Fun Facts For Free Thinkers

Harper’s Index

Number of news stories from 1998 to Election Day 2000 containing “George W. Bush” and “aura of inevitability”: 206

Amount for which Bush successfully sued Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 1999: $2,500

Year in which a political candidate first sued Palm Beach County over problems with hanging chads: 1984

Total amount the Bush campaign paid Enron and Halliburton for use of corporate jets during the 2000 recount: $15,400

Percentage of Bush’s first 189 appointees who also served in his father’s administration: 42

Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98

Years before becoming energy secretary that Spencer Abraham cosponsored a bill to abolish the Department of Energy: 2

Number of Chevron oil tankers named after Condoleezza Rice, at the time she became foreign policy adviser: 1

Date on which the GAO sued Dick Cheney to force the release of documents related to current U.S. energy policy: 2/22/02

Number of other officials the GAO has sued over access to federal records: 0

Months before September 11, 2001, that Cheney’s Energy Task Force investigated Iraq’s oil resources: 6

Hours after the 9/11 attacks that an Alaska congressman speculated they may have been committed by “eco-terrorists”: 9

Date on which the first contract for a book about September 11 was signed: 9/13/01

Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182

Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0

Number charged with an immigration violation: 762

Days since the federal government first placed the nation under an “elevated terror alert” that the level has been relaxed: 0

Minimum number of calls the FBI received in fall 2001 from Utah residents claiming to have seen Osama bin Laden: 20

Number of box cutters taken from U.S. airline passengers since January 2002: 105,075

Percentage of Americans in 2006 who believed that U.S. Muslims should have to carry special I.D.: 39

Chances an American in 2002 believed the government should regulate comedy routines that make light of terrorism: 2 in 5

Rank of Mom, Dad, and Rudolph Giuliani among those whom 2002 college graduates said they most wished to emulate: 1, 2, 3

Number of members of the rock band Anthrax who said they hoarded Cipro so as to avoid an “ironic death”: 1

Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations: 22,000

Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1,069

Estimated number of U.S. intelligence reports on Iraq that were based on information from a single defector: 100

Number of times the defector had ever been interviewed by U.S. intelligence agents: 0

Date on which Bush said of Osama bin Laden, “I truly am not that concerned about him”: 3/13/02

Days after the U.S. invaded Iraq that Sony trademarked “Shock & Awe” for video games: 1

Days later that the company gave up the trademark, citing “regrettable bad judgment”: 25

Number of books by Henry Kissinger found in Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz’s mansion: 2

Number by then–New York Times reporter Judith Miller: 1

Factor by which an Iraqi in 2006 was more likely to die than in the last year of the Saddam regime: 3.6

Factor by which the cause of death was more likely to be violence: 120

Chance that an Iraqi has fled his or her home since the beginning of the war: 1 in 6

Portion of Baghdad residents in 2007 who had a family member or friend wounded or killed since 2003: 3/4

Percentage of U.S. veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have filed for disability with the VA: 35

Chance that an Iraq war veteran who has served two or more tours now has post-traumatic stress disorder: 1 in 4

Number of all U.S. war veterans who have been denied Veterans Administration health care since 2003: 452,677

Number of eligibility restrictions for admission into the Army that have been loosened since 2003: 9

Percentage change from 2004 to 2007 in the number of Army recruits admitted despite having been charged with a felony: +295

Date on which the White House announced it had stopped looking for WMDs in Iraq: 1/12/05

Years since his acquittal that O. J. Simpson has said he is still looking for his wife’s “real killers”: 13

Minimum number of close-up photographs of Bush’s hands owned by his current chief of staff, Josh Bolten: 4

Number of vehicles in the motorcade that transports Bush to his regular bike ride in Maryland: 6

Estimated total miles he has ridden his bike as president: 5,400

Portion of his presidency he has spent at or en route to vacation spots: 1/3

Minimum number of times that Frederick Douglass was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld’s vacation home: 25

Estimated number of juveniles whom the United States has detained as enemy combatants since 2002: 2,500

Minimum number of detainees who were tortured to death in U.S. custody: 8

Minimum number of extraordinary renditions that the United States has made since 2006: 200

Date on which USA Today added Guantánamo to its weather map: 1/3/05

Number of incidents of torture on prime-time network TV shows from 2002 to 2007: 897

