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    Hidden Agenda

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 24th January 2011 (All posts by )

    An op-ed in Time magazine seems to be a refutation of claims to a growing terrorist threat from Muslims in the United States, but uses that pretext to push one of the Left’s most cherished and discredited agendas.

    The author does get a few things right, pointing out that those of the Islamic faith here in the US are more integrated and moderate than anywhere else in the Western world. He also states that the vast majority of wannabee Jihad Johnnies are disgruntled loners that act without backing from any terrorist organization. The only time he goes off the rails is when he handwaves the horrific attack carried out by Major Hasan at Fort Hood in 2009. It wasn’t terrorism because Hasan wasn’t shooting civilians, you see!

    That single gross and deliberate distortion of the issue aside, the author does make a pretty good case for his premise that claims concerning an ever escalating level of terrorism from the Muslim population in the US are overblown. But, even though he is very clear that a significant threat has yet to emerge, he is very clear as to what should be done about it.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Islam, Leftism, National Security, RKBA, Terrorism | 3 Comments »

    Beyond Human

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 1st January 2011 (All posts by )

    Anyone recognize this guy?

    marvel comics thor

    That is Thor, comic character from Marvel Comics. Based, of course, on the deity worshiped by the Norse.

    What can this object of ancient reverence do to warrant such regard? Like most thunder gods, he can hurl thunderbolts that destroy his enemies as long as he wields a mystical hammer called Mjolnir.

    ultimate marvel thor hammer mjolnis

    That is the main thing thunder gods do, after all, and it seemed to be something that would be extremely impressive to the Vikings.

    Anyone recognize these?

    both-9mm-carry-guns-with-spent-brass-and-loaded-magazines

    My favorite carry guns. They are smaller and lighter than that hammer thing, and yet I can still create thunder by no more effort than making a fist.

    Sure, it isn’t exactly the same thing. I can’t call the storm like Thor supposedly could, for example. But it still is a perfectly common, well known, mature technology that expands my abilities to something that is impossible for an unaided human being to duplicate.

    I’m bringing up the fantastically obvious due to this online article. (Hat tip to Glenn.) Some really strange young woman has a hobby where she cuts herself open in order to shove magnets down amongst nerve clusters. Says she can feel magnetic fields that way.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Bioethics, Blogging, Science, Tech | 8 Comments »

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th November 2010 (All posts by )

    2009-turkey-part-1

    A distinctly North American holiday, Thanksgiving is probably the closest thing to a celebration of philosophical thought that you will find. Tabulate your blessings, give thanks for them whether big or small, and consider where you would be without them.

    I hope this is a joyous day for you. If not, then at least remember that it could be much worse.

    filthy-bum

    (Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)

    Posted in Blogging, Holidays | 2 Comments »

    Size Matters

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 8th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Earlier this decade, it seemed that the French government was doing their best to oppose the United States. Someone asked me why.

    So I struggled to come up with a way to explain my impressions concerning the foreign policy of The Fifth Republic at the time, finally settling on describing a child that stomped around in a fury, shrilly shrieking “We used to be a world power!” over and over again.

    The reason why this image came to mind was due to the fact that France, like most European countries, had allowed their armed forces to rot away to the point that they had a terrible time projecting force beyond their borders. This loss of military ability corresponds to a loss in influence on the world stage. Instead of biting the bullet and increasing their commitment to building and maintaining a world class force of arms, the French under Jacques Chirac appeared to be determined to browbeat the United States into acting as a proxy branch of their own government.

    The point to the overly long diatribe above is that regimes and cultures which have their own interests at stake are not inclined to listen to what you have to say if there are no consequences for refusing to negotiate.

    Such dusty history sprang to mind when I spied this news article on the UK Telegraph server. It appears that two new aircraft carriers planned for the Royal Navy might just be the victims of budget shortfalls.

    queen elizabeth class future aircraft carrier for great britain

    (Picture source.)

    The top brass, desperate to save the carrier project, have proposed cutting the British fleet in half!

    In a final appeal to the National Security Council, Navy chiefs yesterday offered to make cuts that would reduce the senior service to its smallest since the time of Henry VIII.”

    The Navy has argued that having two carriers is vital if Britain is to retain its place as a top-rank military power.”

    There is nothing quite like an aircraft carrier for getting hostile regimes to sit up and play nice, and it is true that the United Kingdom needs these carriers if they are to retain their present level of influence on the future history of humanity. And yet, reducing the fleet to such anemic levels would make it impossible for Great Britain to meet commitments in other areas.

    You could say that the Royal Navy is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea on this issue.

