Sunday, August 31, 2008
This text is somewhat related to one of my older essays, about the history of cacao and chocolate. When I was younger, I was once told that regularly practiced cannibalism didn't exist in any society in modern times. This was a racist, colonialist lie invented by prejudiced Europeans. One example would be the former cannibal dubbed "Friday" and converted to Christianity in Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. As I grow older and wiser and investigate things for myself, I see how wrong this claim was.
The article is here.
Mike Stajduhar: "Michael Moore is proof that God makes mistakes".
Trust me. Watch the whole thing.
Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba (being published next week) is at once a colorful family saga and a carefully researched corrective to caricatures of decadent pre-revolutionary Cuba and the 50-year disaster of Fidel Castro's rule. Contrary to the impression that Cuba's elite uniformly backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, for example, Gjelten shows that the Bacardis withheld their financial support, even when they received a written demand from one of Batista's goons saying, "We will collect the funds for this event from friends of the cause . . . among whom we include you." To ignore such a demand was risky, Gjelten writes, but the head of the family "was as courageous as he was stubborn. He passed the letter on to his secretary, with a brief instruction scrawled across the top: 'Return -- regretting not being able to cooperate.' "
Saturday, August 30, 2008
4) She Solidifies the Republican Base:
While McCain and the conservative wing of his party agree on most issues, McCain's public image has largely been defined by issues where he has parted company with the right. You don't get to be a Maverick by towing the party line. During the primaries, most of the opposition to McCain came from social conservatives who backed Romney, Thompson, and Huckabee to various extents. A lot of those people were continuing to talk, long after the primaries were over about how difficult it was going to be to support McCain. Well that's all over now. Palin is one of us. I can't remember the last time I saw conservatives this excited about a candidate. Not only does she talk the talk, she walks the walk. At age 44, after having four kids already, she's told the baby she's carrying has Downs Syndrome. She never considered that child to be anything other than a blessing. Amazingly, I've already seen democrats attack her for this. They argue that either she should have aborted it or she should quit her job and stay home to take care of it...nice...in one sentence you've managed to offend both pro-lifers and feminists. Keep it up dummies.
5) She's smart, tough and attractive:
By all accounts she's been an effective Governor and taken on corrupt entrenched interests in her home state. Almost everyone thinks she's doing a hell of a job. She's pleasant, has a great family story and is easy on the eyes.
Some years ago I was invited attend a Jewish religious ceremony which was the rough equivalent of a christening. This was a Reformed Temple and the Rabbi was a woman...an attractive woman. Halfway through the service I leaned over to The Wife and said something that I'd never thought I'd say, "That Rabbi has great legs!". One can only hope I can soon say the same about our Vice President.
Friday, August 29, 2008
England's "Great Charter" of 1215 was the first document to challenge the authority of the king, subjecting him to the rule of the law and protecting his people from feudal abuse.
Faith depends upon belief in things that cannot be proved, and I can prove that more people flunk physics than flunk Sunday School.
“But science can be proved,” a scientist would say. “The whole point of science is experimental proof.” Yet we non-scientists have to take that experimental proof on faith because we don’t know what the scientists are talking about. This makes science a matter of faith in men while religion, of course, is a matter of faith in God, and if you’ve got to choose …
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Sometimes public opinion doesn't flow smoothly; it shifts sharply when a tipping point is reached. Case in point: gas prices. $3 a gallon gas didn't change anybody's mind about energy issues. $4 a gallon gas did. Evidently, the experience of paying more than $50 for a tankful gets people thinking we should stop worrying so much about global warming and the environmental dangers of oil wells on the outer continental shelf and in Alaska. Drill now! Nuke the caribou!
A total of 24 states allow voters to change laws on their own by collecting signatures and putting initiatives on the ballot. It's healthy that the entrenched political class should face some real legislative competition from initiative-toting citizens. Unfortunately, some special interests have declared war on the initiative process, using tactics ranging from restrictive laws to outright thuggery.
The initiative is a reform born out of the Progressive Era, when there was general agreement that powerful interests had too much influence over legislators. It was adopted by most states in the Midwest and West, including Ohio and California. It was largely rejected by Eastern states, which were dominated by political machines, and in the South, where Jim Crow legislators feared giving more power to ordinary people.