Number on shows during the previous seven years: 110

Percentage change since 2000 in U.S. emigration to Canada: +79

Number of the thirty-eight Iraq war veterans who have run for Congress who were Democrats: 21

Percentage of Republicans in 2005 who said they would vote for Bush over George Washington: 62

Seconds it took a Maryland consultant in 2004 to pick a Diebold voting machine’s lock and remove its memory card: 10

Number of states John Kerry would have won in 2004 if votes by poor Americans were the only ones counted: 40

Number if votes by rich Americans were the only ones counted: 4

Portion of all U.S. income gains during the Bush Administration that have gone to the top 1 percent of earners: 3/4

Increase since 2000 in the number of Americans living at less than half the federal poverty level: 3,500,000

Percentage change since 2001 in the average amount U.S. workers spend on out-of-pocket medical expenses: +172

Estimated percentage by which Social Security benefits would have declined if Bush’s privatization plan had passed: –15

Percentage change since 2002 in the number of U.S. teens using illegal drugs: –9

Percentage change in the number of adults in their fifties doing so: +121

Number of times FDA officials met with consumer and patient groups as they revised drug-review policy in 2006: 5

Number of times they met with industry representatives: 113

Amount the Justice Department spent in 2001 installing curtains to cover two seminude statues of Justice: $8,650

Number of Republican officials who have been investigated by the Justice Department since 2001: 196

Number of Democratic officials who have been: 890

Number of White House officials in 2006 and 2007 authorized to discuss pending criminal cases with the DOJ: 711

Number of Clinton officials ever authorized to do so: 4

Years since a White House official as senior as I. Lewis Libby had been indicted while in office: 130

Number of U.S. cities and towns that have passed resolutions calling for the impeachment of President Bush: 92

Percentage change since 2001 in U.S. government spending on paper shredding: +466

Percentage of EPA scientists who say they have experienced political interference with their work since 2002: 60

Change since 2001 in the percentage of Americans who believe humans are causing climate change: –4

Number of total additions made to the U.S. endangered-species list under Bush: 61

Average number made yearly under Clinton: 65

Minimum number of pheasant hunts Dick Cheney has gone on since he shot a hunting companion in 2006: 5

Days after Hurricane Katrina hit that Cheney’s office ordered an electric company to restore power to two oil pipelines: 1

Days after the hurricane that the White House authorized sending federal troops into New Orleans: 4

Portion of the $3.3 billion in federal Hurricane Katrina relief spent by Mississippi that has benefited poor residents: 1/4

Percentage change in the number of Louisiana and Mississippi newborns named Katrina in the year after the storm: +153

Rank of Nevaeh, “heaven” spelled backward, among the fastest growing names given to American newborns since 2000: 1

Months, beginning in 2001, that the federal government’s online condom fact sheet disappeared from its website : 17

Minimum amount that religious groups received in congressional earmarks from 2003 to 2006: $209,000,000

Amount such groups received during the previous fourteen years: $107,000,000

Percentage change from 2003 to 2007 in the amount of money invested in U.S. faith-based mutual funds: +88

Average annualized percentage return during that time in the Christian and Muslim funds, respectively: +11, +15

Number of feet the Ground Zero pit has been built up since the site was fully cleared in 2002: 30

Number of 980-foot-plus “Super Tall” towers built in the Arab world in the seven years since 9/11: 4

Year by which the third and final phase of the 2003 “road map” to a Palestinian state was to have been reached: 2005

Estimated number of the twenty-five provisions of the first phase that have yet to be completed: 12

Number of times in 2007 that U.S. media called General David Petraeus “King David”: 14

Percentage change during the first ten months of the Iraq war “surge” in the number of Iraqis detained in U.S.-run prisons: +63

Percentage change in the number of Iraqis aged nine to seventeen detained: +285

Ratio of the entire U.S. federal budget in 1957, adjusted for inflation, to the amount spent so far on the Iraq war: 1:1

Estimated amount Bush-era policies will cost the U.S. in new debt and accrued obligations: $10,350,000,000,000 (see page 31)

Percentage change in U.S. discretionary spending during Bush’s presidency: +31

Percentage change during Reagan’s and Clinton’s, respectively: +16, +0.3

Ratio in 1999 of the number of U.S. federal employees to the number of private employees on government contracts: 15:6

