central America that views it as a valuable trading partner. Looking at Dicks' anti-CAFTA colleagues, you have to wonder: Is it really that hard to vote the interests of our state and nation?
I agree!

Democrats prefer Guantanamo

The two Demo US senators actually went to the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of just talking about it. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Ben Nelson of Nebraska changed their minds after seeing the evidence.
Washington Times
They say the condictions are excellent - no abuse. And it is preferable to keep prisoners there rather than send them to other nations for interrogation. Let's see how the evidence affects Dick Durbin and Nancy Pelosi.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Government Taking Property - Washington State

The US Supreme Court made a decision this week that extended the Constitution and shrunk our property rights. No longer does "for public use" mean for public use. It now means for public or private use. The constitutional protection against the government taking our property has limited the government to taking property for public use. We all understand that that means for a street or other public right of way or building. But cities discovered that they could get more tax revenue by taking homes to make a large parcel of land for a major retailer. But that's taking the land to sell it to a private company. Unconstitutional. Until this week. I have heard several places that Washington is one of the few states that has stronger wording in our constitution and so we will be protected from this decision. That sounds good to law professors who look at our laws and constitution from the distance. But here we see a history of ignoring the constitution so the powerful can do what they want. The Washington Supreme Court hasn't been limited by the Washington Constitution any more than the US SC seems to be. I thought I remembered a recent case here on this very point. But after doing some research it was a different point of law, but still of great concern. In the 1998 time frame in downtown Seattle a new shopping complex was being developed - Pacific Place. The city of Seattle bought the parking garage and gave it to the developer - taking tax revenue and giving it to a private party. That's also a violation of our WA Constitution. OK, I looked for it and couldn't find it - this is my memory. And a giveaway of $50 million wasn't enough for then-mayor Norm Rice. The city paid $73 million even though it had just been built at a cost of $50; Rice threw away another $23 million. I bet he made some friends for life by that give away of public funds. The state Attorney General investigated and found this to be OK, despite violating the wording of the Constitution. Then the state Auditor Brian Sontag also OKed it. And they cited WA Supreme Court decisions on the Mariners' baseball stadium and something else. So I accept small consolation in knowing that our state constitution has the right words. Power talks in this state. Update 6/26. The Castle Coalition is an organization that is publicizing eminent domain takings by governments and how to fight one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Favorite Places - Key Peninsula

My blogging friend Matt Rosenberg has featured the Key Peninsula twice now. It is a quiet place in south Puget Sound, Washington. But aren't all peninsulas quiet? After all, a peninsula is by definition a dead end and you don't pass through a dead end on the way to anywhere - unless there is a bridge off of it. The Key has two state parks. Penrose Point's shoreline seems more interesting to me. But Joemma Beach SP has 3,000 feet of shoreline, which is much longer. Don't walk past the "private property - no trespassing" signs. But if you do the beach continues another half mile and is very, very quiet. The Seattle P-I archive has a short feature article that focuses on an apple press and a B&B. I discovered the Key by going to a YMCA camp with our first daughter. Then the Presbyterians bought a camp there and my wife volunteered to work in the kitchen for 3 weeks one summer. Old impression: while she and our 3 young kids were there I went home to work and returned the following weekend. As I drove down the Key Highway around noon on Saturday I met my wife driving the other way (taking teenage volunteers for ice cream) and she stopped at a place with no place to pull over. I stopped and talked to her, but I was continuously checking the highway both ways for the traffic we were blocking. But we weren't blocking anyone. This was farther south, past Longbranch and the main highway had no traffic! It's not a cultural center, just country. There is a decent restored small hotel - B&B size. But no pack of artists, or anything. The big features are the beaches with park access. The largest town is Key Center. It has a first-class restorer of old stoves; but he is retiring and closing shop. Smaller, but more interesting is Home. It has a grid of streets, accessible, but rocky beach, two stores, restaurant, Laundromat, auto repair. But its Post Office is named "Lake Bay." What other town has the wrong name on its Post Office? Home started as some sort of a commune; the story I have heard is that the Postal authorities refused honor to the anti-establishment communal people by putting their name on an official Post Office. Google map. Your field of view depends on the size of your monitor. Click on "satellite" in the upper right for a dynamite satellite photo. The island on the left is Herron Island; it has on the order of 200 vacation homes on it and a private car ferry. To the lower right are McNeil Island and Anderson Island - a state ferry serves both. Strangely, the towns are not labeled on this map. Home is just NW of Penrose Point State Park on an inlet. Key Center - you have to scroll up and it's east of Vaughn Bay, close to a small inlet, Glen Cove. And Longbranch is no longer a town - the restaurant and store closed - it's on Filucy Bay. We sail our tiny boat in Case Inlet south of Herron Island. Update. Much better aerial photos. The Washington Dept of Ecology has low-level aerial photos of the shoreline done when the sunlight is low enough to add perspective. On these maps click on a red circle to explore the shoreline at that spot. West map - Key Peninsula is the land to the right. Joemme Beach State Park shows.East map - It's on the left here. Penrose Point State Park is not identified; it is the narrow spit above Delano Beach.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Politicians committing politics - Public Funding for Broadcasting

