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  • Archive for August, 2010

    Obama + Reid + Pelosi = A Scared, United Right

    Posted by Lexington Green on 30th August 2010 (All posts by )

    “I happen to be opposed to gay marriage, but our peril is so great
    that goes on the back burner,” Debbie Johnson of Georgia told me on
    Saturday. Bruce Majors, a gay real-estate agent from Washington D.C.,
    had a different take. He told me earlier this year that he felt
    perfectly comfortable working with the Tea Party on bringing the size
    of government under control. “We’re both about freedom and we have a
    common short-term goal,” he said. Indeed, in Washington this past
    weekend the more libertarian and the more socially conservative
    elements of the Tea Party seemed to get along just fine.

    From this, via Instapundit.

    The Cold War was the glue that held the American Right together up to 1989.

    Obama and the Democrats have become a domestic Soviet Union, politically.

    They and all their evil works and their trillion-dollars-at-a-time cash bonfires are a menace so great that everything else has to be put off to the side.

    These fools have scared the herd of cats on the Right into a tactical alliance that may (fingers crossed …) turn into a longer lasting realignment.

    That is a perverse achievement.

    Posted in Conservatism, Elections, Leftism, Obama, Politics, USA | 13 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 29th August 2010 (All posts by )

    You Westerners have your watches, but we Taliban have time.
     
     
    —-
     
     
    I am delighted to contribute to the Afghanistan 2050 discussion here on Chicago Boyz, back in 2010.

    I was in fact briefly in Afghanistan myself in the early ’70s, almost 40 years ago, before the Russian invasion and long after the “Empire” Brits had left, on something of an informal global pilgrimage. I have fond memories of visiting the great standing Buddha of Bamiyan, climbing the stairs behind him and looking out across the valley from atop his head. I had been reading the poet Jalaluddin Rumi in AJ Arberry’s translations for several years, and was aware that Balkh was Rumi’s birthplace — so Afghanistan already had a niche of sacred affection in my heart. And from that visit, brief as it was, I recall particularly a tiny white mosque by a spring in the middle of miles of desert somewhere east of Herat, with its luscious yet tiny garden, I remember the worn faces of old men in Kandahar and Kabul – I have in short, fond memories of the place, and therefore a sense both that some things change there, and some things stay the same.

    According to Islamic belief, Muhammad is the Seal of the Prophets, the last in the series — and what is left to those of us who wish to foresee Afghanistan or the world in 2050 is therefore “the long view”, guesswork, scenario planning, futurism, perhaps even science fiction. I have worn the “futurist” hat myself in the past — and even the science fiction beret, very briefly and without much success. From my POV here in 2010 and without even the benefit of 2020 vision, I see Afghanistan 2050 obscured by what Nassim Nicholas Taleb might call a veil of black swans – unexpected events leading to future world-lines we cannot as yet even imagine. Forty years ago, I had never even heard of a computer game. A version of Microsoft Flight Simulator was found in a Taliban safe house eight or ten years ago… and there are now US Army training games, jihadist games, and games of peace…

    Let me clothe my speculations, then, in science fiction, openly presented as such, about “branching world-lines” and the ways in which possible futures branch out from the experienced present and often ill-remembered past… I’ll take Everett’s “Many-Worlds” theory as my framework, and throw in a very slight shift of the long pendulum – I see us backing away from the intensive cultivation of material goods and values which has characterized the last few centuries, and very gradually turning towards a more introspective, contemplative sense of the world and our place in it.

    Oh – and I will use the names of some of my own mentors in place of the future thinkers whose work I quote, in a quiet tip of the hat to some previous exponents of the ideas I propose…

    2050

    Historians — on the world-line this is written from, and consequently in those cognate worldlines in which you are reading me — tend to date the by now (2050) clear shift in priorities (if not in actualization) currently emerging along these world-lines to the 2020 joint publication in Nature and Physical Review G of Dogen’s confirmation of the Everett-Klee Transformation Hypothesis, which stated (in its minimal formulation) that free choice is the mechanism by which a human individual switches tracks in a given “present moment” from a “past” world-line to a particular “future” world-line, branching “in that moment” from the first.