    If there is one thing this proves, it is that the United Kingdom is not ready to meekly slide down the slippery slope into insignificance. Let us hope that such resolve is enough.

    (Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)

    Posted in Britain, Europe, France, International Affairs, Military Affairs | 18 Comments »

    Ad Rage

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 7th October 2010 (All posts by )

    In a recent post, I discussed how art lovers were upset that billboards were blocking the view of famous landmarks in Venice, Italy. Complain all they might, the mayor of that canal-infested city points out that selling ad space is the only way to generate the funds needed to preserve the very treasures the critics want to see.

    To point up the unreasonable nature of the complaints, I juxtaposed how people not involved in law enforcement were constantly insisting that the police expand their responsibilities. This is in spite of the fact that there simply isn’t enough in the budget to pay for equipment, training, or the manpower to do the new jobs.

    This prompted Ric Locke to pen a comment ….

    “Perhaps police should sell advertising space on their patrol cars, rather the way race drivers do.”

    That has already been tried. If memory serves, the public didn’t like it because some local strip clubs (to my knowledge the only healthy and growing businesses in Toledo, Ohio) bought adverts on the cruisers.

    There is no pleasing some people.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Law Enforcement | Comments Off on Ad Rage

    He Has Moxie

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 6th October 2010 (All posts by )

    When people hear that I used to work for my local police department, they usually want to complain. “The cops don’t do enough!” is the usual refrain.

    My position is that they do as well as they can. Budget constraints also constrain the ability of the police, and the department has to compete with other government agencies for a slice of the taxpayer provided pie. Although everyone interested in the subject should remain wary of excesses and corruption, the vast majority of police forces here in the United States do a pretty good job with what they have. But that isn’t what most people say.

    There is never enough cash to provide the equipment the public demands, provide the training the public demands, provide the size of the force the public demands, or provide the services the public demands. People looking at police work from the outside can see that there is a lot more cop work that can be done if there was unlimited money, so how come they can’t get it now without their taxes going up?

    I was reminded of the neverending litany of woe while reading this news article. It appears that giant billboards have been erected over the facade of many famous landmarks in Venice, Italy. This has elicited outrage from prominent figures in the art world, who have complained that blocking the view of such historical treasures in order to sell soft drinks and sports watches is an act of “stupidity and incompetence”.

    The mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, says that selling the advertising space is the only way to pay for desperately needed renovations since tax revenues have been falling. He also says that his critics should get bent.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Europe, Humor, Law Enforcement | 16 Comments »

    Ignore The Canary

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 13th September 2010 (All posts by )

    I was talking to someone who grew up around Appalachian coal mines a few days ago.

    “My daddy would always make sure he was the guy who carried the cage with the little bird in it when he went down into the mines. That way he would always be the first to know if there was a problem. He would watch the bird, and would run for the top when it would drop. Everyone else would just watch him, and start running when he would pass them by.”

    It isn’t news that the Obama administration has increased employment in the public sector by an amazing degree, even when individual governments in Europe, and the European Union itself, have slashed budgets.

    When even the cultures which most enthusiastically embraced government intrusion in their economies start to admit that it was a bad idea, it is pretty much the point when the bird stops chirping and keels over. The Democrats in charge of our country should have paid attention some time ago.

    The latest news is that Cuba has announced plans to lay off one million government workers.

    “Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises, on which some of the current restrictions will be eased.”

    So the Communists are making noises that they are going to give up on a centrally controlled economy? They are gingerly adopting American business practices because it is the only way to survive? And, even though they are discarding the old ways as being self-destructive, the Liberals are enthusiastically embracing those same policies?

    For goodness’ sake, when Cuba passes you in the mine, it is past time to turn around and make a run for the fresh air!

    Posted in Big Government, Cuba, Economics & Finance, Leftism, Obama, Politics | 3 Comments »

    Nine Years On

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 11th September 2010 (All posts by )

    When I was four years old, someone told me that Russia was going to bomb the United States some day. There would be sirens before the world ended in fire.

    They test the emergency alert sirens every Wednesday in my town. A few days after getting this thumb-nail version of global brinkmanship, they all went off to mark the start of noon. I sat down on the curb outside of my house, and wept bitter tears while waiting to be swept away in the flash and shockwave.

    That is the best way I can describe what it was like to grow up during The Cold War. We went through life knowing that most of us were going to be smashed flat under the nuclear hammer. I can’t convey how overjoyed I am that we were all wrong.

