The anti-smoking jihadists gain stronghold in Australia

Well no sooner do I get through praising Australia for the stand taken by its leaders relating to Islam in Australia, when I see the rise of the Anti-smoking jihadists in the Land of Oz.

According to an article in the BBC, the anti-smoking jihadists have obtained a stronghold in Australia, despite the efforts of reasonable-thinking Aussies to keep “Big Brother” at bay.

A parliamentary inquiry will look at the effects of passive smoking on passengers, particularly children.

Supporters of the proposal have admitted, however, that enforcing such a ban would be difficult.

Smokers in Australia have already been squeezed out of bars and restaurants, as well as some beaches and most other public places.

Now Fred Nile from the Christian Democratic Party has drawn up a private member’s bill that makes cars the next target.

His idea will be investigated by a parliamentary committee.

The plan appears to have the support of the state government.

A spokesman said that tough action should be implemented to stop the small number of irresponsible people who smoked around youngsters in their cars.

It seems to me that everyone in the world, except, perhaps, for a few who have been living in caves in Pakistan, know the dangers of cigarette smoking. Why is it that government feels the need to intervene?

In other words, if smokers (Disclosure: I do not smoke cigarettes, but enjoy the occasional cigar), knowing the dangers, want to smoke, why not let them? Why not have bars or pubs where smokers who feel that having a pint is not the same without the accompanying cig have the ability to enjoy smoking? They can be designated as smoking bars, and those who have an aversion to smoke can go to those bars that are designated non-smoking bars. It seems to me to be an easy solution without having the smoking police have to enforce unenforceable laws anyway.

To those who say that the employees of the smoking bars would be subject to second-hand smoke against their will, I say “Baloney!” If they don’t want to work in a smoking bar they can get a job in a non-smoking bar. Everyone who goes to work for a smoking bar can sign a waiver stating they understand the “risks” and are choosing to work there of their own free choice. By the way, the evidence that second-hand (passive) smoke causes cancer is inconclusive.

My point here is that we have too much government. Government doesn’t have to be in every part of our lives nor does it have to protect us from ourselves. If one chooses to engage in risky behavior, why shouldn’t he have the right to do so? What goes on in our houses or our cars, so long as it is not causing harm to others should not be the purview of government.



CRP turns back on core Republican principles

CRP turns back on core Republican principles

To give some background to this issue, the conservatives in the California Republican Party have taken the position that we were successful in the Recall election of 2003, and previously, because we presented a platform of fiscal responsibility. A core principal of the Republican Party is fiscal conservatism.
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Palestinian inflated census costs US Taxpayers

The Palestine Authority has been supported by the U.S. since 1997. The support is based on population. Recent census counts have disclosed that the Palestinian population have been significantly overstated, at a significant cost to the U.S. taxpayer.

Former AmbassadorYoram Ettinger reports:

1. Annual US foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and to International organizations, which support Palestinians, has been based – since 1997 – on a more than 50% inflated number of Palestinians. (Shouldn’t US foreign aid be reduced accordingly? )

2. Only 2.5MN Palestinians reside in Gaza (1.1MN) and Judea & Samaria (1.4MN), and not 3.8MN as projected by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in 1997.

3. The 2.5MN total is corroborated by documented births, deaths, school and voting registration, as documented annually by the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Palestinian Election Commission. They depart substantially – each year – from projections made in 1997 by the PCBS.

4. A 170%(!) population growth during 1990-2004 was assumed by the PCBS!

5. The significant gap between the service-rendering Palestinian agencies and the donations-seeking PCBS has been exposed by a US-Israel research, published in February 2006 by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies: “Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza: The Million Person Gap.”

6. The research exposed a series of Palestinian gross errors, which have inflated US and international aid to Palestinian NGOs and to the PA, as disclosed at PA Demographics :

I. 325,000 non-resident Palestinians included in the 1997 PCBS projection;

II. 105,000 Palestinians who received Israeli ID cards since 1997, and 210,000 Jerusalem Arabs have been double-counted by Palestinians and by Israelis;

III. 310,000 Palestinian babies, who haven’t been born since 1997, are included;

IV. 236,000 unrealized net positive migration, since 1997, is included;

V. 74,000 realized net negative migration, since 1997, is excluded.

7. The demographic establishment tends to severely inflate the number of Palestinians by ignoring the decrease in Muslim and Arab birthrate (Iran –1.98 children per woman, Egypt – 2.9) and the increase in Israeli Jewish birthrate (2.7 children). It has traditionally overlooked Palestinian net negative migration (10,000 annually since 1950) and the sustained annual Jewish Aliya (immigration) to Israel (since 1882).

8. Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, a leading US demographer (January 23, 2006): “The conclusions of this [American-Israeli] report are not only plausible but quite persuasive…They caught the demographic profession asleep at the switch. There are some fairly significant discrepancies in the PA’s own internal population estimates…There are also fairly important discrepancies between the estimates of the US Census Bureau and the UN Population Division…”

For a complete presentation of the American Enterprise Institute analysis of January 2005, with documented support go here.

Should the U.S. continue to pay the PA for a phantom population of 1.5 Million missing people?

Should the U.S. be supporting a regime whose avowed intent is the destruction of its neighbor?

Just food for thought.


THE CRP CONVENTION – 2006

THE CRP CONVENTION – 2006

I am attending the California Republican Party convention in San Jose this weekend. Aside from the usual “schmoozing” and catching up with other Republicans one hasn’t seen since the last convention, we heard Gov. Schwartzenegger give a bland general speech on Friday night that did not really address the concerns of conservatives.
Continue reading “THE CRP CONVENTION – 2006”

A lesson for America from Australia?

In country after country where Muslims reside they are trying to get those countries to adopt Shari’a law. That is, the laws laid down in the Koran for Muslims to follow. There is no distinction in Shari’a between “church” and state. Muslims believe that Shari’a governs all of a Muslim’s activities, public and private, 24 hours a day. In Canada, and various countries of Europe, special Muslim courts have already been established that rule using Shari’a. Muslims in Europe are trying to get Norway and other countries to adopt Shari’a as the law of the land.

Australia is taking a different tack, that I would think could be a model for the United States. This article is from CNSnews.com

Adopt Our Values or Go Home, Foreign-Born Muslims Told
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com International Editor
February 24, 2006

(CNSNews.com) – Australian Muslims already unhappy with Prime Minister John Howard’s criticism about Islamic radicalism are bristling at even tougher comments from the man likely to succeed him, who says any Muslim immigrant who can’t accept Australian values should leave.

Anyone wanting to live under Islamic law (shari’a) might feel more comfortable living in countries where it is applied, such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, federal Treasurer Peter Costello said in an address to the Sydney Institute, a think tank.

In a pledge of allegiance, immigrants taking on Australian citizenship declare: “I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect and whose laws I will uphold and obey.”

Costello said that anyone “who does not acknowledge the supremacy of civil law laid down by democratic processes cannot truthfully take the pledge of allegiance. As such they do not meet the pre-condition for citizenship.”

Any Muslim planning to immigrate to Australia should first consider its values.

“Before entering a mosque visitors are asked to take off their shoes,” Costello said. “This is a sign of respect. If you have a strong objection to walking in your socks don’t enter the mosque.

“Before becoming an Australian you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objection to those values, don’t come to Australia.”

The debate in Australia over Islam and its more radical adherents has been picking up steadily since 9/11, becoming more urgent after 88 Australians were killed when Islamists bombed an Indonesian tourist resort in 2002, and focusing increasingly on homegrown extremists after last July’s London bombings, carried out by British-born Muslims.

Costello, who is widely expected to take over the leadership of Howard’s conservative Liberal party within the next couple of years, said anyone applying for citizenship who rejects the notion of living under a democratic legislature and obeying the laws it makes, poses a threat to the rights and liberties of others, and should be refused citizenship.

If foreign-born Muslims who have already become Australian citizens, having not been able honestly to take the citizenship pledge, they should be stripped of their Australian nationality if they also have citizenship of some other country.

In cases where Muslims were born in Australia and did not have dual citizenship, there was a difficulty.

“In these cases we have on our hands citizens who are apparently so alienated that they do not support what their own country stands for. Such alienation could become a threat to the rights and liberties of others.”

Costello said for such Muslims it was important that the government engage respected leaders for help in explaining Australian values.

“Ultimately, however, it is important that they know that there is only one law and it is going to be enforced whether they acknowledge its legitimacy or not.”
Costello also made a point of saying that among Australian values were tolerance of difference and the protection of the rights and liberties of all.

While he did not like artworks mocking Christianity, galleries that displayed them “should be able to practice their offensive taste without fear of violence or a riot.”

Muslims, too, must recognize that their opposition to newspapers publishing pictures depicting Mohammed does not justify violence.

Read more.

I hope our leaders have not been so corrupted by the failed policy of multiculturism and the fear of offending Muslims that they lack the courage to take a similar position in the United States.