The Seattle Times editors today discovered politicians involved in politics. Shock! They discovered that President Bush appointed his own person to oversee the pork that goes to public broadcasting through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. There was never a problem before because only the Democrats did this. In their stumbling they discover the solution to the problem:
Times have changed since 1967, when Congress birthed public broadcasting. Then, the push was for an alternative to the three commercial television networks. But it was also to take "creative risks" and to serve underserved populations, including minorities and children. Now, with the proliferation of cable TV channels, the need for diversity is not so great. Even some liberal Democrats, such as Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, are suggesting public broadcasting is not providing the cutting-edge programming it was intended to provide and looks more and more like commercial television.
It's clear: cut the funding. But they miss it and continue searching for Republican boogeymen. The editors pretend that funding from the politicians in Congress doesn't involve politics. And if taxpayer funding for broadcasting is a life-or-death necessity, then don't newspapers also need public funding? Then the politicians can have (a more direct) say in what the Seattle Times prints.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Stagnant Europe

Another off-line weekend. It looks like I lost my weekend internet connection. I am interested in why one economy flourishes while another goes stale. There is a stark picture today. The US for all our faults keeps growing, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but growing. But Europe has had little growth in a decade. Policies intended to increase employment cause bureaucratic rigidity and result in worse unemployment. For example, France instituted a 35-hour work week in 1999 or 2000, claiming that the shorter work week will cause employers to hire more people. It was one more restriction on the contract between employers and their workers and resulted in more unemployment. Paul Johnson, the British historian, in the Wall Street Journal on June 17 looks at what is wrong with Europe. This email link might work. Normally a subscription is required.
That Europe as an entity is sick and the European Union as an institution is in disorder cannot be denied. But no remedies currently being discussed can possibly remedy matters. What ought to depress partisans of European unity in the aftermath of the rejection of its proposed constitution by France and the Netherlands is not so much the foundering of this ridiculous document as the response of the leadership to the crisis, especially in France and Germany. Jacques Chirac reacted by appointing as prime minister Dominque de Villepin, a frivolous playboy who has never been elected to anything and is best known for his view that Napoleon should have won the Battle of Waterloo and continued to rule Europe. Gerhard Schröder of Germany simply stepped up his anti-American rhetoric. What is notoriously evident among the EU elite is not just a lack of intellectual power but an obstinacy and blindness bordering on imbecility. As the great pan-European poet Schiller put it: "There is a kind of stupidity with which even the Gods struggle in vain."
I can't improve on Johnson. His remedy has three parts.
First, it has tried to do too much, too quickly and in too much detail. Jean Monnet, architect of the Coal-Steel Pool, the original blueprint for the EU, always said: "Avoid bureaucracy. Guide, do not dictate. Minimal rules." ....
In fact, for an entire generation, the EU has gone in the opposite direction and created a totalitarian monster of its own, spewing out regulations literally by the million and invading every corner of economic and social life. The results have been dire: An immense bureaucracy in Brussels, each department of which is cloned in all the member capitals. A huge budget, masking unprecedented corruption, so that it has never yet been passed by auditors, and which is now a source of venom among taxpayers from the countries which pay more than they receive.
They are trying to impose "The one, best way" on every country.
This, as it turns out, is actually the perfect formula for stagnation. What makes the capitalist system work, what keeps economies dynamic, is precisely nonconformity, the new, the unusual, the eccentric, the egregious, the innovative, springing from the inexhaustible inventiveness of human nature. Capitalism thrives on the absence of rules or the ability to circumvent them. Hence it is not surprising that Europe, which grew rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s, before the EU got going, has slowly lost pace since Brussels took over its direction and imposed convergence. It is now stagnant. Growth rates of over 2% are rare, except in Britain, which was Thatcherized in the 1980s and has since followed the American model of free markets.
