August 31, 2005

Big gap...

Dana Milbank and Alan Cooperman write in the Washington Post:

...What strategists call the "religion gap" between Democrats and Republicans may be widening, despite efforts by Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and other prominent Democrats to talk about their faith and the religious underpinning of their positions.
Of course it's widening. Because people are starting to focus on the issue, to look at it. Dems have been coasting for decades on the momentum left over from when they were Americans. Ordinary people have been assuming that the lunatic fringe is just a fringe, and that those in charge were normal. Reality is starting to penetrate.
A Pew Research Center poll released yesterday found that 29 percent of the public sees the Democratic Party as "generally friendly" toward religion, down from 40 percent a year ago and 42 percent in 2003. A 55 percent majority continues to see the GOP as friendly toward religion, according to the poll.
Well, the Dems are NOT friendly toward religion. The instant loathing of Judge Roberts among "activists" and writers was a good example. (And his having a traditional family also didn't sit well with "Progressives." Nice bunch.)
Scott Keeter, Pew's director of survey research, said it appears that during the 2004 presidential race, Republicans succeeded in using Sen. John F. Kerry's support for abortion rights to raise doubts about the sincerity of the Democratic nominee's Catholic faith.
Was there a single person who fell for Kerry's obviously insincere "faith?" There couldn't have been many.
Since then, Keeter said, the charge that Democrats are anti-religious has been repeated in debates over judicial nominees, public displays of the Ten Commandments and the teaching of evolution in public schools. "My own sense is that the Democrats haven't forged a coherent response, and it's a hard charge to rebut individually, because if you start making a show of your personal piety, it can easily backfire," he said.
People of faith don't "make a show of their personal piety." It just shines through.
Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg has another explanation: "The efforts that Democrats have made to talk about faith and to present a different image is still very much an insider effort in Washington. They haven't taken it to the nation yet," she said.
Because that would be almost impossible. They will have to display their "faith" with a nudge and a wink, so the "activists" will know they are play-acting. Like Al Gore talking about what his 'faith tradition" believes. Lefties know what he means, but ordinary Americans can read between the lines too.
These trends work out over decades and generations. Dems won't close the "gap" anytime soon.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:21 AM


I don't have much to say about the damage from Katrina, it's just overwhelming. As a cabinetmaker, I keep thinking about the damage to people's houses from sitting underwater for weeks...or months. Every building, every home is going to be a heart-breaking disaster-area...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

August 30, 2005

Capitalist swine...

You know that picture of "Che?" The one that forms such a large part of the intellectual underpinnings of Left-wing thought?

Well, my son Rob sent this link, and said it sent his Irony Meter off the scale.

Apparently the Guevara family is mounting a world-wide legal campaign to gain control of the image, and the revenues thereof...(which are huge)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:54 AM

Media scum...

I borrowed this chart from Jim Miller on Politics.

Point is, the Media Wing of the Democrat Party not only fails to report good news from the War on Terror, they actively work to create the bad news. When they gleefully report the new enlistments are running below target ("Our military is imploding, Bush's fault") they don't mention that they are bending every effort to create that problem. One way: In olden times, America's heros were held up to young people as heroes!

We have as many heroes now as then, but the lefty worms won't tell people their stories.

Mentions in Major US Media
Lynndie England5,159
Koran abuse4,677
Paul Smith90

Who's Paul Smith? Can you tell me? It's a name we all should know......

Miller took the data from the September issue of the American Enterprise magazine, and they got it from a Lexis/Nexis search.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 AM

August 29, 2005


Just take a look at this, to see how images in the news are "improved," so they tell the desired story....

Thanks to Patum Peperium.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:39 PM

First time tragedy, second time farce...

Third time Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton..

Posted by John Weidner at 7:06 AM

August 28, 2005

Our plan: "We win, they lose"

Patrick Ruffini argues that the forces of freedom need to re-frame their arguments on Iraq. We should be speaking with more confidence and pride, asserting more strongly that our cause is right, and that we are winning.

....This narrative served us well for a time, playing into widely held suspicions of media bias, but now something different is called for.

A drumbeat of “steady progress” lacks a certain drama – a driving impulse – and falls short in telling the story of the world’s most dramatic place. It does not place the insurgency in its proper context, and arguably does not have very much to say about the violence at all. So long as the media, cooped up in the fifth floor of the Palestine Hotel, makes casualties their dominant frame, it is essential that they be addressed as part of a broader narrative about Iraq.

To the extent that the terrorist insurgency is addressed by our side, it is usually in the context of fearful, beleaguered Iraqis as the victims. Americans are urged not to lose heart -- because that’s what the terrorists would want. Unwittingly, we are training ourselves to be victims in need of therapy, to persevere through this unpleasantness just a little bit longer.

Hell, no. We refuse to be the victims. We refuse to even discuss the possibility that any terrorist thug could throw us off course. If asked for the umpteenth time to rearticulate a plan for Iraq, it needs to be Ronald Reagan’s “We win, they lose.”...

....Self-confidence like this doesn’t emerge in a vacuum; it springs from a narrative that is nourished over time.

This narrative is nothing new: we had it for a while in the spring, and now it’s time to get it back. It’s simple: everything – EVERYTHING – pivots around the Iraqi woman with purple ink-stained finger, or the Revolution babes in Lebanon, or the jailed democracy protesters in Egypt. That’s why we are being viciously attacked. That’s the narrative. That’s the first three quarters of the policy speech. It’s not that we shouldn’t be talking about progress on the ground. It’s that there's a better way to talk about progress than as a whiny alternative universe the media won't cover. Use the progress to explain the violence....

The progress does explain the violence. The violent reactions of the both terrorists and the phony "anti-war" movement. If Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon become free and democratic and prosperous, then it becomes all too obvious that neither of those groups has anything positive to offer the world. Only despair and hatred.

We are not just "doing OK." We do not have to be apologetic. We have already achieved prodigies. Miracles. We have changed the world, and even if all our efforts were to collapse right now, the forces of despotism will never recover their former strength. The world has seen millions of Iraqis holding up purple-stained fingers, and the nihilism of the Cindy Sheehans can never undo that.

We are the forces of good. They are the forces of evil. We are winning. And they have already lost.

And the Iraqis are not cowering hapless victims. They are proud people building a nation. And they will probably value democracy far more than, say, the Germans or the Japanese, who never had to fight for it.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:32 PM

August 27, 2005


From a letter to OpinionJournal:

Iraq is just like Vietnam except: We occupy Hanoi. We've captured Ho Chi Minh.
The North Vietnamese have just held a free and democratic election. The North Vietnamese are working on a new constitution. Yes, Iraq is just like Vietnam.

(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:11 AM

Fringe madness....

AJ Strata has a good post on the "protesters" at Walter Reed Hospital, Taunting Wounded Heros.

...These soldiers have been injured, some seriously, and these left wing ego maniacs have to go taunt them? Why - to make them feel better? To help them recooperate sooner? To give them emotional support?

The left has always had an incredible cruel streak in them, their desire to be right is so strong they have never really cared who they trampled or hurt along the way. Cindy Sheehan has made her son out to be such an idiot to follow George Bush into battle the poor guy’s reputation as a man of honor, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, is all but gone. For her media addiction she has ruined the memory of her son. So trampling a stranger is no big leap for the left...

...Finally, since the democrats bred this beast of fringe madness, I now call on them to call off these protests. Where are you Senator Clinton? Why are you not supporting our troops now? Where are you Senator Reid? This is not the war in Iraq, this is supporting the troops here at home. Where are you Howard Dean? You say democrats are here to support the troops - get down to Walter Reid and start supporting them...

I call on them too. but I don't expect much from them.

I call on decent people of the "anti-war" left, if there are any, to repudiate this abomination, put a stop to it. You know who you are. The ones who say, "Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home." These guys are home, and your colleagues are taunting wounded people with fake coffins. That's sick! Are you so sunk in lefty craziness that you can't see that? Are you going to start spitting on our soldiers next?

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

August 26, 2005

"against all forms of violence...except"

Something I find fascinating (and sickening) is how the "anti-war" left is forced, by the logic of their situation, to more and more become apologists for the terrorists.

They try to claim they are "pacifists," but then there's the awkward problem that they never hold any of those candlelight vigil things when some killer blows up a crowd of children in Iraq. People notice that. Same for the claim to be "anti-war." After a while people notice that it's only American or Israeli wars they get protested. Ditto for posturing as superior moral beings who just can't support a war that was based on supposed lies. The world asks, "If you are so goddam moral, how come you have no qualms about helping Ba'athist torturers back into power? And how come you have no enthusiasm for letting Iraqis vote for their own future?

So they are forced to say...well, here are the words of Jodie Evans, of Code Pink:

...“We must begin by really standing with the Iraqi people and their right to resist. I can remain myself against all forms of violence, and yet I cannot judge what someone has to do when pushed to the wall to protect all they love. What does the Iraqi resistance have to lose? They are fighting for their country, to protect their families and to preserve all they love..."

"...against all forms of violence, and yet... " Remember that sentence, you will be hearing more like it. And of course, Cindy Sheehan calls the terrorists "freedom fighters."

It was the same during the Vietnam War, where the "anti-war" protesters were forced to pretend that North Vietnamese regulars with tanks and heavy artillery were "guerilla fighters" waging "people's war." Those anti-war frauds were not about to protest attacks by communists, no matter how huge and bloody. Nor did they utter a single peep when Vietnam and China later fought a war with each other.

Same with Israel. To justify their anti-semitism lefties have to pretend that monsters who train little children to be murder-bombers (while they themselves die in Parisian luxury) are "freedom fighters" waging a struggle against a "nazi Israel." They can't acknowledge that Arab countries have treated the Palestinians a thousand times worse than Israel has, because they have no intention of criticizing anyone who's not Jewish.

The quote, by the way, is taken from a great post by John Byrnes, about how loathsome and creepy it is for Code Pink to be directing protests against our wounded soldiers. Normal people wouls say that Crawford and the President are fair game, but harassing people in the hospital is just sick sick sick.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:52 AM

#190: A Grudging Correction from the streets of Qum


Paul Krugman had to make an embarrassing correction of his column Don’t Prettify Our History (08/22/05) concerning the 2000 election in Florida and the subsequent unofficial recounts. Anyone who followed that election even casually could see this one coming from a mile away. The Times public editor must have been overwhelmed by popular objections.

However, as important as Krugman fact checking is (we do it ourselves when he cites the research of others), in this case it misses a much larger point. It is not so much about his “lying” as it is about the demented state of mind that leads him and other Democrats to say such preposterous things about that election. In a word, they are crazed!

Think about it. From the halls of academia to the corridors of leading businesses and law firms there are grieving liberals whose career dreams were shattered by the Gore defeat. The narrowness of the election makes it hurt all the more. They simply cannot get past it and the outpouring of woulda, coulda shouldas takes many forms including distorting the facts of the recounts. They blame the ballots, they blame the machines, they blame Katherine Harris, they blame Gore himself and even themselves. When we think of self-flagellation we normally picture Iranian Shiites marching in the streets of Qum whipping themselves about the head and shoulders. But as Krugman’s column illustrates the Democrats have a trip going all their own. And it is self-destructive.

That of course is good news. They will never win the White House until they stop whining and get over Florida in 2000. Happily, they show no signs of doing that. To slightly restate the refrain of Brando’s Terry Malloy in On The Waterfront “They coulda been contendas.”

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:16 AM

#189: But we have the stats


Summer of Our Discontent (08/26/05) is another egregious example of Paul Krugman’s hell-bent partisanship and disregard for facts. His mantra for the last few years has been that economic growth in the U.S. is disappointing and that post-recovery job growth has been slow. But he has been totally wrong about GDP growth and now that jobs are growing nicely also, he has switched to wages:

“American families don't care about G.D.P. They care about whether jobs are available, how much those jobs pay and how that pay compares with the cost of living. And recent G.D.P. growth has failed to produce exceptional gains in employment, while wages for most workers haven't kept up with inflation."

Oops. Wrong again. As the following Bureau of Labor Statistics table makes clear, wages are more than keeping up with inflation in all sectors of the economy as of the 1st quarter of 2005. The only possibilities for explaining Krugman’s column are that he doesn’t know any of this (incompetence) or that he is a flat out liar. We vote for the former. He is too ideologically hidebound to bother with facts anymore.

BLS Wages Chart

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 7:56 AM

August 25, 2005

Body armor...

Glenn Reynolds mentioned this article by Jack Kelly in Jewish World Review. It's worth reading.