    Gupta’s 2024 dissertation at the revived Nalanda University suggesting that “morality decisioning” (a horrible phrase, now thankfully forgotten) was the key to shifting from more suffering-dense, competitive and warlike to less suffering-dense, more collaborative and peaceable world-lines was quickly followed by the recognitions that meditative (Snyder, 2025) and liturgical (Hopkins, 2025) practices were among the most powerful methodologies, certainly complementing and perhaps even surpassing “good works” by considerable margins in widely repeated tests of “world-hopping” as the practice of side-stepping from one line to another came to be called.

    By 2030, “play” (Hesse, Huizinga) and “dream” (Bateson, Rheingold) were understood to be crucial to culture and peacemaking respectively, and the process of revaluing human “progress” in light of “moral branching world-line theory” (mBWT) was well under way. It was not, however, until 2037 that Niebuhr and Arendt’s proposal of a method for the cross-pollination of world-lines gave scientific legitimacy to the notion of a sacrificial (“bodhisattvic”) choice to cross over from low-suffering pasts into more suffering-dense futures — with a view to “seeding” those more suffering-dense world-lines with hints of “liberation or salvation via moral and contemplative change”.

    Afghanistan 2050

    On those world-lines which derive from this “low-suffering / high liberation” end of the spectrum, therefore, a contemplative “immediacy in the moment” has given rise to a lowering of the sense of linguistic distinctions and analytic dominance over “what is” – and therefore such distinctions as the drawing of lines on maps have less sway than was previously the case – the Durand Line dividing “Afghanistan” from “Pakistan” being a case in point. It is now understood by most parties on these timelines that such administrative distinctions have an honorable and colorful place in the way the world works, but in no way trump the generosity of spirit that kin feels for kin. Thus we have Pashtun and Baloch spheres that cross Afghan and Pakistan borders (with similar cross weavings at other borders from Iran to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and even China).

    The popular religion of the area still has strands of Deoband and even the influence of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, but affection for the Sufi poets and philosophers — for Ansari of Herat, Rumi of Balkh, and Rahman Baba — has grown or re-grown, along with increased interest in other religious and meditative traditions, the scholarly and tolerant Islam of al-Andalus and the Buddhism which was once native to Afghanistan not least among them.

    Politics and sport are much the same as ever – and deeply intertwined. Buzkashi is still the national game and model for politics, horsemanship the mark of inherent nobility, and soccer the subtle international sport at which young boys in Afghanistan and the world over learn contest, collaboration, and respect for the skilled opponent.

    There are, of course, other, darker world-lines, and daring souls who travel them, teaching peace in its many guises – as good business, good Islam, good Christianity, even good mental health. It is not easy for our historians to access them, for martyrdom of one kind or another, voluntarily chosen or egregiously inflicted, decimates those who would travel the realms of inflamed hatred. And there are even world-lines in which the world has already ended, not infrequently in some conflagration triggered by fervent believers that the end of time was overdue – self-fulfilling prophecy as maladaptive strategy. These world-lines cannot even be reached by historians – only inferred.

    We, however, remain. Our futures are ours to make — and history, the arts and the sciences between them have shown us that a turning towards the good, the generous, the noble, the beautiful, and the true is possible.

    And still our present branches into possible futures. And still with hearts and minds, we choose.

    *

    Charles Cameron is former Principal Researcher with the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University and Senior Analyst at The Arlington Institute. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, under AE Harvey, and specializes in forensic theology with a particular interest in millennial, eschatological and apocalyptic religious sects of all stripes. He has also published poetry, professed anthropology and literature, and designed a family of games for lateral and creative thinkers. He presently guest-blogs almost regularly on Zenpundit. You can contact him as “hipbone” with the ISP “earthlink.net”.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 2 Comments »

    On Economics

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 28th August 2010 (All posts by )

    The Wall Street Journal editorial page today had a great little paragraph that pithily summed up a key economic and political concept:

    “Obama and their economic coterie really believe that government spending can stimulate growth by triggering private “demand”, that tax rates are irrelevant to investment decisions, that waves of new regulation can be absorbed by business with little impact on costs or hiring, and that politicians can assail capitalists without having any effect on the movement of capital.”

    Then the article goes on to compare this ‘recovery’ with the one after 1982-3 when the Gipper was in charge.

    “Now taxes are poised to rise sharply… and Federal agencies are hassling business at every turn… now companies are sitting on something like $2 trillion, reluctant to take risks when they don’t know what new costs government might next impose on them.”