But more power to ordinary people remains unpopular in some quarters, and nothing illustrates the war on the initiative more than the reaction to Ward Connerly's measures to ban racial quotas and preferences. The former University of California regent has convinced three liberal states -- California, Washington and Michigan -- to approve race-neutral government policies in public hiring, contracting and university admissions. He also prodded Florida lawmakers into passing such a law. This year his American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) aimed to make the ballot in five more states. But thanks to strong-arm tactics, the initiative has only made the ballot in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.
"The key to defeating the initiative is to keep it off the ballot in the first place," says Donna Stern, Midwest director for the Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). "That's the only way we're going to win." Her group's name certainly describes the tactics that are being used to thwart Mr. Connerly.
Aggressive legal challenges have bordered on the absurd, going so far as to claim that a blank line on one petition was a "duplicate" of another blank line on another petition and thus evidence of fraud. In Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan completely rewrote the initiative's ballot summary to portray it in a negative light. By the time courts ruled she had overstepped her authority, there wasn't enough time to collect sufficient signatures.
In Boumediene v Bush, besides, for the first time in history conferring habeas corpus rights on alien enemies detained abroad by our military during a war, the Court struck down as inadequate what Chief Justice John Roberts called “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded enemy combatants.”
The IOC instructed the international gymnastics federation, known as the FIG, to take up the issue Friday with the Chinese gymnastics federation and the Chinese Olympic Committee and report back to the IOC later in the day.
The FIG has asked the Chinese for official documents, including birth certificates, of its entire women's gymnastics team, according to IOC officials.
Los Angeles, CA (AHN) -- The pending transfer of the widow of television producer Aaron Spelling to a condo unit from a mansion reflects the downturn of the American economy and the real estate market.
Candy Spelling, when Aaron was still alive, lived with her husband for almost two decades in a 56,500-square foot French chateau-style mansion which had a wine-tasting room, bowling lanes and silver, china and gift-wrapping rooms. Aaron was the man behind hit TV series like "Charlie's Angels" and "Seventh Heaven."
Recently she bought a high-end condo unit for $47 million at The Century in Los Angeles, which has identified wealth with estate living, not a high-rise lifestyle. The 140-unit building is still under construction. Spelling will have two penthouse floors measuring 16,500 square feet, which boils down to $2,848 per square foot. (emphasis mine)
Obama could have done a lot worse...Biden was for the Iraq war and the surge which puts him in a distinct minority in the Democratic party.
He also has a commendable record of public service-he's clearly ready to be President if, God forbid, something should happen. Unfortunately that just serves to highlight how thin Obama's resume is. It's worth remembering that Obama's qualifications to be President are only slightly better than ....mine. He is perhaps the most grossly unqualified major candidate for President...ever...and it shows. He's full of contradictory half thought through ideas, none of which he's firmly committed to. He simply doesn't know what he's doing and he's way over his head.
Unfortunately even though Biden would make an acceptable Vice-President that doesn't mean he helps the ticket in any meaningful way. Delaware with it's massive 3 electoral votes is a solidly Democratic state so no help there. Democratic talking heads are running around talking about how Biden grew up in in Pennsylvania and is the "3rd Senator" from that state and how he has blue collar appeal because of his economically strained upbringing. Given that Pennsylvania is considered a swing state, the argument is that he helps there. Frankly I don't see it.
Biden is no more associated with Pennsylvania than Ronald Reagan is with Illinois. It may be a source of pride for Illinois conservative activists...but that's about it. To the rest of the world he was from California. It's also worth remembering that Both Gore and Kerry won Pennsylvania so the choice of Biden to help with that state is essentially defensive. If the Democrats think that Pennsylvania is going down the tubes they've got bigger problems elsewhere.
I also don't see Biden having enormous appeal with blue collar swing-voters. I mean ok, Biden did have to work his way up in life and he had some bonafide working class experiences but he just doesn't come off as that sort of guy. He doesn't remind anybody of a union electrician sitting in a bar having an Old Style. Instead he reminds people of the captain of the Debate Team who thought he was smarter than everybody in the room ...everybody hated that guy.
Democrats make this sort of mistake all the time. Consider John Kerry. Democrats assumed that because he served in Viet Nam (and may even be something of a hero-though it would be easier to tell if he'd release his personnel records as he's promised several times) that he'd be popular with veterans and current members of the military. The reality was somewhat different. While many commended him for his service, few could forgive his actions as an anti-war protester. Because most senior Democrats agreed with Kerry on his anti-war stance they assumed it was a plus and that his military service gave it credibility and would mute criticism. They couldn't have been more wrong.