The gist: The Army developed a new component for their body armor. This was done pro-actively; our enemies do not yet use ammo that can defeat the older armor. It was done was great speed, by cutting red-tape. The Army's director of materiel told exactly that to the NYT.

So how did the NYT story read?

..."For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks of insurgents.

"The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system."...

You know, they say that the most effective polemical writing avoids invective and name-calling, and just lets the facts speak for themselves. I think that's true. But Random Jottings isn't an important blog, and I'm not going to change the world. So I might as well say what I feel.

Most of the people in the Gasping Media and the "anti-war" left are LIARS. They hate America, and they want us to lose. They are effectively on the other side, although I think they mainly want the world to go back to the Vietnam Era, when they felt like they were something special.

This gross lie will get repeated. Trolls will be dropping it into blog comments for years, as if it were fact. The lie will be used to discourage America, and to undermine support for our military. And it will give America-haters an excuse to pretend to be concerned for our troops, (without EVER actually doing anything to help them).

And then, if we have to fight future wars because the WoT ended in retreat and confusion, why, they will claim it's Bush's fault! If other terror-supporting states are left intact because the political cost of action is too high, why it's Bush's fault! If some future Saddam is left in power because of lefty protests, why, it's Bush's fault.

Well, bullshit. What the fake anti-war activists and the fake pacifists are doing is trying to create future wars. Which will probably be more bloody and ugly than this one. They are murderers. Warmongers. The true peace party is led by George W Bush, Tony Blair, and John Howard.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:53 AM

August 24, 2005

Back down to earth...

Charlene and I both noticed this paragraph in Edward Whelan's Bench Memos blog at NRO. It was written by Judge Roberts...

...“It is argued, however, that divesting the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over a particular class of cases would undermine the constitutional role of the Court as the ultimate arbiter of constitutional questions. The Constitution, however, does not accord such a role to the Court. The authority of the Court to interpret the Constitution derives from the necessity of its doing so in the course of discharging its judicial responsibility to decide those cases and controversies properly presented to it. [Lengthy quotation from Marbury.] If the necessity of interpreting the Constitution is removed, as it would be if the Court were divested of jurisdiction, the basis for the Court’s role as final arbiter of the Constitution is removed.”...

This really brings the judicial branch back down to the realm of the sensible and sane. Judges decide cases. If there are no cases, then judges have nothing to do.

The Supreme court, and other courts, do not "interpret the Constitution." They decide cases. If Congress passed a Bill of Attainder against me, and locked me up for web-logical turpitude, the Supreme Court could say or do nothing about even so obviously unconstitutional a law...unless a case was brought before them.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:44 PM


One of the things that makes me want to sink through the floor is when I see members of my generation, the "Baby Boomers," who try to pretend that they are still in the 60's. Graying arthritic people still wearing long hair, jeans, frumpy's so pathetic; I want to slink away and say "I'm not part of this, I'm older, or younger! I have no connection with people who still smoke pot and listen to Crosby, Stills and Nash."

It seems to clear to me that part of the problem is what I theorized about in my Raindrop Theory. If you don't have an underlying political and social philosophy, you can't adapt to new things and new conditions. You have no compass. The endless Vietnam comparisons just reveal people desperate to go back to when the world seemed to make sense to them. Sheehan and the others are apparently now calling the terrorists and Ba'athists "freedom fighters." How cretinous can you be? How utterly sick. And, as usual, being "anti-war" just means being anti-American war. The "freedom fighters" and Viet Cong and Palestinians can slaughter and torture as many people as they like, without a peep of protest from the hypocrites who claim to be anti-war.

And now we have old Joan Baez joining the lefty appeasers in Crawford, and apparently still singing those same stupid songs. "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" sounded profound when I was about 15. But I grew up.

And how does that song go? "Where have all the graveyards gone?" Well, graveyards we got. Graveyards for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Only thing is, this time Baez and Sheehan and all the fake-pacifists are FOR these graveyards. They are on the side of the murderers.

Mass grave in Iraq

Posted by John Weidner at 12:54 PM

August 23, 2005

Answer to prayers...

From a column by Katherine Kersten in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a heartwarming story about Americans helping Iraqi Christians...

Pastor Ghassan Thomas was overjoyed on April 9, 2003, when coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein. For four years, in the face of relentless persecution, he had operated an underground Christian church of about 50 members in the heart of Baghdad.

Saddam's police had tortured him repeatedly, Thomas says -- beating him, suspending him from a ceiling fan and attaching electrodes to his tongue.

Though Saddam's fall brought an end to official persecution, it also brought challenges. The living quarters where Thomas' fledgling flock had worshipped couldn't accommodate his swelling congregation, and he lacked resources to address their daunting needs.
As his frustration mounted, Thomas says, "I prayed to God for a sister church to stand with me and help me."
The answer to Thomas' prayers came from half a world away: Eden Prairie, Minn....
Posted by John Weidner at 12:10 PM

cool numbers....

Ralph Peters in the Ny Post (Thanks to InstaPundit)

...Remember last spring, when the Army's recruitment efforts fell short for a few months? The media's glee would have made you confuse the New York Times and Air America.

When the Army attempted to explain that enlistments are cyclical and numbers dip at certain times of the year, the media ignored it. All that mattered was the wonderful news that the Army couldn't find enough soldiers. We were warned, in oh-so-solemn tones, that our military was headed for a train wreck.

Now, as the fiscal year nears an end, the Army's numbers look great. Especially in combat units and Iraq, soldiers are re-enlisting at record levels. And you don't hear a whisper about it from the "mainstream media."

Let's look at the numbers, which offer a different picture of patriotism than the editorial pages do...

[the numbers are worth reading].

I've read so many times recently that our military is strained/stretched/broken...and just generally miserable and decrepit. One expects stupid rubbish from the Gasping Media, but the bloggers, if they are real bloggers, ought to be posting some corrections. I won't hold my breath.

It's certainly pleasant to see their hate-America hopes dashed. Nyahh nyahhh nyahhh!

Update: Phil Carter is saying the numbers don't really add up to meeting recruiting goals for the year. So I may be the one who has to make a correction. On the other hand, my feelings about those whose cheeks glow and eyes light up whenever America has problems--those will not need updates. I will continue to despise them.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:33 AM

August 22, 2005

That's what they DON'T want...

I saw this line in an article by Ron Brownstein in the LAT [Thanks to Orrin]

...But Sheehan will have done the nation a service if she inspires, or shames, both parties to resume debate over the direction of the Iraq war...

But a debate is what the Sheehan-ites DON'T want. (In fact it's funny to imagine the pickle they would be in if there really were to be some sort of formal debate, and and the rest were informed they had to have their debaters ready for Prime Time next Wednesday!)

If there were serious debate, it would turn out like 2002. Remember summer of 2002, when Dem congressional leaders kept saying that we need to have a "national debate" on Iraq? And then they were flummoxed when Bush requested a resolution from Congress authorizing an invasion?

If you are going to debate, you have to have a position to advance, you have to be for something. And you have to not only attack your opponent's position, but defend your own. They can't do that, they have no position, no plan. They are empty inside.

What they want is for the forces of freedom to lose confidence, to become confused and abashed, and to give up the fight. What they want is VIETNAM.

They want red-state America to slink away in confusion and doubt, and the War on Terror to sort of fizzle-out in disgust, so the left never has to stand trial for the people they would be destroying. Just like Vietnam. Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry are mass murderers, who helped condemn millions to death, imprisonment and communist tyranny. But they never had to accept responsibility. Because there was no debate. The war was won militarily, and then lost amidst confusion and doubt.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:59 AM

August 21, 2005


Thinking a little more about the last post, I predict that Cindy Sheehan is going to be a lot less of a jackpot for Dems than they think. And that's because almost everyone has been a victim of that sort of emotional blackmail sometime in their lives. Everyone of us has had some friend or relative in a crisis, and bent over backwards to accommodate them, to help them, to soothe them, to agree with their views.......and later felt like we were a victim of extortion.

As a tiny example, I once, years ago, wrote a (polite) e-mail disagreeing with another blogger. I noticed she had written a post two weeks previous saying her mother had died. But she hadn't stopped blogging, not at all; she was dishing out criticism by the scoopful. (I don't remember what, but harsh. Evil bagel-munching Neocons working for Oilyburton, or some such.) So I felt free to make my opinion known. What did I get for a reply? "Can't you read! My mother just died! How dare you harass me! Go away!"

Of course I slunk away, but I knew full well I'd been ripped off. (And knew that my point was true. If she had had any substantive rebuttal to make, she would have made it.)

I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with Sheehan (she does not poll very well) but they don't know quite why. But the longer they are exposed to her the more likely they are to remember somebody who had to be coddled during some crisis, and agreed with. And they will remember how it left them with a new appreciation of the bad old days, when people had stiff upper lips, and bit on bullets, and thought about the feelings of others even while on their death-beds.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:26 PM

"like robbers leaving a bank with a hostage"

Noemie Emery has a great article in the Weekly Standard, on how the Dems are using grief as a political weapon...

...Then Wellstone's friend and campaign treasurer took the stage to address by name Wellstone's Republican friends in the House and the Senate and beg them to "honor" the fallen man by helping Mondale win the race: "We can redeem the sacrifice of his life, if you help us win this election," he said.

In translation, this is the unspoken theme of grief-centered politics:
We are suffering, so you owe it to us to give us what we ask for. This is the claim of Cindy Sheehan and the Jersey Girls, and it carries with it an implied accusation: If you don't do what we ask you, you don't care that our loved one is dead. But no one had ever heard it stated so baldly or bluntly as at the Wellstone service, and the bluntness repelled...

...Political cut and thrust does not go well with the etiquette of bereavement, which tends to short-circuit all argument, which of course is the point. It inhibits argument, makes response awkward, and sometimes can stop it completely, putting an opponent in the position of Norm Coleman before the Wellstone Memorial fracas, in which Democrats were free to seek votes based on sentiment, while anything Coleman tried to say about Wellstone's replacement was called an insult to the dead. People who put mourners up front on policy issues are like robbers leaving a bank with a hostage between themselves and police fire. To do this on purpose, to drive an agenda, is beneath all contempt...

Leftists can't defend their position with facts and logic, so they try to get into a place where they can say, "If you criticize us, you are a heartless brute." We've really been getting it with Sheehan, with all sorts of conservative bloggers pussyfooting around and writing: "of course we must sympathize with her pain, her grief, her loss, blah blah blah. BUT we must interject a tiny word of criticism..." Pfui. I blow a kiss to Andrea, who isn't buying that load of manure.

Honest people, if they are going to debate in the public arena, don't hide behind emotional blackmail, or wear grief or loss as if they confer some special legitimacy. They want their ideas to stand on their merits. And if the lefties who are wearing Cindy like a badge were honest, they would send sob-sister off to the Oprah show, and debate with logic and facts. Also, honest people, if they find themselves in a position where they can't be criticized (perhaps because they are bereaved) don't criticize others. It's like hitting someone who can't hit back. It's cowardly and despicable.

Doug TenNapel put it more simply: Cindy is like the wife who cries to win an argument...and while that works in the privacy of my home, it doesn't in a national debate for our collective security.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:34 AM

August 20, 2005

Cargo Cult...

Stephen Spruiell points to a good quote from Christopher Hitchins on MSNBC's Hardball:

...Christopher, do you think that this represents—or she [Cindy Sheehan] represents some sort of tipping point in public opinion in America?

HITCHENS: Certainly not. She has, just today, lied about a statement that she made several times before to the effect that her son was killed in a war run by a secret Jewish cabal within the administration. She now says she didn‘t make that statement. She did make that statement. So as well as being an hysterical paranoid ideologist, or at least being manipulated by people who are, turned this into camp fruitbag and nutbag, she has decided not to have the courage or maybe the cowardice of her conviction. She now says she didn‘t make a statement that she definitely did.

FINEMAN: I think, Christopher.

HITCHENS: And she is also inviting a terrific riposte. What if we were to say, very well, the conduct of this war will depend on an opinion poll which we‘ll take of relatives of the fallen in Iraq, only they can decide, only they have the authority. She would lose...

To the poor goops who think Sheehan has "moral authority" (but would sneer at the other 2,000 or so grieving mothers if they were ever so tacky as to hire flacks and become celebrity war-supporters, or America-supporters) any lie is acceptable as long as it is for the cause. Except there is no cause.

I might have some sympathy if there were anything positive or noble that the Sheehan types were FOR. Any better plan, any hopeful scheme or dream. If there was anything they were willing to fight FOR. But they are only negative. Only AGAINST. They are empty.