    It actually is a bit worse than even the article portrays.  Companies don’t just choose when to invest in the US (to use that $2 trillion in cash), they choose WHETHER to invest in the US at ALL.  Nowadays the US has the least favorable tax climate of the developed world, and there are many other opportunities overseas where you can actually get plants built and have governments happy to work with you and welcome your investments with open arms.  Multinationals can do anything from anywhere and they are not stupid.  It is one thing to determine whether or not it is time to “pull out” of the US due to an onerous regulatory and tax regime (that is a tough call) – but it is a much easier call just to decide to invest much less incremental capital in the US and ride operations here as a “cash cow” instead, for the indefinite future.  That is what is happening en-masse today.

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 6 Comments »

    Friday Night

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 28th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 13 Comments »

    Mark Levin on Mocking the Ruling Class

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th August 2010 (All posts by )

    I recently posted my broodings about the American “Ruling Class”, in response to the much-discussed article by Angelo Codevilla on this theme. This post struck a nerve. It generated a huge number of comments, of exceptionally high quality.

    I was very pleased to find out that Mark Levin discussed this post on his radio show. He begins that discussion at about 39:45. Mark says, “Lexington Green, though he may not know it, is writing about this show, and me.” He focuses on the idea that our would-be rulers should be mocked, that they should be disrespected, and that is precisely what he does. This is a strategy that he, and I, and many others, all agree about. I recall one sterling example: the roars of laughter when Gov. Palin mocked candidate Obama at the Republican convention, simply by telling the truth about him in a confident and humorous way. It was pure relief to have someone speak honestly about the man, it was like oxygen coming into a room full of toxic gas. The more of this the better, and the more it is done with humor and a sense of confidence in ourselves, the better for us personally (too much anger begins to degrade you, as I know myself) and the more effective we will be in convincing others.

    I will have more on Codevilla’s theme, and the response to it, in one venue or another, going forward.

    I rarely listen to talk radio, just because of the nature of my work and other commitments, so I am not a regular listener to Mark’s show. As a result, I only found out about this recently. I have his book sitting around here somewhere, but haven’t read it.

    Many thanks to Mark Levin.

    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes, Conservatism, Politics, USA | 2 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Tribes vs. Networks, cont. & cont.

    Posted by David Ronfeldt on 27th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Here is another speculative scenario for the Afghanistan 2050 roundtable. It reflects themes in my August 13 post and is not inconsistent with my August 22 post:

    The Black-Flag Wars of the 20s and 30s were so fraught with religious strife and devastation that by the 40s many people in the region were ready for new ways to look at the world. That’s one reason why the New Theory of Prophecy (NTP) and the movement that formed around it, the New Word Network (NWN), suddenly spread faster there than anywhere before.

     

    NTP rested on a reaction in the Teens that too many people from too many religions, mostly in the Middle East, were claiming to act in God’s name, as His chosen people. NTP reaffirmed that Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammad were God’s prophets. What it rethought was why they all appeared in the Middle East, when God could have placed them anywhere in the world.

     

    NTP hypothesized that if God had sent a prophet elsewhere, his Word might not have spread into the Middle East in due time, because its peoples were so extraordinarily tribal. Yet, this area was a crucial crossroads of world civilizations. Wiser, then, to put a prophet there, and have the Word spread out to the rest of the world. But with the first prophet, only his own tribe got the Word; it didn’t spread beyond them. With the second, the Word spread far outside, but not much more within the Middle East. With the third, the Word spread across the Middle East and farther around the world. But then, once again, too many people turned to claim they’d been chosen by this version of the Word and its prophet; they reverted to being extremely tribal, in ways that disparaged not only other peoples but even the first two prophets.

     

    Against this background, NTP counseled all believers against taking God’s name in vain and claiming to be His singularly chosen people, while NWN developed a noöpolitik* strategy to ameliorate the tribalization of religion. To its credit, NWN helped undermine the appeal of Al Qaeda’s narrative in North America and Europe, and motivate the accords between Israel and Palestine in the Teens. But for the next two decades, conditions in South Asia fell prey to the millenarian Black Flag Momentum (BFM) and its belief that a new prophet was imminent.

