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  • Archive for January, 2011

    SOTU Follow-up: Obama to Give America Another Chance

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 26th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a senior White House official indicated that while President Barack Obama realizes there are problems in his relationship with us, the American people, he intends to hang in and work to make it succeed. The spokesman went on to indicate Obama feels particularly disappointed that we have not appreciated all his efforts to bring us free universal health care. He also feels we are not doing our fair share of the national work, and that 20 months after the end of the recession, we should be doing much better than 9.4% unemployment and only 64.3% civilian workforce participation. He thinks we just are not trying hard enough, and wonders how he can expect to fund green jobs, high-speed rail, and universal fast internet connections without the revenues he needs us to provide. The spokesman conceded that while Obama has run up considerable debts, it was all spent on necessities, and if we had been contributing as we should have, he could have paid for it all in cash. The spokesman went on to say that Obama was willing to give this relationship another two years, and then see where we stand. The spokesman indicated Obama was sorry to take such a hard line, but things must change.

    Other White House officials, who asked not to be named, said that Obama could do much better, and did not have to settle for the people of the United States. One official mentioned that Tunisia had just left a long-term relationship, and the United Nations has always had the hots for him. Another said that Obama and France were made for each other, and we had better watch our step, and get some help for what Obama considers our electoral dysfunction.

    Posted in Elections, Humor, Speeches | 5 Comments »

    Funding Corruption

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th January 2011 (All posts by )

    According to this news item, Republicans in the US House of Representatives are vowing to cut payments to the United Nations. Of greater interest to me is the promise of investigations into corruption.

    There was a great deal of drama over the UN soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Humanitarian programs were seen as chances for graft and bribes, and resolutions against Iraq certainly did nothing to convince Saddam to abide by the peace agreement that ended Gulf War I. Why does the American taxpayer pony up more than 20% of the United Nation’s budget if the organization is nothing but a toothless waste of time that is run by a collection of criminals?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Crime and Punishment, History, International Affairs, United Nations | 9 Comments »

    Leftists’ Eliminationist Fantasy

    Posted by Shannon Love on 24th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Via Althouse comes a review for a play, The Last Supper, with a revealing premise. The play is based on a movie of the same name. Wikipedia summarizes the movie:

    The Last Supper is a 1995 film directed by Stacy Title. It stars Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, Annabeth Gish, Jonathan Penner and Courtney B. Vance as five liberal graduate school students who invite a string of right-wing extremists whose political views they disagree with to dinner in order to murder them.

    Here’s a video of the trailer:

    This is obviously a comedy and one that uses a long-established plot premise: the protagonist gets hooked on murdering obnoxious people. (Feel free to offer examples in the comments. Dexter comes immediately to mind for me.) This plot premise works because we the audience can empathize on some level with wanting to do away with all the people who make us angry. The plot creates a fantasy in which we get to harmlessly indulge our darker impulses. It is that fantasy of lashing out that makes these types of works attractive on an emotional level. In most works with this premise, the murderer kills people universally despised. Dexter kills murderers and who cannot empathize with that urge?

    What makes The Last Supper so disturbing in the contemporary context is both murder victims, non-leftists, and the intended audience, leftists. It is clearly a leftist’s murder fantasy.

    Wikipedia describes the victims:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 16 Comments »

    Of Anwar al-Awlaki and Bold Christian Clothing

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 24th January 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

    I am, admittedly, very interested in religion, and Christianity has been the mother-lode for me of the imagery, gestures and profound words that can move heart, soul, mind and imagination into a greater depth.

    Advertising, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that the best of it plays on imagination, too, but it is generally more of an intrusion upon – via billboards on landscapes, via commercials in movies, or via irritating jingles and catch phrases that subvert my best attempts at quieting the mind – than an experience of the kind of depth that religion at its best can offer.

    But if you are interested in religion, and click online in enough of the right places, advertising that has “religious” content will be targeted to you.


    And so it is that I went online this morning to check out something about al-Awlaki on Islamic Awakening, an American jihadist forum, and found myself invited to consider, instead, wearing some “bold Christian clothing”.

    This was while I was researching al-Awlaki, right? the Muslim jihadist preacher?


    a site with its own curious graphics…

    And looking closer at that logo, isn’t that some sort of triumphalist armored vehicle I see?