They sport some rags of leftist rhetoric, but even that is a sham. There's no revolution planned, no bright future of scientific socialism. The leftists of the past one could admire for their disciplined quest for a better world, even though you knew they were totally wrong. But today's "anti-war" left is a kind of pathetic cargo cult, re-enacting empty Marxian rituals.

Sheehan will soon be forgotten. A fawning media can make her a temporary celeb, but she can't go beyond her "15 minutes." Why? Because, as the saying goes, you can't beat somebody with nobody.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:53 PM

An old punning poem...

At a tavern one night,
Messrs More, Strange, and Wright
Met to drink and their good thoughts exchange.
Says More, "Of us three,
The whole will agree,
There's only one knave, and that's Strange."

"Yes," says Strange, rather sore,
"I'm sure there's one More,
A most terrible knave, and a bite,
Who cheated his mother,
His sister, and brother."
"Oh yes," replied More, "that is Wright."'
Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

August 19, 2005


David Frum writes,

...After the experience of the 1990s, few people retain an illusions about the likely character of any Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership is corrupt through and through. The only effective opposition to that leadership is violent and extremist. Palestinian public opinion utterly rejects coexistence with Israel. A Palestinian state, whatever its borders, will wage terror war against Israel – and give sanctuary to Islamic extremists from around the world. It will murder Israelis and threaten the security of Europeans and Americans....

...In Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield there is a character who answers every request with a sigh: Ah, if it were up to him, he would of course say “yes” with pleasure – but his partner, Mr. Jorrocks,* is so very difficult ….. In just such a way, European and American political leaders favor a “peace process” that moves the Palestinians ever closer to statehood, without ever quite reaching it; a process that positions the Israelis as the Mr. Jorrocks of the world.

Ariel Sharon has decided to put an end to this play.

Sounds likely to me. "World leaders" don't really want the Palestinians to have a state, because that will quickly reveal the dishonesty of the world's favorite lie--that the twisted evil nature of the of the Palestinians is all the fault of Israel. And the so-called leaders of the Palestinians don't want a state either. Without it they can be thugs and hoodlums, plunder and destroy their own people, and get a free pass--it's all the fault of the Jews! But if they have a state they will have to actually lead, or be revealed as the blood-suckers they are.

And Western leftists and "liberals" don't want a Palestinian state, which is why they are so incensed about the "wall." As things are now they get a double treat. They can indulge their sick souls in endless orgies of Jew-bashing, and then congratulate themselves for "helping the oppressed."

Sharon wants to force the Palestinians to have their state. And then, you see, since the Palestinians' problems are all caused by evil Jews, those problems will all go away. Right?

Posted by John Weidner at 10:37 PM

By the shores of Gits-i-mo, where the tropic breezes blow....

Natalie writes, sensibly...

...I do not think it is unduly ethnocentric to think that anti-western terrorism has flourished because the west condoned and flattered terrorists. It is true that the motivation in the foreground of the terrorist's mind is more likely to be something written by a radical Egyptian preacher in 1930 rather than by a radical Californian academic in 1970. However their own words supply evidence that terrorists and terrorist-sympathisers spend plenty of time looking over their shoulders to see what the West thinks of them.

They curse themselves for doing it. The asymmetry between how interested they are in us compared to how interested we are in them is further proof of the West's dominance, and part of what makes them burn. But they do it just the same.

What we say probably does not supply the most important part of the terrorists' motivation - but its effect is not negligible, and it is the part that we can change.

Change [I write, not sensibly or seriously]? Do we get to send some of those "radical academics" on all-expenses-paid vacations where the sweet Caribbean breezes will caress their downy cheeks? Hmm? Yes? NO. Oh well, a person can dream...

And what a sweet sweet day-dream it is. Thousands of poisonous America-hating Jew-hating "progressives" having their parasitic feeding-tubules torn loose from the hive-walls of academic group-think by federal agents...and then....well my college roommates used to play these Woody Guthrie protest songs repeatedly, and there's a line that pops back into my head. "...And they won't know your name when you ride the big airplane, all they will call you will beeeeeeee....Deporteeee."

Posted by John Weidner at 11:54 AM

Fighting Sioux...

My son is at UND, so I noticed this interview Hugh Hewitt had with UND president Charles Kupchella, about the decision of the NCAA to ban them from championships for for being "abusive and hostile to American-Indians."

...CK: We don't have a mascot. We have a nickname...

HH: Which is?

CK: It's called the Fighting Sioux.

HH: The Fighting Sioux.

CK: And we do have a logo that's just a great piece of art. It was designed by Ben Brien, an American-Indian artist, a very respected one here in North Dakota, and I think beyond. His sculptures and work appear all over the state, and he did a masterpiece for us in this logo.

HH: Now explain to our audience what the National Collegiate Athletic Association ruled on August the 5th.

CK: Well, they basically said, I think, that we were among a group of schools, eighteen I think total, that were being abusive and hostile to American-Indians somehow, and without ever giving any definition to that. And presumably, it's simply because use the nickname Fighting Sioux. Apparently, everything is derived from that. No matter how much respect we give to that, apparently this wasn't enough for them....

...We will file an appeal, once we know what it is that we're going to be basing this appeal on. I mean, the main thing I've tried to communicate in this letter, is that we don't get it. I don't understand what they used as a standard, so it's pretty hard to know how to appeal, since you don't know what it is they used to decide. So once we get that result, then of course, we'll decide....

One can understand his total frustration at being unable to fight back when the rules are never spelled out or clearly defined. But that is intentional. The people who do this kind of stuff don't give a damn about Indians, nor about justice. It's all about power. It's bullying for its own sake. Leftists think they should be running the circus, and everybody's lives. And they leap on every "wrongdoing" as a chance to push people around. They don't want the rules clearly defined; they want their feelings and fads to have the force of law, without appeal. (And they also don't want clear rules because those can be turned back against them, such as the cases where lefty ranters have been accused of "hate speech," or people discriminating against whites and Asians have been snagged by rules against racism)

And it's about moral preening. The liberal elites get to condemn "immorality," and everybody then hangs their heads and shuffles their feet and hardly dares to answer back. Well, those days are over. Except in certain protected enclaves, like the academy. And even there Americans are starting to fight back. And though my blog is not an important blog, it's still so utterly cool to have a voice, and to be able to talk back to a certain kind of sniveler, and to say we are the good guys, and we were morally right to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we saved millions of lives by doing so.

And since the subject is up, while we all wish the native American populations had been treated better, we were morally right to settle this country, which was to become a refuge and a home for hundreds of millions of people from far worse places, and is now the world's engine promoting freedom and democracy and economic opportunity.

The Indians had to be displaced, for the good of the world. As Kit Carson said, "One Indian needs as much land as a million white men." And no matter how we had handled the problem, they would still have ended up as small marginal populations.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:13 AM

August 18, 2005

Intense times...

One of the people on my blogroll is Rinat, whose life I've been following with interest for 3 or 4 years now. Rinat's Brazilian, and emigrated to Israel. She's a journalist, and is in Gaza right now covering the evacuations...

...I guess that by now we can already say that most families have been evacuated fromm the biggest settlement in Gaza. The tension we felt yesterday, when settlers and policemen really confronted in the streets disappeared. Today people's feelings just came out. No violence, but some shouting and many many tears. I admit I myself cried. I guess it's the result of four days under 40C, almost no sleep, no food and lots of pressure. Tons of pressure. Went to the south of the settlement, where hundreds sat down in the street and started singing and praying. For a moment, I just lost control. I am a human being, sorry. When I heard the so typical zionist songs like "Eli, Eli" from Rachel, my eyes flooded. Sat down, drank water, calmed down. Everything under control. Passed. Not that easy to administrate our emotions here. Carried on my job. Talked to people. The hostile attitude's been broken and the sadness have found its place in the settlers' hearts.

People struggled when the policemen came to put them into the buses. Resistance. But a desperate one, not violent. The most amazing thing was the policemen and soldiers solidarity. They sat inside the settlers under the boiling sun held their hands, sang with them. People've been trying desperately to remember that altough they don't agree in what concerns disengagement and politics, they are still one people. The jewish people that can't be torn. Don't really know what goes on in the other settlements as it's hard to have a global vision of the situation when you're on the field...
Posted by John Weidner at 6:22 PM

August 17, 2005

...or not to ICE

Drunkbunny says skip the ICE (emergency contact info) on the cell phone (which I blogged about previously) and just put your medical info on a card in your wallet...

I started out as an EMT, then a Paramedic, then I went on to become an ER/Trauma nurse in the late 90’s, so I think it’s safe to say that I am allowed to have an opinion on this matter.

I do not have an “ICE” entry on my phone, nor will I. It’s just not necessary....

....Your cell CANNOT store an easily-accessible database of your medical history, meds, or allergies. (Emergency personnel won’t have the owners manual to learn how to work your model of cell phone, even if it does have a PDA type of function, and they don’t have time to figure it out.)
Contacting your family is secondary to providing lifesaving care. Having an emergency contact number is a bonus, but again, it can go in your wallet. A second easy-to-find emergency info card can go in your cars’ glove compartment. A third emergency info card can be taped to your refrigerator door at home. Medics should ALWAYS check the door of the fridge (that’s where medical info/DNR orders have been posted for decades)...

Makes sense. (Thanks to Dustbury)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:21 PM

a good example of left-loon analysis...

Robert Scheer: Bush's Blind Spot on Iran

WE DON'T respect or understand any religious or nationalist fervor other than our own. That myopic distortion has been a persistent historical failure of U.S. foreign policy, but it has reached the point of total blindness in the Bush administration.
Here we go again. America is stupid and clumsy, always. I've been hearing this as long as I can remember. And what has happened to those clever countries we were so much stupider than when I was young? Gone. Either changed drastically, overthrown, declined into impotence... but the US goes from strength to strength. Funny how that works, us being so stupid and all...
The latest exhibition of this approach was President Bush's thinly veiled threat this weekend to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities or even invade the country as a last resort, sparked by Tehran's troubled negotiations with the West over its nuclear program.
The negotiations are not "troubled." The negotiations are a farce, a sham, with Iran stringing us suckers along while they build nuclear weapons.

It is telling that Bush made the comments on Israeli television, which makes them exponentially more provocative. Israel is, of course, not only Iran's archenemy but is also believed to be the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the immediate region.
Israel is a peaceful democratic nation that only developed nukes for self-defense. Iran is the number-one terror supporting nation, and is responsible for the brutal murders of many Israelis and thousands of other innocent people. To place them in a position of moral equivalence (with Israel looking the worst) is an illustration of the depravity and sickness of our "liberal thinkers." I'm proud that our president is a strong supporter of Israel, and not inclined to lionize Palestinian murderers.
It is as if Bush is not content to rattle his saber at Tehran's hard-liners; he also wants to ensure that he infuriates and publicly embarrasses even moderate Iranians.
Maybe. And maybe he gives moderates credibility when they push for diplomatic cooperation to avoid worse things. That's called playing bad cop/good cop. A common diplomatic technique, but unknown to Mr Scheer.
If diplomacy fails, "all options are on the table," Bush said. "You know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country." But it was precisely Bush's use of preemptive force against Iraq that now makes it so difficult to pressure Iran to abandon its worrisome nuclear program.
Oh right. Sure. Iran was SO cooperative before. It's only those clumsy Americans who spoiled things.
Neither the security of the Iranians nor of the world is enhanced by any nuclear program that includes weapon capabilities. Nuclear weapons are inherently weapons of terrorism,...
Bullshit. In the hands of democratic nations they are guarantors of peace and stability. Have been for the last 60 years.
...and international monitoring of nuclear programs for all countries is in order...
Monitoring. Uh huh. If you "monitor" a problem, why then, it just goes away. Especially if it's international monitoring. Those "international" institutions are SO effective and trustworthy.
...Iran insists that it only wants peaceful nuclear power, but we cannot assume it is telling the truth...
If you weren't a brain-dead lefty, you would assume it's the obvious grotesque lie that it obviously is.
If Tehran refuses to be transparent and open to inspections, the U.N. Security Council can take up the issue of imposing sanctions.
The UN will "take up the issue." Well hey, there you go. Problem almost solved. The issue will be "taken up." Dr Johnson once spoke of the "triumph of hope over experience." Faith in the UN is the triumph of hope over a thousand experiences.