[Hat tip: Dick McDonald]



Ports in a storm

I’ll begin this discussion by saying I am concerned about the security of the United States and our ports. Islamic jihad terrorism is something we need to be concerned about. Our ports and borders are areas of vulnerability.

Having said that, the more the UAE ports issue is discussed in the MSM, opinion pages and the blogosphere the more I am convinced the issue has been overhyped by those who are using the issue for their own agenda and that it consitutes fearmongering, at the very least.

While it seems not to be a very popular position, I support the transaction.

I also feel that people are jumping into positions with respect to this issue without being aware of the facts – the automatic stimulus-response mechanism.

Well, I think it is time for us to sit back, take a deep breath, review the facts, listen to those who know, and then make up our minds having been informed.

What are the facts? Well, here are a few of them:

We didn’t “sell our ports” to Dubai. The six ports in question have been operated by a British Company called Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., known as P & O. They also own the Princess Cruise Lines, among other assets. P & O entered into a business transaction to sell its U.S. terminal operations to a company based in the UAE known as Dubai Ports World. DP World operates ports worldwide and has a long and successful track record as a port operator.

DP World would not have anything to do with port security. Port security is handled by the Coast Guard and the Customs Department, and is under the supervision of the Department of Homeland Security. That will not change. What DP World will do in these terminals (not “ports”) is to load and unload ships – typical longshoreman activities. In none of the ports where DP World will operate do their terminals exceed 30% of the total terminals in the port.

P & O currently has mostly American managers in the terminals. DP World has indicated they would most likely continue with those managers. The workers who work for P & O are Americans who belong to the Longshoremen’s Union. That will not change. The concern that DP World would fire Americans and hire Muslims to do the work has nothing to do with the real world. The unions control the docks and the ports, and no Americans are going to be fired without just cause, and no Muslims are going to be hired unless they are union members and are qualified.

We have for years permitted foreign companies to operate terminals in the U.S. For example, 13 of 14 container terminal operators at the Port of Los Angeles are foreign-owned, including companies from China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Denmark.

The UAE has been very cooperative with the U.S. in the war on terror. The UAE allows the U.S. to maintain a naval base and an air force base in Dubai. Dubai is used as a embarkation and disembarkation point for U.S. troops in Iraq. The UAE has cooperated with the U.S. in stopping the flow of money to jihadist groups. The UAE has shown itself to be an ally of the U.S. The U.S. needs Arab allies if it is going to be successful in the war against jihadist terror.

I know, some of you are going to say that the UAE recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and that Dubai doesn’t recognize the State of Israel, and that two of the hijackers of 9/11 were from the UAE. Despite all of that, the UAE has shown itself since 9/11 to be supportive of the United States and against jihadist terror, and they have shown themselves in numerous security issues to be a valuable friend and ally to the U.S.

Those are some of the facts about the “port” issue.

There are many myths about the situation as well. For example, an article in Time Magazine (who have shown remarkable rationality in this situation) reads, in part,

But to call the United Arab Emirates a country “tied to 9/11″ by virtue of the fact that one of the hijackers was born there and others transited through it is akin to attaching the same label to Britain (where shoe-bomber Richard Reid was born) or Germany (where a number of the 9/11 conspirators were based for a time). Dubai’s port has a reputation for being one of the best run in the Middle East, says Stephen Flynn, a maritime security expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. And Dubai Ports World, which is a relatively new venture launched by the government of Dubai in 1999, has a number of Americans well known in the shipping industry in its senior leadership. It operates port facilities from Australia through China, Korea and Malaysia to India, Germany and Venezuela. (The acquisition of P&O would give them control over container shipping ports in Vancouver, Buenos Aires and a number of locations in Britain, France and a number of Asian countries.) “It’s not exactly a shadow organization for al-Qaeda,” says Flynn. Dubai, in fact, was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to join the U.S. Container Security Initiative, which places U.S. customs agents in overseas ports to begin the screening process from a U.S.-bound cargo’s point of departure.

Dubai Ports World has been taken by surprise over the furor, and is reportedly sending its Chief Operating Officer, the widely respected American shipping executive Edward “Ted” H. Bilkey to Washington for talks. Indeed, the Bush administration needn’t wait for Bilkey to arrive; it could get a good assessment of the workings of Dubai Ports World from its own current nominee for the post of U.S. Maritime Administrator — Dave Sanborn, previously a top executive at Dubai Ports World.