    The stakes during that unofficial conflict were of the very highest, nothing less than the future history of mankind. One side was going to see their culture prevail, while the other would be forced to mould their own values and beliefs into something that was pretty close. Either that, or be swept into Trotsky’s dustbin of history.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Terrorism | 5 Comments »

    Sounding The Depths

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 6th September 2010 (All posts by )

    Cheryl Rofer was kind enough to post an essay where she discusses her attempts to understand the mindset behind the supporters of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party movement.

    That essay has invited a fair number of comments, some of them less than kind. When I noted that Ms. Rofer was trying to reach Tea Party satori by mulling over the life of Tchaikovsky, and the writings of authors who hail from Spain and Great Britain, I am afraid that I became guilty of writing something negative myself….

    You conflate a Russian composer and a British novelist with an American grass roots movement that is devoted to shrinking the size of government? I think it is pretty obvious why you are confused!”

    That was both unkind and uncalled for, and I apologize to Ms. Rofer unreservedly.

    As a gesture to show that I take her seriously, I would like to try and smooth the way for her a little bit. But to do that, I will have to bore you all to tears by explaining my own background. My only defense for this terrible waste of your time is that I believe it will lead to a better meeting of minds.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy | 5 Comments »

    Causality

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 3rd September 2010 (All posts by )

    Interesting article in The American about how big cities are becoming increasingly inegalitarian. The trend is to have a teeming mass of poverty-stricken wage slaves, with a thin upper crust of jet setters who wallow in the culture and highbrow entertainment that is forever out of the reach of the underdwellers. Upper mobility has vanished.

    Hardly news to those of us who live in a big city. But the following caught my eye …

    Perhaps nowhere is the growing class divide more evident than in London, perhaps the world’s most important megacity. Despite a massive expansion of Britain’s huge welfare state, the ladder for upward mobility seems broken, especially in London.”

    Couldn’t the expansion of the welfare state have had something to do with all this lack of opportunity, increase in poverty, and general doom-and-gloom?

    (Hat tip to Glenn.)

    Posted in Europe, Society | 10 Comments »

    All I Want Is For Them To Get Off My Lawn

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 15th August 2010 (All posts by )

    San Francisco is considering banning the sales of Happy Meals inside the city limits. Near as I can tell, the justification is that toys included with meals intended for children cause them to eat like pigs.

    What about parents, the people who actually earn the money that is used to pay for fast food?

    They must be mindless drones to keep their children from constantly gulping down fattening grub. Once their larva starts to nag and whine, they have no choice but to mindlessly shell out the hard earned for a heart attack on a plate.

    That means all of you jokers who spawned are sheep! Zombies ripe for the picking by the endlessly evil people at McDonald’s! Their vast intellects have wiped out any chance you have of resisting, since any sort of ability to form rational thought has obviously squirted out of the womb along with your get. All your corporate masters have to do is include a cheap plastic toy with food, and you fall into line like the dull-witted proletariat you are!

    Thank goodness the Democrat-infested governments in California are there to keep you from destroying yourselves. Freedom of choice? You obviously can’t handle it, since a simple toy has defeated you! They must step in and pass arbitrary legislation which removes any chance you might have of making your own decisions, because you will just screw it up! I mean, think of the children!

    And if you disagree with me, then you must be a racist. Or a parent.

    Posted in Business, Civil Liberties, Leftism | 8 Comments »

    Liberals See Corporate Donors To Obama As Saintliness, Donations To Republicans As Evil

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 13th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Read all about it here.

    The US retail chain of Target made a donation to a business friendly group that endorses Tom Emmer, the Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota. This has gotten Liberal groups in a tizzy, particularly groups that supposedly support equal rights for people who lead alternative lifestyles.

    Why would LGBT advocates get upset about this? Mainly because they claim that Mr. Emmer has made some disparaging remarks about gays in the past. (Since I have not heard of Mr. Emmer before today, I cannot say if their claims are accurate or not.)

    So a group which supports pro-business candidates receives a donation from Target, and then Target is pilloried by the Left because one of the people endorsed by that group doesn’t support their agenda?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Leftism | 3 Comments »

    Changing Prices

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 11th August 2010 (All posts by )

    I was doing some work in my basement when I came across the following, tucked away out of sight behind a girder.

    found-grocery-store-flyer-from-1979

    It is an old grocery flyer from a nearby store. How old is it?

    proof-grocery-flyer-is-from-1979

    Okay, so it lists the prices from 1979. But how do those prices stack up against the cost of similar items that can be found on the shelves today?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Economics & Finance, History, Personal Finance | 38 Comments »

    Sure Took Them Long Enough

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 28th July 2010 (All posts by )

    France says they are now at war with al Qaeda.

