31 May 2006

What do you do when nobody cares?

[source, source]

Sudan’s government last month agreed to a peace accord pledging to disarm Arab janjaweed militias and resettle displaced civilians. By contrast, Darfur’s black rebels, who are touted by the wristband crowd as freedom fighters, rejected the deal because it did not give them full regional control. Put simply, the rebels were willing to let genocide continue against their own people rather than compromise their demand for power.

International mediators were shamefaced. They had presented the plan as take it or leave it, to compel Khartoum’s acceptance. But now the ostensible representatives of the victims were balking. Embarrassed American officials were forced to ask Sudan for further concessions beyond the ultimatum that it had already accepted.

Fortunately, Khartoum again acquiesced. But two of Darfur’s three main rebel groups still rejected peace. Frustrated American negotiators accentuated the positive — the strongest rebel group did sign — and expressed hope that the dissenters would soon join.

But that hope was crushed last week when the rebels viciously turned on each other. As this newspaper reported, “The rebels have unleashed a tide of violence against the very civilians they once joined forces to protect.” […]

In light of janjaweed atrocities, it is natural to romanticize the other side as freedom fighters. But Darfur’s rebels do not deserve that title. They took up arms not to stop genocide — which erupted only after they rebelled — but to gain tribal domination.

The strongest faction, representing the minority Zaghawa tribe, signed the sweetened peace deal in hopes of legitimizing its claim to control Darfur. But that claim is vehemently opposed by rebels representing the larger Fur tribe. Such internecine disputes only recently hit the headlines, but the rebels have long wasted resources fighting each other rather than protecting their people. […]

A companion piece to the previous post on tribal culture in Africa.

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Sticky culture

[source]

A. Nany Moose posted an important comment that helps explain much about Africa, and which I did not pay enough attention to in my series on Mortacracies, most of which are in Africa. Because of its importance, and as a way of indexing it for search engines, I include it here.

Moose wrote:

Culture accounts for so much when we consider the problems of contemporary Africa. I was intrigued by this comment from Friday’s blog:

“What evidence is there that any sort of humanitarian aid will ever do any good in Africa? If you read books like Michael Maren’s ‘The Road To Hell,’ it becomes clear that it’s no use giving a man a fish or even teaching him to catch them if his fish are merely going to be taken away by the next gunman to come along.”

This comment made me think of a story told by friends who recently visited Africa. They stayed with an American couple who own a successful chicken farm in Zimbabwe. Most of the farm staff are tribal folk, and the American couple have, on several occasions, tried to set up the more promising staff members in their own chicken farming businesses. On these occasions they offered space for the chicken coops and runs at nominal cost, provided chickens on loan, and taught the staff members standard business practices. In every case the operations were successful—they became profitable nearly immediately, and everyone was delighted for a short while. Nevertheless, the new chicken farming entrepreneurs invariably failed within a year or two.

The reason for their failure was tribal culture. Those of us from more individualistic backgrounds assume that our accomplishments, our savings, our capital accumulations and our property are our own—to keep and use as we see fit. But the tribal staff members were powerless to resist the demands of their families, and other members of their tribes, who immediately made claim to what they perceived as the accumulated wealth of their compatriots. They demanded chickens, money and so on, which eventually decimated the flocks and depleted the working capital of the businesses—no amount of reasoning could persuade insistent tribal members that their demands would “kill the goose that lays the golden egg.” In the subsistence, communal culture of a tribe, keeping resources for oneself is simply unacceptable.

Most of the many tribal cultures in Africa are highly communal. Our fairy tale warning against “the killing of the goose that lays the golden egg” has no tribal equivalent, nor is there a tribal equivalent for the Judeo-Christian commandment against covetousness (“Do not be envious of your neighbor’s house. Do not be envious of your neighbor’s wife, his slave, his maid, his ox, his donkey, or anything else that is your neighbor’s.”). Nor do African tribal cultures encourage, as do many of the Asian cultures, entrepreneurship based on small family groups who all contribute to the success of family businesses. Hopefully this cultural base will change with time, but in the short run I am not optimistic.

On the larger scale too, much of what we see as “corruption” in contemporary Africa is merely a projection of common tribal cultural values, where the tribal chief is expected to make a show of his wealth as a corollary of his position and power—if a tribal chief does not do these things, his position will immediately be challenged by other tribal members, or the tribe will be subsumed by another tribe that interprets his modesty (in the Western sense) as weakness. Members of the tribe actually want their leader to use a disproportionate share of the tribe’s communal wealth for display purposes, because to do so bolsters his position and status in the larger community—and this translates to security for them.

For Africa’s sake, I truly hope that these limiting cultural factors fade sooner rather than later.

A related subject (DEFINITELY off limits among the PC crowd) is the indication that cultural remnants of communal, tribal African culture persist in American Black culture today. American Blacks managed to survive slavery, Jim Crow and overt racial discrimination by de-emphasizing individual property rights (which were likely to be ephemeral in any case) and by depending on a sort of communal, tribal cooperation that was common to their heritage. Even today, in many black families, less prosperous family members feel entitled to a share of the wealth of those family members who are more successful.