There is another still more fundamental factor in the EU malaise. Europe has turned its back not only on the U.S. and the future of capitalism, but also on its own historic past. Europe was essentially a creation of the marriage between Greco-Roman culture and Christianity. Brussels has, in effect, repudiated both. There was no mention of Europe's Christian origins in the ill-fated Constitution, and Europe's Strasbourg Parliament has insisted that a practicing Catholic cannot hold office as the EU Justice Commissioner.
Equally, what strikes the observer about the actual workings of Brussels is the stifling, insufferable materialism of their outlook. The last Continental statesman who grasped the historical and cultural context of European unity was Charles de Gaulle. He wanted "the Europe of the Fatherlands (L'Europe des patries)" and at one of his press conferences I recall him referring to "L'Europe de Dante, de Goethe et de Chateaubriand." I interrupted: "Et de Shakespeare, mon General?" He agreed: "Oui! Shakespeare aussi!" No leading member of the EU elite would use such language today. The EU has no intellectual content. Great writers have no role to play in it, even indirectly, nor have great thinkers or scientists. It is not the Europe of Aquinas, Luther or Calvin -- or the Europe of Galileo, Newton and Einstein. Half a century ago, Robert Schumann, first of the founding fathers, often referred in his speeches to Kant and St. Thomas More, Dante and the poet Paul Valery. To him -- he said explicitly -- building Europe was a "great moral issue." He spoke of "the Soul of Europe." Such thoughts and expressions strike no chord in Brussels today. In short, the EU is not a living body, with a mind and spirit and animating soul. And unless it finds such nonmaterial but essential dimensions, it will soon be a dead body, the symbolic corpse of a dying continent.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

U of W Medical doesn't learn from crime and penalty

The University of Washington Medical School harbored felons on their faculty for several years and paid for it. And there is more evidence this week that they learned little from the experience. Dean Paul Ramsey ignored two audits in 1996 and 97 (he was department head then) that indicated there was massive fraud in billing - in 13 departments under him. Two years later it was only reported because a whistleblower blew the whistle! Ramsey ignored the problems in his area of control:
In 1998, Ramsey received a letter from a UW doctor pointedly warning him that physicians were falsifying Medicare bills. Ramsey ordered an investigation that found no wrongdoing, although a written report wasn't produced until after the criminal investigation began in late 1999.
And Ramsey's coverup continues. Yesterday's Seattle Times story is based on reviewing the original audits. How is Ramsey now involved? Actually, I don't know if the current coverup is by him or higher up, but they are still working at it:
The audits, kept secret since 1997, were obtained by The Seattle Times last week under a public-disclosure request. The university initially denied the request, citing attorney-client privilege because a law firm was involved in arranging the audits.
Fortunately new UW President Mark Emmert reversed the decision. This story doesn't remind us of the fact that "... Dr. H. Richard Winn, a neurosurgeon, pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal investigation and resigned with a $3.7 million separation agreement." I wish reporter Sharon Plan Chan or her editor would link to her own previous stories. The UW paid the federal government a $35 million penalty last spring. June 20, 2004 Why is Dean Paul Ramsey still on the job? He oversaw the crimes; his investigation didn't find anything; he ignored warnings; he covered up; he gave the felon $3.7 million and caused a penalty of $35 million. Accountability isn't expected, we can plainly see. And the money? It doesn't seem to matter... After all, it's our money that's paid. Money is of small consequence to the UW Medical School dean. He goes to the Legislature and gets our tax dollars. Oh, is Ramsey affected by this? Private donations to the UW were down 35 per cent last year. Would you give the U of W Medical School your hard-earned money?