     

    BFM’s leaders disdained NWN and twisted the NTP to claim it meant a new prophet was bound to arise, this time for them. They’ve been wrong, and done wrong, for a quarter century — like past millenarian movements that provoked apocalyptic violence and always ended up losing. Now, conditions are finally too disastrous for even BFM and its allies to rationalize. NWN is fast gaining adherents in the region, helping people recover and reorganize. Rumors are still circulating about an imminent new prophet, but lately of one quite unlike what BFM and others had predicted — and that too is calming the region.

     

    [Excerpt from Dawgo Skatts, “Chronicles of the New Word Network,” draft (last revised 02/30/50). Accepted for inclusion in NoöSpherica Quarterly (probably the Spring 2050 special issue on trends in religion). Still being edited for sensitivity.]

    * For clarification of this information-strategy concept, see here.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 3 Comments »

    I’m in for National School Choice Week

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 27th August 2010 (All posts by )

    As a long time member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, I’m big on preventing Teachers Unions from destroying western civilization. Therefore, let me just say that I’m in for scrapping the entire overpriced, corrupt, and union-driven money laundering scheme we call public education. You should be in too.

    Join Us! National School Choice Week from National School Choice Week on Vimeo.

    Posted in Education | 1 Comment »

    Malinvestment and the Higher-Ed Bubble

    Posted by David Foster on 27th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Workers with specialized skills like electricians, carpenters and welders are in critically short supply in many large economies, a shortfall that marks another obstacle to the global economic recovery, according to a research paper by Manpower Inc. The study mentions an Ohio shipbuilder that had to bring in experienced workers from Mexico and Croatia and a French metal-parts maker that hired Manpower to find welders in Poland.

    The paper blames the shortage in part on the “social stigma” assigned to skilled blue-collar work, and cites a poll finding that only one in 10 American teenagers see themselves in a blue-collar job as adults. (The proportion was even lower in Japan.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Economics & Finance, USA | 9 Comments »

    Worth Reading: Richelieu and Olivares

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 27th August 2010 (All posts by )

    This guy you know:

    Richelieu

    He’s the winner. Through the efforts of Dumas, he found an unforeseen afterlife as a major literary and film villain who constantly twirled his mustache and plotted against a pesky Gascon and his indomitable friends.

    This guy you don’t know:

    Count-Duke of Olivares

    He’s the loser. No Dumas or even his cheap Spanish equivalent found him worthy of commemoration.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History | 5 Comments »

    Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

    Posted by Lexington Green on 26th August 2010 (All posts by )

    People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
    Forgive them anyway.
     
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
    Be kind anyway.
     
    If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
    Succeed anyway.
     
    If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
    Be honest and sincere anyway.
     
    What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
    Create anyway.
     
    If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
    Be happy anyway.
     
    The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
    Do good anyway.
     
    Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
    Give your best anyway.
     
    In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
    It was never between you and them anyway.
     

    August 26, 2010 is the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth

    Posted in Quotations, Religion | Comments Off

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Klondike

    Klondike lo-cal vanilla is the official ice cream sandwich of the Chicagoboyz blog.

     

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: A Chronic Low-Grade Sameness. Or, Each Life, A Story.

    Posted by onparkstreet on 25th August 2010 (All posts by )

    (Alternate title: When Borders Need To Heal….)

    When we got to the Southern Afghanistan-Balochistan camps the first thing we noticed was the quiet. Even more strange than the lines of donated tents, the numbers of people, and the bizarre floating appearance of the inflatable camp hospitals dotting the landscape, was the relative silence. This surprised us.

    Inside the largest camp hospital we found the recovered bodies of the missing Afghan-Americans. A make-shift morgue had been arranged with each body properly tagged in a kind of digital tattoo ink that kept a running score of the date of death, body temperature and presumed cause of death. The previous group of traveling NGO physicians (our hospital ship was semi-stationed for the duration at Balochistan Port) had left a good set up. Above each body “hovered” a bodily representation – a CT/MRI compiled projection – so that the morgue had the appearance of something spectral and otherworldly, the souls of the dead afraid to leave, anxious to ensure the truth.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 7 Comments »

    Antique Tool Bleg

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 25th August 2010 (All posts by )

    To our readers here at Chicago Boyz – I am looking for some information about a tool. For those not in the know, I am the proud owner of a working hobby farm. We now have five cows, three horses, six chickens, three cats, and a partridge in a pear tree.