Another problem with Biden though is his tendency to... say unfortunate things. Whether it's praising Obama for being hygienic (I guess most black folks aren't in Biden's world) or suggesting that you need an Indian accent to go into a Seven Eleven, there's no denying that Joe's foot regularly winds up in his mouth.
The biggest problem though are the things Biden said in the course of this campaign. He said Obama was unfit to be President and that electing him would be a terrible mistake. Expect to see lots of footage of this in Republican ads this fall.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I'm going through a move at the moment and the cable company in a burst of premature enthusiasm shut off my cable and Internet two weeks early. They were very apologetic about the whole thing and my service is back up and running but it was pretty inconvenient.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Cuban communism may be repressive, but at least it provides good health care. This is a common trope of left-wing apologias for Castro's brutal dictatorship. This claim is getting recycled yet again in the wake of Castro's recent resignation (e.g. here). One response to this point is that of liberal Berkeley economist Brad DeLong: Cuba would likely have a much higher standard of living (and better health care) today had it not gone communist in 1959. As DeLong documents, Cuba in the 1950s was one of the richest countries in Latin America and rapidly approaching Western European standards of living and health outcomes.
Under communism, it became one of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere - despite receiving vast quantities of heavily subsidized oil from the Soviet Union for decades. Taking Cuban official statistics at face value (as DeLong does), Cuban health outcomes and standards of living are roughly similar to those of Mexico and the Dominican Republic. In the 1950s, DeLong notes, Cuba was vastly better off than these countries and, on some measures (such as infant mortality) better than many Western European nations.
For years now people have been saying that our fiscal policies were undermining the value of the dollar (some truth in that) and the trend toward the the Euro signaled an end to the dollar as the worlds principal reserve currency. But that argument only made sense if Europe's underlying economic fundamentals were better than ours-and they aren't. Add an increasingly erratic and dangerous Russia to the mix and what do you have?
Against sterling, the US currency notched up its 11th consecutive day of gains – its longest uninterrupted rise in more than 35 years – as markets became increasingly convinced that the US was best-placed to weather the global downturn.
Of course the hard part is getting back.
First Poland now this. It seems Russia may have overplayed their hand.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Children used to provide cheap labor, and retirement security, all in one. Now they're pretty much all cost and no return, from a financial perspective. That suggests that subsidies might solve the problem. Vladimir Putin thinks so, as he plans to offer generous parental benefits to encourage citizens to have more children, something that's necessary as Russia's population is in absolute decline. (Italy, which is also in demographic free-fall, is doing something similar).
When we moved to the beach, here in California we were very lucky. We found a place that was affordable, had nice sea breezes, parking, a balcony, and all the modern conveniences...save one: on site laundry. We could have had it installed, we've talked about it...but it just never happened. In part it was the expense, but also it just didn't seem like an urgent priority. In fact, we probably felt a little thrifty for not running out and buying a new washer and dryer and paying to have them installed. So what if it meant that each week one of us would have to spend a few hours at the local Laundromat.
Now I wonder if you can guess which person in my marriage is stuck with laundry duty. On the one hand we have The Wife, a successful but slightly overworked, high-power attorney...who also happens to be seven months pregnant. Then on the other hand you have me, a largely unsuccessful writer who sits around, writes blog posts now and again and but mostly looks at porn on the Internet all day. Now I've tried to explain to The Wife that I have to do what I do or the terrorists win. Unfortunately, she's largely unimpressed. Needless to say, I'm the one trying to match socks each week.
Los Angeles is a very segregated city-not in the formal, legal sense of course, but neighborhoods tend to be mono-ethnic. Drive a few blocks in one direction and suddenly everyone is black. Go a few blocks the other way and all the signs on the business are in Chinese. There is a bit of this in all American big cities I suppose but it seems more pronounced in LA.
Where I live, on the coast is very white and relatively affluent. Unfortunately that also means it's relatively hard to come by a laundromat. There is however a working class Mexican neighborhood just inland, perhaps 10 minutes by car. Exactly the place for the perfect place to do your laundry.