    Well, never averse to a pretty girl, and noticing the one in the Bold Christian ad, I thought I’d taker a look at Bold Christian Clothing to find out what sort of fashion sense was popular among the younger Christian set just now, and found I could obtain t-shirts with such comforting images as these…

    — this one’s symbolic of our relatively new century, I guess…

    or this:

    which I am praeternaturally fond of since my online moniker is hipbone, with its veiled reference to the Valley of the Dry Bones in that very same chapter 37 of Ezekiel…

    and then there’s this masterfully supremacist rendering of a part of the Lord’s Prayer:

    which I must admit isn’t the image of Thy Kingdom Come that springs to mind when I personally hope and pray for heaven on earth.

    What exactly is it, you may ask? According to the manufacturer, it’s

    The Lord’s Prayer — “Thy Kingdom Come” with an Angel holding the cross, Horses, skulls under the horses, and palm trees (with Shield and Pacific Oracle cross logo added)

    It’s also “the softest, smoothest shirt we sell” … “made from combed cotton for your added comfort” and gives “a flattering and stylish fit to virtually any body type”.

    I on the other hand think it looks more like a photoshopped variant of the Quadringa statue in London that celebrates Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo:


    In light of all this, I do believe I’ll just wear white – although even that could be misinterpreted, I guess.

    Posted in Advertising, Britain, Christianity, Islam, Religion, Rhetoric, Style | 3 Comments »

    Wave Of The Future

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

    One of the big topics of discussions in the right side of the blogosphere lately has been how the pay and benefits of public employees has contributed to the current fiscal emergency our nation now faces. Of particular interest is how unfunded pensions are causing a budget crises every fiscal year.

    The Buckeye Institute, which the local news media dubbed a “conservative think tank” here in Ohio, has a searchable database that lists the salary of every public school teacher in this state. They even go so far as to include the estimated pensions that the educators have coming.

    This will probably become something that every state will have, and it has been a long time coming.

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Education | 3 Comments »

    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 »

    The origami of War and Peace

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 24th January 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

    It is brilliant. On the one hand, the folded-paper crane is a well-known symbol of peace:

    On the other hand:

    Even [Thai PM Shinawatra] Thaksin’s attempts at peace have been problematic. Last winter, he decided to launch a “peace bombing” to assuage the fury of the nation’s mostly Muslim southerners, who were enraged at the implementation of martial law and the growing rate of disappearances, reportedly by Thai Buddhist security forces. So Thaksin asked the Thai people to fold him an enormous flock of origami birds and then dropped more than 100 million paper cranes over the roughly 5,000 square miles along the Malay peninsula that make up Thailand’s deep south. Dropping the birds was intended to be a gesture of peace from the north to the impoverished south. But the Muslim population saw the “peace gesture” differently. “The Islamic understanding of dropping birds is battle,” Dr. Chaiwat Satha-Anand, a political science professor at Bangkok’s Thammasat University told me. He pointed to Sura 105 of the Quran, “The Elephant,” in which God sends down “birds in flocks” upon his enemies to flatten them like blades of grass.
    Eliza Griswold, Dispatches From Southern Thailand: From Separatism to Global Jihad


    It was Graeme Dobell’s fine post today, The 2010 Madeleine Awards for diplomatic symbol, stunt or gesture, that clued me into Thaksin’s one hundred million symbols of peace, plummeting like bombs from the sky…

    Posted in Human Behavior, International Affairs, Islam, Religion, Rhetoric, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Nation-building in South Asia

    Posted by onparkstreet on 23rd January 2011 (All posts by )

    This would need clarification in the constitution. Presumably Jinnah, the lawyer, would be just the person to correlate the “true Islamic principles” one heard so much about in Pakistan with the new nation’s laws. But all he would tell me was that the constitution would be democratic because “the soil is perfectly fertile for democracy.”
    What plans did he have for the industrial development of the country? Did he hope to enlist technical or financial assistance from America?

    “America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America,” was Jinnah’s reply. “Pakistan is the pivot of the world, as we are placed” — he revolved his long forefinger in bony circles — “the frontier on which the future position of the world revolves.”

    He leaned toward me, dropping his voice to a confidential note. “Russia,” confided Mr. Jinnah, “is not so very far away.”

    This had a familiar ring. In Jinnah’s mind this brave new nation had no other claim on American friendship than this — that across a wild tumble of roadless mountain ranges lay the land of the Bolsheviks.