In the talk-show furor over the transfer of P&O to Dubai Ports World, there has been little reference to the mechanics of port management in the U.S. Over 80 percent of the terminals in the Port of Los Angeles, for example — the biggest in the U.S. — are run by foreign-owned companies. U.S. ports are owned by State authorities, and the workers who actually offload the ships that dock there are the same unionized Americans who belong to the International Longshoremen’s Association regardless of which company hires them. Dubai Ports will not “own” the U.S. facilities, but will inherit the P&O’s contracts to run them, with no changes in the dockside personnel or the U.S. government security operations that currently apply to them.

For more myths about the port issue, read the article by Dick Meyer of CBS News. He lists several myths and debunks them.

Jim Geraghty at National Review Online says:

My fellow bloggers… we’ve been snookered.

[…]

The controversy over this port sale have been driven by a great deal of vague, ominous and sloppy language thrown around by lawmakers, the media and bloggers. Had this discussion been marked by precision and a focus on just what was at stake, this would not have turned into the brouhaha it did. One almost wonders if the misleading language was deliberate.

I happen to think it was, and I will go into that more later. Meanwhile read Geraghty’s whole article. It is very enlightening.

After having reviewed the facts, I do not think our port security will be diminished in any way by allowing DP World to take over the management of six terminals in the U.S. One might raise the issue of whether it makes sense to have any foreign operators of terminals in U.S. ports, but that is another, quite legitimate, discussion.

I will comment that I think the administration dropped the ball, not by approving the transaction, but in not considering what the resultant public opinion would be. It would have been much better if the administration had held a news conference with various members of the Homeland Security Department and satisfied the public as to the security issues.

In an article today:

In Lebanon, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the agreement was thoroughly vetted in a review process that took approximately three months. “This is supposed to be a process that raises security concerns, if they are there, but does not presume that a country in the Middle East should not be capable of doing a deal like this.” She described the United Arab Emirates as “a very good ally” and said “if more details need to be made available then I’m sure they will be.”

In National Review Online, Mansoor Ijaz writes:

Washington’s bout with Islamophobia also ignores the reality of Dubai’s future direction. A metropolis already, it is rapidly becoming the prototype city-state that could serve as an important example for the future in Muslim societies bedeviled by high unemployment, low literacy rates, bad trade policies, and authoritarian political structures. It is managed and led by a cadre of young, highly educated Arab and Muslim professionals who seek to transform the world’s stereotype of Islam by developing and running businesses transparently, with integrity and with an increasingly democratic and accountable corporate culture.

Whatever the UAE’s policies in the pre-9/11 world (whether as home to A. Q. Khan’s illicit nuclear network, one of three Taliban embassies, questionable banking practices, or as an alleged repository for Iranian-terror funds), Dubai’s record under these young leaders in the post 9/11 world reflects serious and structural change in national strategy. As Jim Robbins noted Tuesday, in December 2004, Dubai was the first Middle East government to accept the U.S. Container Security Initiative as policy to screen all containers for security hazards before heading to America. In May 2005, Dubai signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to prevent nuclear materials from passing through its ports. It also installed radiation-detecting equipment — evidence of a commitment to invest in technology. In October 2005, the UAE Central Bank directed banks and financial institutions in the country to tighten their internal systems and controls in their fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

These are not the actions of a terror-sponsoring state.

The Dubai port deal could also serve to increase the depth and breadth of people-to-people contacts between America and important Muslim countries in the Reaganesque “trust but verify” mold. It is useful in this regard to remember the example of the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which for decades has trained foreign armies in unstable countries to stay out of politics and improved U.S. understanding of complex societies. It seems patently hypocritical that America wants democracy in the Middle East, champions capitalism and global integration, pushes for reform, transparency, and anti-corruption practices in business, and then turns around and tells those who are practicing what America preaches, Sorry, we think you folks are a bunch of terrorists, so we don’t want you on our shores and don’t trust you running our ports.

It is understandable that American politicians would want to seek clarifications, safeguards, and accountability on the DP World deal in honor of all those who were mercilessly murdered on that tragic September morning. But the best way to honor their memories is to use the Dubai deal as a model to build effective bridges to the Arab and Muslim world — as we did in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan — instead of erecting barriers that reveal America’s paranoia and fear about some Islamist doomsday scenario no one can predict, all the while alienating the very people we need to help raise up the Muslim world’s disaffected so they are not so desperate to tear us down.

Read more.

Having reviewed the facts, I am not concerned about the security issue.

