via The Final Redoubt which is back online after too long an absence.
In order to maintain a self-image of heroic radicalism - and in order to justify funding, influence and status - great leaps of imagination, or paranoia, may be required. Hence the goal posts of persecution tend to move and new and rarer forms of oppression have to be discovered, many of which are curiously invisible to the untrained eye. The rebel academic tends towards extremism, intolerance and absurdity, not because the mainstream of society is becoming more racist, prejudiced, patriarchal or oppressive – but precisely because it isn’t.
In hindsight, U.S. troops will get credit for keeping their own casualties down to historically low levels (compared to any other 20th century conflict). Professional soldiers have already recognized this feat, and are studying American techniques intensively. Less well appreciated are the efforts the Americans made to keep civilian losses down. But foreign military experts are coming to appreciate that this aspect of the war paid long term benefits. Iraqis saw, day by day, the efforts by American troops to avoid hurting civilians. Initially, Iraqis saw that as an American weakness, but in the long run they recognized it as a sensibility rarely seen in the Middle East. This will have long term consequences for relations between the United States and Iraq.
In a grocery store 4,820 cans of Campbell's Soup were used to build an installation piece that spelled HUNGER. Signage beside the piece encouraged shoppers to buy one and donate it to their local food bank. As shoppers bought cans from the display the word HUNGER slowly disappeared. This allowed people to see how their individual effort could help bring an end to the problem of hunger.
When our climatologists look at climate, they tend to look at the micro picture, but that is like trying to predict the stock market by looking at one day's fluctuations. It's meaningless. And apparently most folks, other than the loonies, have figured that out.
Republicans need to grab this issue and run with it. The democrats are startlingly vulnerable on this one.
To nobody's surprise, Mike Huckabee won on the Republican side (though the margin of his win was larger than expected). I'm not sure if this really means much. The Iowa Caucus have a terrible record when it comes to predicting who will be the next president-just ask Bob Dole or Dick Gebhardt. It's also worth remembering that the format of the caucuses favors candidates with a small committed cadre of supporters as opposed to those with broad appeal. Never the less Governor Huckabee should be congratulated for what can only be seen as an amazing political accomplishment. He came from nowhere in the polls to crush Romney in a state where Mitt had spent millions looking for an early win. With Romney trailing McCain in New Hampshire, the Mormon from Massachusetts may be headed for a quick exit.
Huckabee is a strange bird in the GOP. He's essentially a Christian Socialist advocating a conservative social agenda while holding economic and foreign policy views that are to the left of Mrs. Clinton (and possibly Obama and Edwards as well). The only historical figure who strikes me as similar is William Jennings Bryan who was of course a Democrat. If Huckabee were to be the nominee it would almost certainly split the party and result in a landslide victory for the Democrats.
McCain and Thompson both did well enough to keep their campains going in hopes of becoming the "Anybody but Huckabee" candidate. Giuliani did not contest the caucuses. Ron Paul got 10% (and no delegates) in what I predict will be his best showing this primary season. He, like Huckabee benefits from the structure of the caucus system.
On the Democrat's side of things the picture is perhaps even murkier. For a couple of weeks now the Clinton folks have been trying to lower expectations in Iowa as it became clear she was headed for defeat there. Interestingly even while her numbers in Iowa were collapsing, her national numbers remained strong. I've argued that the more people get to know Hillary the less they like her. She has all of Bill's bad qualities and none of the good. Perhaps as polls loom closer in other states we'll see her numbers collapse there as well. She may be one of those candidates who is attractive only in the abstract.
For Edwards, last night kept his campaign alive. He remains very much in the contest to be the anti-Clinton and can plausibly claim that he's more qualified than Obama to be President. Had he finished third, much of his support might well have shifted to the junior Senator from Illinois. Which brings us to Obama. Obviously it was his night. It might even be fair at this point to call him the Democratic front runner, an amazing accomplishment for a guy with a couple of terms in the Illinois State legislature and who has only been a U.S. Senator since January of 2005. That of course is the problem. With the exception of generals (U.S. Grant, Dwight Eisenhower and the like) who presumably demonstrated competence in other ways, Barack Obama has the least political experience of any major Democratic or Republican candidate for President ever. Perhaps I'm missing someone but I don't think so. Defenders of Obama will point out that Clinton and Edwards don't have a lot of experience by historical standards either. They're right of course but I don't see how arguing that your opponents are just as unqualified as you are helps. The Democrats who do have experience (Richardson, Dodd and Biden) have gotten nowhere.
I will say this about Obama; he's clearly a decent person, which is more than I can say about Edwards and Clinton. In the end that may be enough.
Remember the one that said the war had caused 650,000 civilian deaths? The study that was used so breathlessly by the media and the Democrats to attack both the war and the Bush administration? You know the one I mean. The one with unimpeachable credibility because it came from...well The Lancet. How's that study holding up?
It turns out not so well.
Some of us have been skeptical for a while now.
FREE SPEECH? WHAT'S THAT? British blogger to be arrested for inciting racial hatred. What, are they channeling the Saudis in Britain? If you're interested in supporting free speech rights, the British Embassy's contact page is here. As with the Saudi case I don't know much about the blogger, but I don't need to -- people shouldn't be arrested merely for blogging things that the powers-that-be don't like.
But since the British government disagrees, they should be forced to live with their position, and the one-sided nature of it should be brought out. As with the Steyn-persecuting Canadian government, British citizens who value free speech should be flooding the authorities with complaints about hate speech aimed at Jews, Christians and, for fun, even Americans, and then documenting the action, or lack thereof, that results.
The Wife and I got a credit card application in the mail yesterday. It included one of those fake credit cards, embossed with the legend "Void this is not a real credit card: call #### to activate your account" and so on. While I was looking at it I mentioned how kids tend to like this sort of thing and I recounted a story from my youth.
When I was seven or eight I got my first wallet. As far as I can remember, it was a perfectly nice wallet but it had a significant defect: I had nothing to put in it. Being seven (or possibly eight) I had no actual paper money-I kept most of my assets in loose change in those days. I also had no Id, no insurance cards etc.
Then one day I got my hands on an American Express application brochure. There on the cover, in glorious card stock, was an Amex card made out to Charles F. Frost. Taking my time I carefully cut out the card and put it in my shinny new wallet.
The Wife listened to this tale rather patiently and then made the observation:
"So it's it's just like now".
"What do you mean?" I replied.
"You have a wallet with no money and a bunch of credit cards that don't work."