Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Shrinking the Deficit

According to the Treasury department, the U.S. government took in a single-day record $61 billion in tax receipts on June 15. This surpassed the previous single-day high of $56 billion set on December 15, 2000. The recent surge in tax revenues is not just a one-day event. Fiscal year to date, total government receipts are up 15.5 percent, the fastest rate of increase on a comparable FYTD basis since 1981. The difference between the growth rate of tax revenues and the growth rate of government spending has widened to 8.4-percentage points, the largest since late 2000 when the budget was in surplus.

Economist Michael Darda argues that the Bush tax cuts are the reason.

Real Justice

This would be so sweet if it comes to pass:


For release Monday, June 27 to New Hampshire media. For release Tuesday, June 28 to all other media.

Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Caf�" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.

Logan Darrow Clements, Freestar Media, LLC

Phone 310-593-4843; logan@freestarmedia.com; http://www.freestarmedia.com

Justice for the little guy. What an extraordinary concept. We should all e-mail our support to Mr. Clements.

Constitutional Free-Fall

After Kelo we thought the Supreme Court couldn't look any more ridiculous than they did in that decision, but they proved us wrong yesterday when they ruled that the Ten Commandments could be displayed outside the state capitol of Texas but not inside the courthouses of Kentucky.

Read Justice Scalia's dissent here. On almost every case in which he is in the minority his opinions make the majority look like intellectual dwarves.

George Will says that the Supreme Court would look a lot less foolish if in cases like the two decided yesterday they only had the wit to say simply, "Because the display on public grounds does not do what the establishment clause was written to prevent -- does not impose a state-sponsored creed or significantly advantage or disadvantage one sect or sects -- the display is constitutional."

Unfortunately, this sensible approach will almost certainly escape the fumbling grasp of the jurists who dominate today's Court. Thank goodness they are now in recess and can't do any more harm until October.

Syrian Complicity

This article from the Washington Post gives a good picture of the role of Syria in the transit of jihadis into Iraq. Some interesting insight here:

Worried that it would be Washington's next target, Syria opposed the military coalition invading its neighbor. State media issued impassioned calls for "resistance." The nation's senior Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Ahmad Kaftaro, undid his reputation for moderation by issuing a fatwa endorsing suicide attacks.

In Aleppo, Abu Ibrahim went door to door encouraging young men to cross the border. Volunteers boarded buses that Syrian border guards waved through wide-open gates, witnesses recalled. Saddam Hussein's government embraced the volunteers, handing them weapons and calling them Arab Saddam Fedayeen. But ordinary Iraqis were often less welcoming, pleading with them to go home; some Syrians were shot or handed over to the invading Americans.

At the request of his Iraqi counterparts, Abu Ibrahim stopped ferrying fighters for a time. "They said there were Shiites everywhere, Americans, and they couldn't do anything." By the summer of 2003, however, the insurgency began to organize itself, and the call went out for volunteers. Safe houses were established. Weapons were positioned. In the vast desert that forms the border with Iraq, passages through the dunes long used to smuggle goods now were employed to funnel fighters.

"We had specific meeting places for Iraqi smugglers," Abu Ibrahim said. "They wouldn't do the trip if we had fewer than 15 fighters. We would drive across the border and then into villages on the Iraqi side. And from there the Iraqi contacts would take the mujaheddin to training camps." Because Syrian men already had served two years of compulsory military service, most of them skipped the training. "It's mostly the Saudis who need the training," Abu Ibrahim said.

Afterward, the fighters were sent to join small cells usually led by Iraqis. They planted booby traps for U.S. convoys and laid ambushes. "Once the Americans bombed a bus crossing to Syria. We made a big fuss and said it was full of merchants," Abu Ibrahim said. "But actually, they were fighters."

In the summer of 2004, Abu Ibrahim got to go to Iraq. He crossed the dunes with 50 other volunteers, dodging U.S. patrols on the Iraqi side. In Iraqi society he moved without drawing attention. He would not discuss much of what transpired during the subsequent months. But when he returned to Syria after the massive U.S. offensive in Fallujah, only three people were alive from the original 50, he said. One was a suicide bomber.

"Young men are fighting with zeal and passion," Abu Ibrahim said. "There are Saudi officers, Syrians, Iraqis. But not those who fought for Saddam. The man who is leading it for the most part is Zarqawi."

As American operations become more frequent in the west of Iraq, Syria is going to either have to clamp down hard on people like Abu Ibrahim or risk having American troops visit on a regular basis the Syrian towns and cities close to the Iraqi border. One way or another the infiltration of men and material into Iraq through Syria is going to have to stop.

Amnesty International, Where Are You?

For those like Senator Dick Durbin who need a lesson on the nature of prisoner abuse we recommend this account from The Independent:

Ngawang Sangdrol was just 13 when she was first imprisoned by China in Tibet. She was so small her prison guards found it easy to pick her up by the legs and drop her, head first, on to the stone floor of her cell.

They beat her with iron rods, placed electric shock batons in her mouth and left her standing in the baking heat until she collapsed of exhaustion. They called her the "ballerina", because when the pain became too much for her, she would stand on the tips of her toes like a dancer. "The more we cried out in pain," she said, "the more they laughed."

"They would put a rope around your neck, tie both your hands and hang you down from the ceiling. They used iron bars to beat you systematically," she says. "And once you are imprisoned there is no difference between a child and an adult and an elderly person, or between a man and a woman. All punishments and torture methods are equal for everyone."

Ngawang Sangrol, now 28, is a Tibetan nun who spent more than a decade in prison. Released shortly before a visit by the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin to George Bush's Texan ranch, she was made to sign papers promising she would never speak of her experiences in the notorious Drapchi prison.

She was critically ill after years of abuse and doctors believed she would not live long. But she has survived to tell her gruesome tale, to the acute discomfort of the Chinese authorities.

The nun was arrested in 1990 for joining a peaceful demonstration calling for independence for Tibet. She was freed after nine months, and rearrested in 1992. In an interview with The Independent, she said: "I was imprisoned for saying just two things. 'Long live the Dalai Lama' and 'Free Tibet'. For these I was imprisoned and tortured. The sufferings our people went through after the invasion are well documented: everyone seems to know about them. But people seem to think that these days our problems are over, and this is not true. I have experienced persecution at the hands of the Chinese, and I can see it continuing."

There are an estimated 200 political prisoners in Tibet, almost all monks and nuns whose only crime is to have pledged support to the Dalai Lama, the head of the Buddhist faith, who leads a government in exile in India but whom Beijing regards as a separatist threat.

The London-based human rights group Free Tibet, says torture "forms a part of these prisoners' everyday lives". Human Rights Watch reports document the "mistreatment in detention" of religious figures and activists, citing Tibet as one of the two regions in China where torture is most rife. Beijing denies this, but none of the numerous claims of torture has been investigated by the Chinese authorities.

Life outside the prison walls is also tough, say rights activists. Since direct rule was imposed by Beijing in 1950, the authorities have denied charges of restricting basic freedoms. Ngawang Sandrol, now living in the US, is in London to urge the UK to use its forthcoming EU presidency to appoint a special EU rapporteur for Tibet and to promote negotiations between Beijing and the exiled Tibetan government.

We're trying to remember whether Amnesty International has issued a call to have Chinese officials arrested and tried for their crimes. Since they urged foreign nations to arrest Bush administration officials we're sure they must have done the same for the thugs and sadists who run China, but we just can't recall it.