    Well, sorta-kinda. Retribution military raids, really. No one is saying that France is going to go full bore on this.

    Not that they really could anymore, considering how they have allowed their ability to project force rot on the vine in favor of social welfare giveaways to the voters. Unless they are conducting military operations inside their own borders, the options for France are kinda limited.

    Posted in France, Terrorism | 3 Comments »

    What Did He Say?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th July 2010 (All posts by )

    Remember the 10 Russian spies that were recently returned to The Motherland? The people who had their lifestyles at least partially funded by the government that sent them over here to gather secrets?

    Putin just said that they lived “tough lives”.

    I think I’m tough enough to sign up for such duty. Just throwing it out there in case the US government has plans to send me off to a foreign land where I can shop, live in a nice house, go to cocktail parties, and fail to dig up any information that can’t be easily found with a 10 second Google search.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Russia | 7 Comments »

    A Blast From The Past

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 29th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Back in the bad old days of the Cold War, a lot of successful espionage projects run by the Soviets hinged on a certain type of snobbery.

    You can see it most clearly when reading about the Cambridge Five, a spy ring consisting of several British high-bred good-old-boys. Recruited while attending a snooty college, they betrayed their country with elan and enthusiasm. The reason why they managed to get access to sensitive material was because they came from good families, and could use the connections formed during their school days to get jobs in government. Jobs that dealt with intelligence and secret information.

    They had sources of sensitive info other than the documents they read while at the office. Other people in the spy game would let their guard down during casual conversation, and let slip some secrets. After all, this was their buddy from their university days! If you can’t trust someone who wears the same school tie, then the world makes no sense at all!
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Russia | 29 Comments »

    Drawing From The Well A Few Times Too Often

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 17th June 2010 (All posts by )

    I thought everyone here would like to have a little glimpse into the French national pension system.

    The news item linked to above is both short and written in English. Click the link and read the sidebar for a few thumbnail facts concerning who gets a pension, and what kind of money they can expect. A comparison to Social Security in the United States is not a futile exercise.

    What I found interesting is how French workers with private sector jobs have to make do with 50% of their pay, and the base figure is found by averaging the 25 top earning years during their career.

    Public sector employees, by contrast, receive 75% of their pay, and the base figure is found by averaging the last six months of their career.

    It seems that this is inviting fraud, as I would certainly try my best to work as much overtime as possible during that last six months. Inflate the pay and get a better pension than I deserve.

    Those who avoid sucking at the government teat are shafted in a lot of other ways as well. Private sector employees have to give up over 10% of their pay in order to fund the pensions, while government workers are only taxed less than 8%. Pretty good work if you can get it.

    Read the whole thing. Like I said, it is short and to the point.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, France | 2 Comments »

    When Congresscritters Attack

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 14th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Holy Crap!

    Follow the link to see an unprovoked assault on some college student when he asks a member of Congress a simple question.

    Dan weighs in with some thoughts about self defense. I would much prefer it if people could carry pepper spray on the streets of Washington without first being required to register with the police. A little spritz in the eyes would not only have ended the attack toot sweet, but it would also produce a sight that I have become convinced is impossible.

    A Democrat would cry real tears.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Politics | 22 Comments »

    Nutty Nanny State

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 11th June 2010 (All posts by )

    I was born in 1964. The world seemed to be soaked in peanuts while I was growing up.

    Peanut butter was considered to be the perfect health food for children, as well as pregnant women who wanted to only eat wholesome foods while carrying their child. It was free from animal products, you see.

    A common snack were crackers slathered with the stuff. Desserts were sprinkled with crushed peanuts. Dry roasted peanuts were eaten at movie theaters. Peanuts roasted in the shell were passed out in order to keep the kids quiet, as most children would become fascinated by removing the husk in order to get at the nut inside. And, of course, peanut butter sandwiches were a quick, easy, and cheap lunch staple for just about every child growing up in the United States.

    Were allergies to peanuts to be found in the general population back then? I’m certain that you could scare up a few people that suffered from it in those dark long ago days, but it wasn’t as if there were a lot of children dying from eating an ice cream sundae with peanuts on it.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Crime and Punishment, Politics | 10 Comments »

    Amazing Coincidence

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 9th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Anyone remember the Russian submarine Kursk (K-141)? In the year 2000, it was severely damaged by an on board explosion and sank in relatively shallow water. All hands were lost.

    (And yes, I know that Wikipedia is unreliable and should not be used as a reference. But it is the best brief encapsulation of the facts that I have found on this subject.)

