FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE

Wednesday

The Media and the Iraq War

Follow this link. It is an excellent blog concerning the mainstream media’s reporting on the Iraq War. This very long, heavily sourced blog entry details the bias, distortions, and outright propaganda that the media has been trying to push as objective news.

Here is a small tidbit from the blog:

The establishment media also has become more willing to show graphic video of US casualties at the hands of the enemy. CNN aired an insurgent sniper video obtained directly from the enemy. The NYT posted video of a Marine being shot, reporting his death before his family could be contacted. ABC News aired video of a Bradley armored vehicle blown up by an improvised explosive device as six American soldiers died inside, then exploited the grief of family members to attack the current “surge” of troops in Iraq. Similarly, CBS News spiked a story containing video originally posted on an al Qaeda propaganda website, but posted the same video on its own website. Throughout the conflict, the establishment media has shied away for the truly graphic images of the enemy beheading civilians.

If you have the time, read the entire entry. If you don’t have the time…make the time.

Friday

A Note About Socialized Medicine

In recent days, I have made a couple of posts concerning the topic of Government-controlled health care. My stance has always been that our health care system needs less Government, not more, if we are to see real improvements. And, with each passing day, my disgust at the idea of Government-controlled health care is further validated by the stories coming out of countries with such programs.

Because of my stance on this issue, I have received feedback from readers who disagree with me. (While I always welcome disagreements, I hold those who choose to do so to a high standard. I expect for their contrary arguments to be logical, well-thought-out, and based in reason – not emotion.)

I thought that I might take a minute to address one particular issue that has been brought to my attention. I want to focus on this issue, because I am told that I never consider this problem in any of my arguments. That is “the plight of the poor.”

I have been told that my approach to the issue of healthcare focuses a great deal on “politics,” but, ignores the ways in which the flaws in our healthcare system affect the uninsured poor.

Do I ignore this facet of the discussion? No. I believe that utilizing a free market approach, encouraging competition, and deregulating the health care industry would go a long way to reduce costs and improve quality, which is beneficial to the rich, middle-class, and poor alike.

But, I will admit that I don’t discuss the issue directly for one primary reason. This argument, about the plight of the poor, is completely and totally based on emotion. It is an appeal to people’s sympathy and not their rationality. Arguments such as these have no business guiding public policy. Our Government was not instituted to legislate personal morality, just like it wasn’t instituted to legislate “feel-good” policies. It was designed to promote freedom and liberty.

So why do I say that this argument is completely based on emotion rather than logic? Let’s begin with this example. Do you believe that our Government was designed to promote individual freedom and liberty? If so, then how do you rationalize the Government taking money from someone who has earned it (via taxes) and giving it to someone who has not? The individual being robbed of their money receives nothing from the Government in exchange, while the individual receiving the money from the Government is afforded something they didn’t pay for. The Government has essentially violated the freedom and liberty of the person being taxed, and engaged in wealth redistribution.

What conclusion can be drawn from this? The LOGICAL conclusion is that the Government has engaged in an action contrary to its design. But, along comes the argument that the Government is only taking that money through taxation, because it seeks to “help the poor.” I guess that makes it OK then.

Of course it doesn’t. But, when the appeal to emotion is in place, it will be used as a way around logical reasoning. The rule of law will be ignored, and the focus will become the plight of the poor. It is used a justification to side-step the original design of our Constitutional Republic, and impose new Government powers.

There is another reason that I don’t discuss the plight of the poor directly, and it sort of relates to the problem of appealing to emotion. The “facts” surrounding the plight of the poor, are often mischaracterized and over-inflated. They are intentionally distorted and embellished to do nothing more than produce an emotional response from the public.

Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than the claim that there are:


“40 million uninsured people in America.”

This figure will occasionally be morphed in larger numbers by individuals like Michael Moore, who has claimed the number to be between 45 million and 50 million. But, the standard figure reported by most media outlets, and repeated by so many politicians is 40 million.

The figure comes from a 2005 Census Bureau report which states that the number of uninsured people living in the United States is 46.577 million. I guess that’s where Moore got his larger numbers from. But, look closer.

The report also states that the figure of 46.577 million includes “non-citizens.” How many of those are non-citizens? 9.487 million people. That drops the number of uninsured AMERICANS to roughly 37 million.

So, that is where the rough number of 40 million originates. But, even that number has some significant flaws. Another look at the Census Bureau report reveals:


- 8.3 million uninsured people make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year.
- 8.74 million uninsured people make more than $75,000 a year.

That means that over 17 million of these “37 million uninsured Americans” can easily afford health insurance, but choose not to purchase it.