It took me a few tries to find a place I liked but eventually I settled in. The place I'd go to was relatively clean and fairly large, which meant that I could do all my laundry at once and get in and out in about an hour. Now some Laundromats have lots of amenities. There was a place that I went to a couple of times when I was in college that served beer for example-this place on the other hand-not so much. No sink to hand wash items, no bathroom. They did have a couple of TVs but they had been set to Spanish language channels and the knobs had been removed (yes they were old enough to have knobs, which should tell you something about the picture quality). Now I like watching Judge Judy in Spanish as much as the next guy...but after a while it gets a little old.
They also had gumball machines-only there were no gumballs to be had. Instead they had little junk toys, phony gold chains, temporary tattoos, that sort of thing. The best one by far though dispensed inch high figurines of Catholic saints, the Virgin Mary, and even the big man himself...Jesus Christ. Now lets face it: doing laundry is boring. If it were fun, pregnant high-power lawyers would do it. So anyway, from time to time, when the chore of doing the wash was dragging on, I'd purchase a few figures....and play with them. Sometimes Mother Theresa would go on a blind date with St. Peter. Other times Pope John Paul II would have a Kung Fu fight with Our Lady of Guadalupe. Needless to say the Mexican ladies who were doing laundry while I was there would tell their children to stay away from the weird gringo.
I was reasonably satisfied with my laundry mat until one day I discovered one much closer to home. It was round the back in a strip mall, near a deli I'd go to from time to time. It was shinny and new and all the customers were U.S. citizens. The pull was irresistible. Now I knew how John Edwards felt- I began cheating on my laundromat.
At first it was wonderful. Everything was clean, they had a sink and a bathroom (though I'm not sure I'd want to use it and besides it cost 25 cents). You also didn't feel like you had to check and see if your car had been stolen every 10 minutes. It wasn't all gravy of course. Contrary to what you might expect, there were for example relatively few nymphomaniac college girls there...and the few I did run across tended to be put off by paunchy middle aged men who were folding their wife's laundry. No accounting for taste I guess.
On the whole though I liked the new place very much. Then one day as I was folding shirts, a homeless man came up to me and asked for money so that he could do his laundry. I paused for a moment and thought about how difficult it must be to ask a stranger for something like that. "Of course" I said "How much do you need". A little shamefaced, he told me and I gave him the money. Afterwards, I felt kinda good about it...clean clothes seem like such a small thing-until you can't get them. I felt like I had really helped him.
A few weeks later I was approached again (by a different man) and again I was eager to help...and yet it was also a bit of a nuisance. I found myself wishing he hadn't been there. The old Laundromat had none of this sort of thing. People who sneak into this country looking for work aren't very sympathetic to "there but for the grace of God go I" type guilt trips. The Mexican ladies at the old place would have told this guy to get a job...and perhaps they have the right idea.
Anyway I went in today to do laundry and to my joy I noted that the washers and dryers near the back weren't taken (the dryers in the back run hotter which means you're done faster and cheaper). I looked a my fellow patrons, "the fools" I thought to myself "if only they knew how much better my drying experience was going to be...Ha Ha Ha". OK I know it's a little lame but in life you have to take the small victories when they come. With a smile on my face, I strode confidently to the back row. And then I saw it. Rather than pay the 25 cents to use the bathroom, one of the homeless had "used" the floor right in front of my precious ultra-hot dryers...and not just urine either if you know what I mean.
I wonder if my old laundromat would take me back.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Latest Environmental Crisis: The Tropics Are Shrinking! Greens Blame Bush Administration And 40,000 Year Long Planetary Cycle...But Mostly Bush.
A full bus or trainload of people is more efficient than private cars, sometimes quite a bit more so. But transit systems never consist of nothing but full vehicles. They run most of their day with light loads. The above calculations came from figures citing the average city bus holding 9 passengers, and the average train (light or heavy) holds 22. If that seems low, remember that every packed train at rush hour tends to mean a near empty train returning down the track.
Transit vehicles also tend to stop and start a lot, which eats a lot of energy, even with regenerative braking. And most transit vehicles are just plain heavy, and not very aerodynamic. Indeed, you'll see tables in the DoE reports that show that over the past 30 years, private cars have gotten 30% more efficient, while buses have gotten 60% less efficient and trains about 25% worse. The market and government regulations have driven efforts to make cars more efficient, while transit vehicles have actually worsened.
