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  • Archive for September, 2011

    Same as it ever was: Afghanistan edition

    Posted by onparkstreet on 20th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Sept. 20, 2011:

    The Taliban have claimed credit for today’s suicide attack in Kabul that killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chief of the Afghan High Peace Council and former president of Afghanistan. The suicide bomber killed Rabbani in his home and seriously wounded Masoom Stanekzai, the peace council’s secretary, after detonating an explosive device that was hidden in his turban.

    Long War Journal

    The ’80s:

    The CIA’s leadership continued to regard Pakistani intelligence as the jihad’s main implementing agency, even as more and more American trainers arrived in Pakistan to teach new weapons and techniques. All this ensured that ISI’s Muslim Brotherhood-inspired clients – mainly Hekmatyar but also Sayyaf, Rabbani, and radical commanders who operated along the Pakistan border, such as Jallaladin Haqqanni – won the greatest share of support.
     
     
    The rebels fashioned booby trapped bombs from gooey black contact explosives, supplied to Pakistani intelligence by the CIA, that could be molded into ordinary shapes or poured into innocent utensils. Russian soldiers began to find bombs made from pens, watches, cigarette lighters, and tape recorders.

    – Steve Coll, Ghost Wars

    Given our long and complicated history in that region, it is unclear to me why the American foreign policy establishment continues to believe that it can play “footsie” with favored groups and emerge entirely unscathed. It’s one thing to work with others toward immediate goals (where we have no good choice – such as the United States and the Pakistan Army working together on groups such as TTP) but quite another to fundamentally alter reality via just the correct mix of carrot and stick:

    STEP 7 – RESOLVE either to remain engaged with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India for a lengthy and challenging diplomatic-military process (including some level of non-trivial economic and military aid to both Afghanistan and Pakistan for some time); or, SUCCUMB to the personal frustrations of it all and quit the field, making room for the next nouveau American to start the process at STEP 1.

    – Tom Lynch is a research fellow for South Asia & Near East at NDU. A retired Army Colonel, he was a special assistant focused on South Asian security for the CENTCOM Commander and later the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during 2004-2010. (guest blogging at Tom Rick’s Best Defense).

    But maybe I misunderstood the point being made. The post at Best Defense is a good one and I encourage you to read it.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Book Notes, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Terrorism | 4 Comments »

    Constitution Day

    Posted by Ginny on 20th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Our government department always celebrates Constitution Day and today (a bit late) they brought back one of their favorites, H. W. Brands. His talk was aimed at our students; he walked a quite straight line describing constitutional interpretations. I felt that noting the founders knew nothing of airplanes might be interesting, but is a straw man. Still, he kept his poise on that tightrope. He could aim a little higher, it seems to me, but no one can fault his passion and enthusiasm.

    And I’m grateful, finding pleasure in “Capitalism, Democracy, and the Constitution” which noted that 1776 was the date of both “manifestos” – the Declaration of Independence and The Wealth of Nations. Each semester I yoke these (with religion and speech and the press) as part of the “open marketplace” with its confidence in the eventual and incremental wisdom of our nation. (Perhaps someone who puts on his biography that he spent some time traveling in the West selling cutlery is likely to see this juxtaposition in a way few others nominated for Pulitzers do.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, History, Political Philosophy | 2 Comments »

    Busted at the Post Office

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Waiting in line a few months ago to pick up a package, I snapped a couple of photos. A postal employee noticed me doing this and said (I am paraphrasing from imperfect memory the exchange that follows), “You took a picture”. I said yes. She said, You can’t take pictures in the post office. I shrugged. She called over another lady whom she identified as a supervisor.

    The supervisor said, You can’t take pictures in the post office. I said I wasn’t aware of such a rule and it’s a public place. She said photography is against the law in federal buildings. I knew this couldn’t be true but there wasn’t much to gain by arguing. The ladies were very stern and I thought their reaction excessive. My assumption in such situations is that something else is probably going on. Maybe they don’t want a picture going up on the Internet that shows postal employees talking on the phone or whatever. Someone could get into trouble. But I don’t know. Anyway, I was pretty sure I hadn’t done anything wrong and I didn’t know what they wanted me to do. I didn’t feel like hanging around but I was still waiting for my package. At this point the supervisor called her supervisor.

    The second supervisor said, You can’t take pictures in the post office. I said something like, I’m not trying to give you a hard time but are you aware of a specific rule against taking photos? He said he wasn’t aware of a specific rule but he was sure it was in the postal regulations.

    Somewhere around this time the first supervisor retrieved my package and said I could have it but only if I deleted the photos I had taken. I said, I can’t do that. The postal employees conferred among themselves. After a minute they brought me my package. Before I signed for it the top supervisor made a point of copying my name and address from the package label and said he was going to forward my info to the postal inspectors. I said, You can do that, and signed for the package.