And then there is the “bling” and “signifying” (not to mention the wanton slaughter) at the lower levels of contemporary Black ghetto culture—hard not to notice how much this resembles the African pattern.

But to speak of such things immediately brands one as a bigot, despite the fact that CULTURE is the focus, not race.

I think this demonstrates two important things:

  • What a grip culture can have. Even after witnessing multiple failures of businesses, still the extended family / tribe engage in the same self destructive behaviors. They cannot overcome their culture because they are either unable to see the causal connection or they prefer the culture over the material benefits of success in Western terms.
  • How non-obvious the Western way of thinking, the foundation of our civilization, is, despite how it seems to us.
  • That the claim that superior Western culture will inevitably supplant existing cultures is “counter-factual”.

This kind of thing simply re-enforces my concerns over immigration, that there is some unique and valuable in our society that is very difficult to transfer, that might only be possible these day by immersion, which limits the amount of dilution that is possible.

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There's only so much rope on the spool

[source]

Over the course of the past 2 decades, I have analyzed a number of natural phenomena that reveal how Earth’s near surface air temperature responds to surface radiative perturbations. These studies all suggest that a 300 to 600 ppm doubling of the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration could raise the planet’s mean surface air temperature by only about 0.4°C. Even this modicum of warming may never be realized, however, for it could be negated by a number of planetary cooling forces that are intensified by warmer temperatures and by the strengthening of biological processes that are enhanced by the same rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration that drives the warming. Several of these cooling forces have individually been estimated to be of equivalent magnitude, but of opposite sign, to the typically predicted greenhouse effect of a doubling of the air’s CO2 content, which suggests to me that little net temperature change will ultimately result from the ongoing buildup of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. Consequently, I am skeptical of the predictions of significant CO2 induced global warming that are being made by state-of-the-art climate models and believe that much more work on a wide variety of research fronts will be required to properly resolve the issue.

So it looks like somebody did actually look in to potentional non-linearities of CO2 concentration and global warming and based on data instead of a model, it looks like there is one.

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30 May 2006

Maybe Jaynes was right

[source, source]

AN Australian military commander has tried to ensure truth does not become a casualty of conflict in East Timor, but has embarrassed a TV network in the process.

Australian commander in East Timor Brigadier Michael Slater appeared this morning in a live cross from Dili to Channel 9’s Today show, with helmeted and heavily armed Australian soldiers standing behind him.

He was pressed by Today host Jessica Rowe about whether Dili really was as safe as the Australian military claimed, given the presence of armed soldiers at his shoulder.

Pausing briefly, Brig Slater replied: “Jessica I feel quite safe, yes, but not because I’ve got these armed soldiers behind me that were put there by your stage manager here to make it look good.

“I don’t need these guys here.

“It is not safe on the streets, as it is back home in Sydney or Brisbane – no it’s not, if it was we wouldn’t be here. But things are getting better every day.”

Rowe apologised, saying she didn’t realise the guards had been placed specifically for the interview. But Rowe ran into more trouble when she persisted with her line of questioning, and referred to footage of looting and violence.

Brig Slater told her the pictures were a “couple of days old”.

It does seem more and more that it’s not bias so much as a completel inability to process external information. Perhaps it’s a reversion to a bi-cameral mind and the journalists are not concious in the sense of being able to introspect.

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Too good to be true

[source]

There are reports that Pakistan will pull its troops out of the North West Frontier Province and recognise the Taliban government. AKI reports that the U.S. has urged an extended military operation along the lines of Tora Bora, but Pakistan is apparently taking the ‘pragmatic’ option’. Unsurprisingly, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal are pushing for just that.

If only! Joe Katzman writes exactly what I thought as soon as I read that on why it would be such wonderful news.

  1. Those electoral seats in Pakistan’s system disappear. Islamist political influence in Pakistan shrinks with them.
  2. The fear of having the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan used to foment trouble in Pakistan disappears (though they still have the Baluchis to worry about), removing much of the impetus for seeing Afghanistan as important to Pakistan’s security. and therefore, much of the impetus for the ISI’s continued involvement there.
  3. If US forces head in to an independent government and start bombing/shooting people, it isn’t Pakistani territory any more. They’ll scream for help, of course, at which point the Pakistani Army says “no way we’re taking the Americans on!” and the Islamists learn that getting what you thought you wanted can hurt.
  4. Afghanistan’s problems stem from many sources, but the Pakistani training ground and safe haven along a long, inhospitable border means Taliban death squads forever unless it’s addressed. And as long as it’s Pakistani territory, it can’t be because they were allowed to develop nukes.

I say, make the declaration of independence and recognize the Taliban government. Then we can just go get the fascist little barbarians.

Sadly, I have to agree with the other commentors that I don’t see this as plausible, even though it would be of much benefit to the current ruling class of Pakistan.

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26 May 2006

Not anti-war, on the other side

[source, source]

[T]he most idiotic statement in Sheehan’s new book, Dear President Bush, comes not from Sheehan herself but from Howard Zinn, who writes in the introduction: “A box-cutter can bring down a tower. A poem can build up a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution.”

A box-cutter can bring down a tower. By now, I suppose, we should be used to the hard Left’s extending underdog status to the worst of mass murderers; still, the sheer gall of beginning a series of David-and-Goliath metaphors with that one is breathtaking.