In order to get people to ride transit, you must offer frequent service, all day long. They want to know they have the freedom to leave at different times. But that means emptier vehicles outside of rush hour. You've all seen those huge empty vehicles go by, you just haven't thought of how anti-green they were. It would be better if off-hours transit was done by much smaller vehicles, but that implies too much capital cost -- no transit agency will buy enough equipment for peak times and then buy a second set of equipment for light demand periods.
“I’ll tell you the truth,” a criminal complaint quotes an apparently inebriated Keith Walendowski. “I got pissed because my lawn mower wouldn’t start, so I got my shotgun and shot it.
“I can do that. It’s my lawn mower and my yard, so I can shoot it if I want,” Walendowski told police.
Ignorance of the law, however, is not a legal defense.
In the mid 1930s, the U.S. Government launched the Federal Writers’ Project to support writers during the Great Depression.
As part of a project documenting American folklores, a guy named William Zimmerman told the story about "mysterious Chinese tunnels" (or "Shanghai tunnels") beneath cities in the Pacific Northwest, where kidnapped city dwellers would be smuggled to the docks and sold into slavery in Shanghai (hence the name).
The tunnels are clearly there - so it’s interesting to see how whatever their original purpose was - in this classic urban myth, it has been nefariously subverted to be a malicious one.
The article is here.
Why do we capitalize the word “I”? There’s no grammatical reason for doing so, and oddly enough, the majuscule “I” appears only in English.
Consider other languages: some, like Hebrew, Arabic and Devanagari-Hindi, have no capitalized letters, and others, like Japanese, make it possible to drop pronouns altogether. The supposedly snobbish French leave all personal pronouns in the unassuming lowercase, and Germans respectfully capitalize the formal form of “you” and even, occasionally, the informal form of “you,” but would never capitalize “I.” Yet in English, the solitary “I” towers above “he,” “she,” “it” and the royal “we.” Even a gathering that includes God might not be addressed with a capitalized “you.”
Do you ever wonder how communism could last for 70 years in Russia? Surely there was plenty of evidence, for decades, that the system was failing: food shortages, declining life expectancy, increased infant mortality, low standards of living, primitive hospitals, and sanitation facilities lagging far behind those in Western Europe and America — not to mention pollution far worse than in the West. But to diehard communists, the facts did not matter. All the observable negatives of collectivism were trumped by ideology. The same is true of the ideology behind global warming.
The creator of James Bond meets the creator of Philip Marlowe ...awesome!
As Ace says:
Interesting if you're a fan of either man, and especially if you're a fan of both. Be aware that Raymond Chandler was a genuine hard-case full-blown alcoholic,* and he decided to show up for the interview in his normal state, three sheets to the wind. He slurs and doesn't have much to say. Fleming is pretty clearly straining to carry both ends of the interview here.
* In writing one screenplay -- Double Indemnity, I think, but I could be wrong -- he was afflicted by his other big problem, writer's block, and so informed the producers "I can't write this sober, but I can write it drunk." To write the screenplay, he got falling-down drunk in the morning, and was taken by studio car to his bungalow, and typed out pages while getting drunker still through the day; at day's end, they loaded the insensate drunk into the car and drove him back home. And he followed this routine for a couple of months.
Via Ace of Spades.
The Oregon Country Fair is an excellent example of the culture of the left in today's America. This is not a culture that favors middle-class capitalism or the traditional form of American patriotism. It is a culture seeking a one-world government, a primitive socialist economic system, a low-tech manufacturing infrastructure, and a religion that worships nature instead of God.
"Even some of the dinosaurs may have gotten involved in some of this," says William Thomas, a geologists at the University of Kentucky. "[Although] I think it would be quite rare and a very small and insignificant contribution."
But another theory holds that more oil was in Earth from the beginning than what's been produced by dead animals, but that we've yet to tap it.
The Media keep reminding us of the issues that divide us as a nation: Iraq, different approaches about reviving the economy, socialized medicine, the role of mankind in global warming, gay marriage, social issues, and many others.
As Ted Kennedy’s recently diagnosed brain tumor demonstrated, Right and Left are also divided based on whether they display basic human decency when misfortunes befall a member of the other side. The American people seem to be fundamentally cleft about how they treat news of an opponent’s impending death in a conservative manner – with prayer – or a leftist one – with champagne and hate mail.