    As I turned to leave I noticed that a line of customers had formed behind me during the surreal interaction that had occupied me and three postal employees for something like ten minutes.

    Post office customers in Miami, Florida. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Buy Image

    Cross posted at Jonathan’s Photoblog.

    Posted in Personal Narrative, Photos | 74 Comments »

    Northfield – Tales of a Citizen Militia

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th September 2011 (All posts by )

    It would seem from the history books that most veterans of the Civil War settled down to something resembling a normal 19th century civilian life without too much trouble. One can only suppose that those who survived the experience without suffering incapacitating physical or emotional trauma were enormously grateful to have done so. Union veterans additionally must have been also glad to have won the war, close-run thing that it appeared to have been at times. Confederate veterans had to be content with merely surviving. Not only did they have to cope with the burden of defeat, but also with the physical wreckage of much of the South… as well as the wounds afflicted upon experiencing the severe damage to that  whole Southern chivalry-gracious plantation life, fire -eating whip ten Yankees with one arm tied behind my back-anti-abolitionist mindset. But most Confederate soldiers laid down their arms and picked up the plow,  so to speak fairly readily… if with understandable resentment.  In any case, the still-unsettled frontier west of the Mississippi-Missouri basin offered enough of an outlet for the restless, the excitement-seekers and those who wanted to start fresh. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Conservatism, History, Law Enforcement | 19 Comments »

    SAF Gun Rights Policy Conference, Sept. 23-25 in Chicago

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th September 2011 (All posts by )

    The Second Amendment Foundation’s annual Gun Rights Policy Conferencee for 2011 will be held at the Hyatt Regency hotel at O’Hare airport this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 23, 24 and 25. This conference is held in a different city each year, so if you’re anywhere near Chicago this is your chance to attend. Click the link for more info.

    Posted in Announcements, RKBA | Comments Off on SAF Gun Rights Policy Conference, Sept. 23-25 in Chicago

    Arrrr! – Talk Like a Pirate Day XXVIII

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th September 2011 (All posts by )


    Incoming Fed chairman Jim the Pirate.

     
    Yes, it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day again.
     
    I’m not sure how relevant this annual post is any more, since most members of our political class already act like pirates.
     
     
    —-
    Previous Talk Like a Pirate posts:
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    Introducing Jim the Pirate
     

    Posted in Announcements | 10 Comments »

    Putting Alternative Energy and Government Workers First… Before Medical Care for the Poor

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 18th September 2011 (All posts by )

    California faces intense budget challenges. The budget gap is approximately $10 billion, and instead of “fixing” them, their budget has optimistic assumptions such as extra revenue due to an improving economy and many other sleight-of-hand items. The California executive and legislative branches are all solidly in the hands of Democrats, who control the agenda but must at least negotiate with the Republicans on the topic of tax increases (because a super-majority is needed to raise taxes).

    I wrote here about how the State of California has a super-aggressive (and expensive) plan to move to “alternative energy” even though the cost / unit is much higher than traditional forms of energy, especially when transmission is taken into account.

    In contrast with other states where the government is attempting to make their union workforce pay more for insurance and pensions, the completely captured Democratic officials don’t even attempt to reduce compensation, benefits or pensions.

    Thus how does California intend to balance their budget, when they 1) won’t reduce government union worker pay or benefits 2) won’t back off their alternative energy zealotry?
    By reducing medical care to the poorest citizens in their state. This article in today’s Chicago Tribune is titled “Health Law Model State Eyes Drastic Surgery” describes the situation in California’s medicare system which covers 6 million children and poorer residents.

    California spends less per beneficiary than any state. It is now seeking waivers from the federal government to impose copays of $5 for office visits and prescriptions, $50 for emergency room visits and $100 for hospital stays.. (they) would drop reimbursement for a standard physician visit to less than $12.

    It actually is a bit worse than that. The co-pays would have to be collected by the doctors, and if they can’t collect the money, then their reimbursement will fall further.

    And what would the likely impact be of these cuts? Per the article:

    Many doctors have already closed their doors to Medicaid patients. Other providers are following suit.

    It is telling that the Democratic-controlled executive and legislative branches have decided that protecting the salaries and benefits of their union workers has a higher priority than providing basic medical care for the poorest residents in their state. They also believe that an incremental (and insignificant) move towards alternative power, which costs billions, rises above the needs of the poor for medicine.

    This is analogous to the teachers’ unions that put their needs and benefits ahead of the children, who suffer through some of the worst schools in the country here in Chicago.