    I wondered whether the Quaid-i-Azam considered his new state only as an armored buffer between opposing major powers. He was stressing America’s military interest in other parts of the world.

    “America is now awakened,” he said with a satisfied smile. Since the United States was now bolstering up Greece and Turkey, she should be much more interested in pouring money and arms into Pakistan.

    “If Russia walks in here,” he concluded, “the whole world is menaced.”

    In the weeks to come I was to hear the Quaid-i-Azam’s thesis echoed by government officials throughout Pakistan.

    “Surely America will build up our army,” they would say to me. “Surely America will give us loans to keep Russia from walking in.”

    But when I asked whether there were any signs of Russian infiltration, they would reply almost sadly, as though sorry not to be able to make more of the argument, “No, Russia has shown no signs of being interested in Pakistan.”

    This hope of tapping the U. S. Treasury was voiced so persistently that one wondered whether the purpose was to bolster the world against Bolshevism or to bolster Pakistan’s own uncertain position as a new political entity.

    Excerpt from Margaret Bourke-White’s 1949 book, “Halfway to Freedom”. Via Pundita.

    Chicago Boyz readers (and bloggers) tend to show a keen interest in history. As a historical recording, the above excerpt is fascinating. And chilling.

    Pundita opines that the above excerpt holds many lessons for AF-PAK today. I am curious as to our reader’s opinions on the subject.

    UPDATE: There is much more at the link than the bit I’ve highlighted. That wasn’t clear in my original post. Sorry.

    Posted in Academia, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Arts & Letters, History | 7 Comments »

    Uh Oh

    Posted by onparkstreet on 23rd January 2011 (All posts by )

    It may take all hands. While Obama and his team were hardly the only ones to underestimate the depth of the problem they inherited in early 2009, their failure to define it from those early days has undermined a bedrock idea of American liberalism, the faith in the capacity of government to play a constructive role in the markets and make up for the limits of individuals to cope with them. Since unemployment has remained so high for so long while deficits have soared, it must mean the stimulus did not work and the money was wasted. Smaller government, less regulation and lower taxes, therefore, would be the only answer. And so, Obama’s challenge may be more fundamental even than reducing unemployment and winning re-election; he wants to prove that liberal economic theory can be adapted to the 21st century.

    “The White House Looks for Work,” NYT

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance, Elections | 6 Comments »

    Not all assassination attempts are newsworthy

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 22nd January 2011 (All posts by )

    We have seen the media hysteria about the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and 18 others. The climate of political rhetoric by the right was blamed. The fact that one of the “victims” threatened a tea party member at the memorial service was not considered newsworthy. Now, we learn that even a real assassination attempt on a Republican governor was not considered newsworthy by the legacy media.

    In September 2010 Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was scheduled to speak at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City.

    At some point, wearing black clothes and a bullet-proof vest, 22 year-old Casey Brezik bolted out of a classroom, knife in hand, and slashed the throat of a dean. As he would later admit, he confused the dean with Nixon.

    The story never left Kansas City. It is not hard to understand why. Knives lack the political sex appeal of guns, and even Keith Olbermann would have had a hard time turning Brezik into a Tea Partier.

    Indeed, Brezik seems to have inhaled just about every noxious vapor in the left-wing miasma: environmental extremism, radical Islam, anti-capitalism, anti-Zionism and Christophobia, among others.

    In his “About Me” box on Facebook, Brezik listed as his favorite quotation one from progressive poster boy, Che Guevara. The quote begins “Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism” and gets more belligerent from there.

    On his wall postings, Brezik ranted, “How are we the radical(s) (left) to confront the NEW RIGHT, if we avoid confrontation all together?”

    As good as his word, Brezik’s marched on Toronto in June 2010 to protest the G20 Summit, where he was arrested, charged, and deported. “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,” he boasted

    Here we have a genuine attempt at murder of a Republican Governor. No word from the legacy media. I had heard about this recently but the version I read said the Mississippi governor and I could not find the story. Here it is in all its repulsive glory. The linked article blames mental illness and marijuana but his politics had a large role, as well. Maybe that’s why nobody was interested.

    Posted in Civil Society, Human Behavior, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Terrorism | 14 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd January 2011 (All posts by )

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    Return on Educational Investment

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd January 2011 (All posts by )

    The Center for American Progress notes that per-pupil education spending has tripled over the past four decades, even after adjusting for inflation. There are clearly some serious issues as to how effectively this money is being spent.