Blue City Conservatives

Seattle's liberals and "progressives" need to grow up. Seattle's conservatives need to speak up. So far, the latter looks more likely. And what follows could prove worrisome for local Democrats. Their grip on Seattle politics might loosen considerably over the next decade. Especially if a low-key GOP marketing campaign now under way in Seattle helps more Republicans and others who vote for them to brave the tangible social risks of "coming out."
My friend Matt Rosenberg has an article in this week's Seattle Weekly about the resurgence of Republicans in Seattle.
Moderate Republicans, of course, were once a strong presence in Seattle, through the 1960s and into the '70s. Their exemplar was Dan Evans, who rose from 43rd District state representative to governor, then U.S. senator. During those years, a host of other Seattle Republicans served in Olympia, on the City Council, and even in the mayor's office. But Republicans largely faded from relevance in Seattle....
Matt has profiles of several Seattle Republicans. Read it.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Nickels pushing Kyoto treaty?

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels this weekend is at U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents 1,183 cities, trying to get the Kyoto Treaty passed. This is like looking for lost keys under the street light instead of where they were lost. The place for the Kyoto Treaty is in the US Senate. Get it passed there, then it will have effect on the US. What can he accomplish with the mayors? PR. Lots of talk and committees. Scanning the article looking for what it would mean for the city of Omak, Washington, to adopt Kyoto all I found was:
The hope, Mote said, is that Kyoto would lead to heightened awareness and more countries agreeing to cut more emissions.
So Omak, Washington, would cause more countries to cut emmisions. And people observe that Seattle is in an ideal situation to favor cutting burning coal to cut CO2 emmissions.
Critics say it doesn't take much courage for Nickels to take a pro-Kyoto stand. For starters, Seattle can increase its population and job base in a greener way than most cities because its electricity comes from a city-owned utility that draws most of its energy from clean water power. "The only reason they can do any of this is because we dammed the rivers for hydropower. Otherwise the city would be burning a lot more stuff for power," said Eugene Wasserman, president of the North Seattle Industrial Association. Wasserman sees Nickels' climate initiative as a political stunt.
And Al Gore shows evidence for the political stunt theory. Gore Urges Mayors to Fight Global Warming Seattle already passed Kyoto targets in 2001. A Seattle press release shows narrow progress
City government has already cut its corporate emissions more than 60 percent compared to 1990 levels, but Kyoto aims for a 5 percent reduction for the entire community.
But after four years Nickels is talking about action:
“By making smart choices like building sustainable buildings, replacing old vehicles with a ‘Clean and Green’ fleet, and setting strict ‘no-net-emissions’ goals for Seattle City Light, the City has shown we can take local action on global problems,” said Nickels. In order to ensure Seattle meets these goals, the Mayor also announced the creation of a Green Ribbon Commission on Climate Protection. .... Emissions are only one part of the mayor’s annual Environmental Action Agenda, which was also released today. ... Other items include: A call for other local governments and businesses to join Seattle ’s strong support for the legislature to pass the “Clean Car” standards this year. An Executive Order that directs City departments to reduce their use of paper by 30 percent by the end of 2006; The inclusion of global-warming pollution reduction as a factor in awarding Neighborhood Matching Grants; The creation of a community action guide on climate protection; Explore the increased use of climate-friendly construction materials in City projects
That sounds like it will keep the meeting rooms at city hall busy without doing much damage to Seattle's business climate.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Hybrid cars with $10 gas