When Jessie Helms and Tony Snow passed I got an instant message from an old lefty friend who couldn't help but gloat over their demise. I was more than a little shocked. This person is someone I've known for years and considered a friend. We've always had our political differences but I didn't think we ever thought of the other side as evil.
I thought we were opponents but never enemies. Perhaps I was wrong. I simply can't understand taking joy from the misfortune of my fellow Americans.
Who wouldn’t like to get away from their responsibilities now and then? No kids, no job, no financial worries. Sounds nice, but these 10 people took it to the extreme by faking their own deaths. Although some of these people didn’t do it to shirk their responsibilities - some did it just to see who would show up at the funeral. Yikes.
The list is here.
Tom Matzzie is mailing threatening letters this week to nearly 10,000 people with whom the liberal political operative vigorously disagrees.
If the recipients act in a way he disapproves of — namely, donating to certain conservative or Republican causes — Matzzie and his new nonprofit group, called Accountable America, will unleash what The New York Times describes as “a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.”
Matzzie claims he’s simply seeking to prevent dishonest attacks on politicians and causes he favors, but the reality is that such letters are nothing less than political thuggery.
And, as Judicial Watch points out, the Accountable America letters are also quite possibly violations of the civil liberties of those receiving them: “A key federal civil rights law (42 U.S.C. § 1985(3)), popularly known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, may be applicable if ‘two or more persons conspire to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy in a legal manner, toward or in favor of the election of any lawfully qualified person as an elector for President or Vice President, or as a Member of Congress of the United States; or to injure any citizen in person or property on account of such support or advocacy.’ ”
One of the first things that prompted me to move away from the left was the realization that it was never really about "peace and freedom".
The argument for electric cars goes like this. Most Americans have two cars, and most driving is within 20 miles or so of home. Therefore, the usual shortcomings of electric cars (small, short range) would not matter if the electric car were used as a commuter car.
According to some, like the makers of the documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, electric cars might be plentiful on the highways today but for the conspiracies of Big Oil and Big Auto.
I’m doubtful about this, because of a simple, simplistic metric: I, who am tempted to buy many techy things, have never been tempted, have never even been curious about buying an electric car. And if I am outside of the target market, my reasoning goes, it’s not that big a market.
Because cultural and family expectations matter.
A surprisingly candid piece from the L.A. Times.
Sexy title huh? Professor Volokh weighs in on the constutionality of of laws that hold someone criminally liable even if he's made an honest mistake (or perhaps even a reasonable mistake).
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The play is the thing wherein Hamlet captured the conscience of the king. We’ve taken that concept and put a challenging _flossian spin on it. We’re not after your conscience (so relax); we’re after your knowledge of Shakespearean theatre. In this quiz, we’ll provide a Shakespeare character and ask you to choose the play in which he or she appears.
It's pretty tough. I only go 75% and I like to think I know my Shakespeare pretty well.
See how you do here.
Monday, August 11, 2008
We also have the obligatory column from Clark Hoyt admitting that the New York Times was wrong, but denying that their reticence to cover the Edward story was the result of liberal bias. Yes, who could imagine such a thing of the paper which ran a front-page, uncorroborated story of the Republican nominee’s alleged relationship with a lobbyist some nine years ago?
The Edwards mess is the most recent and visible, but hardly unique, example of the mainstream media’s hear no evil/see no evil approach to newsgathering. How many other stories has the MSM missed, denied or avoided? From Rathergate to Reverend Wright to the success of the surge, the pattern is the same: MSM stalls, shuffles its collective feet, and doggedly ignores information for as long as possible until they can no longer do so with a straight face. The fact that these stories without exception work to the detriment of Democrats is apparently a grand coincidence.
The navy thought a blockade would do the trick. Starving the Japanese war machine of raw materials and the people of food they were importing from occupied China would have the Japanese government begging for peace in a matter of six months to a year. Again, visions of millions of dead from starvation came with the plan.