    The CAP has done an extensive analysis of educational productivity at a district-by-district level, attempting to control for the effect of non-school factors influencing cost and performance. Here’s a nifty interactive map–note that you can select from three different variants of the calculation methodology.

    I’ve looked at the methodology and results only at a very cursory level, but this study–which clearly involved a lot of work–looks worthy of attention.

    (via Joanne Jacobs)

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Education, USA | 10 Comments »

    The Birth of the Ever Victorious Army

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 22nd January 2011 (All posts by )

    Through an English friend in the Chinese service, Ward obtained an introduction to Wu, the Taotoi of Shanghai, and to a millionaire merchant and mandarin named Tah Kee. The plan he proposed was as simple as it was daring. He offered to recruit a foreign legion, with which he would defend Shanghai, and at the same time attack such of the Taiping strongholds as were within striking distance, stipulating that for every city captured he was to receive seventy-five thousand dollars in gold, that his men were to have the first day’s looting, and that each place taken should immediately be garrisoned by imperial troops, leaving his own force free for further operations. Wu on behalf of the government, and Tah Kee as the representative of the Shanghai merchants, promptly agreed to this proposal, and signed the contract. They had, indeed, everything to gain and nothing to lose. It was also arranged that Tah Kee should at the outset furnish the arms, ammunition, clothing, and commissary supplies necessary to equip the legion. These preliminaries once settled, Ward wasted no time in recruiting his force, for every day was bringing the Taipings nearer. A number of brave and experienced officers, for the most part soldiers of fortune like himself, hastened to offer him their services, General Edward Forester, an American, being appointed second in command. The rank and file of the legion was recruited from the scum and offscourings of the East, Malay pirates, Burmese dacoits, Tartar brigands, and desperadoes, adventurers, and fugitives from justice from every corner of the farther East being attracted by the high rate of pay, which in view of the hazardous nature of the service, was fixed at one hundred dollars a month for enlisted men, and proportionately more for officers. The non-commissioned officers, who were counted upon to stiffen the ranks of the Orientals, were for the most part veterans of continental armies, and could be relied upon to fight as long as stock and barrel held together. The officers carried swords and Colt’s revolvers, the latter proving terribly effective in the hand-to-hand fighting which Ward made the rule; while the men were armed with Sharp’s repeating carbines and the vicious Malay kris. Everything considered, I doubt if a more formidable aggregation of ruffians ever took the field. Ward placed his men under a discipline which made that of the German army appear like a kindergarten; taught them the tactics he had learned under Garibaldi, Walker, and Juarez; and finally, when they were as keen as razors and as tough as rawhide, he entered them in battle on a most astonished foe.

    From Gentlemen Rovers by E. Alexander Powell (1913), chapter entitled “Cities Taken by Contract” about Frederick Townsend Ward and the Ever Victorious Army during the Taiping Rebellion. After Ward’s death, the Ever Victorious Army was led on to victory by Charles “Chinese” Gordon. (The title of Powell’s book is based on the poem The Lost Legion by Rudyard Kipling.) See also The “Ever Victorious Army”: A History of the Chinese Campaign under Lt.-Col. C.G. Gordon, C.B., R.E., and of the Suppression of the Tai-Ping Rebellion by Andrew Wilson (1868).

    UPDATE: Reading the Wilson book, I found this excellent paragraph, about the death of the Emperor, who had suffered both the Taiping rebellion as well as foreign invasion, culminating in the destruction of the Summer Palace, and unremitting disaster throughout his reign:

    About this time some events occurred at Peking which had a not unimportant bearing on the future of China and of Tai-pingdom. On the 21st August the Emperor Hien-fung died at the Jehol, his hunting-seat in Tartary, in the 26th year of his age and the 11th of his reign. Unequal to the difficulties of a transition period, he had, like many other rulers similarly placed, sought consolation in sensual indulgences, and had allowed himself to be led by unworthy favourites. At last, as the decree announcing his death stated, “his malady attacked him with increasing violence, bringing him to the last extremity, and on the 17th day of the moon he sped upwards upon the dragon to be a guest on high. We tore the earth and cried to heaven, yet reached we not to him with our hands or voices.” When the mortal shell of this frail and unfortunate monarch was laid in its ” cedar palace,” his spirit ascending on the dragon would have many strange things to tell to the older Emperors of his line. He would have to speak of trouble, rebellion, and change through all the years of his reign, over all the vast plains of the Celestial Empire, from the guttural voiced tribes of Mongolia and the blue-capped Mohammedans of Shensi, down to the innumerable pirates of Kwangtung; he might complain that, east and west, north and south, his people had been disobedient and rebellious; the administration of his empire had been set at defiance, and his sacred decrees had been imperfectly carried out by weak and corrupt viceroys, much more intent upon their own aggrandisement than upon the welfare of the people. Year after year great bands of marauding rebels had moved across the once happy Flowery Land, marking their progress in the darkness of night by the glare of burning villages, or shadowing it in the day by the rolling smoke of consuming towns. A maniac usurper had not only sought to ascend the dragon throne, but had nearly done so, and had claimed divine honours; while invading armies of the outside barbarian had humiliated the empire, had visited the once inviolate city of Peking, and had burned the palace of the Son of Heaven.

    Woe unto poor China, and her unhappy Emperor. A vivid and tragic depiction of the destruction of the Summer Palace, mentioned here, can be found in How We got into Pekin: A Narrative of the North China Campaign of 1860 by The Rev. R.J.L. M’Ghee (1862), which is a very worthy book.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, China, History, Military Affairs | 19 Comments »

    I think of Cordoba

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 21st January 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]


    I think of how the Mezquita, once a mosque, must have looked when its whole floor was a single, arched space of prayer:

    before Moorish Cordoba was conquered, and the conquerors built a cathedral in the very heart of the place:

    like the petals of a flower opening inside the sepals, or a cancer sprouting within the body – for so much depends on your understanding of prayer.


    And I think how lovely it still looks, cathedral nestled within mosque under the snow, to this photographer’s eye:


    And I think of Seymour Hersh, who has drawn flak for comments in a recent speech about the Bush war in Iraq, and Obama’s continuation of Bush policies – and here’s the part that caught my eye:

    “In the Cheney shop, the attitude was, ‘What’s this? What are they all worried about, the politicians and the press, they’re all worried about some looting? … Don’t they get it? We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. And when we get all the oil, nobody’s gonna give a damn.'”
    “That’s the attitude,” he continued. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.”

    And I think then of the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, that was conquered and became a mosque:

    and is now a museum. So these things go, in times of war.


    As for the Mezquita, its history is more complex than I have suggested: it was first a pagan temple, then a Christian church, then shared between Muslims and Christians, then made into a mosque, then a church again – and the cathedral as we see it today was built during the Renaissance…

    And I think at last how much depends on lofty spaces, and on silence, and on prayer:

    Posted in Architecture, Christianity, Islam, Photos | 12 Comments »

    You’d Think They’d Have Said Something

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st January 2011 (All posts by )

    Does this guy sound like a leftists?

    Indeed, Brezik seems to have inhaled just about every noxious vapor in the left-wing miasma: environmental extremism, radical Islam, anti-capitalism, anti-Zionism and Christophobia, among others.
    In his “About Me” box on Facebook, Brezik listed as his favorite quotation one from progressive poster boy, Che Guevara. The quote begins “Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism” and gets more belligerent from there.
    On his wall postings, Brezik ranted, “How are we the radical(s) (left) to confront the NEW RIGHT, if we avoid confrontation all together?”
    As good as his word, Brezik’s marched on Toronto in June 2010 to protest the G20 Summit, where he was arrested, charged, and deported. “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,” he boasted.

    Guess what he did. Go ahead guess.

    Okay, I’ll tell you.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Media | 6 Comments »

    Slicing Spinal Cords With Scissors

    Posted by Shannon Love on 20th January 2011 (All posts by )

    [Sorry for any typos. I was a bit upset and hurried.]

    I’m mostly pro-choice but this horrific story demonstrates just how utterly extreme and insane the left in general and the Democrat party in particular have become on the matter of abortion:

    A doctor whose abortion clinic was described as a filthy, foul-smelling “house of horrors” that was overlooked by regulators for years was charged Wednesday with murder, accused of delivering seven babies alive and then using scissors to kill them.