Ratio in 2006: 14:15

Total value of U.S. government contracts in 2000 that were awarded without competitive bidding: $73,000,000,000

Total in 2007: $146,000,000,000

Number of the five directors of the No Child Left Behind reading program with financial ties to a curriculum they developed: 4

Amount by which the federal government has underfunded its estimated cost to implement NCLB: $71,000,000,000

Minimum number of copies sold, since it was released in 2006, of Flipping Houses for Dummies: 45,000

Chance that the buyer of a U.S. home in 2006 now has “negative equity,” i.e., the debt on the home exceeds its value: 1 in 5

Estimated value of Henry Paulson’s Goldman Sachs stock when he became Treasury Secretary and sold it: $575,000,000

Estimated value of that stock today: $238,000,000

Salary in 2006 of the White House’s newly created Director for Lessons Learned: $106,641

Minimum number of Bush-related books published since 2001: 606

Number of words in the first sentence of Bill Clinton’s memoir and in that of George W. Bush’s, respectively: 49, 5

Minimum number of nicknames Bush has given to associates during his presidency: 75

Number of associates with the last name Jackson he has dubbed “Action Jackson”: 2

Number of press conferences at which Bush has referred to a question as a “trick”: 14

Number of times he has declared an event or outcome not to be “acceptable”: 149

Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval rating: 1

Average percentage of Americans who approved of the job Bush was doing during his second term: 37

Percentage of Russians today who approve of the direction their country took under Stalin: 37


You know the world is coming to an end ...

... when the fuzzy-headed knee-jerk liberal finds himself agreeing with the National Review:

2009: A year to defend free speech
Or lose it

By Geert Wilders & Robert Spencer
Wednesday, January 21, was a black day for freedom, and the beginning of an all-out assault on free speech in the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Court of Appeals ordered the prosecution of Geert Wilders (one of this article’s co-authors) for his statements about Islam. To participate in public debate is now a dangerous activity. This is the Netherlands today—and it could be the entire Western world tomorrow.

The prosecution of Wilders was unexpected, though in retrospect one can see that something like it has been in the offing for a while. The year 2008 marked 60 years since the United Nations first promulgated its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet instead of celebrating this notable anniversary by reaffirming human rights, the world in 2008 saw certain fundamentally important human rights nearly disappear under intense pressure from Islamic countries that oppose freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the equality of all people before the law. Islamic efforts to create exceptional privileges for Muslims in the area of human rights have been advancing for quite some time, and they made great strides in 2008. Now, with the Amsterdam court’s judgment, we see the outcome of such efforts.

The Islamic bloc has been on record for two decades as opposing free speech. In 1990, foreign ministers of the 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), currently the largest voting bloc in the United Nations, adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. It states clearly that Islamic law—sharia—is the only true source of human rights. Few analysts in 1990 understood that this was tantamount to declaring the legitimacy of institutionalized discrimination against women and non-Muslims, and signing the death warrant of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience as well. And not just in Muslim lands: The OIC and allied organizations have been aggressively pursuing efforts to extend elements of sharia into the West, though few people realize it even today.

Due to the relentless efforts of the OIC, passage of a resolution on combating defamation of religions is now a yearly ritual in the United Nations. First introduced in the General Assembly in 2005, the resolution has been adopted with landslide votes every year since. While this resolution is non-binding, the OIC has declared its intention to seek a binding resolution—one that would require UN member states to criminalize criticism of Islam, as the OIC defines such criticism. This is a clear indication of the progressing Islamization of the United Nations.

On March 28 of last year, the UN hit rock bottom. Its Human Rights Council—whose members include such stalwart defenders of freedom as China, Cuba, Angola, and Saudi Arabia—adopted a resolution that severely modified the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Instead of simply reporting on cases in which the right to free expression is being violated, the special rapporteur will now also have to report on cases in which that right is being “abused”—including when individuals use their freedom of speech to criticize Islam, or the particular elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify violence and Islamic supremacism. In essence, this means that the function of the special rapporteur has changed 180 degrees—from safeguarding the rights of individuals who hold unpopular or controversial ideas, to trying to limit the freedom of individuals to express such ideas.