    I can only imagine the smug outpouring of punditry that would occur if the Republicans abandoned a core principle to the same degree that the Democrats in California are abandoning the poor in this instance. Like this article in the Chicago Tribune and LA Times, the fact that the Democrats are abandoning the poor and instead focusing on their own direct needs isn’t even mentioned, since it apparently isn’t a fact that they believe their readers need to know. The situation is presented as a sad part of the budget sideshow rather than as a calculating prioritization decision made on the part of California’s Democrats, which it actually is.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Big Government, Medicine | 7 Comments »

    Around Chicago September 2011

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 18th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Upper left – at the Cubs for a beautiful Saturday in September for a day game. Love the trash-talking T Shirts, especially the one with a picture of Jesus on it saying “Don’t Do Nothing ‘Til I Get Back”. Upper middle – people lining up for donuts at “The Doughnut Vault“, in River North, where they start serving doughnuts at 8:30am until they are all gone. Upper right – the plaza in front of the Hancock building with a fountain and people lounging around on a Saturday night. The number of tourists now on Michigan avenue seems to be at an all-time high. Lower left – the Aon Building lit up pink, with the new Prudential building adjacent. Lower right – looking up at the Hancock, with green lights installed.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Photos | 3 Comments »

    A New Doctrine?

    Posted by onparkstreet on 18th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Carter Doctrine:”The Carter Doctrine was a policy proclaimed by President of the United States Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980, which stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf region. The doctrine was a response to the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, and was intended to deter the Soviet Union—the Cold War adversary of the United States—from seeking hegemony in the Gulf. After stating that Soviet troops in Afghanistan posed “a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil,” Carter proclaimed:….”

    On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, as we remember the fallen and the many members of the armed services of the United States who have served for ten years of war, heroically, at great sacrifice and seldom with complaint, we also need to recall that we should not move through history as sleepwalkers. We owe it to our veterans and to ourselves not to continue to blindly walk the path of the trajectory of 9/11, but to pause and reflect on what changes in the last ten years have been for the good and which require reassessment. Or repeal. To reassert ourselves, as Americans, as masters of our own destiny rather than reacting blindly to events while carelessly ceding more and more control over our lives and our livelihoods to the whims of others and a theatric quest for perfect security. America needs to regain the initiative, remember our strengths and do a much better job of minding the store at home.

    Zenpundit, The Nine-Eleven Century

    1. Canada and oil sands: “Bituminous sands, colloquially known as oil sands or tar sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially “tar” due to its similar appearance, odour, and colour). Oil sands are found in large amounts in many countries throughout the world, but are found in extremely large quantities in Canada and Venezuela.[1]”

    2. Israel and Natural Gas: “In recent years, Israel has found and begun developing massive natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea. There is much more wealth underwater– the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Levant Basin contains as much as 122 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas — and all countries around the basin want a piece of the action.”

    3. Russian state oil and American oil companies: “America’s largest oil company last week reached an historic agreement with Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft. ExxonMobil now will take the place of BP (British Petroleum), whose dealings with Rosneft collapsed earlier this year.”

    4. Dakotas and oil reserves: “America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America’s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC’s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.”

    5. Bloom boxes: “One example to illustrate why the future is proving elusive in the USA: There is a stand-alone electricity providing unit called the Bloom Energy Server or “Bloom Box” — small, simple to use — which can power any home or commercial building. The wondrous box has already been test-driven; Google, eBay and a number of other Fortune 500 companies have a few Bloom Boxes and they’re saving fortunes in electrical bills.

    In other words, the Bloom Box can make America’s electricity grid obsolete. There are only two things holding the box back from being installed in every residential, commercial and government space in the USA:

    a) Bloom Energy, the company that makes the box, doesn’t have large manufacturing capacity.

    b) The U.S. energy industry doesn’t want to be shoved around by a box. (The same for much of the ‘Green Jobs’ sector that the federal government has been pushing hard. The Bloom Box technology makes windmill and solar panel technologies obsolete.”

    The GOP debates have been intellectually vapid and the fault does not lie entirely with our lightweight media moderators. Ladies and gentlemen, you are “auditioning” for the toughest job in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, you are genuinely interesting and accomplished people. Be leaders. Hire some decent speech coaches, do a little background wonky reading and show us your vision for the future.

    Update: I made a few edits for clarity. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I don’t know squat about this topic. Carl from Chicago is definitely the “go to” guy on energy topics around here but I’ve been bored with the debates and wanted to blog about that for some time now. Also, I don’t know what the whole “ladies and gentlemen” thing is about. It’s kinda affected. Incorrect, too. Only one lady has been involved in the formal debates….so far….