Yet as the head of the only nation to have used nuclear weapons on human beings and the one currently devising the next generation of "battlefield" nukes, it would seem that Bush should be a little more careful about trying to seize the moral high ground.
We are ON the moral high ground. WE are the good guys here. WE are working to defeat terrorism, remove brutal tyrants from power, and bring democracy and economic opportunity to oppressed regions of the world. (I guess I can't say "we," since our Democrats and leftists and "progressives" are on the moral LOW ground. Let's re-phrase: America, except anti-American/anti-semitic lefty appeasers, is ON the moral high ground.) And we were morally right to nuke Japan and bring a murderous war to an end.
This is especially the case because Washington has accommodated the nuclear programs of three allies (Pakistan, India and Israel).
Yes. They are allies. Allies of the good guys (us). They are part of the Axis of Good. (Pakistan's iffy, but I'm guessing they will stay mostly on the good side of the fence.) So their having nukes is not a big concern.
The timing of Bush's bombast is particularly unfortunate. Only last week the world marked the 60th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Seems fortunate to me. The good guys used nukes to bring to surrender an evil suicidal regime, and probably saved the lives of millions of Japanese and millions of other people. A parable for our times. A warning to evil-doers. Something we should be proud of.
The mayor of the latter city, which was apparently destroyed at least partly because the U.S. military wanted to test a plutonium-based bomb, was bold enough in his anniversary remarks to point out the hypocrisy of our current stance.
There is NO hypocrisy in our stance. And killing someone with a nuclear weapon, by the way, is not the slightest bit more immoral than killing someone by hitting them with a rock. (Guys like Scheer never mention certain things which were more immoral than our bombing of Japan. For instance, shortly before Hiroshima, the Japanese army massacred more than one hundred-thousand civilians merely because they were angry.)
"To the citizens of the United States of America: We understand your anger and anxiety over the memories of the horror of the 9/11 terrorist attacks," he said. "Yet, is your security enhanced by your government's policies of maintaining 10,000 nuclear weapons?"
YES, it is enhanced. And so is Japan's, which is protected by our nuclear umbrella. Which protection allows this silly Mayor to remain in moral infancy, while the grown-ups do the dirty work of keeping the world peaceful.
Bush's Iran policy is rife with contradictions and idiocies...
It's Iran's policy that is rife with contradictions and idiocies. Such as provoking really dangerous countries like Israel and the US. No doubt they are depending on lefty allies like Scheer to weaken our resolve so we are powerless to fight back.

...What, for example, is the point of publicly threatening Iran when doing so immeasurably strengthens the hand of hard-line nationalists and religious fundamentalists in Tehran? These are the people who, for more than a century, have secured much of their appeal by posturing as the protectors of the Muslim populace against Western imperialism.
We have no idea whose hand is strengthened. But to liberals it is an article of faith that anything America does makes things worse. How about presenting some evidence, Mr Scheer?
And the reality is that we are in a much, much weaker position vis-a-vis Iran than we should be because of our invasion and disastrous occupation of neighboring Iraq.
We are in a stronger position. Our Navy and Air Force are at leasure. Our Army and Marine Corps are blooded and tested, and at a superb pitch of readiness. We could if necessary turn Iraq over to the Iraqis and just tell them to just take off the gloves with the terrorists. And with Syria while they are at it.

Iran now holds some high cards in this poker match. It is closely allied with the most powerful force in post-Hussein Iraq: Shiite religious leaders. Any invasion of Iran might break our already strained military machine.
Rubbish. By traditional measures Iraq was just a warm-up scuffle. Our losses are a grief to us, but compared to the size of our forces, or compared to past wars, they are trifling.
If Iran were to send its fanatical revolutionary guards into Iraq as saboteurs, they could make the current carnage seem like a walk in the park.
This is a perfect example of how left-loons view the world. The other guys are fanatic unstoppable killer robots. Our side is always passive, weak, confused, unable to fight back. And the conclusion is always: we mustn't do anything for fear of carnage. But that's utter nonsense (and wish-fullfillment fantasy). The Revolutionary Guards are green troops, and they would be attacking forces already battle-wise. And if they cause carnage, well, so what? It's a war. We would have a perfect excuse to cause Iran a hundred times the carnage. Does this fool really think Iran could attack us or Iraq without retaliation? I shall pray that they attack...

And how come our threatening Iran "immeasurably strengthens the hand of hard-liners," but an attack by Iran's forces is NOT going to strengthen the hand of our hardliners? How come it only works one way?

And finally, Iran is one of the world's biggest oil exporters. At a time when oil prices are soaring, much of the rest of the world would be hesitant to back the United States in any adventure that could cut off the flow.
Screw 'em. If they won't help, they are useless. And the oil would soon be flowing again, under our control.
As German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder put it accurately on Sunday in response to Bush's comments: "Let's take the military option off the table. We have seen it doesn't work."
It's always smart to start negotiations by announcing that you are weak. And the military option does work. We were worried about nukes being made by Iraq—now we are not. Problem solved. That's what really gripes guys like Scheer. Peace Through Superior Firepower works. Tranzi grovelling and cringing never accomplished anything
What can work is what has worked in the past: carefully maximizing international pressure on Tehran to comply with the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency so that Iran's program can be monitored and limited to nonmilitary purposes.
Yeah, and it worked with North Korea too.
Perhaps this isn't as exciting to the neocon chicken-hawks in the Bush administration who love treating the world like a big game of "Risk," but it is certainly the most prudent approach if the goal is a more peaceful world.
No, it's appeasement disguised with a lot of double-talk.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:45 PM

August 16, 2005


Thomas P.M. Barnett's weblog has some interesting bits of advice:

...Big point: everyone in the hospital acts like you're in a prison or something, with few rights. Nothing could be further from the truth, and if your doc can't handle you pulling out all the stops for your loved one-get another doc.

Second point comes from a USA Today story that I neglected to clip before my flight: grass-roots movement among emergency medical response personnel in Britain is spreading to the United States. Finding that many unconscious patients carry no info on them regarding whom to contact in an emergency (remember those cards in wallets?), they're asking people to do so on their cellphones.

Here is how it works:

Type in cell phone numbers for next-of-kin emergency contacts and then label the entry "ICE" in all caps. The acronym stands for "In case of emergency." The EMR techs just might find that phone on your and check the numbers (makes perfect sense to me that they'd check) and when they see that entry, they'll be able to hit the button and call.

I will assume you know who Barnett is, and that you have read his book. If you haven't, you don't know what's going on in the world, and ought to keep your mouth shut and slink around trying not to be noticed...

Update: You should read the whole post. The Barnett family had a very bad year, with a child in the hospital with cancer, and their responses are worth reading. He also talks about it in the book, as an illustrative example of how you must change all your priorities to survive a crisis; applicable to nations as well as families.

And Anne has this same ICE tip on her blog also...

Or maby it's not a great idea. See next post.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:30 PM

capitalism spoils charming out-of-the-way village....

I'm probably going to join PJ Media [link, link] as an affiliate, so you may see ads on this blog soon. Presumably along the right-hand side. It's not that I have dreams or expectations of making money blogging (though I'm always happy to have a little more). But it's very interesting to be a part of something new and innovative in the blog-realm.

Of course I have this sort of schoolboy feeling that someone will soon tap me on the shoulder and explain that the offer was actually intended for the cool kids who are part of the in-crowd, not me. We'll see what happens....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:02 PM

Correction [or maybe not]

PowerLine is reporting that the Able Danger story was much inflated. So, to the extant that I based any conclusions on it, I will say, in the immortal words of Ron Ziegler, "That statement is no longer operative."

Actually, my conclusions are probably unchanged, but may now lack an example to give them zing.

Update: Or maybe not! Correction may have to be corrected...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:28 PM

August 15, 2005

Playing the Sheehan card..

Hitch has some sensible stuff on Cindy Sheehan...

...Finally, I think one must deny to anyone the right to ventriloquize the dead. Casey Sheehan joined up as a responsible adult volunteer. Are we so sure that he would have wanted to see his mother acquiring "a knack for P.R." and announcing that he was killed in a war for a Jewish cabal? This is just as objectionable, on logical as well as moral grounds, as the old pro-war argument that the dead "must not have died in vain." I distrust anyone who claims to speak for the fallen, and I distrust even more the hysterical noncombatants who exploit the grief of those who have to bury them.

I have a long list of arguments in favor of the Iraq Campaign, but if I claimed that "our fallen heroes would have wanted it," I would be out of line. I have no right to speak for them. Likewise, Ms Sheehan is wrong to use her son for political maneuvers that he probably would have not agreed with (Considering that he was a 24-year old who had just reenlisted after a 4-year hitch, and that he volunteered for the mission he was killed on, though as a mechanic he had no combat duties, one suspects he would not have wanted to be pictured as a gullible child bamboozled into a war he knew nothing about.)

But it's those cynical leftists who are using Sheehan who are really disgusting. To cry crocodile tears, and pretend they care about grieving mothers, when they care nothing for the opinions of the other couple of thousand grieving mothers, is despicable. And if Ms Sheehan were to change her mind, and started saying nice things about America, or about Jews, or about the President, they would instantly discard her like a sucked-out orange peel. Frauds.

And worse, they care nothing for the hundreds of thousands of mothers whose families were tortured and murdered by Saddam. Mothers who scratch through mass-graves in the desert, looking for scraps of bone. Mothers who died in Halabja trying to shield their children from poison gas with their bodies. Those mothers aren't even human to our lefty crowd. They are just political counters that have no value at the moment, and so don't exist.

And even worse, what the "anti-war" leftists are working towards is letting the Ba'athists and terrorists back into power in Iraq. So we can have a few hundred thousand more grieving mothers. Who also will not be real to the people who are now playing the Sheehan card.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 PM

Searching everywhere except in the mirror....

I had wondered briefly at the popularity of Jared Diamond's books, then shrugged at the asininity of popular taste, and didn't exercise my brain cells any further. Now Spengler explains, and I slap my forehead and say, "of course!"

...Why should the peculiar circumstances that killed obscure populations in remote places make a geography professor's book into a bestseller? Evidently the topic of mass extinction commands the attention of the reading public, although the reading public wants to look for the causes of mass extinction in all but the most obvious place, which is the mirror. Diamond's books appeal to an educated, secular readership, that is, precisely the sort of people who have one child or none at all. If you have fewer than two children, and most of the people you know have fewer than two children, Holmesian deductive powers are not required to foresee your eventual demise.

After rejecting revealed religion, modern people seek an sense of exaltation in nature, which is to say that they revered the old natural religion. If you do not believe in God, quipped G K Chesterton, you will believe in anything. It is too fearful to contemplate one's own mortality, so the Green projects his own presentiment of death onto the natural world. Fear for the destruction of the natural world - trees, whales, polar ice-caps, tigers, whatever - substitutes for the death-anxiety of the individual...

...In fact, the main reason societies fail is that they choose not to live. That is a horrifying thought to absorb, and the average reader would much rather delve into the details of obscure ecosystems of the past than reflect upon why half of Eastern Europe will die out by mid-century.

Suicide is a rare occurrence at the individual level, but a typical one at the level of nations...(Thanks to

And blue states....

Posted by John Weidner at 10:04 AM

August 14, 2005

Leaps of faith...

A friend sent me a link to this NYT Magazine piece on Muslims in Europe, An Islamic Alienation by David Reiff.

I found it an interesting effort, but a futile one. The author seems to be too much a part of the world of leftish multiculturalism to stand outside and effectively criticize.

This is his concluding paragraph...

...Figuring out how to prevent Europe's multicultural reality from becoming a war of all against all is the challenge that confronts the Continent. It makes all of Europe's other problems, from the economy to the euro to the sclerosis of social democracy, seem trivial by comparison. Unfortunately, unlike those challenges, this one is existential and urgent and has no obvious answer.

Wrong. All these problems are really the same problem. Europe has lost its faith. Its Christian faith, its Jewish faith, its faith in its own civilization, and in the future. Immigrants don't assimilate because there's now nothing to assimilate to. Their economies are stagnant because the missing entrepreneurial spirit is a kind of faith, a faith that is willing to sacrifice present comforts to build dream-like futures. Its democracies are sclerotic because real leadership is a form of faith, a willingness to take perilous paths of change or reform without knowing exactly how things will turn out. Europe's multiculturalism is a fig leaf to hide its lack of belief in anything. Its pacifism is a lie to cover the unwillingness to fight for anything.

Our leaders, and I in my small way as a voter and blogger, can send our troops into battle because we can see, can feel the future, and because we can cherish it and know that it can be good. And we can do that because we believe in what we are ourselves, and in our past, and can imagine future generations sharing what we have. We read of Washington and his men on their desperate march to the attack at Trenton, and they are us. Our faith is unbroken. We still believe that we can fight evil, and accomplish miracles. At least enough of us still do to elect leaders who are willing to call on us to take leaps of faith...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:41 PM

Core Values placed in blind trust to protect separation of Church and State...