The army saw invasion as the only option. A landing on the southernmost main island of Kyushu followed up by an attack on the Kanto plain near Tokyo on the island of Honshu. Dubbed Operation Downfall, the plan called for the first phase to be carried out in October of 1945, with the main battle for Japan taking place in the spring of 1946. Casualty estimates have been hotly debated over the years, but it seems reasonable to assume that many hundreds of thousands of Americans would have been killed or wounded while, depending on how fiercely civilians resisted, perhaps several million Japanese would have died in the assault.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
When war opponents declare that there is no military solution, they are attempting to imply that those with whom they politically differ believe that there is not only a military solution, but that it is the sole component of the solution, and that no other solutions (e.g., diplomacy, reform of a corrupt government, etc.) need apply.
There is an additional false implication that the military will play no part of the solution — that only their solutions are useful. Hence their extremist demands for years that the troops be brought out of Iraq immediately. After all, if there is no military solution, what is the military doing there, and what harm can there be in removing it?
Similarly, when we are told that we can’t drill our way out of our current energy problems, they falsely imply that those who favor expanded domestic exploration believe that this is a panacea, and that no other measures need be taken to solve the energy shortage. But I’m aware of no proponent of looking for more sources at home who believes this.
'No Values Voters' Looking To Support Most Evil Candidate
Since 1996, there have been more than 200 confirmed incursions by the Mexican military into the United States.
In the olden days we used to call this sort of thing an "Act of War". Today nobody cares.
The article is here.
Local authorities are claiming that nearly 1,000 civilians were killed in this morning's military assault. A spokesman for Russia's peacekeeping force in the region says that 10 Russian soldiers have been killed and thirty wounded.
Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says that 30 Georgians have been killed by Russian bombing. He also claims that Georgian troops have taken control of Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital. According to news agencies, fighting between Georgian and Russian forces is ongoing.
Georgia will be withdrawing 1,000 troops from Iraq to participate in the fighting.
Envoys from the EU, United States, and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have been dispatched to negotiate a truce.
Volunteers fighters from North Ossetia -- officially part of Russia -- are pouring in to help the rebels.
The Red Cross has called for the opening of a "humanitarian corridor" to allow civilians to evacuate.
The we in that statement is the French men’s 4x100 freestyle relay team. And the who making the proclamation was Frenchman Alain Bernard, who holds the current world record in the 100-meter freestyle.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The bottom line: liberal pundits — following months of analysis by their conservative counterparts — had figured out that despite the best possible terrain for the Democrats to recapture the White House, the Democrats (with a whole lot of cheerleading from the mainstream media) have chosen a thinly experienced, irresolute, underachieving and obnoxious standard bearer. And his excuse-mongering just makes it all the more irritating.
It is not clear what provoked the soul-searching or why reality didn’t dawn on the pundits sooner. After all, they knew all along that he had virtually no experience and that he often sounded bizarrely confident about his nonexistent credentials.
Some might conclude that they were so blinded by their bias against Hillary Clinton and eagerness to shove the Clintons off the national stage that they ignored any signs that The Chosen One was deeply flawed. And, indeed, many of the faults that are potentially so dangerous in Obama — his predilection to lie when the heat is on and his lack of core principles — were even greater liabilities for Clinton in the media’s eyes.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
A recent mission to Iraq headed by top archaeologists from the U.S. and U.K. who specialize in Mesopotamia found that, contrary to received wisdom, southern Iraq's most important historic sites -- eight of them -- had neither been seriously damaged nor looted after the American invasion. This, according to a report by staff writer Martin Bailey in the July issue of the Art Newspaper. The article has caused confusion, not to say consternation, among archaeologists and has been largely ignored by the mainstream press. Not surprising perhaps, since reports by experts blaming the U.S. for the postinvasion destruction of Iraq's heritage have been regular fixtures of the news.
Up to now, it had seemed a clear-cut case. It stood to reason that a chaotic land rich with artifacts would be easy to loot and plunder. Ergo, the accusations against the U.S., the de facto governing authority, had been taken on faith. No one had bothered to challenge the reports, the evidence or the logic, not least because many ancient sites were in hostile terrain and couldn't be double-checked. By implication, the U.S. had been blamed for that too: After all, the presiding authority is effectively responsible for allowing no-go areas to exist where such things can occur.
Read the whole thing.
To earn the Democratic nomination, as Fred Thompson points out, Obama ran as George McGovern without the experience, a left-of-center politician who would meet unconditionally with Iran, pull us precipitously out of Iraq, prohibit new drilling for oil, and grow big government in Washington by all but a trillion dollars.