So writing poetry to build a movement is equivalent to suicide missions that destroy airliners and office buildings? I have read some bad poetry in my time, but I never thought it was that bad.

Posted by orbital at 10:04 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

25 May 2006

It's one way to boost pay in foreign countries

[source, source]

Online poker players will have to fold their hands if a Virginia congressman gets his way.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up a bill introduced by Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte ® that would ban much online gambling, including bets on sporting events and games of chance — namely poker, which has enjoyed a boom in recent years.

[…]

“I am a big advocate of opening up the Internet to all kinds of legitimate uses,” said Goodlatte, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Internet Caucus. “But we don’t want the Internet to become the Wild West of the 21st century.” Goodlatte said he opposes gambling because it leads to “a whole host of ills in society.”

Apparently no one on Goodlatte’s staff knows that the Internet extends beyond the borders of the USA.

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Celebrating doing what they do best

[source]

Remember the dozens, maybe hundreds, of rapes, murders, stabbings and deaths resulting from official neglect at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina? The ones that never happened, as even the national media later admitted?

Sure, we all remember the original reporting, if not the back-pedaling.

Here’s another one: Do you remember the dramatic TV footage of National Guard helicopters landing at the Superdome as soon as Katrina passed, dropping off tens of thousands saved from certain death? The corpsmen running with stretchers, in an echo of M*A*S*H, carrying the survivors to ambulances and the medical center? About how the operation, which also included the Coast Guard, regular military units, and local first responders, continued for more than a week?

Me neither. Except that it did happen, and got at best an occasional, parenthetical mention in the national media.

The reporting on Hurrican Katrina is still treated as a triumph by Old Media. Given that massive errors in facts, one is left a clear idea of what, exactly, Old Media considers success.

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Discarding non-essentials

[source]

The Pentagon is investigating whether U.S. Marines committed war crimes in a November incident in which 15 Iraqi civilians were killed in Haditha, Iraq. NBC News reports that Rep. John Murtha, who voted for the war in Iraq, claims to have advance knowledge of the investigation’s outcome:

Murtha, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, said at a news conference Wednesday that sources within the military have told him that an internal investigation will show that “there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”

What happened in Haditha we know not, but we can tell you that Murtha’s description is false, for the simple reason that it is self-contradictory. If the Marines “overreacted,” then the killings were not premeditated. They could not have killed both in the heat of the moment and in cold blood. Murtha therefore either is slandering the Marines by exaggerating their guilt or making excuses for horrific war crimes.

It’s about flinging accusations for air time, not consistency. Nobody in his target audience cares about logic of that type, so why should Murtha waste time on such a useless frill?

Posted by orbital at 9:48 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Old Media gears up for Tet II

[source, source, source]

For people my age, we have the Vietnam War to which we can compare the liberal media’s treatment of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of my bitter memories is of the 1968 Tet offensive by the North Vietnamese controlled Vietcong that failed. South Vietnamese and American forces not only held, but in many parts of the country they so badly mauled the Vietcong that their ability to launch another offensive was set back many years. Yet, the Media played up the Vietcong’s momentary successes in Saigon and Hue, and subsequently treated the offensive as a Vietcong victory. This began to sour American public opinion on the war and especially the intellectual class, which turned against it.

The liberal media are trying to do the same thing about American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This can be seen in their treatment of the latest Taliban offensive, which if you read or listen to the major media, appears to be a Taliban victory. But, today, with multiple sources of information, especially over the Internet, the usual liberal sources of such propaganda cannot get traction.

The first source contains the actual details of how badly the Taliban got mauled in this latest operation. And still one is left wondering how what passes for normal reporting in Old Media is different in style from Tokyo Rose. It is not that bad things are reported, but that because only bad things are reported the story is inaccurate. Old Media is not living up to its own putative standards, much less mine.

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We signed up for writing, not acting

[source, source]

The United States went on the counter-attack against Amnesty International, rejecting its charges of the torture of terror suspects and criticizing its lack of help in prosecuting deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed allegations by the Nobel Prize-winning rights group, which cited reports that US prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and elsewhere were subject to “torture and ill-treatment.”

“Nobody is being tortured at Guantanamo Bay,” McCormack told reporters when asked about the charges in Amnesty International’s latest annual report.

He went on to point out Amnesty’s role in documenting rights abuses during the 24 years of Saddam’s rule before he was deposed by the Americans in 2003 and later captured and charged with crimes against humanity.

“But when it came time to put Saddam Hussein on trial, which is happening right now, they (Amnesty) are absent. They’ve done zero, zip, nothing, to assist in those efforts,” McCormack said.

“So in terms of where they might focus some of their efforts, I would just offer the humble suggestion that they might follow through in actually assisting with or providing some support to this trial for what they acknowledge is one of the great human rights abusers of recent times.”

This is excellent, but one is left wondering why now, and not, say, 6 years ago? Perhaps, though, this is the best moment to attack.

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24 May 2006

The Swedish Miracle

This is a long article worth reading, that details the slow motion collapse of modern, liberal society in Sweden. It discusses how, in Sweden,

  • In some areas Swedish girls are afraid to to be blonde in public.
  • Political parties that dissent from the consensus of the ruling class are attacked by thugs while the government looks the other way
  • The local media openly supports bias in their reporting to support the concensus of the ruling class.