Democrats are Slow to Connect with Voters
By Bill Lambrecht, Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau, 08/13/2005
After their shellacking in November, Democratic politicians promised to do a better job of telling voters about their moral values.

But judging by a candid report last week from key party strategists, Democrats have made little progress presenting themselves in a way that would recapture rural voters or make inroads into Republican turf.

The report by the Democracy Corps, based on interviews in rural areas and Republican-leaning states, offered a further testament to the cultural divide in America that has worked to Republicans' advantage in elections.

In response, several Democratic strategists said they are working to reverse voters' perceptions about the party's core values that have dogged them. The strategists say they see an array of openings caused by GOP shortcomings.
So if the problem is with the Dem core values, shouldn't the SOLUTION have some connection to Dem core values? Not GOP shortcomings?
Authors of the study also pointed to openings for Democratic candidates: growing dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, unbridled health care costs and the direction of the nation in general.
Ooops. So much for core values.
But in a withering assessment of their own party, the Democratic pollsters who put out the study raised doubts about whether Democrats can cash in on GOP problems.
"As powerful as concern over these issues is, the introduction of cultural themes - specifically gay marriage, abortion and the importance of the traditional family unit and the role of religion in public life - quickly renders them almost irrelevant in terms of electoral politics on the national level," the authors wrote....
So your issues are powerful but also irrelevant. And the Emperor IS wearing clothes. I just squinch my eyes tightly and I can almost see them..

..."The real problem for Democrats is that their elected officials, and by extension their entire party, are perceived as directionless and divided, standing for nothing other than their own enrichment," the Democratic authors wrote...
One skims ahead in the article, hoping to find some discussion of why this perception is wrong. Perhaps they were short on space and had to cut that part out.
While it carries generally negative news for Democrats, the report also presents the outline of a strategy to regain power. It notes Democratic success thus far in blunting President George W. Bush's plan to revamp Social Security and Republicans' disarray on issues surrounding stem-cell research.
Uhh, I'm still waiting for the "core values." Isn't that supposed to be the subject of this essay?
The report likens the Democrats' problems to those of Republicans in 1994, the year the GOP regained the House for the first time since the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower by running stridently anti-Washington campaigns.
Actually the Republicans campaigned on the things they were promising to DO. Remember "Contract with America?"
...The report found that particularly among less-educated voters, cultural issues "not only superseded other priorities, they served as a proxy for many voters on those other issues."

In other words, voters who paid little attention to the difference between the major parties on substantive issues like economic policy cast their lot with Republicans because of party leaders' opposition to same-sex marriage and defense of Christian values in public life.
Those "less-educated voters" are being very smart. Those issues are very good proxies. Anywhere in the developed world you can be sure that candidates who support same-sex marriage and abortion will also favor statist economic policies, oppressive bureaucracies, appeasement and, surprise surprise, contempt for "less-educated voters."
...But White sees no easy fix. "The divisions are so great that we have two parallel universes, the red and blue states, in which people speak to those who are like-minded, thus reinforcing their divisions. The distrust on both sides is enormous, and it spreads out to all kinds of preferences, not just what you believe but what kind of coffee you drink."

White was referring to a survey by pollster John Zogby, which found that people in Democratic areas are more inclined to drink Starbucks while Republican voters expressed a preference for Dunkin' Donuts' brew.
Another excellent proxy. You don't want to share a foxhole with someone who drinks Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccinos.
White offered this advice to Democrats: "They have to convey to married people with families, to rural voters and to red state voters that they do, in fact, share their values."...
Values? Core Values, maybe? Hmm? So what are they? Shouldn't we get a few specifics after reading this far? Or is this advice a dainty way of saying "We have no values, so lie to the voters."
...Democratic candidates have long fought to escape the negative connotations of the word liberal. But the Democracy Corps study suggested that they've had limited success, judging by the frequency critics used that word in describing Democratic positions on cultural issues.
How lucky! It's just a matter of the "connotations of a word," and not something wrong with those "core values." Re-branding! That's the ticket. Change the name of the party to "Christian Moderate-Centrists."
The Center for American Progress, a Democratic-affiliated non-profit group in Washington, is leading an effort to highlight the morality of many Democratic and liberal stances on social issues.
A sure winner. How about starting with, "Euthanasia. Because the loving family won't let Granny suffer."

In Kansas City last month, the center's Faith and Progressive Policy Project held a forum to discuss issues surrounding science and intelligent design during the battle in Kansas over teaching evolution.
Has anything good EVER come out of a "forum to discuss issues?" My strong advice to everybody: Avoid ALL forums and workshops. Life is too short to waste.
The project is putting together similar meetings, usually in Republican-leaning states, on topics related to poverty, health care and civil rights. The aim, leaders say, is assisting the work of religious leaders and demonstrating core values of progressive voters while at the same time defending the separation of church and state.
Oh, so now you are about to tell us what those core values are? No? Oh well, maybe next time. And by the way, when you talk about the separation of church and state, why do I see "L'Etat, c'est moi" in this bubble over your heads?
Project director Melody Barnes said that the effort wants to inject religious perspectives into controversial issues.
"Inject." "Perspectives." That kind of mush is not gonna cut a lot of ice with people the folks at Dunkin' Donuts.
"You can respect separation of church and state while understanding that there's a place in the public space for people to talk about these issues," she said.
How generous you are, to let people talk about these tacky things in the "public space." Hopefully the little people will remember their place, and be humbly grateful.
Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, is a member of an alliance of self-described moderates called the New Democrat Coalition. He said Democrats often are restrained when talking about their faith because of what he referred to as the need for an appropriate separation of church and state.
Now I get it. They REALLY want to pray and shout Alleluia and shake those core values, but that tiresome old Constitution just forbids it.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:09 PM

Good news

The California Supreme Court has put Prop 77 back on the ballot.

Proposition 77 is the redistricting measure. It would drastically curtail the gerrymandering that protects most incumbents of both parties in California. (Thanks to Bill Q)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:33 AM

There is no anti-American significance to their deaths...

Belmont Club posts on the Battle of Manila...

In February 1945, a woman now dying of lung cancer grabbed two of her children and jumped out the window to escape Imperial Japanese Marines crashing through the door intent on bayoneting everyone in the burning house. Finding no one, they went on to the next house to continue their massacre on a street not far from the Rizal Memorial ballpark, where Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth both played in sunnier days before the forgotten Battle of Manila. The 100,000 civilians who died in the largest urban battle of the Pacific War -- more than at Hiroshima -- are not remembered in beautiful candles floating down darkened rivers or in flights of doves soaring into the blue sky; there is no anti-American significance to their deaths. But they still live in the fading memory of that woman, who hid for two days in the smoldering ruins of the neighborhood until the first American patrols came into view...

How many Americans know about that battle? Not many. [Pause while I conduct a scientific test and ask my daughter and her 7 visiting friends. None have heard of it, except one who knows a Filipino family]

Not the kind of story that fit the narrative our schools want to teach. Americans fight to liberate a small country. They don't want to make it a colony or steal its oil, but to set it free from horrible tyrants, who murder 100,000 people just because they are pissed off.

Naw. It must be some kind of anomaly. Leave it out of the textbook, and put in more stuff about slaves, Indians and slums.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 AM

August 13, 2005

Karl, it should be about liberty and opportunity...

Edward H. Cranem, President of the Cato Institute, has a great piece, Memo to Karl Rove...

...If you're wondering why there's so little grass-roots support to date for the president's plan, it's because the focus has been on green-eyeshade issues such as solvency, transition costs, unfunded liabilities and rates of return. Actuaries to the barricades!

Seriously, this should be an emotional issue about liberty and opportunity, not solvency dates. The concept of an Ownership Society is brilliant. Unlike the New Deal, the New Frontier or the Great Society, Ownership Society actually means something integral to the essence of America. That essence is a respect for the dignity of the individual, which is axiomatically enhanced when one has more control over one's life. That is what personal accounts provide....

...I recently undertook the masochistic task of reading the last 10 apoplectic op-eds Paul Krugman has written on Social Security for the New York Times. Not once in his rants does he address the issues of ownership and inheritability. Indeed, opponents of personal accounts shy away from those issues like a vampire from the cross...

...Finally, with regard to the "risky scheme" arguments, I think it's ironic that the people who appear so concerned over the growing wealth gap in America are the one's who refuse to allow low- and moderate-income Americans to accumulate wealth. The investment-risk argument was used in 1983 when the Greenspan Commission refused to even consider personal accounts. Yet the DJIA is now 10 times higher than it was at the peak in '83. How much longer will we deny lower-income Americans an opportunity to participate in the wealth-creation engine known as the U.S. economy?...(Thanks to Pejman).

I couldn't agree more with this. Especially that last. The utter perversity of Democrats who whinge about how "the poor are getting poorer" (not true) yet fight against anything that will allow the poor to accumulate wealth is stupefying. And most people are so clueless about economics that they can't see what's being done to them. I think of our young friend and fellow-blogger Andrew, a student, without much income (though I'm sure he'll do fine once he graduates). He's exactly the sort of person Bush is trying to help climb onto the wealth-train. But he's stuffed with obsolete notions, and actually seems to believe that the Democrats still want to help ordinary people.

And the idea that investing in the stock market is risky is simply a lie. It's risky in the short-term. But for long term investments like your retirement nest-egg, a diversified portfolio with a lot of stocks is the safest option.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 PM

equally rancorous...

I haven't commented on the NARAL ad, because it's been totally covered by everybody else. But I do want to mention how utterly weak and shabby and pathetic I find the lefty tactic of comparing it to the ads of the Swift Boat Vets, and declaring that both sides are equally rancorous.

Now if 250 or so people had known personally that Judge Roberts supported clinic bombers, or some other enormity, and had organized themselves, raised money, and then ran ads.....well, that would be equivalent to the Swift Boat ads.

Oh, and there's another difference. The Swifties were telling the truth.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:38 PM

August 12, 2005

Things to hide...

John Podhoretz on WHY the 9/11 commission may have wanted to hide Able Danger...

...In a story filed at 7:10 PM, the Associated Press is now confirming all the particulars of what will now forever be called the Able Danger disaster. The 9/11 Commission staff did hear about intelligence-gathering efforts that hit pay dirt on the whereabouts of Mohammed Atta -- in 1999 -- and deliberately chose to omit word of those efforts.

And why? Because to do so might upset the timeline the Commission had established on Atta.

And why is that significant? Because the Mohammed Atta timeline established by the Commission pointedly insisted Atta did not meet with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague.

And why is that significant? Because debunking the Atta-Iraq connection was of vital importance to Democrats, who had become focused almost obsessively on the preposterous notion that there was no relation whatever between Al Qaeda and Iraq -- that Al Qaeda and Iraq might even have been enemies...

And WHY might Democrats focus obsessively on hiding the Atta/Iraq connection? Hmmm... (And no, I'm NOT saying that Iraq was actually involved in 9/11. We don't know.) Why? Because they need EXCUSES to betray their country in time of war.

Excuse Number One is the "Bush Lied" malarky.

Excuse Number Two is "Iraq had no connection with terrorism." No, I'm not kidding, they actually say that! I've had those words posted in comments right here at RJ. It's clearly the sneaky morphing of a truth—we don't know if Iraq was involved in 9/11—into a grotesque lie, that Iraq was not supporting terrorism. Grotesque is too weak a word, since Saddam supported terrorists openly, paid bounties to the families of suicide bombers openly, and openly had killers like Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal living in Baghdad...

To many in the ignorant public, terrorism is only about al Qaeda and 9/11. So, as long as Democrats and leftists can hide Iraq's connection with al Qaeda, they can keep out of the fuzzy public mind the clear truth, that Iraq was a unpredictable terror-supporting country, and regime change was a clear necessity for the safety of the world. And thereby keep the public from clearly seeing one of the most despicable actions in American history: Democrats voting to send our troops into Iraq, then doing everything they can to undercut and sabotage our forces, and to destroy America's morale and resolution in wartime.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:56 PM

Menu doesn't include Mu Shu Pork...

My son sent me the link to this very interesting NYT story on the only real Chinese restaurant in Iraq. It's fascinating how the Chinese spread everywhere, and open restaurants everywhere.

..."I wanted to open the best Chinese restaurant ever in Iraq," Mr. Chen said, adding that he imported four containers of powders, sauces, roots, pickled vegetables and other Chinese culinary supplies - enough to keep his 400-seat restaurant serving kung pao chicken for three or four years.

As Baghdad tried to return to normal, his business thrived.