Do the math. That leaves the number of uninsured Americans who cannot afford health insurance at roughly 20 million people.

20 million is still a big number. But, it is half of what the media and Politicians report. And, it only equates to about 7 percent of the population.

Of course, you also have to consider that many of these 20 million uninsured Americans are only uninsured for a short period of time. The Congressional Budget Office conducted a study and found that 45% of America’s uninsured will receive coverage after 4 months, generally after a job transition.

Do you see all of the details that are left out when discussing the uninsured? The people who use the figure of 40 million uninsured Americans are twisting the facts to appeal to people’s emotions. It is, at best, intellectually dishonest.

That is why I haven’t directly dealt with the issue of the poor. In my opinion, it is not the proper basis for a logical discussion about an issue that will affect the entire nation.

There are solutions for the plight of the poor. But, abandoning the principles of freedom and liberty by robbing the taxpayers and adopting socialist policies are not the proper solutions.

Wednesday

Identical Quadruplets!

You have probably heard by now that a Canadian woman, Karen Jepp, gave birth to identical quadruplets! It’s a very rare event. According to Canadian doctors, the chances of having naturally-conceived identical quadruplets are about 1-in-13 million! So, it’s a big story for the media.

Oddly enough, there is one facet to this story that a lot of American media outlets are ignoring. You see, Karen Jepp had to be transferred to a hospital in Montana for the delivery. Hospitals in Calgary were ill-equipped to handle her pregnancy.

The Calgary Herald reported:


Lange said local physicians had been closely monitoring Jepp's pregnancy and were anticipating her newborns would require care at Foothills' neonatal intensive care unit.

But when Jepp began experiencing labour symptoms last Friday, the unit at Foothills was over capacity with several unexpected pre-term births.

There was no room at any other Canadian neonatal intensive care unit, forcing CHR officials to look south of the border.

Jepp was transported to Benefis hospital in Great Falls last Friday -- making her the fifth Alberta woman to be transferred south of the border this year because of neonatal shortages in Calgary.

The Calgary hospitals did not have enough room to provide care for Karen Jepp. Because the Canadian neonatal units were ill-equipped, it became necessary for Karen to come to the United States to seek the care she so desperately needed.

But, why were they ill-equipped? According to the article, they were not able to adjust to the sudden increase in “unexpected pre-term births.” Keep in mind, though, that this is the fifth time this year that something like this has happened! It’s not exactly an isolated incident. So, why have they not been able to correct the problem? Why are they still unable to provide the necessary care?

According to another article from the Calgary Herald:


Calgary Health Region officials agree they don't have enough neonatal intensive care beds to serve the city's growing population, saying they have had difficulty recruiting and training enough staff for the unit.

So, they are having trouble recruiting enough staff for the facilities. I wonder why. Could it be that staff shortages are an inherent characteristic of Government-run health care?

The CanWest News Service had this to say:

Calgary Health Region, the organization that is footing the bill, estimates the total cost will be about $215,000 — compared to just $61,400 if Jepp had remained at a local hospital.

“Cost wasn’t the consideration at all,” said Toni MacDonald, the health region’s director for child health.

The consideration for moving mom was her safety and the infants’ safety and having them delivered in a space and location where we were confident there would be full and adequate care.”

But news of the price tag for sending Jepp to Montana led government critics to question the shortage of neonatal beds in Calgary and Edmonton. Alberta Liberals blamed the problem on health-care cutbacks in the 1990s that have led to a space crunch in all of Calgary’s hospitals.

“I don’t know what they saved back then, but we’re paying now,” said Laurie Blakeman, health-care critic for the party.“We still don’t have the capacity we need in Calgary.”


According to this article, the problem may not lie with a staffing shortage. Laurie Blakeman attributes the problem to funding cut-backs. Interesting.

But, that’s what you would expect to happen when there is a perception of "free" health-care. Demand rises, but prices don’t. Instead, the Government, which controls the system, looks for ways to control costs. Funding cut-backs are a result of cost control.

I don’t really find it odd that media outlets aren’t covering this aspect of the story. It sheds a very bad light on the idea of Government-run health care.

Saturday

The Canadian Health Care System

Just watch this video. It speaks for itself.


Friday

The Petraeus Report

Over the next few weeks you will hear a lot from the mainstream media about General David Petraeus. On September 15, he is set to release his report concerning the ground operations in Iraq. Petraeus is already hinting that his report will contain a recommendation that troop levels be decreased by as early as next summer!

By all accounts, Petraeus is expected to report that operations in Iraq are succeeding, and that the surge is indeed working! Good news, wouldn’t you say?