    Posted in Americas, Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, International Affairs, Israel, Middle East, North America, Russia, Science, Society, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    The Logic of Failure, redux

    Posted by David Foster on 18th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Dietrich Doerner is a professor (at Otto-Friedrich University, Bamberg) who studies the thought patterns that result in bad decision-making, resulting in outcomes ranging from lack of success to outright disaster. I reviewed his interesting book, The Logic of Failure, here.

    Comes now The Social Pathologist, who links my original review and adds thoughts of his own on Doerner’s work, particularly the sociological implications thereof. Interesting reading.

    Searching on Doerner’s name, I ran across this analysis of Doernerism applied to the failure of a downtown mall in Columbus, OH.

    Prof Doerner’s home page is here; unfortunately it seems that most of his work is available only in German.

    Posted in Human Behavior, Management, Political Philosophy, Politics | 5 Comments »

    Eating Good in the Neighborhood

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th September 2011 (All posts by )

    For your weekend delectation … excellent eating, in San Antonio and environs:

    On the grill at Easy Picken’s BBQ, in Harper, Texas. Alas, they don’t have a website, and are only open Fridays and weekends … but the grilled meats are sublime.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Diversions, Miscellaneous, Photos | 11 Comments »

    Obama and Israel

    Posted by David Foster on 17th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Dan Senor provides a useful summary of Obama’s attitudes and policies toward that country. Excerpts:

    • February 2008: When running for president, then-Sen. Obama told an audience in Cleveland: “There is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel.”

    • July 2009: Mr. Obama hosted American Jewish leaders at the White House, reportedly telling them that he sought to put “daylight” between America and Israel…In the same meeting with Jewish leaders, Mr. Obama told the group that Israel would need “to engage in serious self-reflection.” This statement stunned the Americans in attendance: Israeli society is many things, but lacking in self-reflection isn’t one of them. It’s impossible to envision the president delivering a similar lecture to Muslim leaders.

    • March 2010: During Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, a Jerusalem municipal office announced plans for new construction in a part of Jerusalem. The president launched an unprecedented weeks-long offensive against Israel. Mr. Biden very publicly departed Israel…Moments after Mr. Biden concluded his visit to the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority held a ceremony to honor Dalal Mughrabi, who led one of the deadliest Palestinian terror attacks in history: the so-called Coastal Road Massacre that killed 38, including 13 children and an American. The Obama administration was silent. But that same day, on ABC, Mr. Axelrod called Israel’s planned construction of apartments in its own capital an “insult” and an “affront” to the United States.

    • May 2011: The State Department issued a press release declaring that the department’s No. 2 official, James Steinberg, would be visiting “Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank.” In other words, Jerusalem is not part of Israel.

    Read the whole thing; indeed, you might want to bookmark it for future reference.

    Also: Governor/presidential candidate Rick Perry says errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take backward steps away from peace, and Caroline Glick writes about the Palestinian obsession. Both links via Stuart Schneiderman, who finds the thinking of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy team, and the establishment leftist media as represented by the New York Times, to be so bizarre as to amount to mental illness.

    Posted in Israel, Middle East, USA | 15 Comments »

    Into the Wilderness – Part Three: By the Ice-Water Lake

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 16th September 2011 (All posts by )

    (Part 3 of 3 – the story of the first emigrant party to bring their wagons over the Sierra Nevada, which became my first historical novel – To Truckee’s Trail, which should be out in a second edition next month.)

    Dawn, morning, day – still moving through the desert, from their last camp at the Humboldt Sink. Riders led their horses to spare them; the march only paused to water the oxen, and pass around some cold biscuits and dried meat by way of food for the people. At the hot spring in the middle of the desert, the animals drink, but not with any relish. They are fed with the green rushes brought from the last camping place. The emigrants rest in the shade of their wagons for a few hours in the hottest part of the day, resuming as the heat of the day fades. Sometime early the next morning, the weary, thirsty oxen begin perking up, stepping a little faster. The wind coming down from the mountains is bringing the scent of fresh water. There is a very real danger to the wagons, if the teamsters cannot control them. Hastily, the men draw the wagons together and unhitch the teams: better for them to run loose to the water they can smell, than risk damaging the wagons in a maddened stampede. In a few hours, the men return with the teams, sated and sodden with all the water they can drink from the old Indian’s river. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, History, North America | 1 Comment »

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Pimp my Chicago

    Cruise in intellectual style with the Chicagoboyz.

     

    Posted in Photos | 8 Comments »

    The Best Reviews

    Posted by Shannon Love on 15th September 2011 (All posts by )

    I remember once when I was eleven I got a new mountain bike. It was really sweet at the time though in retrospect it was not the greatest bike in the world. It had push button gear shift which meant that under any kind of duress the bike would shift into the most inappropriate gear possible. So Im riding my new bike on this dirt trail when I come across these really gnarly jumps and I think to myself I should take my new bike off of these rad hills and totally get some air. Well, the first one I went off of I landed wrong because I didnt know what the hell I was doing, I flipped over my handlebars and dislocated my knee. I also wrecked my new bike and had to hobble home carrying it. Anyway it was a way better time than this movie.