Then, the trouble began. A group of Chinese workers were kidnapped amid the wave of abductions and beheadings that swept Iraq in 2004. They were eventually released, but two of his four chefs went back to China. Selling liquor at the restaurants also became increasingly dangerous as Shiites and Sunnis both sought to impose Islamic rules....

Mr Chen has been forced to close his restaurant, though he still sells take-out. But I guess he will be back in business when conditions improve. Just one more reason, out of millions, why the liberation of Iraq from socialist tyranny is a noble cause, and why we must not let the appeasers back in power here.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:37 PM

#188: You don't know it's a bubble 'till afterward...

P. Krugman


In Safe as Houses (08/12/05) Paul Krugman takes another shot at the U.S. housing “bubble,” apparently forgetting that bubbles are defined after they burst, not before. The trail of “predicting bubble bursts” is littered with some pretty distinguished corpses. The most famous, perhaps, is Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and his “irrational exuberance” speech concerning the stock market in late 1996. At the time the Dow Jones Industrial average was only 60 percent of what it is today. In another case Professor Robert Shiller of Yale University wrote a book in 2000 entitled “Irrational Exuberance.” Even though he “got it right” in the sense that the stock market bubble did burst shortly after his book appeared, people forget that this was Shiller’s third bite at the apple. He had predicted stock market bursts twice before–once in the early 90s and again in the mid 90s. Perhaps Krugman has a similar strategy. Like the stopped clock that is always right twice a day–if you just keep at it your time will come.

We have no idea if he’s right or not about a housing bubble. But if his track record on other scare stories is any guide (remember the many “deflation” and then “stagflation” columns) we doubt it.

One other thing is bugging us that Krugman mentions again today (and the NY Times editorial page recites like a mantra). They keep claiming that this recovery is deficient because the recovery data are weaker than in most other post-war recoveries. Well, of course they are! It’s because they follow the shallowest recession in the post-war period. If you want to see strong recovery data, you need a deep recession first. Is there anyone on the planet who finds this surprising?

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 11:00 AM

Do your Able Baker Charley's

Jim Garaghty is very good on Able Danger...

...The "Able Danger" revelation suggests that "the wall" was a suicide pact. That there was no point in anyone but the FBI doing counterterrorism work, because no one could communicate the information to anyone who could actually act on it. The policy, put in place by Gorelick, put a higher priority on ensuring legally-viable prosecutions than actually catching them before they act...

Suicide pact for Dems, maybe, I think. They had their chance to put their ideas into practice, and blew it.

We tend to think of a presidential race as being between two persons. That's a big mistake. You are actually voting for ten-thousand or so appointees also. Clinton may have run as a "New Democrat" (may really have been one) but it's not like there were these big cadres of New Dems for him to appoint. You elect Clinton, and you also get Gorelick.

It's STUPID to just vote for the person, for President. You are also electing a party philosophy, and a vast number of officials, some of whom will be the leaders of tomorrow. I find John McCain creepy and repellant, but if he's the Republican candidate, I will certainly vote for him. Because he has no choice but to appoint thousands of decent sensible and patriotic people to office. They are called Republicans, and he doesn't have any other option, he has to do some good work. Heck, I'd vote for Nixon if he came back. Bad President, but he brought many good men into government. He and his top guys are long gone, but Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are still serving with distinction.

In the same way, a Democrat candidate may position himself (or, ahem, herself) as a moderate, a centrist, even a "churchgoer," or a "patriot." May even really be those things. It doesn't much matter! Because the Federal government will still have to be staffed with Democrats, and one thing recent history has made clear is that most of them are lefty loons of the Moore/Jimmy Carter flavor.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:26 AM

August 11, 2005

Where to go for the news (not newspapers)

You probably already know this, but Bill Roggio's blog Fourth Rail has been covering Operation Quick Strike, and other recent operations in Iraq. You might want to look at recent posts, and his nice maps.

It just makes clear again the drooling irrelevance of the Old Media. You can't get this stuff from them, except in occasional dribs and drabs with no clear narrative. All they are interested in is reporting casualty figures. Partly this is because they are on the other side, but it's also just mental laziness. Being a "journalist" means figuring out the formula for each type of event, so you can crank out stories endlessly without much labor. (For instance, covering "Space" is done by showing clips of the Space Shuttle taking off and landing. The really important space stuff is too slow-moving and intricate to engage their butterfly minds.)

But still, it's a WAR! You'd think they would make a little effort.

* Update: The NY Post has an article on what's happening. Casualties are up because, duh, WE ARE FIGHTING. And I'll mention once again that, against enemies that hide, guerillas or terrorists, a fight is GOOD NEWS. We want to bring them to battle against our regulars, instead of letting them choose where to strike. Of course regular RJ readers will be insulted to have so obvious a thing pointed out, and Lefties have filters installed that keep them from absorbing such concepts.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 AM

August 10, 2005

'nother win for Arnold...

From the LA Times

...Since July 2003, when the state began overhauling a program that is routinely listed by employers as the most onerous aspect of doing business in California, premiums on workers' comp policies now have fallen an average of 26.5%.

"Do I believe we've turned a corner? Hugely," said Seth Marshall, vice president of Santa Monica Seafood Co. Marshall's Rancho Dominguez firm, which employs about 200 people, saw its workers' comp insurance bill fall by about 45% in July.

The big reason is increased competition among insurers. Many had fled the state or gone out of business since the late 1990s as the state's system for treating victims of workplace injuries was hamstrung by rising costs and skyrocketing premiums.

Stabilizing the $24-billion-a-year program through legislative cost cutting and streamlining has attracted 15 new insurers to the California market in the last two years...

...The decline in rates, combined with another cut of at least 5% expected in January, fulfills a pledge made by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who predicted that the workers' comp bill he shepherded through the Legislature in April 2004 would lower premiums by 30%....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 PM

Then have a flyoff.....

Great rant by Jerry Pournelle:

NASA spends a billion and can't fix the problem of foam dropoff. Give me a billion and 3 years (and exemption from the Disabilities Act and some other imbecilic restrictions) and I'll have a 700,000 pound GLOW reusable that will put at least 5,000 pounds in orbit per trip, and be able to make 10 trips a year for marginal costs linearly related to the cost of fuel. Give me $3 billion and I'll have a fleet of the damn things. Once they're flying we can work on getting the payload weights up. Give me $5 billion and I'll have the fleet plus one that's set up to go Earth orbit to Lunar Surface and return to Earth orbit as often as we like (each trip costing about 10 flights Earth to Earth orbit to refuel it). Costing: 700,000 pounds of fuel at $2 per pound times 4 as a guess. Throw in other stuff and the marginal costs are maybe $10 million a flight Earth to Earth orbit, so about $100 million to go back to the Moon.

Now, as a backup in case single stage is the wrong way to go -- and I can be convinced that it is -- hand another $1 billion to Burt Rutan and let him try his air lift first stage approach. Then have a flyoff. Hell, go mad: give me a billion, give Burt a billion, hand a billion to each of the remaining big aerospace companies, and give a billion to NASA. That's $5 billion, less than the annual cost of the Shuttle program -- have you noticed that the program cost is independent of the number of Shuttle launches? NASA will waste its billion, the two aerospace companies will futz around with studies that end up requesting $20 billion each and produce nothing but paper, but you may be sure that Rutan and I will both have some flying hardware...(Thanks to

Read it entire.

Come to think, I could do more with a billion than NASA does! And my commission would only be a few tenths of one percent....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:13 PM

August 9, 2005

Muddled and fuddled...

A "journalist" opines on the nuclear age, stupidly I think. 60 years after Hiroshima, America still lives in fear. (Thanks to Orrin)

V-J Day, marking the end of the war, has its 60th anniversary Sunday. But so far, the nuclear commemoration has prompted more attention. Amazingly, of all the horrible genies let out of their bottles during World War II -- from genocide to totalitarianism to German and Japanese aggression -- the threat of nuclear annihilation, ushered in by the United States, seems to have emerged as the most pressing worry for Americans today.

This is the kind of nonsense you get while writing on automatic-pilot (AKA "journalism"). Americans are NOT worried about nuclear annihilation. Nor are we worried about those other things, for obvious reasons...

In honor of the anniversary of the atomic bombings, Time magazine ran gritty portraits of survivors, the shock still etched in their faces. The men and women offered their stories -- how they happened to turn away from the explosion and, therefore, saved themselves from being blinded, for example -- and the magazine soberly recorded their distance from the blast, their proximity to hell.

Oh I see, it's Time that's worried. If they are worried, then America is worried.

These kinds of testimonials are usually reserved for victims of war crimes, and while Time does not make the link directly, it does not completely resist it, either...

Of course they think America is guilty of war crimes. Lefty jackasses always think that.

...An accompanying essay by historian David M. Kennedy notes pointedly that the United States ''crossed a terrifying moral threshold" when it targeted Japanese cities, killing as many as 900,000 civilians in the two atomic bombings combined with fire-bombing raids on Tokyo and other population centers...

Funny how you never hear that Tojo or Saddam or Stalin "crossed a moral threshold." Only America, or Israel.

Most Americans do not question President Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs, which was largely based on his gut feelings, without any official consideration of longer-term consequences. Truman's first concern was for military victory, and his first responsibility was for the numerous US troops who would have been killed in an invasion of Japan. It is hard to argue with placing those priorities ahead of future arms races and terrorist threats.

Does this loon actually believe that nuclear arms races and terrorism would not have happened? Goofix.

And the nuclear age probably would have come to afflict the world anyway, even if Truman had held back.

Well, doh. Probably? We were already IN the nuclear age, even if journalists couldn't perceive it. We were in it the moment Leo Szilard, crossing a London street in 1938, imagined a nuclear chain reaction.

...Now, with the threat of terrorism paramount in American minds, there is no comfort in having nuclear missiles in the silo.

Oh yes there is. We also have rogue countries like NK and Iran, and maybe China, who CAN be deterred.

No suicide bomber will ever be deterred by the threat of a retaliatory attack. In combating terrorism, nuclear weapons are almost useless to the United States, but a boon for attackers seeking to inflict as much terror as possible.

Actually, they are a last-resort deterrent aginst terror-supporting countries. Could be very useful, if this sort of whining and cringing doesn't convince the world that we are too muddled and self-abasing to use them.

So as the United States considers the 60th anniversary of the nuclear age, it does so with a certain amount of fear and regret. Where once it was accepted without question that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings brought about the end of the war, new theories abound. The Soviet Union's declaration of war on Japan at the same time as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima convinced Emperor Hirohito that Japan's cause was hopeless, according to some scholars. Others point out that the fire-bombing of Japanese cities actually killed more people than the atomic bombs, making nuclear war unnecessary.

Both new theories are improbable. Japan already knew their cause was hopeless, and had already endured the fire bombings and other massive losses without evident intent to surrender. But "scholars" love anything that makes America look bad.
But this last bit is the real essence of muddled thinking...

But even if the nuclear age shortened World War II, it did not really bring about peace. It only ensured that the world would never achieve the ''freedom from fear" that President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised before the United States entered the war in 1941. Not then. Not today.

This is exactly wrong. The nuclear age instantly ended global conflicts. And ended wars between the great powers. No one expects those things to come back. That's peace, compared to what went before. Moreover today, as Tom Barnett has pointed out, war between nation-states is almost extinct! Most of the violence of our time is within various poor and dysfunctional nations, not between nations. In the developed world we can't even now imagine the total mobilization of WWII, when entire populations were organized for war work, and men were conscripted by the tens-of-millions for battles so large that "armies" were just sub-units within "army-groups."

And it's almost impossible to get most people to focus seriously on the WOT, despite the dangers. Peace, and "freedom from fear" is exactly what we have. Which may not be entirely a good thing.
Posted by John Weidner at 4:18 PM

Dean tells it like it is...

Dean Says Democrats Must Take Offensive (thanks to PoliPundit)

By CHRISTOPHER GRAFF Associated Press Writer
BURLINGTON, Vt. — Howard Dean gives Republicans credit for one thing: They have put the Democrats on the defensive and forced them to fight on their turf. That, he said, is about to change.

Republican turf is called "elections." Democrat turf is "lefty activist judges." Something that's also about to change.

"What the propagandists on the right have done is make people afraid to say they are Democrats," Dean told a gathering of Vermont Democrats.

Maybe Dean's onto something. Did'ja notice the recent stuff about Major Paul Hackett? Funny thing, Hackett's ads never mentioned the word "Democrat."

"We have to be out there. We have to be vocal. We have to be pushing our version of the facts because their version of the facts is very unfactual."

Hey Dean, tell Hackett he should have publicized his foul-mouthed attacks on his Commander-in-Chief. Just what the simple folk need to hear, to make them want to vote Dem.

