Thursday, January 27, 2005

I nearly missed the train, but today was supposed to be a "blogburst" in memorium of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The infamous Nazi death camp is perhaps a symbol for all of the Nazi concentration camps. Iron scroll above its gates read "Arbeit Macht Frei"--Work will set you free.

Unfortunately, labor never set anyone free at Auschwitz. At Auschwitz you pretty much went straight into the gas chamber unless they had a backlog, in which case you got to enjoy the hospitality until they could make room for you in the gas chamber, which was the basement of a former Polish Army barracks.

The exhibits at Auschwitz (yes, I've been there) spare nobody's feelings. It's raw "This is what happened here". The visitor views room after room--one contains luggage stripped from the victims, another their clothing. And last of all a mountain, and I mean mountain, of baby shoes. Baby shoes. A freaking mountain of baby shoes taken from babies that those monsters fed into a gas chamber.

The Nazis actually operated their concentration camps in several flavors. Dachau, for example, was a labor camp. There the Nazis worked and starved people to death. Not particularly pleasant, though I suppose at least at Dachau there was a hope of surviving.

I've mentioned Auschwitz before, taking to task those who compare Bush to a Nazi. Sorry, but if you call Bush a Nazi then you have no idea. None. You are incomparably ignorant.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

It begs for "I told you so..."

The Maryland legislature decided to address the issue of soaring medical malpractice insurance costs by taxing HMO premiums. The revenue from the tax will be used to underwrite the cost of malpractice insurance.

Governor Ehrlich warned the legislature that he would veto the bill on the grounds that HMOs will merely pass the tax on to the working people who participate in HMO plans. The bill was passed, and vetoed. The veto was met with the usual wailing about Republicans and their partisan politics, then overturned.

Never mind that the legislature entirely missed the bus on this one. Underwriting malpractice insurance costs by taxing HMO premiums is stewing the cat in its mother's milk. It's the Democrat impulse to continue feeding the trial lawyer machinery, even if they must do so by taxing consumers. This tax doesn't address tort reform, which is what we really need, it just allows the situation to continue. Only now working people are being asked to fund this huge tort machine.

And that's where the "I told you so" comes in. Sure as Ehrlich said they would, the HMOs have elected to pass the tax onto consumers as a raise in premium costs.

So now "the working poor", whom the Democrats claim to care so much about, are being told that they will make sure that trial lawyers don't have to give up their Hummers and that they can be sure of making next month's slip fees at the marina.

Friday, January 21, 2005

There's been a bit of buzz about a real-looking Volkswagon advertisement which has been circulating the net.

Short story is the ad portrays an Islamic homicide bomber's attempt to murder people at a restaurant and the attempt backfires on him due to the toughness of VW Polos.

There's been some debate over the ad's taste. I found the premise to be in pretty poor taste, but ended up chuckling when I saw the video. Now I see it as another dumbass terrorist hoisting his own petard due to his ineptitude.

Is the ad real, or isn't it?

See the ad and the story behind it here at Whizbang.
In a petty, mean-spirited plot which serves only to prove that they are petty, mean and utterly ignorant of irony, Senate Democrats are using ex-Klansman Robert Byrd to stall the confirmation of the first black woman to the post of Secretary of State.

From the Sun Herald:
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said he and others "have asked the Senate leaders to give the Senate a few days to analyze Dr. Rice's testimony and consider it fully before casting a vote for or against her confirmation as secretary of state."
More here.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I'm not in the least afraid of criticism (I'm married, for Pete's sake). In fact I welcome good, solid criticism with facts to back it.

I've received some critical evaluations of the last couple of posts, and that's fine. I was incorrect with some figures I posted regarding dollar amounts pledged to the relief efforts in Indonesia.

Having admitted that, I want to return to the spirit of the posts. First, Jan Egeland displayed an incredible lack of class when he took the microphone as a UN offcial and called a number of countries "stingy". That was uncalled for under any circumstances. To further his indiscretion, anyone who has even the most passing familiarity with US philanthropy knows that whatever the monetary figure we first pledged, it would soon be increased as we investigated the magnitude of the tragedy.

President Bush is taking heat for not seeking the first microphone he could find on the day of the tragedy and placating his audience with presidential platitudes. The fact remains that he managed to order a naval armada to respond without finding it necessary to see himself on television as he did it. Along with Australia, the US began the relief effort some time before other nations began to arrive, and as far as I an tell the UN is still "evaluating" things.

Lest one criticize Bush for issuing orders without the benefit of a media audience, let us not forget that Kofi Annan kept skiing in the US Rockies for three days following the news of the disaster. And Annan is not one to shun media coverage.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The US has so far pledged a "stingy" $35 million to the rescue effort for the incredible disaster which has struck Indonesia. That doesn't count the cost of getting the goods to Indonesia and doesn't take into account the fact that we will certainly follow the initial pledge with far more assistance, monetary and otherwise.

In fact, a small charity organization in this county has somehow managed to raise 1.6 million dollars to send. The figure boggles my mind--this isn't NYC or LA. We're a rural county in a state in which tax dollars from the counties go to support a dying city. This effort gives credence to President Bush's vision of faith-based giving. Interestingly, $1.6 million far exceeds the amount thus far pledged by either France or the UN.....And that's just from one rural county in the US. Take it from there.

Before you criticize the US, read more about US relief efforts.