    A member’s review on Netflix of the Movie “Gor”. I wish all movie reviews where that evocative.

    However,my favorite review of all times is here (second from the top):

    Posted in Arts & Letters | Comments Off on The Best Reviews

    Palin v. Crony Capitalism

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th September 2011 (All posts by )

    I have long believed that the biggest problem we have in this country is that the government and the businesses that have captured the regulatory state have become one seamless monstrosity.

    A lot of people have had a hard time getting their heads around this.

    Lefties like to think that “business” is evil but that “government” regulates it to protect the people from pollution and defective products, etc.

    Righties like to think that “business” = free enterprise, menaced by the evil “government” that is driving it to extinction.

    Both are mostly wrong.

    The government has turned into an amalgamation of iron triangles — regulators, legislators (or actually their staffs) and industries that are regulated. These work in tandem to their mutual advantage at the expense of the taxpayer and of truly entrepreneurial and innovative businesses. It is in the joint interest of this business/government crony capitalist complex to crush out potential rivals and created government sponsored, protected and subsidized monopolists.

    This is precisely the hazard the USA was founded to fight against. The American Revolution was provoked by British monopolists authorized by the Crown — crony capitalism, 18th Century style. The founding generation was acutely aware of this problem. Further the major thinkers influencing 19th Century liberal thought in the USA, Canada and Britain were all focused on this problem: Jefferson, Edmund Burke and Adam Smith. (See the brilliant book The Transatlantic Persuasion: The Liberal-Democratic Mind in the Age of Gladstone by Robert Kelley, which explains this now-forgotten history.)

    The greatest threat to our liberty is the uniting of government power and private greed, and that is exactly what we are facing now.

    The creation of a regulatory state meant its inevitable capture by the industries it supposedly regulated. I remember having a life-changing intellectual moment when I read The Logic of Collective Action by Mancur Olson as an undergrad at the University of Chicago. (If you have not read this, you must do so. Really.) George Stigler’s analysis of the regulatory state was consistent with this picture. (See, e.g. The Citizen and the State: Essays on Regulation.) Once you see how this works, it is obvious that this process is inevitable.

    The political class that services this machine has come to be known in Chicago as The Combine. Both parties service the machine, with no substantial difference between them. The Democrats tend to have more of what our co-blogger Carl from Chicago, in an excellent and prescient post, called stone-cold redistributionists, but neither party has any interest in making any basic changes in these arrangements. Mr. Bush, with the bank bailouts, then Mr. Obama, with Solyndra being just one of many egregious examples from him, has taken this process to a new level.

    During the Cold War, people would argue that the United States and the Soviet Union were “converging.” The argument went that the Soviet Union would liberalize and become more humane, while the USA would become more socialistic, and we would all end up looking something like a utopian notion of Sweden. This did not happen. The Soviet Union fell apart. Mr. Fukuyama famously asserted that liberal democracy had “won” and that the ideological struggles of modernity were over, and history had ended.

    But what if the final state is not democratic capitalism? What if convergence is right after all? What if Soviet communism fell apart and turned into a mafia state run by an alliance of government and favored businesses, which control the country by corruption and intimidation, a nomenklatura that strips out all the value in the country on behalf of a well-connected elite, immiserating everyone else. This amoral, vicious, greed-driven, undemocratic dystopia is what we are now converging toward. It is an Orwellian future, with an Inner Party of senior politicians and business executives, an Outer Party of government employees and business managers, and a vast, despoiled, proletariat with no opportunities, or assets or future. It sounds like the world Mr. Obama is brazenly pushing us toward. It also sounds like a future that no Republican has so far dared to point to, to name, to denounce and to oppose — because they would prefer to be in on the game than take the risks inherent in opposing it.

    So, Fukuyama was right: We are approaching a single form of governance around the world. Unfortunately, it turns out, it’s fascism.

    Until Gov. Palin’s speech on September 4, 2011, in Indianola, Iowa.

    … there is a name for this: It’s called corporate crony capitalism. This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare. This is the crony capitalism that destroyed Europe’s economies. It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners – the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70% of the jobs in America, it’s you who own these small businesses, you’re the economic engine, but you don’t grease the wheels of government power.

    Please listen to this speech, or read it, if you have not done so already.

    Today, Instapundit linked to a Facebook post entitled “Crony Capitalism on Steroids.”

    She is pounding the same drum.

    She is apparently going to make this theme the main focus of a Presidential campaign.