There’s quite a bit of other points, all well documented with links.

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Context, not facts

[source, source]

Do you remember Taheri-azar? The 25-year-old Iranian graduate of the University of North Carolina rented an SUV in March and drove it into The Pit, a campus gathering place for UNC students. He accelerated into the standard college crowd of preachers, smokers, gawkers, and cause-hawkers. He hit nine people and injured six. None died, much to Taheri-azar’s chagrin.

[…]

Taheri-azar and the Duke lacrosse players were all technically innocent until proven guilty. In one case, public officials, the press, and the local community did their best to deny the accused that particular courtesy of American justice. Tellingly, it was not the case of the murderous thug who confessed to attempting to kill his classmates, in a fashion reminiscent of Mohammad Atta, just for being non-Muslims — and then detailed his plans and motivations in letters to a local paper.

The only facts that seem to matter these days are those of context, not the actual actions. So the facts of culture and ethnicity trump the facts of individual guilt or innocence.

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Now it's clear what CFR was really about

Instapundit writes

WITH MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CLAIMING that they’re exempt from searches in bribery cases, it’s probably worth noting this new Zogby poll, which shows that the American public holds all its leaders — but especially Congress — in low esteem.

No doubt Congress will want to respond by putting criticism off limits, too.

Senator John McCain is way ahead of you on that, Instant-man.

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I can't wait for the "everybody does it" defense

[source, source]

After years of quietly acceding to the Bush administration’s assertions of executive power, the Republican-led Congress hit a limit this weekend.

Resentment boiled among senior Republicans for a second day on Tuesday after a team of warrant-bearing agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation turned up at a closed House office building on Saturday evening, demanded entry to the office of a lawmaker and spent the night going through his files.

The episode prompted cries of constitutional foul from Republicans — even though the lawmaker in question, Representative William J. Jefferson of Louisiana, is a Democrat whose involvement in a bribery case has made him an obvious partisan political target.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert raised the issue personally with President Bush on Tuesday. The Senate Rules Committee is examining the episode.

I often mock the MAL for picking awful specific examples of their policies. I have to hand it to the GOP, though, for this effort in achieving parity in that regard. The Speaker of the House is now defending a Representative caught on tape taking a massive bribe? Speaker Hastert, let me send you a clue from outside the beltway — taking bribes is not considered innocent behavior for the vast majority of voters.

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23 May 2006

Like flies to …

[source, source]

World Economic Forum organizers faced questions on Saturday about why representatives of Iran, Syria and Hamas were not at the business gathering in Egypt.

Who could suffer from sufficient reality dysfunction to ask a question like this, one that answers itself for anyone with a clue? Another question that answers itself.

Journalists also peppered Schwab and Sherif El Diwany, the forum’s regional director, with questions about the absence of the Syrian government and representatives of Hamas, a militant group that leads the Palestinian government. [emphasis added]

Yes, if you’re a genocidal regime or a blood soaked dictator, you can count on the journalists to generate some buzz to press your case.

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Actions over rhetoric

This story captures the essence of the distorted reporting that goes on the Middle East. It concerns an assassination attempt on the chief of the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence chief. After the attack, he was taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. The key divergences from the standard paradigm put forth by the Palestinians and their useful idiots in Old Media are:

  • Lack of outrage over assassinations and attempted assassinations of PA officials when it’s someone other than the Israelis involved
  • That a PA official feels safer in an Israeli hospital than a Palestinian one (how much of an enemy can a nation be if high officials feel safer there than in their own nation’s facilities?)
  • That Israel would treat him at all (not quite the model of the oppressor).

It does, however, fit perfectly with the view that the real oppressors of the Palestinians are their own leaders. But I don’t expect anyone in Old Media to figure that out.

Posted by orbital at 8:43 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

19 May 2006

Somebody's running out of time

[source, source]

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical “standard Islamic garments”.

The law, which must still be approved by Iran’s “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

Iran’s roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth […]

The new law was drafted two years ago, but was stuck in the Iranian parliament until recently when it was revived at the behest of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

One commentor asked why the Iranians were being so brazen. Well, why not? What is anyone going to do about it? The mullahocracy has the greatest propaganda outfit in the world working for it. The only question is whether this will be ignored or spun.

P.S. Remember, it’s President Bush and his cronies who are the theo-fascist end-times fanatics, not presidents of Iran who say things like this:

According to Ahmadinejad, the new Islamic uniforms will establish “visual equality” for Iranians as they prepare for the return of the Hidden Imam

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18 May 2006

The character of your friends is telling

[source, source]

On May 20, they’ll be among the graduates listening to first lady Laura Bush deliver the commencement address at Roger Williams. A supporter of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women, Mrs. Bush will celebrate these pioneers - some of the first to complete four-year scholarships offered through the initiative. Launched in 2002 by Paula Nirschel, wife of Roger Williams’s President Roy Nirschel, it has grown to include 10 American colleges that will sponsor 30 scholars next year.