    We are raising our cows on pasture grass and hay only, no grain. I have been noticing a lot of thistles and burdoc out there in the pastures and I hate looking at it. The burrs also cause problems with my cattle as the breed we are raising is Scottish Highlands and they have a lot of hair.

    I have been contemplating going back to the future and buying a scythe to cut this crap down. I cut a bunch of burdoc with a hand snips and it was drudgery – from what I have read a scythe would be a great tool for me. Our pasture is very uneven with a lot of rocks and dips – not good for a mower. Also, I like to exercise so the actual work doesn’t scare me at all, and my obliques could use the work. On top of this we have electrified fence that is constantly being grounded by high grass/weeds so I would use the scythe for that maintenance as well.

    My question is to all of our readers – have you ever used a scythe and is there a particular design that I should look for? Any particular blade style that would suit this sort of work better? Most that I have seen have adjustable handles on the snath (the snath is the long handle part) so that should make most models fit my six foot frame. Is there a better wood for the snath? I plan on purchasing a wetstone to sharpen the blade while working, as well as a peening jig to peen the blade when needed. Any comments/advice are appreciated, especially from some of our readers who may have actually used a scythe back in the day for hay harvesting.

    Posted in Personal Narrative | 21 Comments »

    Poor Engineering

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 25th August 2010 (All posts by )

    We just got a new phone system here at work and while the system itself is great, I am less than impressed by the engineering of the headset. Check out this photo:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, China, Personal Narrative | 4 Comments »

    Drawing the Fires

    Posted by David Foster on 25th August 2010 (All posts by )

    The EPA has drafted a new set of regulations for emissions from industrial boilers, via imposition of “Maximum Achievable Control Technology.” The National Association of Manufacturers has raised serious concerns about the advisability of imposing these regulations, particularly at this point in time: a very detailed analysis is here

    Industrial boiler regulation may sound like a pretty esoteric topic, but actually I think it is an important one, both in terms of tangible impact on the economy and in terms of what it symbolizes about the way we are heading as a society.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Politics | 18 Comments »

    Full Moon Over River North

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 25th August 2010 (All posts by )

    We had an exceptional full moon last night here in Chicago and got a great view the moon moving across the night sky.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Photos | 3 Comments »

    Why Bureaucracies Suck

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 24th August 2010 (All posts by )

    It is important to keep in mind the ossifying effect of bureaucracies and their ability to grow and consume resources without impacting the situation that they were established to originally “fix”.  This occurs in the public sector (government) and in the private sector among foundations.

    A donor gave a gigantic donation to the Poetry foundation, a foundation dedicated to publishing “Poetry” magazine and also to helping the mission of poetry.  In the popular consciousness and in reality, being a poet would be the quintessential “starving artist”, since there is very little remuneration for this sort of work.

    So what would be the logical thing to do with this vast and unexpected donation, in excess of $100 million?  Perhaps the foundation could actually pay poets and sponsor their work and bring them out of penury?

    Nah… the thing to do is BUILD A BIG BUILDING FOR THE STAFF (and visitors).  In an expensive part of Chicago, in fact, where the cost of the building is a significant multiple of what it might cost elsewhere, say the suburbs of Chicago, or pretty much anywhere else in the US outside of New York or California.

    Per this article, the total cost of the building is expected to be $21.5 million.  Since nothing ever comes in on time or on budget, plan on it costing a bit more.

    …offices space are located on the second level, organized into three areas each for the administration, Poetry magazine and website staff, and programs staff. The building’s internal arrangement is configured so all spaces have views of the garden.

    Glad all of the staff now reside in a very high rent district, in a state of the art building, with a view of the garden.  I’m sure all of the starving poets out there will appreciate this fact.

    A classic example of a bureaucracy putting the needs of its staff ahead of its mission.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania | 14 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th August 2010 (All posts by )

    hi

    Chicagoboyz are not nearly as scary as they appear to be.

     

    Posted in Photos | Comments Off

    The Left and its delusions

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd August 2010 (All posts by )

    Cross posted at my own blog.

    I skim the Washington Monthly blog as a window on the thinking of the far left. They are more civil (except in comments) than the DailyKos but the mentality is the same. Today is a reasonable example. The topic is taxes.