    Say what you like about Mrs. Palin. She is the only person in public life who has successfully identified the threat, named it, shone a spotlight on it, denounced it, and begun to threaten it.

    This is the first faint flicker of hope I have seen that our political order can be reformed democratically without a massive, system-wide failure happening first. Maybe the other candidates will be forced to respond to these denunciations, maybe there will be a populist response to this challenge raised by Gov. Palin. I hope so.

    We do live in interesting times, and they just got a lot more interesting.

    UPDATE: Paul Ryan had this excellent speech linked on Instapundit. Here’s an excerpt:

    … if we surrender more control over our economy to the governing class – then life in America will become defined by a new kind of class warfare: A class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society at the expense of working Americans, entrepreneurs, and the small businesswoman who has the gall to take on the corporate chieftain.

    My highlighting. Sounds familiar.

    More of this, please. Faster, please.

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Business, Chicagoania, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Elections, History, Libertarianism, Politics, Predictions, Russia, Society, Tea Party, USA | 23 Comments »

    Norway Overhead Power Lines

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 14th September 2011 (All posts by )

    When in Norway recently I focused on what any typical traveler would find interesting… their overhead power lines.

    We took a ferry in the fjord in the area of Norway west of Bergen, the 2nd largest city in the country. Off in the distance I could see the pylons, and since the fjords are so steep and tall they looked very tiny in perspective.

    Since Norway is blessed with immense amounts of hydropower, they have little need for conventional fueled plants. Hydro power is the most significant of the “alternative” generation assets (as opposed to the more “hip” wind or solar power sources), and once built the costs to “run” the site are very low (although the glacial debris does damage the generators; they had an exhibit in their “glacier museum” that showed the impact).
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation | 6 Comments »

    Some interesting stuff

    Posted by Helen on 14th September 2011 (All posts by )

    This is on my Conservative History site where I am beginning to publish other people’s articles. First up was one by David Linden who is a Ph.D. student of history at King’s College, London with special interest in the modern Conservative Party. He had done an M.A. thesis on the Black Papers on education and extracted an article from that.

    As if to prove that we have problems with our education system, his article had an incredible number of grammatical and punctuation errors. In fact, it was not till I started editing the Conservative History Journal that I realized how many doctoral students and young academics could not write clear, coherent, correct English.

    The Black Papers on Education were a series of publications in the late sixties and early seventies that tried to battle with the prevalent political idea that large comprehensive schools were better for children from a social and educational point of view. Mr Linden over-rates their influence. The sad truth is that, though everything those papers predicted came true (and then some), the warnings and arguments were ignored and, subsequently, forgotten. While it is good to revive interest in them, especially now that some attempts are being made to sort out the mess, this only highlights the tragic developments in our state education system. (Declaration of interest: the Tibor Szamuely, mentioned in the article, who was one of the star contributors to the most widely read Black Paper, the second one, was my father. I am, as I proudly announce, a hereditary trouble-maker.)

    The other article that might interest people is a review I wrote of a delightful and elegantly written little tome by Alistair Cooke (now Lord Lexden), the official historian of the Conservative Party and author of several publications related to that subject, on the Primrose League. The League was the largest popular political organization in British history; it was the first organization that had members from all sections of society, getting enormous support from working class participants; it was the first organization in which many women, again from all sections of society, played an important part; it had special sections for children and young people; it had a highly developed welfare support system. All the things the left claim to have started were, in actual fact, begun by the Primrose League.

    It gives me no pleasure to say that the Conservative Party seems to have forgotten about the Primrose League and about the Black Papers on education in its rush to “modernize”.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Conservatism, Education | 2 Comments »

    The Barbarians within the Gates

    Posted by David McFadden on 13th September 2011 (All posts by )

    “Scholarship, which is meant to be a bulwark of civilization against barbarism, is ever more frequently turned into an instrument of rebarbarization,” wrote Leo Strauss. Here, drawn from the MLA International Bibliography, are a few recent examples of that well-established trend:

    Chaudhri, Amina. “ ‘Straighten up and Fly Right’: HeteroMasculinity in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 36 (Summer 2011): 147-63.

    Holcombe, Heather E.  “Faulkner on Feminine Hygiene, or, How Margaret Sanger Sold Dewey Dell a Bad Abortion.” Modern Fiction Studies 57 (Summer 2011): 203-29.

    O’Bryan, C. Jill. “Ontology and Autobiographical Performance: Joanna Frueh’s Aesthetics of Orgasm.” Drama Review 55 (Summer 2011): 126-36.

    Stobie, Cheryl. “Indecent Theology, Trans-Theology, and the Transgendered Madonna in Chris Abani’s The Virgin of the Flames.” Research in African Literatures 42 (Summer 2011): 170-83.