Unless, of course, you’re a Democrat. After all, Democrat House Majority Whip, James Clyburn has been quoted as saying that a positive report from General Petraeus would be:


“a real big problem for us.”

But, never fear, Democrats. The media will always have your back. They are already setting the stage to discredit Petraeus’ report.

Matt Lauer on the Today Show attempted to claim that Petraeus’ report wasn’t really significant.

CNN has released a badly-flawed poll, which attempts to report that a majority of Americans already distrust the contents of the report.

The Washington Post and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews have both tried to paint General Petraeus’ report as nothing more than talking points issued by the White House.

Yesterday on MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews said:


Is the White House going to pull a Lucy again with the football trick all over again? For months, President Bush has been asking us to wait for a report from General Petraeus. How many times did we hear that phrase, Wait for the report from General Petraeus? Now we learn that the White House is going to write the report - the White House! - and that the general will testify publicly before Congress only after the report has been written by Bush‘s people

We have got the president over and over and over again saying don‘t believe me, believe this guy Petraeus. And now we‘re told he‘s going to be Cyrano de Bergerac to Petraeus. He‘s going to write it for him?

Actually, it is true. The White House will, in fact, be writing the report which is to be submitted to Congress. But, before you get your underwear in a bunch, and start screaming “Bush lied! People died!,” calm down and take a deep breath.

Why, oh why, would Bush do something like this? Why would he take it upon himself to write this report for Petraeus, and submit it to Congress? Well, let’s see.

It seems to me that there was legislation passed recently. Public Law 110-28. What did it say? Oh, yeah…I remember.

The President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress…

The President shall submit a second report to the Congress, not later than September 15, 2007, following the same procedures and criteria outlined above…


TESTIMONY BEFORE CONGRESS.—Prior to the submission of the President’s second report on September 15, 2007, and at a time to be agreed upon by the leadership of the Congress and the Administration, the United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress.


So, there is legislation on the books which mandates that the PRESIDENT be the one to write and submit a report about progress being made in Iraq. It also mandates that Petraeus appear before Congress to testify. Who wrote this law? Certainly it was those evil Republicans!

Wrong. It was the Democrat-controlled Congress. They are the ones who made this mandate of the President. I guess this little tidbit escaped Chris Matthews and the Washington Post.

NewsBusters had a great line, which I just have to reprint:

MSNBC's bio on Matthews claims he's a "television news anchor with remarkable depth of experience." Apparently that depth of experience doesn't lend itself to knowing what he's talking about.


Ouch. That has to hurt.



FYI – It’s very telling that Chris Matthews find himself in the same company as far-left groups like the DailyKos and the Huffington Post.

Wednesday

Too Good To Check

It’s bad enough when the mainstream media runs blatantly false stories without fact-checking their sources (I’m looking at you Dan Rather). But, for the media to run a blatantly false story without even using the slightest bit of common sense…that is just downright despicable.

But, why should the AFP, or Yahoo News, actually use common sense before running something like this:


Caption: An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City. At least 175 people were slaughtered on Tuesday and more than 200 wounded when four suicide truck bombs targeted people from an ancient religious sect in northern Iraq, officials said.(AFP/Wissam al-Okaili)

Notice anything odd about this picture? I’ll make it easy for you. Look at this part of the caption:

An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house...


Now, look at the picture again. Last time I checked, bullets which have been fired from a gun don’t come out with their casings completely intact.

Moreover, bullets which have slammed into the sides of houses don’t make it through the ordeal still shiny and new!

Those bullets have never even been fired, much less hit anything! Unless, of course, our troops threw them at this woman.

I guess this story was just too good to check.

Thursday

Another Defeat for the Church of Global Warming?

In “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore makes the claim:


“The 10 warmest years in history were in the last 14 years.”

This is a major tenant of the Church of Global Warming. Many Global Warming believers accept this as absolute truth. And, their partners in the media find it necessary, with each new year, to announce a new “Warmest Year on Record.”

2005

2006
2007

Accepting these reports as absolute truth would make it very easy to believe Al Gore’s claim that the last 14 years have brought about the 10 warmest years in history.

But, what would happen if new data disputed this claim? What would happen if a major source for Global Warming hysteria, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, released new figures which brought Al Gore’s statistic into question? Would that be an important finding...something worth reporting? I would think so.

Yet, the media disagrees. Earlier this week, the GISS recalculated their numbers of annual mean surface temperatures in the United States. Interestingly enough, they report the top 10 warmest years on record as follows:

1934
1998
1921
2006
1931
1999
1953
1990
1938
1954

By the way, those are listed in order from warmest to coolest. Notice, if you will, how many of those years took place within the past 14 years. Count them. 4.