After visiting 30 states in the first six months as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dean said Monday he has found "There are Democrats everywhere."

The bad news is they are waiting for a JFK to lower taxes and proudly fight to defend America and freedom.

The key to success is making those Democrats proud of their party, Dean said, by taking the offensive and fighting on Democratic turf.

"We are proud to be a conglomeration of reactionary special-interest groups united in appeasement, anti-semitism and anti-Americanism."

"We need a message. It has to be clear," he said. "The framing of the debate determines who wins the debate.

Wrong. You need to have core political philosophy. That will determine what your message will be. I expect to see some progress on this around 2030, when the Dean Generation is DEAD.

"Running away from issues is how you lose elections," said Dean, a former Vermont governor.

Please pleeeeese stop running away from issues...

"We need to position ourselves as the party of change," he said. "I think we have learned that when big changes happen in the House and Senate, they happen because one party nationalizes the race and becomes the change agent."

Sorry, the "change agent" ecological niche is taken. The good news: You have the "it was good enough for grandpa" position wrapped. Pat Buchannon is just no match for your skills.

Dean detailed his 50-state strategy to hire and finance from national coffers organizers in every state, saying that the party is on track to have organizers in every state by the end of the year.

Organizers. In every state. What a concept!

"Vote by vote, precinct by precinct, door by door, year by year and election by election, we will take this country back for the people who built it," he said.

I will be surprised if there aren't clear gains by 2050.

In his speech Dean talked about the growing diversity in America and how well that diversity meshes with the message and membership of the Democratic Party.

"The face of the Democratic Party is such that it looks like all of America will look in 2050," said Dean.

We will all look like Soros? Streisand? Wow! Anyway, I'm glad to know the future is in the hands of affluent white people. I heard this tacky rumor that it would look like Condi Rice and Miguel Estrada and Viet Dinh and Bobby Jindal.
Posted by John Weidner at 12:28 PM

August 8, 2005

Another myth gone...

This time it's the one about the clerk at Ellis Island who gave your ancestor a funny name because he couldn't understand his language...

...American name change stories tend to be apocryphal, that is, they developed later to explain events shrouded in the mist of time. Given the facts of US immigration procedures at Ellis Island, the above story becomes suspect. In the story, the immigrant arrives at Ellis Island and a record is then created by someone who cannot communicate with the immigrant, and so assigns the immigrant a descriptive name. In fact, passenger lists were not created at Ellis Island. They were created abroad, beginning close to the immigrant's home, when the immigrant purchased his ticket. It is unlikely that anyone at the local steamship office was unable to communicate with this man. His name was most likely recorded with a high degree of accuracy at that time...

...Furthermore, it is nearly impossible that no one could communicate with the immigrant. One third of all immigrant inspectors at Ellis Island early this century were themselves foreign-born, and all immigrant inspectors spoke an of three languages. They were assigned to inspect immigrant groups based on the languages they spoke. If the inspector could not communicate, Ellis Island employed an army of interpreters full time, and would call in temporary interpreters under contract to translate for immigrants speaking the most obscure tongues...[from
Immigration Daily. Thanks to The Corner].

C'mon, who could believe that? Everybody knows that Americans are insensitive capitalist brutes who oppress the weak just for the fun of it.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:45 PM

August 7, 2005

Bullshit artists....

From the WaPo (thanks to Six Meat Buffet)

In response to a lawsuit, the Pentagon has released a few dozen new and uncensored images of flag-draped coffins of U.S. troops and agreed to process "as expeditiously as possible" future Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for photo and video images of returning war casualties.

The decision was called a victory for open government by the National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research group here that helped the litigation. "We forced the Pentagon to admit that release of these images was not a mistake but was in fact required by law," said Thomas Blanton, director of the archive, which posted the images on its Web site yesterday. As a result, he said the parties to the suit agreed July 28 to dismiss the case.

University of Delaware professor Ralph Begleiter sued in October 2004, and in April the Pentagon released 721 images of coffins taken by military photographers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The latest release includes five new images as well as 27 others that had been censored with black rectangles, obscuring the faces of chaplains and service members in honor ceremonies...

Here is a simple fact. There are LOTS of Military funerals reported in the press. Tons of them. Flag-draped coffins galore. How do I know? Because I see them frequently in the Army Times Frontline Photos. I just went there and got this picture in less than a minute, from the 8-3-05 page.

Funeral for fallen Marine

Leandra Opskar, the widow of Marine Sgt. Brian Opskar, from Moorhead, Minn., hugs a Marine during her husband’s burial service on Tuesday at the Cormorant Lutheran Cemetery near Lake Park, Minn. Sgt. Opskar was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on July 23.
Dave Wallis, The Forum /Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

See what it says there? Associated Press. That means any newspaper could use this photo. (Or that "nongovernmental research group" too, if they paid for it). It's not secret. The whole issue is TOTAL BULLSHIT. Any military funeral can be attended by the press if the family agrees. Most of them do. The story usually appears in the local paper, but the national press pays no attention.

Of course not. Sophisticates from the NYT or the WaPo, or "Delaware professors" aren't going to trudge out to the heartlands, where there are mosquitos and churches and flags and Boy Scouts. How tacky. No, they stay in air-conditioned comfort in the big cities and whine about how the government doesn't release enough photos. And they are not about to do anything that honors or respects our heroes. Their job is helping elect Democrats, not reporting news about the little people they despise.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:42 PM

If you do everything right then you obviously lack focus...

A navy chief fires a broadside...

...That's right, America has the wrong Army. I don't know how it happened, but it did....And if you want to get down to brass tacks, we've got the wrong Air Force, the wrong Marine Corps, and the wrong Coast Guard....

...Don't believe me? Pick up a newspaper or turn on your television. In the past week, I've watched or read at least a dozen commentaries on the strength, size, and deployment of our military forces. All of our uniform services get called on the carpet for different reasons, but our critics unanimously agree that we're doing pretty much everything wrong.

I think it's sort of a game. The critics won't tell you what the game is called, so I've taken the liberty of naming it myself. I call it the 'No Right Answer' game. It's easy to play, and it must be a lot of fun because politicos and journalists can't stop playing it.

I'll teach you the rules. Here's Rule #1: No matter how the U.S. military is organized, it's the wrong force....

....If we centralize our military infrastructure, the experts tell us that we are vulnerable to attack. We're inviting another Pearl Harbor. If we decentralize our infrastructure, we're sloppy and overbuilt, and the BRAC experts break out the calculators and start dismantling what they call our 'excess physical capacity.' If we leave our infrastructure unchanged, we are accused of becoming stagnant in a dynamic world environment.

Even the lessons of history are not sacrosanct. When we learn from the mistakes we made in past wars, we are accused of failing to adapt to emerging realities. When we shift our eyes toward the future, the critics quickly tell us that we've forgotten our history and we are therefore doomed to repeat it. If we somehow manage to assimilate both past lessons and emerging threats, we're informed that we lack focus....

(From Thanks to neowarmonger)

Posted by John Weidner at 5:23 PM


There's already been scorn poured on Damien Cave's NYT piece on why we are not hearing more about heroes of the Iraq Campaign. (Answer: People who read blogs, except the America-hating leftyblogs, DO hear about our heroes. Just click on "Iraq" in my "Archives by Category" list--there's an stack of stuff the NYT won't tell you that's amazing, though I say it myself)

But his bit especially annoyed me:

....President Bush has taken the middle road. He presented the Medal of Honor to the family of Sergeant Smith in a White House ceremony on April 4. He praised Sergeant Peralta, a Mexican immigrant, in a radio address and at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in June.

But these citations did not occur in prime time, nor have they been repeated. And Sergeant Smith's Medal of Honor is the only one that has been awarded for action in Iraq....

So let's imagine that the administration did make a prime-time push to honor our heroes How would the NYT and the rest of the Gasping Media report this? I bet something like this:

In an apparent attempt to deflect growing criticism from what some have called a quagmire in Iraq, the Bush Administration today adopted a strategy of "promoting" so-called "heroes...."

And then they would quote an "expert" or professor (without mentioning the expert's lefty political bias) about how governments use patriotism to distract from domestic failings blah blah blah...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:45 AM

built sort of like ruby slippers...

The big flagship Apple Stores, in NY, London, SF, Tokyo, etc, have these very cool glass staircases enticing people up to the next floor.

Turns out there's a LOT of engineering needed to build a glass stairway. (What a surprise.)

...The staircases are constructed of 3-ply glass treads, bonded together with a Dupont SentryGlas Plus ionoplast interlayer. The treads are tied through titanium hardware to the glass side panels. The treads are surface acid-etched to provide slip and privacy protection.

Specifically, the glass treads at the SoHo store consist of an 8mm extra clear Depp Glass Diamond Plate layer, a 0.060-inch DuPont SentryGlas Plus ionoplast interlayer, a 15mm extra clear Diamond Plate layer, another 0.060 DuPont SentryGlas® Plus ionoplast interlayer, and another 8mm extra clear Diamond Plate layer.

The staircase vertical, laminated glass sidewalls were supplied by BGT Bischoff Glasstechnik GmbH (Germany). They consist of a center 15mm laminate, with 12mm layers on either side. The side glass panels range up to 5.8m high x 1.6m wide, which O'Callaghan said generally need to be craned in through the skylight roof during off peak hours....

...Two recent stores took the glass staircase to another level--a 180-degree twist. Both the Shinsaibashi and Shibuya stores in Japan feature a spiral glass staircase which is suspended by cables from the ceiling. The staircase is an engineering marvel, but also creates a strong attraction for visitors to ascend to the second floor. Review
photos of the store and staircase taken during its grand opening....

I find this kinda stuff fascinating...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:59 AM

August 6, 2005

Try and try again...


August 3, 2005
Washington, D.C. - Personal accounts must be included in any Social Security changes developed in Congress, President Bush said Tuesday, and indicated he's looking at what could be a very long haul for the battle over the nation's retirement program.

"I know it took at least five years for an energy bill," Bush said while discussing Social Security during an interview at the White House with The Des Moines Register and seven other newspapers.

As for personal accounts, he said, "It needs to be part of the bill." The president said he stated his support for the voluntary personal accounts for younger workers during his campaigns in 2000 and 2004 and "I meant it."....

Yep. He means it. If he says it, it's true.

Think about it. All those liberal Democrats sitting around hugging themselves because they've defeated reform, and have managed to keep workers poor and weak and dependent on government and trapped in a rotten system. And next year, it's all to do over again! Ha ha ha.

It's just so cool having an honest straightforward guy as President. Remember Clinton? How he was supposed to be a "New Democrat?" Except for free trade, all that New Dem stuff just fizzled away. Campaign promises? You got to be kidding.

Whereas Bush is not only still pushing much of what he promised in 2000, he's also continuing with promises made when he was running for Governor of Texas... He doesn't always get what he hopes for of course, but he gets a lot more than most presidents, because he choses a few goals and sticks to them..

Posted by John Weidner at 9:20 PM

wotthehell, archy, wotthehell...

Mike has a great long post on Don Marquis, a great American writer. I've been a fan of Archy and Mehitabel since I bought the book of that title when I was in high school, but I've never really investigated his other writings. (And probably won't, it will be on my to-do list, along with the other 9,444 items.)

I liked this poem. Fits my mood...


Here the many lives I led,
All my Selves, are lying dead:
All they journeyed far to find
Strawed by the dispersing wind:
You that were my lovers true,
That is neither sad nor new!

Naught that I have been or planned
Sails the seas nor walks the land:
That is not a cause for woe
Where the careless planets go!
Naught that I have dreamed or done
Casts a shadow in the sun:
Not for that shall any Spring
Fail of song or swallow's wing!

Neither change nor sorrow stays
The bright processional of days --
When the hearts that grieved die, too,
Where is then the grief they knew?

Speed, I bid you, speed the earth
Onward with a shout of mirth,
Fill your eager eyes with light,
Put my face and memory
Out of mind and out of sight.

Nothing I have caused or done,
But this gravestone, meets the sun:
Friends, a great simplicity
Comes at last to you and me!

By Don Marquis, in
"The Almost Perfect State," 1927
Posted by John Weidner at 2:19 PM

Accordant to plan...

This little gem was buried in an article on another terrorist attack in Iraq:

...Iraq's defense minister criticized Syria on Tuesday for ignoring Iraqi demands "to stop the infiltration of terrorists."

The official, Saadoun al-Dulaimi, singled out Iraq's western neighbor as among states that are slack on stopping the flow of militants into his country.

"When the lava of the exploding volcano of Iraq overflows, it will first hit Damascus," al-Dulaimi warned during a news conference to discuss an upcoming nationwide security plan...