Monday, August 04, 2008
That I'm not a fan of socialized medicine probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to the readers of this blog. While I don't want to get into a big debate about the pros and cons of government run health care per se (that's a post for another day) I did want to draw attention to this article that the wife emailed me last night.
One of the long standing arguments in favor of government run health care is that certain populations within a society gain access to medical services that they wouldn't get in a private model (I should mention as an aside that the United States emphatically does NOT have a private health care system but rather a mixed one of private and public providers each of whom service patients based on various criteria ranging from ability to pay to it's converse-need.). Whether that's really true or not is I think more open to debate than people realize. For every American twentysomething who didn't get health insurance and now finds themselves with a crippling illness there is a European who can't get a kidney transplant unless they fly to America for one and pay for it themselves. For fans of government run health care, this sort of thing tends to be rather embarrassing. So much for the government taking care of your health care needs in exchange for all those high taxes.
One thing that socialized medicine did do indisputably well though, was was combating infant mortality...or so it seemed. I vividly remember being taught as a child in the 1970's and 80's that countries with government run health care systems had much lower rates of infant mortality than the United States. Supposedly the difference was caused by greater foreign emphasis on low-cost prenatal care given away freely by the state as opposed to the more American approach of throwing lots of money at someone who was already sick. While one model might be better or worse for an individual depending on their circumstances, in the aggregate the statistics indicated that that the socialized medicine model was better for society.
The problem is that none of it is true.
Each country calculates infant mortality statistics their own way. As a result you're lucky if you wind up comparing things as similar as apples and oranges. In the United States we count babies as "live births" if they show any sign of life whatsoever (breathing, heartbeats, movement) and any subsequent deaths are counted. Not so elsewhere. Most other countries don't consider babies below a certain weight or size as viable (and thus outside the sample for infant mortality statistics). Not only does this distort comparisons of health care systems, but there is reason to believe that it undermines incentives to save premature infants.
Socialized medicine may have some strong arguments in it's favor, but quality of care isn't one of them. It defies reason to believe that the vast sums spent by this country account for nothing. Couple that with a healthy fear of screwing up thanks to America's tort lawyers and the notion that our doctors and nurses are being outperformed by a bunch of europeans who have an incentive structure for workplace excellence comparable to the one we see in action at the Department of Motor Vehicles becomes laughable.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
If Evelyn Waugh might be described as a social alpinist, clambering up one aristocratic pinnacle after another, George Orwell, his exact contemporary — both were born in 1903 — was a spelunker, burrowing ever deeper into the seamiest depths. Waugh loved the high life and made it his domain.
Orwell may not have loved the low life, but he valiantly tried to live it. While Waugh was chatting up dukes and duchesses, Orwell was rubbing shoulders with coal miners and tramps. Like a gourmet who sniffs out the most pungent cheeses, he had a nose for the sleazy side of life. Wormwood was to him what Champagne was to Waugh. Both men were, in their way, imposters, but they were imposters with a twist: The deliberate ambiguities of their lives sharpened their appetite for the truth.
There is a growing confidence among officers, diplomats and politicians that a constitutional Iraq is going to make it. We don't hear much anymore of trisecting the country, much less pulling all American troops out in defeat.
Critics of the war now argue that a victory in Iraq was not worth the costs, not that victory was always impossible. The worst terrorist leaders, like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Muqtada al-Sadr, are either dead or in hiding.
The 2007 surge, the Anbar Awakening of tribal sheiks against al-Qaida, the change to counterinsurgency tactics, the vast increase in the size and competence of the Iraqi Security Forces, the sheer number of enemy jihadists killed between 2003-8, the unexpected political savvy of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the magnetic leadership of Gen. David Petraeus have all contributed to a radically improved Iraq.
Pundits and politicians -- especially presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama -- are readjusting their positions to reflect the new undeniable realities on the ground in Iraq:
The additional five combat brigades of the surge sent to Iraq in 2007 are already redeployed out of the country. American soldiers are incrementally turning province after province over to the Iraqi Security Forces, and planning careful but steady withdrawals for 2009.
Violence is way down. American military fatalities in Iraq for July, as of Tuesday, were the lowest monthly losses since May 2003. The Iraq theater may soon mirror other deployments in the Balkans, Europe and Asia, in which casualties are largely non-combat-related.
Read the whole thing.