    He “induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord,” District Attorney Seth Williams said.
    Gosnell referred to it as “snipping,” prosecutors said.
    Prosecutors estimated Gosnell ended hundreds of pregnancies by cutting the spinal cords, but they said they couldn’t prosecute more cases because he destroyed files.

    How could this go on for over 30 years?

    State regulators ignored complaints about Gosnell and the 46 lawsuits filed against him, and made just five annual inspections, most satisfactory, since the clinic opened in 1979, authorities said. The inspections stopped completely in 1993 because of what prosecutors said was the pro-abortion rights attitude that set in after Democratic Gov. Robert Casey, an abortion foe, left office.

    Again, I am pro-choice but this tragedy occurred because the left violently resisted even the least regulatory oversight of even the most extreme late term abortions. The left has made abortion the highest good that trumps every other concern, and the resulting real-world policies border on the surreal.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Bioethics, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Health Care, Human Behavior, Medicine, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy | 100 Comments »

    Not Good

    Posted by David Foster on 20th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Some of the conditions attached by the FCC to the Comcast/NBC Universal merger should be raising serious concerns, and need a lot more attention/discussion than they are getting.

    Comcast will make available to approximately 2.5 million low income households: (i) high-speed Internet access service for less than $10 per month; (ii) personal computers, netbooks, or other computer equipment at a purchase price below $150″ and “we require Comcast-NBCU to increase programming diversity by expanding its over the-air programming to the Spanish language-speaking community, and by making NBCU’s Spanish-language broadcast programming available via Comcast’s on demand and online platforms.”

    Providing subsidized $10/month broadband Internet access to low-income households…or a decision that should be made by legislative action. It represents in effect a tax on all existing Comcast customers for the benefit of the identified groups. For the FCC to take such an action absent explicit legislative authorization seems like regulatory overreach, to put it mildly.

    Even more important, there are issues of speech control here. It is no secret that NBCU programming has a generally leftist slant. Actions that broaden the distribution of this programming–which will surely be accomplished both via the additional Spanish-language programming and via the subsidized Internet access, which will assist Comcast in selling non-Internet services to the same households–will benefit the Democratic Party and the leftist movement in general. (Of course, once Comcast takes control of NBCU it has the ability to change the programming and will hopefully reduce the leftist slant, but large organizations have substantial inertia, particularly in industries as inbred and prone to herd thinking as the media field.) The precedent is not a good one.


    Posted in Business, Civil Liberties, Media, USA | 10 Comments »

    Compare and Contrast

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Nidal Hasan: Psycho

    Jared Loughner: Ideologue

    Posted in Leftism, Politics, Rhetoric | 7 Comments »

    We Know Very Little

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 19th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Recently there was a revolution in Tunisia, which resulted in the ousting of the existing regime after a series of violent demonstrations led primarily by young people. The president who ruled the country for more than 20+ years abdicated, the first toppling of a ruler in an Arab country in decades.

    While the news outlets (and bloggers) covered this event intensely as it occurred, and are now looking at neighboring states with long-lived autocrats as potential dominoes also ready to fall, the REAL issue is “who predicted this before it occurred?”

    The answer is – nobody. No one was out there predicting a year ago that this government was going to fall. The factors that we are viewing as important today, such as the fact that the government had been in power for decades and was giving few opportunities to a vast population of younger people, were there for all to see previously, and hadn’t changed. Virtually nothing changed, except that a fruit-stand operator immolated himself when detained by the government.

    In looking back at history many things seem “obvious” in retrospect, such as the German victories under Blitzkrieg early in WW2 or the BP offshore oil spill – but in fact they were NOT obvious at the time. This revolution is similar to those types of events which seem surprising but then immediately become part of the “common wisdom”.

    When we have a world that is priced for stability with low inherent risks in valuations this type of event should put a shiver down an investor’s spine, because these sorts of events only bring with them a knock down in pricing and lead the way for more such events to follow. Not to say that this isn’t a good thing, since dictatorships aren’t good for the world in the medium or the long term, but in the short term they can “put a lid” on instability.

    The prognosticators, whether paid (main stream media) or unpaid (like us) totally didn’t see this one coming, at least not now. Remember this and prepare for future surprises.

    Posted in Markets and Trading, Media, Middle East, Predictions | 6 Comments »

    Best Books About Reagan

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 19th January 2011 (All posts by )

    ChicagoBoyz will be hosting a roundtable discussion to celebrate the centenary of the birth of President Reagan, the week of February 6th 2011.