As the Canadian delegation noted, “instead of promoting freedom of expression the Special Rapporteur would be policing its exercise.” This is fundamentally inconsistent with the very foundation of the human-rights tradition, as are measures combating “defamation of religions.” Such measures aim to protect institutions and ideas from criticism, instead of protecting individuals from the consequences of criticizing them. The very concept of freedom of speech has thereby been turned on its head.

Now the full force of this initiative has been directed against those who are sounding the alarm about the Islamization of the West. How could this have happened? Where was the opposition from Western nations? The silence in Europe has been deafening. Only recently did the French ambassador finally speak out, on behalf of the European Union, against the UN initiative to outlaw defamation of religions. He stated that the EU would not accept integration of the notion of defamation of religions into the framework of human rights, since the primary purpose of human rights is to protect people, not religions.

Still, talk is cheap. If we want to preserve our universal human rights, we have to show determination in 2009 to defend them from the OIC’s attempts to erode them. The Amsterdam Appeals Court decision only indicates how urgently needed this action is today. But opposing the OIC would require strong, positive acts, which would be a departure from the current pattern. In the case of the resolution on the mandate of the special rapporteur, European countries did nothing but abstain from voting on the resolution. Even Canada, which spoke out strongly against the resolution, abstained rather than voting against it. The United States also abstained; in fact, no nation voted against the resolution at all.

This was an absolute disgrace. The free nations of the world should have voted with their feet instead and resigned from the Human Rights Council immediately. Civilized states have no business participating in a forum that has been hijacked by the Islamic-supremacist agenda to replace fundamental human rights with the barbaric strictures of sharia.

They should also boycott the 2009 Durban Review Conference (Durban II), because there is every indication that this “UN World Conference Against Racism” will be turned into an anti-Israeli and pro-Islamic platform under the direction of the OIC and will end up actually promoting racism and intolerance. In October 2008, the Second Preparatory Session of the 20-state Preparatory Committee for Durban II convened in Geneva, with Libya, that paragon of human rights, as chair, and Pakistan and Iran among the vice-chairs. This Preparatory Session produced a “Draft Outcome Document for the Durban Review Conference 2009,” recommending that UN member states make “defamation of Islam”—not just of “religion,” but of Islam in particular—a criminal offense on the local, national, and international levels. This “defamation,” the document declared, must no longer enjoy the protection that it has up to now under the “pretext” of “freedom of expression, counter terrorism or national security.” In other words, the Durban II Preparatory Session wants to criminalize investigations of the ideology, beliefs, motives, and goals of Islamic jihad terrorists, so that effectively the only people linking Islam with violence will be the jihadists themselves, and the Free World will be mute and defenseless before their advance.

If Geert Wilders is silenced, all those who oppose attempts to impose Islamic legal norms upon the West will be silenced also. European nations and the United States should stop appeasing Islam and start fighting together against the rapidly increasing Islamization of Europe. This is a struggle for human rights and human dignity, and for the great heritage of Western civilization that has given so many things to the world, yet whose children and heirs seem curiously embarrassed and reluctant to defend it.

Enough is enough. We must defend our freedom, or we will most certainly lose it.

—Geert Wilders is a Dutch parliamentarian, leader of the Party of Freedom, and maker of the film Fitna. Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth about Muhammad.

And we are finding ourself agreeing with this.


Effective Immediately: Return to the Moral High Ground

All it took, at long last, was a few strokes of a pen.

Scribble scribble. "There we go," President Obama said yesterday as he ordered the closure, within a year, of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Scribble scribble. "There you go," he said, as he definitively banned torture.

And with that, the United States reclaimed its place among nations that respect the rule of law and human dignity.

"This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign," Obama said, "but I think an understanding that dates back to our Founding Fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard,"

Here are a some excerpts from Obama's executive order Ensuring Lawful Interrogation: "Executive Order 13440 of July 20, 2007, is revoked. All executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals, are revoked to the extent of their inconsistency with this order. . . .

"From this day forward, unless the Attorney General with appropriate consultation provides further guidance, officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government . . . may not, in conducting interrogations, rely upon any interpretation of the law governing interrogation . . . issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009. . . .

"Consistent with the requirements of the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A, section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, and other laws regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States. . . .

"Effective immediately, an individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict, shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3 . Interrogation techniques, approaches, and treatments described in the Manual shall be implemented strictly in accord with the principles, processes, conditions, and limitations the Manual prescribes."

Go to original