“We are all extremely committed to returning to Afghanistan, because we want to make sure that the next generation won’t face the same problems, such as lack of education and not feeling secure enough,” says Sahar, whose family split up for a number of years so that she, like many other girls, could continue her schooling in Pakistan during the Taliban’s reign. Families who could not leave but were still devoted to educating their daughters were sometimes able to do so in underground schools in Afghanistan.

These are the kind of women who weren’t welcome at Yale.

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17 May 2006

Who's the real racist here?

[source]

The Seattle public school system has adopted a rather, um, comprehensive definition of “racism” as part of its diversity program, including warnings against individual racism, active racism, passive racism, cultural racism, and institutional racism. Most interesting is the definition of “cultural racism:”

Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers. [emphasis added]

There you have it. If you don’t have the right alleles, you are incapable of doing things like planning for the future or being an individual. It’s good that the Seattle Public Schools cleared that up for us.

Posted by orbital at 9:41 PM | View 1 Comments | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Those pesky freedoms! I thought we'd killed them all.

[source, source]

ECRI [European Commission against Racism and Intolerance] deeply regrets the fact that the police are still very reluctant to register complaints of racist statements and to investigate and press charges under Article 266 b) of the Criminal Code, partly due to the fact that freedom of speech is given priority consideration in Denmark.

Do I even need to comment that this is completely in character for the EU?

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Better to fade away than accept the facts

[source, source]

Liberalism entered the 1960’s as the vital force in American politics, riding a wave of accomplishment running from the Progressive era through the New Deal and beyond. A handsome young president, John F. Kennedy, had just been elected on the promise to extend the unfinished agenda of reform. Liberalism owned the future, as Orwell might have said. Yet by the end of the decade, liberal doctrine was in disarray, with some of its central assumptions broken by the experience of the immediately preceding years. It has yet to recover.

[…]

there can be no doubt, either, that an event from the early 1960’s — namely, the assassination of Kennedy himself — contributed heavily. As many observers have noted, Kennedy’s death seemed somehow to give new energy to the more extreme impulses of the Left, as not only left-wing ideas but revolutionary leftist leaders — Marx, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Castro among them — came in the aftermath to enjoy a greater vogue in the United States than at any other time in our history. By 1968, student radicals were taking over campuses and joining protest demonstrations in support of a host of extreme causes.

It is one of the ironies of the era that many young people who in 1963 reacted with profound grief to Kennedy’s death would, just a few years later, come to champion a version of the left-wing doctrines that had motivated his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. But why should this have been so? What was it about mid-century liberalism that allowed it to be knocked so badly off balance by a single blow?

Read the article to find out the answer. It’s worth the time.

Backup copy.

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If only she'd robbed a store, she could have got off with a warning

[source, source]

TONY BLAIR risked a fresh clash with the legal establishment yesterday when he targeted a “distant” justice system that most believed let people get away with breaking the rules.

In his latest assault on the criminal justice system and human rights laws, the Prime Minister rounded on those who failed properly to supervise drug offenders and criminals who have been given community punishment.

Do you suppose that Blair means criminals like this?

[source, source]

A mum-of-two who agreed to look after a gun for an ex-boyfriend has been jailed for five years.

[…]

Julius Capon, prosecuting, said police stopped Edwards on January 13 when she was driving home from taking her two children to school.

He added: “They explained that they had information that she had a gun. She immediately volunteered that she had been asked to look after a weapon and she gave a name.”

Officers went to her then home in Silverleigh Road, Thornton Heath, and she took them to an upstairs bedroom.

Mr Capon told the hearing: “She pointed out a roll of green cloth, under which was a carrier bag containing a semi-automatic handgun wrapped in a white bandanna.”

It was in a poor state of repair, could not have been fired and no ammunition was discovered.

James Cartwright, defending, said an expert had described the gun as unusable.

“For the first time in the history of English law a minimum sentence has been introduced and judges should look very closely at any circumstances which could be exceptional.”

Judge Stow told Edwards, who admitted a charge of possession of the blank firing pistol: “The gun was not owned by you and was supplied to you by others who asked you to store it for them. It was in a poor state, with missing parts.

“You are not inherently a criminal person. You have been completely frank with the police right from the start and you pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, but I have come to the conclusion that none of these features either collectively or singly constitute exceptional circumstances.”

Yow, way to nail the dangeous people wandering the streets!

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You won't see this labeled as "truth to power"

[source, source]

Last month, I received an invitation to testify before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about affirmative action and diversity in U.S. companies. The testimony was scheduled for today, and I was asked to share my written statement to the commission beforehand, last Thursday, which I did. Late Friday afternoon I received a phone call from the commission, telling me that because of what I had to say, my invitation had been withdrawn by its chairman, Cari M. Dominguez.

I urged the commission to reconsider this decision because it would put the commission in general and the chairman in particular in a bad light. Yesterday I was notified that the entire meeting—not just my panel, but two others—has been “indefinitely postponed.”

The problem is that my testimony told the unwelcome truths that (a) American companies, in their “celebration of diversity,” frequently discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity and sex, (b) this violates the law, and © the EEOC is not doing anything about it. I was told that it would lead to a “mutiny” among the career people at the commission if I was given a “platform” to say such things. It might even turn the proceedings that morning into a “circus,” and Ms. Dominguez, I was told, did not want the EEOC “to look like the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights back when Mary Frances Berry headed it.”