    Roll Call noted this morning that the Senate is moving towards “an epic election-year battle over Bush-era tax cuts.” That sounds about right.

    The dispute helps capture exactly what the two parties prioritize right now — Dems want to keep lower rates for the middle class, while reducing the deficit by letting the rich go back to the rates they paid when the economy was healthy. Republicans want to hold the Dem proposal hostage, fighting tooth and nail for breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and adding $680 billion to the deficit the GOP pretended to care about for a while.

    The “middle class” is a very elastic concept for them with the top income range going all the way down to $150,000 per year. Secondly, the group with incomes of $250,000 or more, the target class, consists of mainly small business people who are not incorporated and who file all income with a personal return.

    There is also no concept here of who pays the taxes. Shouldn’t “tax cuts” be distributed to those who pay taxes ? Otherwise, it is just one more government handout to those who are nonproductive. Here is a look. The top 1% of income pays 40% of the income taxes. Hmmm That’s also about $410,000 per year, not $2 million.

    The top 5% pays 60.63% of the income taxes. The threshold for the top 5% is $160,000. Well, what do you know ?

    Billionaires need little help from Republicans but they do invest and are the source of most new jobs. The concern for “the deficit” on the part of Democrats may be translated as the left side of the entire argument about spending versus taxing. Republicans want to talk about cutting spending, especially tea party Republicans. I even have a compromise: Let the tax rates go back to the Clinton administration rates but let’s also go back to the number of government employees of the Clinton period.

    [W]here would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: the policy center’s estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. Take a group of 1,000 randomly selected Americans, and pick the one with the highest income; he’s going to get the majority of that group’s tax break. And the average tax break for those lucky few — the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year — would be $3 million over the course of the next decade. […]

    Notice how the “richest” become those with incomes over $2 million when we are talking about one aspect of the issue but, when it is time to actually impose the taxes, the incomes shrink back down to $250,000 or, in some cases, it shriveles all the way down to $150,000 per year.

    Midwestern centrists such as Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) have called for an extension of all of Bush’s tax cuts, including those benefiting individuals earning more than $200,000 and families earning over $250,000 annually.

    Other Democrats say they would consider raising taxes on individuals and families earning below those thresholds, despite President Obama’s promise that middle-class families would not see their taxes increase.

    Some liberals balk at the notion that families earning $250,000 or more belong in the middle class.

    “Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars? Is that the top 1 percent of Americans, or half a percent? Come on!” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

    Harkin said he would be willing to extend the tax cuts for families earning $150,000 or less annually.

    See how elastic that number is ? Families with a combined income of $150,000 are “rich.” We went from $2 million per year to $150,000 per year just like that!

    Or we’re told that it’s about helping the economy recover. But it’s hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren’t likely to spend a windfall.

    Did you notice that one ? Tax cuts “give” money to people who have “plenty.” Just keep repeating to yourself; it’s not your money. It’s the government’s money and they are “giving you some of it.” They used to call that “To each according to his needs.”

    No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy. Instead, as I said, it’s about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culture, in which Congress won’t take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.

    Once again, a translation. Schoolteachers “need” the money. Firefighters is just a cover. The “wealthy” (Those with over $150,000 per year income) don’t “need” the money.

    Note, there is no concept of a private economy here. Nobody invests; nobody starts a business. The story of the 2001 tax cuts that Democrats want to repeal is here in more detail.

    This is what socialism looks like in practice.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Leftism, Politics, Taxes | 16 Comments »

    Assorted Links

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd August 2010 (All posts by )

    Thomas Sowell on American Collapse: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

    Journalism Warning Labels (via Rachel).

    Caroline Glick’s excellent recent column on Iraq, Iran and US strategy.

    Baseball Crank on deficits and spending. This is very well done.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Iran, Iraq, Media, Middle East, National Security, War and Peace | Comments Off

    Afghanistan 2050: Tribes vs. Networks, cont.