    Cole, Lucinda, et al. “Speciesism, Identity Politics, and Ecocriticism: A Conversation with Humanists and Posthumanists,” in “Animal, All Too Animal,” special issue, Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 52 (Spring 2011): 87-106.

    Christ, Carol P.  “The Last Dualism: Life and Death in Goddess  Feminist Thealogy [sic].”  Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 27 (Spring 2011): 129-45.

    Schuyler, Michael T. “He ‘coulda been a contender’ for Miss America: Feminizing Brando in On the Waterfront.” Canadian Review of American Studies 41 (Mar. 2011): 97-113.

    Bradshaw, G.A. “An Ape among Many: Co-Authorship and Trans-Species Epistemic Authority,” in “Ecocriticism and Biology,” special issue, Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology 18 (Winter 2010): 15-30.

    Kim, Kwang Soon. “Queering Narrative, Desire, and Body: Reading of Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body as a Queer Text.” Journal of English Language and Literature  56 (Winter 2010): 1281-94.

    Maxwell, Anne. “Postcolonial Criticism, Ecocriticism and Climate Change: A Tale of Melbourne under Water in 2035.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 45 (Mar. 2009): 15-26.

    And finally, hegemonic, white, masculine speech in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina apparently has emerged as a sub-specialization of victimology:

    Macomber, Kris, Christine Mallinson, and Elizabeth Searle. “ ‘Katrina That Bitch!’: Hegemonic Representations of Women’s Sexuality on Hurricane Katrina Souvenir T-Shirts.” Journal of Popular Culture 44 (June 2011): 525-44.

    Harris, Kate Lockwood. “ ‘Compassion’ and Katrina: Reasserting Violent White Masculinity after the Storm.” Women and Language  34 (Spring 2011): 11-27.

    I would welcome additional submissions.

    Posted in Academia, Leftism, New Orleans Tragedy | 17 Comments »

    Into the Wilderness – Part Two: The Platte, Fort Hall & the Desert Sink

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th September 2011 (All posts by )

    (The continuation of the essay from 2005 which eventually became my first historical novel – To Truckee’s Trail.  The print version is going to a second edition, but it is currently available as an e-book. Along about 2006 I began to be overcome with a belief that we had to reclaim our American history, to remember who we were and where we came from, to know that the American experiment was a grand and optimistic one, and that our forebearers were for the largest part, decent, courageous and honorable people. So, I turned to writing rattling good adventure yarns in an attempt to educate readers painlessly. We can’t let scum like Howard Zinn and Michael Moore have it all to themselves, can we?)

    Fifteen miles a day, more or less; the inexorable calculus of the overland trails. The wagon trains can only move out in late May, when the prairie grass is grown tall enough to feed the draft animals. And they must be over the last palisade of the high Sierra Nevada before the way is blocked by the winter snow. And they must do so before their food supplies run out. Any one of a hundred miscalculations, missteps or misfortunes can upset that careful arithmetic and bring disaster upon all. Is the water in that creek running fast and high? Can it be forded, or should the wagons carefully and laboriously be ferried over. An accident to a wagon, the loss of any of the supplies, an ox-team felled by disease or accident may be compounded later on. Balance taking a day to cross a high-water creek, against a day six months in the future and an early snow fall in the Sierras. Balance sparing a day camping by a pleasant spring of clear water, and the men going to hunt for meat – which when dried over the fire and stored away, may mean the difference between a nourishing meal by an ice-water lake half a continent away, and starvation in that place instead. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »

    The Economist Publishes a Monstrous Lie

    Posted by TM Lutas on 13th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Gov. Rick Perry has famously called Social Security a ponzi scheme, a monstrous lie. The Economist magazine, in covering the story has now told its own monstrous lie. It is lying via a graph it included with the story.

    Deceptive Social Security finance graph from the Economist

    SS fantasy finances, Economist version


    The legally mandated 2011 Social Security Trustee Report lays out the actual fund exhaustion date as 2023 on page 3 of the report. So, 2023, 2037, what’s the difference? Electorally, it’s a very big deal. If you’re a current beneficiary today at age 66, you would be 78 in 2023, right at the edge of your life expectancy but more likely than not you would be alive. You would be 92 in 2037 and more than likely dead. If a senior is going to be alive when the big Social Security benefit cut kicks in, it is within their planning window and consequently the chances that they will be a Perry voter go up. Up to now, attempts at reforming Social Security were done so early that the crisis was only going to affect somebody else. Now, every senior who grasps when the crisis will hit knows it will hit them when they are going to be older, weaker, and even more unemployable than they are now. By putting out a pretty, lying graph, the Economist gives ammunition to the left-leaning mass media to write their own stories that also minimize the number of seniors who grasp the truth.