The irony is that the effort to silence a witness because of his political incorrectness is exactly the sort of thing that Ms. Berry might have done. Actually, it’s worse. Ms. Berry, whatever her considerable shortcomings, actually did allow me to testify on more than one occasion.

But that can be done in the shadows instead of in front of a media spotlight, as Ms. Berry liked to be.

I would just note that this kind of political pandering / capture is the inevitable fate on all direct government economic interventions. It is the reason to oppose this kind of thing on general principle, no matter how compelling the case of the moment looks.

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16 May 2006

Fear and loathing

[source]

Compare the hype surrounding The DaVinci Code to the pious handwringing about how important it was not to offend religious sensibilities that we heard all over the West at the height of Cartoon Rage. And why aren’t we hearing that handwringing now? Not because of some subtle difference involved, but because the target this time is Christianity, and because the handwringers were and are smarmy hypocrites who were speaking out of fear, not conviction — and they fear Muslims in a way that they don’t fear Christians.

I think that is only half it, the other half being a hatred for Christianity that doesn’t exist against other religions in the West.

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15 May 2006

Different but not changed

[source]

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says the threats Russia faces today makes the Cold War threats look like “child’s play.” Ivanov said Russia needs to do more to confront the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

What about not funding Iranian nuclear weapons development? Or not blocking action against genocide in Sudan? Oh, right, you meant without changing Russia’s delusional foreign policy.

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Safe containment

[source, source]

The youths, mostly teenage boys, are taking the dangerous measure in part because they say it is easier to study for exams in an Israeli prison than it is at home in the West Bank. Some also want to escape family hardship and deepening poverty.

Since January, when the phenomenon was first identified, Israeli army officials say at least 80 young men have either turned up at checkpoints and asked to be arrested or else carried knives and other weapons to ensure they are detained […]

Palestinian civil affairs workers say the number may be far higher than 80 and is on the increase as rumours spread among young men about the potential benefits of being imprisoned […]

Because prisoners usually receive a stipend of around 1,200 shekels ($250) a month, paid by the Palestinian Authority even if detainees are in Israeli prisons, Abdul-Rahman hoped to emerge with a substantial sum of cash to start his own business.

Since the Hamas movement came to power, stipend payments have been frozen, but that wasn’t about to stop Abdul-Rahman.

Yet another facet that explains it all to those who don’t blind themselves, that the Palestinians have created a society that is considered worse than an Israeli jail.

Perhaps Israel should set up a separate line at the crossings labeled “recreational incarceration”.

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14 May 2006

Dream figures of the Left

[source, source]

One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury.

Stalin was applauded by Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Mao was visited by a constant stream of worshippers from the West, some of whose names can still produce winces of disgust in China. Castro has basked for years in the adulation of such literary stars as Jose Saramago and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Even Pol Pot found favour among several well-known journalists and academics.

[…]

One only needs recall the abject audiences at the court of Saddam Hussein by George Galloway, among others, who flattered the murderous dictator while claiming to represent “the voice of the voiceless?. Even now, such publications as the New Left Review advocate support for a global anti-imperialist movement that would include North Korea, surely the most oppressive regime on earth.

The common element of radical Third Worldism is an obsession with American power, as though the US were so intrinsically evil that any enemy of the US must be our friend, from Mao to Kim Jong-il, from Fidel Castro to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And if our “friends? shower us with flattery, asking us to attend conferences and sit on advisory boards, so much the better.

And let’s not forget Harvard’s infatuation with Kim Jong Il or Yale’s with the Taliban. I think it tells us what kind of people the Modern American Left would like to see in charge.

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12 May 2006

Zero always equals zero

[source]

Today a California judge will decide whether the state’s graduation exam is fair to students who made it through school without mastering basic reading and math skills. Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks ignorance is no excuse.

Arturo González, the attorney who wants to overthrow the exit exam requirement, has argued that the test isn’t fair because schools are not equal. Judge Robert Freedman of Alameda County Superior Court apparently agrees. The judge will issue a final ruling on Friday, but already has said he is inclined to grant an injunction to allow seniors to graduate even if they failed the eighth-grade level math test, the 10th-grade level English test or both.

It’s sad but true: All California schools are not equal. The question is: What do you do about the inequity? Do you sanction the inequity by allowing students to graduate ignorant? Is that fair? Or do you require that all graduates be able to read a news story and know what it means when a sale sign says “25 percent off?”

Only the hardest questions require 10th grade English and 8th grade math skills. And these are four-option multiple-choice tests with a pass rate of 60 percent for English, 55 percent for math.

Standard socialist solution to inequality — destroy the value of everything involved (e.g., other student’s diplomas) to prevent inequality.

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When the facts aren't on your side, spin the table

[source, source]

In one corner, we have the New York Times, who cites two officers and a couple of professors (one of whom is a veteran) in their article, without stating if any of these four men have any knowledge of the M249. They do not profess any specific knowledge of the weapon in question at all, and the Times does not provide one fact in this story. It’s all opinion. Also in this corner, CNN’s Jamie McIntyre who cites completely erroneous information to make excuses for a terrorist.