    In the meantime I would like to get the views of our contributors and readers on what are the best books about Reagan, the Reagan presidency, the Reagan era. Please leave comments with your favorites.

    I note that President Obama was recently reading Lou Cannon’s book The Role of a Lifetime, which is supposed to be very good.

    I have read and enjoyed several books about Mr. Reagan, his presidency and his era. I will restrict myself to one favorite. If I had to pick one, I would give the palm to Peggy Noonan’s book What I Saw at the Revolution. Used copies are available for a penny. This book captures the impact Mr. Reagan had on our national morale, which is not always captured in other writings about him. I say this despite still being mad at Ms. Noonan about her unforgivably uncritical response to Mr. Obama’s candidacy.

    I am currently reading John O’Sullivan’s book, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World. I am about one third done with it and it is excellent.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Conservatism, Politics, USA | 6 Comments »

    How Many Real Rubes Were There?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Instapundit says that another rube self-indentifies when linking to a piece about Glenn Greenwald’s anguish over discovering that Obama has endorsed and legitimized most of Bush’s War on Terror policies.

    For myself, I wonder how many “rubes” were really out there, especially in the ranks of the big leftwing players. Did Obama and other major leftists ever truly think that Bush’s policies were unnecessary or did they just adopt a position of opposition to differentiate themselves in the political marketplace? Did any of these people oppose Bush’s policies on principle after careful study or did they just see hysterical criticism of Bush as a useful political tool they could use for selfish purposes?

    I think it pretty clear that for most leftists, opposition to Bush’s policies was nothing more than cynical, political opportunism.

    Posted in Leftism, Terrorism | 24 Comments »

    Hu’s On First

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 18th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Consider the Gap to be closed…

    Meeting of the Minds

    Core: I got my job because I have a remarkable talent for reading a teleprompter.

    Gap: That’s interesting. I got my job because I have a remarkable talent for killing Tibetans.

    Surprises can always happen…

    Posted in China, Personal Narrative, Speeches, That's NOT Funny | 3 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th January 2011 (All posts by )


    Chicagoboyz brings the felafel.


    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Ramones, Teenage Lobotomy (1977)

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 18th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Guess I’ll have to break the news, that I got no mind to lose.
    Gonna get my Ph.D. I’m a teenage lobotomy!

    Posted in Morality and Philosphy, Music, USA, Video | Comments Off on Ramones, Teenage Lobotomy (1977)

    On MLK Day

    Posted by onparkstreet on 17th January 2011 (All posts by )

    King graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 with a degree in sociology. He was unhappy with his major, however, complaining about the “apathetic fallacy of statistics.” While at Morehouse, King decided to change his field of study. He entered Crozer Theological Seminary, where he absorbed the writings of political philosophers “from Plato and Aristotle,” King wrote, “down to Rousseau, Hobbes, Bentham, Mill and Locke.”

    In a beautiful tribute to King, delivered at Spellman College in 1986, then secretary of education William Bennett explained why King turned to the liberal arts. In Bennett’s words:

    Martin Luther King turned to the greatest philosophers because he needed to know the answers to certain questions. What is justice? What should be loved? What deserves to be defended? What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope for? What is man? These questions are not simply intellectual diversions, but have engaged thoughtful human beings in all places and in all ages. As a result of the ways in which these questions have been answered, civilizations have emerged, nations have developed, wars have been fought, and people have lived contentedly or miserably. And as a result of the way in which Martin Luther King eventually answered these questions, Jim Crow was destroyed and American history was transformed.

    Peter Wehner, Commentary

    “The apathetic fallacy of statistics.” Sharp phrase. Reminds me of the following article (yes, it’s a bit of a tangent, I admit):

    By about a quarter-century ago, however, it had become obvious to sophisticated experimentalists that the idea that we could settle a given policy debate with a sufficiently robust experiment was naive. The reason had to do with generalization, which is the Achilles’ heel of any experiment, whether randomized or not. In medicine, for example, what we really know from a given clinical trial is that this particular list of patients who received this exact treatment delivered in these specific clinics on these dates by these doctors had these outcomes, as compared with a specific control group.

    – What Social Science Does—and Doesn’t—Know, Jim Manzi, City Journal

    Posted in Americas, Arts & Letters, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Holidays | 2 Comments »