I see that I have been visiting every topic but economic freedom and growth lately. Let's get back. There has been a lot of talk lately about saving the planet by buying a hybrid car. I am glad to see that people have started to buy them. For years no one would. And there is always the claim that you pay more for the car, but save enough in lower gas bills to pay off the addtional cost over the life of the car. But the claim is always assumed, never tested. Edmunds is a company that tracks the prices of cars, tests them, etc. USA Today reports that Edmunds did some cost analysis.
How many miles driving per year and at what gas price is the break-even point - the point where the savings in gas pays for the additional cost of buying the car. They do it for a 5-year ownership and consider taxes, financing, etc.
The reporter leads with a misleading comparison. He compares the light-weight, small Toyota Prius to the larger, more comfortable Toyota Camry. For 15,000 miles per year break-even comes with gas costing $2.14. Yes, the cost is equal, but the cars are definitely not comparable. Instead, the Toyota Corolla is closer to the size of the Prius. How do they compare? For driving 15,000 miles per year the cost of gas has to be $10.10 to reach the break-even point. Or, if you keep the price of gas at the current level, you have to drive 66,500 miles per year. (Will the car survive driving 332,500 miles in 5 years?) The closest comparison came with the Ford Escape smaller SUV and its new hybrid brother. So discount all those empty headlines based on no analysis at all. Don't buy a hybrid unless you expect gas to average over $10 per gallon for the first 5 years you own it.
"If people go in with the idea they are saving money, they are mistaken," says Jesse Toprak, pricing director for, an auto research site.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Where Bill Is

Can Seattle's best-know resident be seen? Of course Bill Gates lives in Medina and works in Redmond - in the greater Seattle area, not the city. The only time I have seen him was at a national conference held in Seattle. But I was a guest of the sponsors - the math teachers - and I was waiting back stage for the event to start while the speaker, Bill Gates, was 30 feet away going over his presentation. I sat in the second row and got to speak to Bill in front of 1200 people; I asked him a question from the floor. Thursday's Seattle Times has a feature story on where Bill lives and hangs out. Your best bet is the BurgerMaster hamburger drive-in on the north side of highway 520 in Bellevue. Twenty years ago, before Redmond, Microsoft had their campus across the freeway plus the building next door. And Bill is well known for liking a good hamburger.
Seattle Times

Monday, June 06, 2005

He who counts the votes makes the rules

In Washington, the state, the judge found that there were 1800 illegal votes cast and it's OK. Apparently for an illegal vote to be overturned the person who cast it has to swear an oath that he cast the vote and he was not entitled to. That's the only way. But what if the person who lied when he cast the vote also lied when asked about it? And there is no penalty for a politician to set up a county's election office to drop so many of the controls required by law that it can't get within 1,000 votes of the audit checks. Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics says it is the Josef Stalin rule:
He who counts the votes makes the rules
The gap in the race for governor was 139. It is exceed 13 times by the 1800 illegal votes. 13 times more illegals. But it's OK. The judge says so. He put the burden explicitly on the voters to hold elected officials and elections officials accountable for these problems. So his suggested relief for those who want honest votes: vote out the dishonest politicians who stole the election. Tell us, Judge Bridges, how do we vote them out when they count the votes? Do we pay him to deliver wisdom so deep? Stefan at has done an outstanding job of rooting out the improprieties and spreading the word. Thank you, Stefan.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Amnesty International's Cheap Politics - Updated