In the other corner, you have a couple of bloggers who did what the professionals should have, and “Googled” facts about the M249 and similar weapons. The bloggers were in contact with and verified facts through current and former SAW gunners from two countries (United States and Canada).

One side has facts, the other opinion. You choose who you want to believe.

Isn’t it odd that the news gathering / analyzing capabilities of Old Media have atrophied so much just as technology made them so readily available? They’re starving in a field of cornucopias.

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11 May 2006

By "open" we of course mean "secret"

[From Mearsheimer & Walt’s rebuttal of critiques of their original paper]

[…] Readers will also note that [Daniel] Pipes does not deny that his organization, Campus Watch, was created in order to monitor what academics say, write and teach, so as to discourage them from engaging in open discourse about the Middle East.

Ah, right — by actually reading what academics write and (horrors) passing it on to others, Pipes is discouraging open discourse. When did leftists and academics become so ashamed of what they do that they stopped being able to bear it being in the open?

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Enforcement penumbras

[source, source]

Perhaps the key moment in the descent happened last February in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. Fitzgerald was there, along with the Libby defense team.

Libby’s lawyers had asked Fitzgerald to produce evidence that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert agent at the CIA. They had also asked for an assessment of the damage, if any, caused by the exposure of her identity.

In papers filed with the court, Fitzgerald refused both requests. Now, in the courtroom, Judge Walton wanted to hear Fitzgerald’s reasons.

“Does the government intend to introduce any evidence that would relate to either damage or potential damage that the alleged revelations by Mr. Libby caused, or do you intend to introduce any evidence related to Ms. Wilson’s status and whether it was classified or she was in a covert status or anything of that nature?” Walton asked.

“We don’t intend to offer any proof of actual damage,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re not going to get into whether that would occur or not. It’s not part of the perjury statute.”

[…]

“We are trying a perjury case,” Fitzgerald said. “If she turned out to be a postal driver mistaken for a CIA employee, it’s not a defense if you lie in a grand jury under oath about what you said.”

Perhaps, though, it should have some influence on whether one is called up before a grand jury.

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What dreams they dream

[source, source]

HARVARD University has a bizarre idea of how to advance the education of its grads: Instruct them to bow down to North Korea’s paranoid dictators and show proper “respect” for the Axis of Evil.

It’s the ultimate in radical Stalinist chic - the Harvard Alumni Association’s $636-a-night totalitarian luxury tour of a rogue nation where thousands are deliberately starved to death.

“Demonstrations of respect for the country’s late leader, Kim Il Sung, and for the current leader, Kim Jong Il, are important,” instructs the Harvard Alumni Association’s tour memo.

“You will be expected to bow as a gesture of respect at the statue of Kim Il Sung and at his mausoleum.”

The question always remains, what do these people get out of things like this? Is it really just the vicarious thrill of being close to someone living out their own fantasies?

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10 May 2006

What more need be said?

[source, source]

Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia won seats on the new UN Human Rights Council […]

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Raising the curtain

[source, source]

The first hammer blow against the sugary memory of a heroic Allende came from Chilean historian Víctor Farías, the author of Salvador Allende: Anti-Semitism and Euthanasia. Farías unearthed the dissertation written in 1933 by Allende to get his medical diploma.

Allende’s thesis bore the title ”Mental hygiene and crime” and could have been signed by any fanatical supporter of Hitler. It was something like a handbook for the perfect Latin American fascist. Homosexuals were described as repugnant. People with mental illnesses should be chemically castrated so they couldn’t transmit their biological heritage. Jews were characterized as usurers, swindlers and slanderers.

When Allende wrote this, he was only 25, but at age 40, a health minister, he tried to put his eugenic theories (so typically Nazi) into practice by introducing a bill to sterilize the mentally ill. Fortunately, that bill was rejected by Congress.

At 64, when he was president and Simon Wiesenthal, the late Israeli Nazi-hunter, asked him for the extradition of Walter Rauff (a Hitler henchman who ordered the murder of thousands of Jews), Allende rejected the petition.

Deep in his heart, though a sexagenarian, he remained the same ardent anti-Semite he had been in his youth.

The second blow against the falsified image of Allende comes from other historians: Vasily Mitrokhin of Russia and Christopher Andrew of Britain. […]

The late Chilean president was a KGB collaborationist, who received money, transmitted information and contributed to Soviet plans for the conquest of Latin America.

Allende was known as a confidential contact, someone who Moscow counted on to undermine democratic regimes and — in accordance with the great Soviet project for world hegemony — to eventually achieve the political defeat and destruction of the United States.

In reality, there is no contradiction between the young Allende, captivated by the fascist ideas prevalent in the 1930s, and the old Allende of the 1970s, a KGB collaborationist. Mussolini was an admirer of Lenin, while Hitler, along with the communists, felt a deep antipathy toward liberal democracy and the United States, a country that he thought was dominated by the Jews.

How can this surprise anyone not suffering from reality dysfunction? It will be denied by the usual useful idiots until the truth is painfully obvious and then (like Hiss) will be dropped down the memory hole.

It might well be for the best in the long run to let Chavez ruin Venezuela as Castro has ruined Cuba, lest he become a similar sort of mythic figure leading to misery and death across whole continents.