    Within days of the disaster, both the British and Norwegian military had offered the use of their underwater rescue teams. The Russians flatly refused, even though both of the foreign teams were probably the best trained and equipped in the world for retrieving crew from a stricken submarine. This proved to be a terrible mistake on the part of Russia, as budget woes since the fall of the USSR had caused maintenance to be cut back to the point that their own specialized rescue submersibles were no longer able to do the job.

    What is more, then President Vladimir Putin found himself at the center of a great deal of negative PR. On vacation when informed of the disaster, he made the decision to continue relaxing while the rescue efforts started. It wasn’t until five days after the explosion that he made a public statement about the incident, lending to the impression that he was unconcerned about the lives of fellow Russians.

    The humiliation of the Russian government was complete when it came to light that they didn’t even have the means to raise the wreckage from the sea floor! Two private Dutch companies had to do the work, making the initial refusal of help all the more poignant for the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in the disaster.

    I’m bringing up this bit of ancient history because I see some amazing parallels between the Kursk disaster, and the current problems with oil gushing from a damaged offshore well.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Environment, Military Affairs, Obama, Politics, Russia | 16 Comments »

    Getting In On The Action

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 8th June 2010 (All posts by )

    I had never heard of Nikki Haley until a few days ago.

    She is an elected member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and she decided to run for Governor of that state. Married to a career military officer for the past 13 years, they have two children.

    All well and good. But it seems that those who oppose her candidacy are throwing as much mud as they can in an attempt to turn voters against her. As this op-ed details, the biggest clod came from a member of her own party.

    It all began in late May when Will Folks, a minor-league Republican operative turned blogger, claimed that he had a sexual relationship with Haley in 2007. The dignity that Folks brings to journalism is encapsulated in his latest blog post: “I have purposely refrained from discussing the physical details of my relationship with Rep. Haley. Believe it or not, I am a Southern gentleman.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics, That's NOT Funny | 12 Comments »

    Overlooked

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 27th April 2010 (All posts by )

    The latest flap concerning Muslim extremists getting bent out of shape over a South Park episode, and how the network censored images of the prophet, is a case of history repeating itself.

    A previous ep from 2006 supposedly depicted Mohammad, until the network excised all images of that particular worthy. They even went so far as to bleep out every utterance of his name. All done in the fear that, unless appeased, intolerant practitioners of the Religion of Peace would indulge in an orgy of bloodshed and fire.

    I wrote Comedy Central at the time, taking them to task for their shameless act of cowardice. I received a well spoken, thoughtfully composed reply that explained the concerns of the network.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Humor, Islam, Terrorism, That's NOT Funny | 12 Comments »

    Seems Obvious To Me

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 8th April 2010 (All posts by )

    As anyone who has been interested in the debate over armed self defense knows, the vast majority of professional journalists have a deep seated bias against the very concept. Private citizens owning guns so they can protect their family and themselves? That path leads to chaos and death! Or so they seem to believe.

    How are self defense advocates able to discern this? After all, most journalists insist that they are as unbiased as a person is able to be when discussing any subject under the Sun. And yet they repeatedly and consistently make the same mistakes when writing about the subject.

    The laws concerning the ownership and use of weapons are usually ignored or misrepresented, the capabilities of firearms are almost always distorted, and the statistics indicating that private citizens who legally carry concealed firearms for their defense are the most peaceful and law abiding members of our society are rarely mentioned. And, most striking, these errors seem to go in only one direction. Data checking and being thorough about the facts seems to be important only if it advances the gun control agenda.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Media, RKBA | 36 Comments »

    Escalation

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 4th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Zenpundit has a post up about how gunmen employed by one of the drug cartels in northern Mexico have demanded that an entire town empty out. They want the people gone, or else they will start killing.

    Zen thinks this is the start of the end for Mexico, and sees a potential flood of refugees from our neighbor to the south.

    To anyone interested in the subject, thought you might appreciate the news that the cartels are now attacking Mexican army bases.

    A last and hopeless act of desperation by criminals who are on the ropes, or a canny move to test the security of their greatest foes?

    We shall see.

    (Hat tip to Scott, who snarks like mad when he says “Man, this never would have happened without American gun shows.”)

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Latin America, Law Enforcement | 7 Comments »

    Wrong Venue

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 4th April 2010 (All posts by )

    I just found out that Iran is hosting a nuclear disarmament conference.

    That is sort of like John Wayne Gacy hosting a police convention.

    Posted in Iran, National Security | Comments Off on Wrong Venue