    Posted by David Ronfeldt on 22nd August 2010 (All posts by )

    Here’s an epilogue/postscript to my initial (August 13) post for this roundtable:

    The dozen BOIDS — small ultra-quiet stealthy long-range aerial DIY drones designed to swarm against an adversary’s OODA loops — idled in range of the target, undetected, waiting for a signal that the first stone was being cast.  Ten of the drones were piloted remotely by individuals who had paid large sums to train and participate in what they were about to do: stone the stoners.  The other two were for tactical topsight and command (TTC, the new C4ISR) and were operated by a unit of HubrisNemesis, the secretive ethicalist netfirm whose lineage included Sea Shepherd.*  This unit and a few of the attack pilots were aboard a ship in the Indian Ocean; most of the pilots were in other locations, even at home in North America, Europe, and South Asia.  While each had his/her own motivation for joining in, they all shared disgust and despair at how, once again, a great religion was being subjected to a vain tribalism.  Public stoning rarely occured anymore, and international efforts had been made for months to halt this instance.  But dark local forces had prevailed, and the stoning was supposed to proceed a few minutes from now in the sun-baked arena — with no outside media or foreign observers present.  HubrisNemesis and the BOIDistas hoped that Operation StoneCold would save the condemned trio’s life.  But even if that proved a false hope, at least their operation would generate video for global viewing of the ugly event’s proponents being routed as the BOIDS “stoned” them from above for the next hour or so.  But unlike the people at the event, the BOIDistas would not launch real stones aimed to maim and kill; no, their weaponry was mainly metaphorical, even nonviolent, but still powerful enough to frighten and disperse a crowd — e.g., plastic meshes filled with choice liquids, gases, and powders.  And if the surprise attack could be sustained long enough, nearby police and military would show up and cancel the event.  And then the ripple effects would start to unfold. . . .

    * See here for a fine post about Sea Shepherd and its implications.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 3 Comments »

    Afghanistan: Breaking Away from the Pack

    Posted by Daniel Abbott on 22nd August 2010 (All posts by )

    Without comment, this animation courtesy of gnxp

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan | Comments Off

    Increasingly Unhinged

    Posted by David Foster on 21st August 2010 (All posts by )

    1)Obama has stated that the US and Iran have a “mutual interest” in fighting the Taliban, and that Iran “could be a constructive partner” with the US in creating a stable Afghanistan.

    Reality: A State Department report, issued the day after Obama’s expression of his fantasy:

    Iran’s Qods Force provided training to the Taliban in Afghanistan on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons. Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments to select Taliban members, including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Iran, Islam, Politics | 12 Comments »

    What Prison Rape Jokes Mean

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st August 2010 (All posts by )

    I posted an overly long comment to the comments of this blog post on prison rape [h/t Instapundit], so I thought I would turn it into a post here.

    I don’t think the vast majority of people who joke or threaten about prison rape are seriously indifferent to it when it comes to making real decisions about the penal system. Instead, I think they are simply pointing out one of the ugly realities of the real-world penal system.

    I think that politically most people would like to reduce prison rape but they have a lot other evils they would like to reduce first. It is not that they don’t care, it is just that they have so many other things to care about as well.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Law Enforcement, Society | 9 Comments »

    Where Have All The Futons Gone?

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st August 2010 (All posts by )

    I want to replace a futon. It is the old, thick cotton kind that became popular in the ’80s — no foam, no springs. Ten years ago you could look in the back of the sleazy local “alternative” newspaper and find ads for futon shops that would sell you a plain 8-inch-thick cotton futon for a modest price. Now I look and the shops are gone. On the Internet “futon” means a piece of furniture that incidentally has a mattress that kind of, sort of looks like the same type of thing that used to be called a futon. You can google “futon mattress” but these are now mostly pseudo-mattress contraptions containing springs or foam. I have slept on a foam-containing futon and it was comfortable, but I prefer all-cotton ones, in part because they all feel the same and therefore I know what I am getting. Further googling, on the term “Japanese futon”, yields better results, but the Japanese-futon merchants seem to be selling a much thinner futon than what I am looking for. They appear also to be charging a premium for the authentic Japanese-futon experience, which involves a tiny Japanese apartment where you sleep on an authentic Japanese futon on top of an authentic tatami mat and then roll everything up in the morning to make the most of your limited space. Thanks but I thought we had moved past that here. To use a cotton futon comfortably on a conventional slatted bed frame the futon needs to be at least six inches thick, preferably 8 or 9 inches. This is an American futon. But are they even available anymore? I can’t tell if the market has changed or if I am merely looking in the wrong places.

    Posted in Personal Narrative | 36 Comments »