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06 May 2006

It's all in how you define "people"

[source, source]

For some students at the New School, in Manhattan, their institution and conservative politicians go together as well as Swiss cheese and peanut butter.

Bob Kerrey, the institution’s president and a former Democratic governor and senator from Nebraska, announced this spring that U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican and past and possibly future presidential candidate, would be the commencement speaker at the New School. Kerrey said the senator’s acceptance “is a big honor for our graduates and their families.”

But hundreds of students, staff and faculty members at the institution of about 9,000 students have signed paper and online petitions that seek to revoke the invitation…

Harper Keenan, a sophomore, has helped organize the dissent. “In all of our classes we’re taught the value of inclusion of all people.”

It is the complete lack of self-awareness that never fails to amaze me.

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What did they expect from the Right Wing Smear Machine?

[source source]

An effort by the American military to discredit the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by showing video outtakes of him fumbling with a machine gun —- suggesting that he lacks real fighting skill —- was questioned yesterday by retired and active American military officers.

The video clips, released on Thursday to news organizations in Baghdad, show the terrorist leader confused about how to handle an M-249 squad automatic weapon, known as an S.A.W., which is part of the American inventory of infantry weapons.

The American military, which said it captured the videotapes in a recent raid, released selected outtakes in an effort to undermine Mr. Zarqawi’s image as leader of the Council of Holy Warriors, formerly Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and suggested that his fighting talents and experience were less than his propaganda portrays. But several veterans of wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as active-duty officers, said in telephone interviews yesterday that the clips of Mr. Zarqawi’s supposed martial incompetence were unconvincing.

The weapon in question is complicated to master, and American soldiers and marines undergo many days of training to achieve the most basic competence with it. Moreover, the weapon in Mr. Zarqawi’s hands was an older variant, which makes its malfunctioning unsurprising. The veterans said Mr. Zarqawi, who had spent his years as a terrorist surrounded by simpler weapons of Soviet design, could hardly have been expected to know how to handle it.

Note that there is a plausible (if, IMHO, wrong) case to be made that such mockery was counter-productive. But to describe as basically unfair as the NY Times does is to cross from loyal opposition to being a propaganda outlet for an enemy of the USA and civilization in general. But what else should I expect from apologists for Soviet Russia?

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04 May 2006

You delete the outtakes, dude

[source, source]

Newly released video of the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq shows Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (AH’-boo MOO’-sahb ahl-zahr-KOW’-ee) decked out in American tennis shoes and fumbling with a machine gun.

The U-S military command says the footage was found during a series of raids in April on purported terror cell safe houses southwest of Baghdad.

Major General Rick Lynch says al-Zarqawi chose not to show the world this piece of video in which he’s wearing “his New Balance tennis shoes,” and in which his associates “do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves.”

Sounds like the guided munition career advancement program we’ve provide for the Caliphascists has been a big success.

Video link via ABC News

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01 May 2006

Speaking of eggs with no omelettes

[source, source]

You are the screeching left-wingers who prevented us from drilling for oil in ANWR and in the Outer Continental Shelf.

You never raised your voices or even an eyebrow when our communist neighbors, under President Hugo Chávez, went drilling and tromping all over the Venezuelan Rain Forest.

Venezuela holds about 151,000 square miles, some 3 percent of the world’s total of frontier forest. The tropical rainforests found in this area are some of the richest on earth, containing an estimated 15,000 types of plant species. Venezuela has, so far, lost 41 percent of its original rainforest, and 37 percent is now threatened.

Right, it’s Bush’s fault

You are not whining or shrieking about Fidel Castro proclaiming that his communist polluters will soon be drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf within 35 miles of the Florida coast. Americans are not allowed to do that.

Three bucks a gallon! Oh yeah, it’s Bush’s fault.

We will forbear to mention the silence on the ecological disaster suffered by the Iraqi swamp Arabs.

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Remembering Galbraith

On the passing of John Kenneth Galbraith

“On ne saurait faire une omelette sans casser des oeufs.” Translation: “One can’t expect to make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

With those words in 1790, Maximilian Robespierre welcomed the horrific French Revolution that had begun the year before.

[…]

But, alas, Robespierre never made a single omelet. Nor did any of the other thugs who held power in the decade after 1789. They left France in moral, political, and economic ruin, and ripe for the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte.

[…]

In The New Yorker in 1984, John Kenneth Galbraith argued that the Soviet Union was making great economic progress in part because the socialist system made “full use” of its manpower, in contrast to the less efficient capitalist West.

Lawrence Reed

“John Kenneth Galbraith argued that the Soviet Union was making great economic progress in part because the socialist system made “full use” of its manpower” The capitalists made “full use” of their brain power and let machines do the work.

ic

From the LA Times article on Galbraith yesterday: “I am struck by our superb capacity to manufacture consumer gadgetry, including electronic games, versus our capacity to produce schools.”

Only an intellectual could write something like this and simultaneously think that the problem is that Corporations Are Bad, and Government Is Good.

b

It’s normally difficult to speak ill of the dead, but few did more to try and destroy their own nations as Galbraith, who had to ignore massive evidence in his own field to hold the opinions he did.

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