    In short, the Economist is putting false numbers out there, ones that will have an effect of lulling seniors into a poorer financial state right when they will be old and frail and unable to do anything about it. What happened to their editors, their fact checkers, their sense of decency? Is everybody to be sacrificed for the electoral convenience of US Democrats in the 2012?

    Posted in Media, Public Finance | 12 Comments »

    It Could Have Been Me

    Posted by TM Lutas on 11th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Had my plans, or the jihadists’ plans, been altered just a bit, I could have been up on the WTC tower when it was struck and then fell. I would have been a tourist with my wife and infant daughter stopping in NYC on our way to visit my in-laws in Europe. We could have been part of the death roll. Had my parents rolled out of bed a few hours earlier to take our cousin on a more ambitious tour of Battery Park, they could have been on the death roll, crushed in a subway car passing under the site. I would have been getting a yearly invitation to come to NYC and mourn. How do those who actually get the invitations ever put their lives back together? I can’t imagine the yearly ritual of publicly ripping your emotional scabs off as the world watches.

    I suspect that there are tens of thousands just like me. People who visited the area just a bit before or who had been planning to be there but for random chance, fortunate circumstance. Such things change you forever but nothing actually happened to you. Fate hands you the cruelest of brushback pitches and you don’t know what to do with it. It’s deadly chin music but not deadly for you. Do you step back from the batter’s box or crowd in even tighter, daring fate for a repeat? Neither attitude seems right. I claim no special insight or wisdom.

    Year after year, people gear up for 9/11 memorials. They’re not for me. They shouldn’t be for me. But they could have been for me. And my heart is still unsettled every year around this time when I look at my older boy who might have been an orphan and my youngest who never would have been.

    Posted in National Security, Personal Narrative, USA | 15 Comments »

    “We’re going to rush the hijackers.”

    Posted by Lexington Green on 11th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Two years ago I wrote this:

    The only part of the American national security establishment that successfully defended America on 9/11 was the portion of the reserve militia on board Flight 93, acting without orders, without hierarchy, without uniforms or weapons, by spontaneous organization and action.

    The lesson I derived:

    Bottom-up, inductive, spontaneous self-organization is the essence of America.

    After a decade I can say we have wasted a decade failing to learn from that lesson.

    We had better do better over the next decade.

    “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”

    A minute by minute narrative of Flight 93, done as tweets today, is here. Scroll from the bottom. Very much worth reading.

    My recollection of the day was in a comment here, written on September 11, 2004 — below the fold. It is funny how after ten years I had forgotten some of the details I had remembered three years later. You can say “we will never forget” but your brain fades away, and you forget whether you want to or not.

    The weather this morning was exactly like the day ten years ago: Clear, warm, blue skies.

    God bless America.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 16 Comments »

    3,650 Days

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Three thousand, six hundred fifty days, more or less,depending on leap years – since the end of the 20th century. Oh, I know, calendar-wise, only a year or two off. But we don’t count strictly by the calendar. Afterwards, we count by events. Myself, I have the feeling that the 19th century didn’t truly end for good and all until 1914. That’s when the 20th century began, in the muddy trenches of WW1. All the previous comfortable understandings and optimistic assumptions of the earlier world were shattered right along with three monarchial dynasties, over the course of four years. When it was over, the world of the time before seemed impossibly far removed, to those who could remember it – a number which, as the decades passed, became steadily fewer, until that old world was entirely the stuff of books, paintings and relics, rather than true human recollections. We eventually adjusted and accepted the new reality of things. The old way, and the shattering events in which it passed – became a date on a monument, a paragraph in a history text, a book on the shelf.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, History, Islam, Miscellaneous, Personal Narrative, Society, Terrorism, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    9/11 Plus Ten Years

    Posted by David Foster on 11th September 2011 (All posts by )

    Simply evil: Christopher Hitchens suggests that sometimes the simple and obvious explanation for an event is more accurate than an explanation which relies on an elaborate structure of “nuance”

    A time bomb from the Middle Ages. Roger Simon explains how 9/11 altered his worldview and many of his relationships

    An attack, not a disaster or a tragedy. George Savage explains why the persistent use of terms like “tragedy” by the media acts to obfuscate the true nature of the 9/11 attacks. Much more on this from Mark Steyn

    Claire Berlinski was in Paris on 9/11. Shortly thereafter she wrote this piece for City Journal

    Marc Sasseville and Heather Penney were F-16 pilots with an Air National Guard squadron. Their order was to bring down Flight 93 before the terrorists in control of it could create another disaster on the scale of the World Trade Center…but their aircraft were configured for training, with no live ammunition and no missiles. A video interview with Major Penney here

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, History, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 9 Comments »