Only four of the warmest years in the United States took place within the last 14 years. And, the warmest year on record is not among those 14 years. In the United States, the warmest year on record was 1934.

This evidence is in direct contradiction with one of Al Gore’s main points. A major tenant for the Church of Global Warming is being called into question. Have you heard anything about it before now?

I didn’t think so.

It should be noted that Al Gore's original claim, "The 10 warmest years in history were in the last 14 years," was in reference to GLOBAL temperatures and not temperatures in the United States. However, the United States has the most sophisticated and accurate climate data collection systems in the entire world. Now that the United States' temperature data has been recalculated, it is safe to assume that the records for Global Temperatures would change dramatically as well.

But, moving beyond that note, the larger point still remains. This important shift in temperature data merits a few questions to be asked about the claims of Global Warming alarmists. But, the media has yet to ask anything about it. They have yet to question GISS about any of its research. Nothing is being made out of this!

Keep in mind, this report has been out for two days now. In the world of media, two days is an eternity. If you report something two days late, you are reporting old news. Yet, this study has not made any headlines. The GISS, which is headed by the Global Warming alarmist James Hansen, has yet to make an official announcement. They have completely and utterly buried this study.

Keep moving, folks. There’s nothing to see here.

The GISS and the media are sitting on a landmark case study. Why has this not been a lead story of every media outlet in the country?

Wait…nevermind. I know the answer.

Monday

Hypocrisy at the DailyKos

The blogs are buzzing. At the recent YearlyKos convention in Chicago, a controversy arose during a panel discussion entitled “The Military and Progressives: Are They That Different?” A soldier in the US Army was shouted down after he expressed support for the surge in Iraq, and claimed that it was working. According to The American Prospect:


As the Military and Progressives panel came to an end, a young man in uniform stood up to argue that the surge was working, and cutting down on Iraqi casualties. The moderator largely freaked out. When other members of the panel tried to answer his question, he demanded they "stand down." He demanded the questioner give his name, the name of his commander, and the name of his unit. And then he closed the panel, no answer offered or allowed, and stalked off the stage,

Wes Clark took the mic and tried to explain what had just occurred: The argument appears to be that you're not allowed to participate in politics while wearing a uniform, or at least that you shouldn't, and that the questioner was engaging in a sort of moral blackmail, not to mention a violation of the rules, by doing so. Knowing fairly little about the army, I can't speak to any of that. But it was an uncomfortable few moments, and seemed fairly contrary to the spirit of the panel to roar down the member of the military who tried to speak with a contrary voice.

You can view a video of the incident here.

The DailyKos quickly tried to explain (i.e. rationalize) why they shouted down this soldier. The explanation they came up with was this:


The thing is, every soldier knows that you don’t take part in politics while you’re in your uniform. It’s not only highly inappropriate—it’s also illegal. And there’s a good reason for it, too: When you wear the uniform, you are representing the military, and it is essential that the military never, ever wade into politics. That’s what banana republics do—and it causes all kinds problems with regard to democratic processes and corruption. Just look at these fine examples of mixing the uniform with politics and governance: Moammar Qaddafi, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noreiga. It’s just not a good idea—and that’s why we don’t do it. Ever. Period.

The DailyKos cites military regulations backing up their official position on this issue. In all honesty, they are correct. There are statutes and regulations in place that prevent soldiers from doing this very thing.

But…does the DailyKos actually believe in this statute? Do they actually believe that a soldier should never take place in a political event or protest while in uniform? Well, let’s see:


“So they’ll prosecute me if I wear my Army uniforms to an anti-war protest? Really?

But that’s not the point. As we’ve seen time and time again, we see military personnel, in uniform, all the freakin’ time as backdrops to Republican pro-war events — including with Mr. 28% — and there haven’t been any prosecutions of those folks.

Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh has already been discharged. He has every right enshrined under the Constitution, including those of free speech and peaceful assembly.

And anyone that thinks otherwise, quite frankly, is legitimately and objectively
un-American
.”
This was written by the FOUNDER of the DailyKos, Markos Moulitsas. He was ranting against the fact he, as a former soldier in the US Army, is not allowed to wear his uniform to an anti-war protest. He claims that anyone who says that he is not allowed to wear his uniform to a political event is “un-American.”

Let me say that again. Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the DailyKos, is on record saying anyone who says that a soldier is not allowed to wear his Army uniform to a political event is “un-American.”