I think the Syrian Ba'athists are toast. As they should be. There's nothing their Leftist allies can do now to save them.

What's interesting to me here is the way a good plan keeps working even when various things don't go as expected. If you are riding the History Train, you have a lot of momentum.

The Iraq Campaign is exactly such a plan. If the terrorists hadn't decided to make Iraq a battleground, then our plans to peacefully transform the region would have gone much more smoothly. Since they did, they are creating in Iraq a bitter and determined ally for us in the War on Terror.

Likewise, if Democracy flourishes in Iraq, then they can help teach democracy to Syria and Arabia and other despotisms-soon-to-fall. If not, If not, they will probably be all the more brutal and effective when the volcano overflows...

Either way, America wins.

(Thanks to Bill Roggio, who has more)

Posted by John Weidner at 12:14 PM

August 5, 2005

keeps the doctor away...

Interesting piece on changes in the apple world...

...Consider the fate of America's favorite apple. It emerged from an Iowa orchard in 1880 as a round, blushed yellow fruit of surpassing sweetness.

But like a figure in a TV makeover show, it was an apple that its handlers could not leave alone. They altered its shape. They made it firmer and more juicy. They made it so it could be stored in hermetically sealed warehouses for 12 months. Along the way, they changed its color and hence its name -- to Red Delicious.

The only problem was the American consumer, whose verdict on the made-over apple has become increasingly clear: Of the two words in the Red Delicious name, one can no longer be believed...

...In the 1980s heyday of the Red Delicious, it represented three-quarters of the harvest in Washington state, epicenter of the apple industry. By 2000, it made up less than half, and in 2003, the crop had shrunk to just 37 percent of the state's harvest of 103 million boxes. Red Delicious remains the single largest variety produced in the state, but others are ascending in market share as rapidly as Red Delicious is dropping, notably Fuji and Gala...(Thanks to
Betsy N)

Golden Delicious are also a bore. I think Fuji's and Gala's are what we buy.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:19 PM

Pass 'em on to somebody else...

Boston Globe -- The administration is negotiating the transfer of almost 70 percent of the detainees at the US detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to three countries, officials said. The move is part of a plan, they said, to share the burden of keeping suspected terrorists behind bars...

The ironies here are so many, I don't know where to begin. The America-haters, like Carter and the phony "human rights organizations," have been bashing Guantanamo as a political tactic against the administration. Now the result may be for their precious innocents to be sent to medieval dungeons in Afghanistan or Yemen! [And I use the term "America-hater" advisedly. If the detainees are sent to somewhere else, Jimmy Carter will instantly cease to care whether they live or die...unless it might be useful politically.]

Another irony is that the Geneva Conventions were designed to protect civilians. Not POW's. POW Status and its protections are rewards for following the rules of war. Rules such as requiring uniforms. Why uniforms? To make it easier to just attack soldiers, and leave civilians unharmed. The rules also forbid placing troops or weapons in mosques, schools, hospitals, and any civilian areas.

What does that mean? It means that almost all the people we've captured in Afghanistan and Iraq are WAR CRIMINALS. They are illegal combatants, and could, quite properly, have been executed on the spot. We are too humane for that, and also hope to gain intelligence from them, so we put them in comfortable quarters in Gitmo, and handle their Korans with gloves on...

And the people who are attacking this detention are aiding and encouraging war crimes! If there are any "Amnesty International" types reading this, that means YOU.

And many of YOU are not just winking at war crimes, you are actively encouraging them. I'm referring to the lefty press and politicians, who eagerly headline any stories, true or false, about Americans attacking schools or mosques, without mentioning that the enemy is doing everything possible to provoke these attacks, in complete confidence that their allies in the West do their propaganda work.

That, in my mind, makes many of our leftish politicians and news-media types war criminals themselves. The terrorists in Iraq not only slaughter civilians, including deliberately murdering children, they time their attacks to fit the American news cycle. Knowing that their allies in the Old Media will seize upon the crimes to imply that America is at fault, and America is failing.

If you encourage murder, then you are a murderer. If you encourage terrorism, then you are a terrorist. As far as I'm concerned, most of the people of NYT/WaPo/LAT/CBS/NBC/CNN/ABC, and mot of the "progressives," and Democrat "activists," are just as much murderers as if they had personally driven a car bomb into a crowd.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:35 AM

August 3, 2005

A posie that blooms every year, about this time...

Yet again there are lefties criticizing the President for taking too-long vacations, when he "should" be burning the midnight oil in the White House. Here's an article from the WaPo, Vacationing Bush Poised to Set a Record...

....But he will make time for fun, or at least his idea of it. Bush rarely takes the type of vacation one would consider exotic -- or, to some, even appealing. His notion of relaxation is chopping cedar on his ranch or mountain biking through rough terrain, all in 100-degree-plus temperatures in dusty Texas where crickets are known to roast on the summer pavement. He seems to relish the idea of exposing aides and reporters to the hothouse environment.

"I just checked in with the house -- it's about 100 degrees," he told reporters Monday. "But no matter how hot it gets, I enjoy spending time in Texas."...(Thanks to Orrin)

The STUPIDITY of the critics always amazes me...

  • Bush has a Harvard MBA. You'd think people might just suspect that he knows something about management? In fact, it's a basic principle that the leader of any really large organization should not obsess over details. There are just too many of them.
  • What the leader should do is put a lot of effort into personnel decisions. Strive to hire the very best people, then give them room to operate, and make decisions (and mistakes). This is precisely what Bush does.
  • The Presidency is the ultimate burn-out job. Taking breaks, taking lots of time for exercise, is exactly what a president ought to do if he's going to stay strong for 8 years.
  • Andy Card once drew a ton of flack for saying, in regards to Bush's apparent inactivity in August 2002, "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.'' But marketing is precisely the President's job. There's very little he can do by decree; he has to sell his programs to the public and to Congress.
  • And, as I've often pointed out, every year Bush comes back strong around September, when people are done with vacations and are ready to get serious again.

And of course modern communications let the President do the same stuff at the ranch that he does in the White House. But still, there's this fantasy vision people have, of residents as mastermind-spiders, sitting in the Oval Office sleeplessly monitoring a thousand threads connected with everything. We've had presidents who tried to do that. Think LBJ, think Jimmy Carter...They were atastrophes.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:10 AM

August 2, 2005

Say it ain't so, Joe!

I've several times heard the story about Cisco making special routers that help China's government censor the Internet...and they made me so mad I could spit. How could they DO such a thing? So I was very interested in this news story, Critics Squeeze Cisco Over China: (Thanks to Glenn)

Internet equipment maker Cisco Systems is fighting a shareholder action that urges the company to adopt a comprehensive human rights policy for its dealings with the Chinese government, and with other states practicing political censorship of the internet...

But what does Cisco say?

...But Cisco's Terry Alberstein, director of corporate affairs for the Asia Pacific region, says the company has never helped the Chinese government suppress free speech.

"Cisco does not participate in any way in any censorship activities in the People's Republic of China," Alberstein says. "We have never custom-tailored our products for the China market, and the products that we sell in China are the same products we sell everywhere else."...

So what I'm wondering is, is the whole story an urban legend? The article includes this:

...Cisco's routers, the report noted, form the backbone of China's internet access, and include the power to identify and filter packets based on keyword matches -- a tool typically used for fighting viruses and denial-of-service attacks that also makes internet censorship easier for repressive governments...

I suspect that what we have here is an example of the way most advances in crime-fighting have the potential to help repressive governments fight the "crimes" of free-speech or dissidence. The tools that fight spam could easily be used to fight democracy. One wonders if Chinese bloggers are using the same tricks that spammers use to try to fool my spam filter? I get e-mails from "B7e on line P`H A`R M`A C`Y T2O" So maybe Chinesians are blogging about D`E`M`0"c/R"A.cY ?

Posted by John Weidner at 11:07 PM

August 1, 2005

Horse-packing into the Emigrant Wilderness...

We've just returned from a splendid adventure. The Weidners horse-packed into the Emigrant Wilderness, and camped for four days.

It wasn't easy! Let me tell you, five or six hours in the saddle on steep rocky trails is about an hour too many. But I feel very proud of me, and my family, and our friend Pam--we did it! (Scotty couldn't make it, time!) The trails were unbelievable. In many of the steep places they are built with steps made of slabs of stone--in some places hundreds of steps twisting and winding up the slopes and ravines. And in other places the trails cross great sloping sheets of bare stone, with the path marked only with cairns. Horses and mules clattered and clambered up rocky hills, or picked their way downhill with many a jolting drop.

I couldn't get any pictures of the most dramatic parts, I had to concentrate on riding! But this might give you a bit of the flavor of it..

Rocky slope
That's my son Will, who was right in front of me, and further down you see Betsy and Charlene. Everything you see is rock, scoured by the glaciers of the last Ice Age. Those trees grow out of crevices, or little pockets of soil.

This is the horse I rode, named Robert. This was the first time in my life that I encountered a horse and felt instantly that he was just my style. And I was right. How I enjoyed him. He's big fellow, at least 17 hands. He responded to the smallest signals, and seemed to take the wildest and steepest--and sometimes downright terrifying--paths with aplomb. What a treat.

My horse, "Robert"

The trip was a mix of good and bad things. But for Charlene and I, the good far out-weighed the bad. We are avid for this sort of extreme natural beauty, and are willing to suffer for it.

Charlene by Deer Lakejpg

Good: patches of snow remained on the slopes above our campground, feeding little streams and rivulets of fresh water. Superb.
Bad: The mosquitos had just hatched--we were tormented by them, and spent a lot of time sitting near smoky fires..

Rock hillside near Deer lake

Good: We were in the high country, over 9,000 feet, with views of intense clarity and brilliance and drama.
Bad: When we were trapped for a while on a hot steep narrow trail due to pack-mule mishaps, I fainted from altitude-sickness and fell off my horse! Clunk. I was OK as soon as I got to moving and breathing deeply, but my poor family was terrified!

Here's me. Down below you see Deer Lake, where we camped. Close by here was a snow field, where I'm about to dig a load of snow to re-fill our ice-chest. (If you wonder why one would prefer horse-packing to back-packing, well, we had beer, wine, and a bottle of Laphroaig! And none of this "freeze-dried" food. Charlene cooked treats like blueberry cobbler in her Dutch Oven.)

Me, on a hill above Deer Lake

Good: Wildflowers and alpine plants were exploding into their brief growing season.
Bad: Worst hay-fever I've ever had.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:34 PM

We're baaaack....

The Weidners have returned from a big will be posted soon, I hope

Posted by John Weidner at 8:57 AM

#187: Let's work 30 hours a week, and zoom past the French...

P. Krugman


In French Family Values Paul Krugman makes an analytical error so inexcusable that it borders on incompetence. International comparisons of productivity are difficult enough under the best of circumstances. But to cite data showing “productivity in France – G.D.P. per hours worked – is actually a bit higher than in the United States” is flat out irresponsible. The reasons are simple. To make productivity comparisons on an apple to apple basis two crucial data adjustments have to be made. One is for the employment rate. A country with a lesser employment rate (more unemployment) will benefit in higher measured productivity because those unemployed are, in general, less productive. The other is for hours worked. Productivity declines with hours worked due to fatigue and other attentional factors. Thus, in general, measured productivity in a country where longer hours are worked will be relatively less at the margin. For both of these reasons, comparison countries must be put on an equal footing with regard to employment rates and hours worked before making the comparisons.

This is a well researched area of economics and there is little dispute about either the principles or the findings. But Krugman does not even acknowledge that this subject as an issue. For those who would like to dig into this further we provide this link to one such study. We chose Gilbert Cette because he is French and works out of the Banque de France. But there are many other studies as his reference page documents.

After adjusting for the “structural” discrepancies discussed above, Cette’s conclusions are as follows:

“We then see that the level of the ‘structural’ hourly productivity is higher in the United States than anywhere else, which suggests that the USA is still setting the technical efficiency frontier.”

“Following the Second World War, the growth of hourly labour productivity was faster in France and Japan than it was in the United States. However, the roles were reversed in the nineteen-nineties. This happened before France and Japan had fully caught up to the United States, since this analysis shows that ‘structural’ hourly labour productivity appears to be higher in the United States than it is in the other industrialised countries. This development has widened the already wide gap between economic living standards as measured by per capita GDP and is making Europe increasingly poor compared to the United States”

Krugman may have reached the point where he can say just about anything with little or no rebuttal. Those competent to evaluate him don’t waste time reading him anymore and his regular readers believe anything he says.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 AM