I also believe that the issue was blown out of proportion by a combination of people who have an agenda: 1) Miami-based port operator, Continental Stevedoring & Terminals Inc., which has gone to court to challenge the measure on security grounds. Continental Stevedoring were outbid in their offer to P & O by DP World. Do you think they might have a reason to try to get the deal derailed?; 2) The Longshoremen’s Union, put up to it by Continental Stevedoring; 3) Democrats who can use the issue to say the administration is soft on protecting the country from middle-east terrorists; 4) Republicans who can use the issue to distance themselves from the administration’s low approval ratings in the November elections.

As the magicians use to say, nothing is what it seems.





What middle?

Steve Frank at California Political News brings up the point that the “middle” is a myth. You need principles to win. (By the way, I happen to think that is true in life as well as politics.)

Some are claiming that in order to win, you must develop support from the “growing” middle”. Read this report carefully, there is no significant “middle”….they are GOP’ers and Dems, just don’t like to say so publicly. Instead, many folks these days so hate their political party, they want to be “cool” and claim they belong to neither–when in reality they do.

This academic study should explode the theories of several California campaigns. Worse, if you refuse to believe this report, and try to campaigning “to the middle”, you will lose.

Important study for all to understand. Caution: if you destroy the brand name–by being pro-big government, pro-taxes, anti-jobs, you will lose big. An important element of this is that Republican turnout makes their numbers appear larger. If you depress GOP turnout, you lose. (or if you are the Democrats and create GOP oriented campaigns saying the GOP leadership is Democrat Lite, the GOP’ers will not come out to vote)

What do you think? How do you see the Schwarzenegger moves helping or harming his re-election and the election of the GOP ticket? Put your comments directly on this web site.

Frank is replying to an article by Jonathan Rauch in Reason:

Where the Missing Middle Went
Survey says: Maybe the dead center of American politics need not be
Jonathan Rauch

In 1992, the political scientist Raymond E. Wolfinger of the University of California (Berkeley), along with five of his students, published The Myth of the Independent Voter, a book that posed a challenge to—well, to people like me. For some time, I’ve been saying that the key to American politics is in the center. Independents make up about a third of the electorate, yet are neglected by the two increasingly extreme major parties. Whichever party manages to dominate the center without losing hold of its partisan base will be the majority party, possibly for years to come. Or so I’ve claimed.

One problem with my view is this: Party leaders aren’t idiots. Why would they neglect this vast independent center if it is up for grabs? Various answers suggest themselves (for example, primary elections are dominated by fierce partisans who prefer extreme candidates), but another answer is possible. Perhaps independents are not really up for grabs.

Wolfinger and his colleagues took a closer look at independents in presidential elections from 1952 to 1988, using data from the University of Michigan’s biennial American National Election Studies. Like many polls, the ANES survey asks respondents to identify themselves as Democrats, Republicans, or independents; but then it goes on to ask Republicans and Democrats whether their party identification is strong or not very strong, and to ask independents whether they think of themselves as closer to the Republicans or the Democrats. It thus shows seven degrees of partisanship, instead of the usual three groups.

Mining the ANES data, Wolfinger and company found that most people who identify themselves as independents are not uncommitted swing voters. Rather, “they are largely closet Democrats and Republicans.” Indeed, they vote much as weak partisans do. They may be independent identifiers, but they are mostly not independent voters.

Two polarizing presidents later, is that still true? With the help of Mark Hiller and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program (where I am a guest scholar), I took an updated look at the ANES data for presidential elections through 2004. The charts included here illustrate the findings.

The chart below shows how Americans have categorized their party ties since 1952. The deeper the color, the stronger the partisanship. Pure independents are the white band in the middle.

The first finding that pops out is the basic stability of the country’s partisan structure over more than five decades. The data show no major disruptions, though the triumphs of LBJ in 1964 and Ronald Reagan in 1984 are evident. The number of true independents has grown, but only to 10 percent of the electorate. They remain the smallest of factions.

Despite their party’s current gloom, Democrats (strong and weak) still outnumber Republicans (strong and weak) by 33 percent to 28 percent, as of 2004. And many weak Democrats have been replaced by independents who lean Democratic, so the blue universe—everyone who either identifies or leans Democratic—has shrunk less than it otherwise might have.

Republicans, however, have narrowed the gap. The red universe has expanded, mostly at the expense of weak Democrats. Moreover, Republicans, though outnumbered, punch above their weight. The reason is turnout. In the ANES surveys, Republicans report voting at higher rates than Democrats, and strong partisans report voting at higher rates than weak partisans—both tendencies that favor Republicans. The turnout rates for partisans and leaners have not changed much since the 1960s. But something that has changed—a lot—is the voting rate of true independents. Their turnout has plummeted by about 30 percentage points since the late 1950s.

Read more.