From the Chicago Tribune:
By labeling the U.S. anti-terrorism prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the "gulag of our times," the people of Amnesty International must think we're stupid or ignorant. Stupid or ignorant enough to fall for the assertion that whatever is happening at Guantanamo is the legal and moral equivalent of what happened in the hundreds of slave labor and concentration camps scattered throughout the former communist Soviet Union. Equivalent to a system that brutalized tens of millions, of which untold millions died of starvation, exposure, exhaustion, torture, illness or execution.
Yes, comparing 525 well-fed prisoners to millions of dead and tens of millions of prisoners in brutal conditions in the Gulag of the Soviet Union. Some history:
Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, in her Pulitzer-Prize winning book, "Gulag: A History," figures that from 1928 through 1953, about 24 million people passed through the various camps, many in brutal Siberia or other remote regions. That's more than twice Cuba's entire population. Among them were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of prisoners of World War II. She estimated that 600,000 were Japanese, who were kept in the slave camps for years after the end of the war. Few ever made it home.
Either Amnesty International isn't aware of this history, or it knows of it but is lying for the sake of a good sound bite. In either case, the group has lost credibility to speak on behalf of the victims of human-rights violations. Moreover, Amnesty International has dishonored millions of gulag victims.
Read the whole thing

Update 6/5/05

Amnesty USA Executive Director William Schultz went on Fox News Sunday to deliver a non-defense. His responses were filled with "don't know for sure," "I have no idea," "I have absolutely no idea" and finally:
Asked about the comparison, Schulz said, "Clearly this is not an exact or a literal analogy."
But, of course he goes on to repeat the charge he can't back up. Reuters

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Dishonor and Damage of "Deep Throat"

Deep Throat was the alias of the man who leaked the inside information about the Watergate break in and President Nixon's coverup. Without the information he provided it would have been difficult to bring Nixon down, which was his intention. This week it was disclosed that Mark Felt was the famous leaker at the same time he was at the top of the power structure in the FBI. Felt was deeply dishonest and did a lot of damage. He might not have committed a crime, but he violated the high trust many people had in him. First, and most obvious, he interfered with a criminal investigation. Chuck Colson, Nixon's special counsel, today said "Mark Felt could have stopped Watergate. He was in the position of that kind of influence. Instead, he goes out and basically undermines the administration. I don't think that's honorable at all." Pat Buchanan, who also worked in the White House, agrees and provide's Felt's motive. "It is not honorable in the middle of an investigation to grab material that you’ve dredged up which is supposed to go to the prosecutors who decide who to indict and slip it over to the Washington Post to damage a president in the middle of a campaign. "His motive, as Bob Woodward indicated, was that Mark Felt was passed over when Hoover died and Nixon gave the eulogy and then put L. Patrick Gray, who was very close to the president and was assistant attorney general, in charge of the FBI."

Deep Throat and Genocide

But here is the treat. At The American Spectator Ben Stein lists - in his humorous style - all the positive accomplishments of Richard Nixon.
He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW's, ended the war in the Mideast, opened relations with China, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty, saved Eretz Israel's life, started the Environmental Protection Administration... That is his legacy. He was a peacemaker. He was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton -- a lying, conniving peacemaker. That is Nixon's kharma.
And the horrible results of ending Nixon's efforts:
1.) The defeat of the South Vietnamese government with decades of death and hardship for the people of Vietnam. 2.) The assumption of power in Cambodia by the bloodiest government of all time, the Khmer Rouge, who killed a third of their own people, often by making children beat their own parents to death. No one doubts RN would never have let this happen.
Yes, Nixon was hard to like and easy to dislike. But he set out to do accomplish improvements in foreign relations and was successful. So Stein calls him a peacemaker. I wouldn't choose that term, but it fits. The damage done by Felt was huge.

FEC Threatens Bloggers

This is real and the time is short. The Federal Election Commission is considering rules that would make it illegal for bloggers to do almost anything about an election. Donate an online ad to a political campaign. Sell an ad to a campaign. Lots more. Learn about it - at Send a letter - to the FEC at . And the deadline is June 3. Be sure to include your snail mail address when you write.