Yet, the attendees at his YearlyKos event claim this military statute as a rationalization for shouting down a uniformed soldier. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

OK. Maybe, I’ve got this all wrong. After all, the opinion that this military statute is "un-American" is an opinion held by Markos Moulitsas. His supporters or the moderator of this panel discussion at YearlyKos may not necessarily hold this same opinion. Perhaps they believe that it is a legitimate statute, and it is their duty to enforce it. Well, let’s see.

The moderator of this panel discussion at YearlyKos is named Jon Soltz. He is the one who made very clear his objection to this soldier speaking in the discussion while in uniform. The DailyKos reported the events this way:

“Jon allowed to soldier to speak, but not before issuing him a very stern warning—the same warning he had received the previous night from General Clark about political debate, the uniform, and the law

Soltz, who is still a Captain in the Reserves, at that point had heard all he wanted to hear. As an officer, he took it upon himself to reprimand the sergeant for breaking the Uniform Code of Military Justice, left the stage, and went to confront the soldier. In fact, if he hadn’t reprimanded the soldier, he could have been seen as condoning the act—and none of us wanted to do that.”

So, Jon Soltz is a firm believer in this code. He stays true to the belief that no soldier in uniform should take part in a political event. Or, does he?

Take a look at his website, VoteVets.org. VoteVets.org is a political action group who has been very critical of the War in Iraq and President Bush. Jon Soltz, being a part of the VoteVets.org Board of Advisors, is pictured on the website with a detailed history of his military service and his public policy campaigns.

What do you think his photograph shows? That’s right. Soltz is pictured in…you knew this was coming...his uniform.

On a political website, of which Soltz is a leader, he pictures himself in his military uniform. It seems to me that this would be a clear violation of the same military code he claims to believe in so whole-heartedly.

Hypocrisy? Absolutely.

Friday

Who is to blame?

You knew that it wouldn’t take long. As soon as the Minneapolis bridge collapsed, media personalities began to question who is to blame. Not surprisingly, some began pointing fingers at President Bush and the War in Iraq. CNN’s Jack Cafferty had this to say:

“The total outlay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so far, over $600 billion. Think for a minute about what we could do with that money here at home, not only to improve our own infrastructure, but for other domestic needs that go wanting. Here's the question: In light of the Minnesota bridge collapse, how could the U.S. better spend the $2 billion a week that we're pouring into Iraq here at home?”


According to Cafferty, we are neglecting our own infrastructure because we are wasting so much money in Iraq. We don’t have the funds to fix our bridges and roads!

Nevermind the fact that, in 2006, the Government spent $1.4 TRILLION on entitlement programs (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, etc.) It’s the money in Iraq that we really need to worry about. Sure, Jack.

MSNBC, not to be outdone by CNN, presented their own take on the Minneapolis bridge collapse. Mike Barnicle, guest host for MSNBC’s Hardball, actually had the gall to ask the question:

“So, I mean, to stick with the political, on this evening when nearly everyone in America is preoccupied with, with the natural disaster in, in Minneapolis, does this help the Democrats?”

In the face of tragedy, Barnicle wonders if such a disaster could benefit his buddies in the Democratic party. Why do I call them his buddies? Because, in true leftist fashion, Barnicle believes that the best way to handle future situations such as this would be to raise taxes and grow the size of the Federal Government.

Speaking to Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, Banicle said:

“So I mean you're a Republican and yet your old pal, the President's father became famous or infamous at the convention in 1988, 'Read my lips, no new taxes.' How are we gonna pay for this stuff?

Government's gotta get bigger to help, to help governors in, in various states.”


Barnicle also interviewed Democratic Congressman Barney Frank, who apparently agreed with Barnicle’s assertion that “Government’s gotta get bigger.” Congressman Frank had this to say:

“And we've got this odd view that some people have been holding, which is that any time you cut government it's a good thing. And I have colleagues who say, ‘It's the taxpayers' money not the government's money. Let the taxpayer keep the money.' Well, of course it's the taxpayers' money. Sensible taxpayers know they have two sets of needs. Some are best done individually but some we have to pool our resources. I can give you the biggest tax cut in the world, you can't fix a bridge.


Frank slams the Bush tax cuts apparently without realizing that the tax cuts have led to HIGHER government revenues. But, we’ll ignore that ignorant comment for now. His main point is about “sensible taxpayers” knowing that the Government can do more for us if we just give them more of our money.

It’s interesting that he should say that, since the Minnesota House of Representatives recently announced a $2.1 billion budget SURPLUS. This means that the citizens of Minnesota were already overtaxed. However, Barney Frank believes that “sensible taxpayers” will recognize that more of their money is required to do what is needed.

The numbers just don’t add up.