Saturday, August 18, 2007

The 3 Rs

The three Rs in Britain - Reading, Riting and Reinforcement:

Parents are sending children to school in stab-proof uniforms to guard against knife crime, it has emerged.

They are paying a firm which makes body armour to line blazers and jumpers with a stab-resistant material called Kevlar...

True Confessions

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“We are ready to be torn apart, spliced into tiny pieces, so that Iran will remain exalted. For if Iran remains exalted, we too shall be exalted. I am a lowly soldier of the Imam Khamenei. Hizbullah youths acted on behalf of the Imam Khomeini, with the aid of Imam Hussein, and sent their blessings to the Iranian people,” said Nasrallah in an interview with reporter Bijan Nobaveh on the day marking the start of the Second Lebanon War according to the Persian calendar.
Nasrallah also thanked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and all the “brothers and sisters” in Iran.

Peaceful Protest And Free Speech Are Not Negotiable

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Bono's Begging Bowl

But the second, more interesting theme--echoed by every speaker--is that traditional aid and charity, whether distributed by nation-states or nongovernmental bodies, have failed. Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist and social worker, now a fellow at Stanford, made the case most strongly. He argued convincingly that 30 years of Western aid to Africa has achieved nothing at all. More, he said that the persistence of African poverty could be explained, in part, by aid. He explained that aid had convinced the brightest Africans to work for corrupt governments rather than as entrepreneurs, and it had "distorted the incentive structure."

"What man or nation," Mwenda asked, "has ever become rich by holding out a begging bowl?"

Far better, he said, is finding Westerners to invest in African entrepreneurs or businesses, which would create wealth.

This line of argument enraged Bono, however, who began heckling Mwenda.

The Shift?

Importantly, Bernanke & Company have changed their policy leaning away from inflation-worrying to economy-worrying. This is a major shift. The biggest in several years. And well they should. Banking problems are far from over.

The commercial paper market for short-term corporate loans is completely dysfunctional. Mortgage-backed securities and corporate loan packages are still suffering from difficult pricing decisions and very little trading. No one really knows the full problem or the size or who owns what when it comes to the subprime virus. Loan transparency is inadequate. Cash hoarding is everywhere.

Investors are flocking to short-term Treasury bills in order to avoid any risk whatsoever. T-bill rates have collapsed all the way down to 3.5 percent. But if investors are putting all their money in government paper, they won't be financing the business sector that makes our free market capitalist economy hum.

On Hitting Zero ... Six Feet Under

It is the nature of civilization to use energy and it’s the nature of liberalism to feel bad about it. That’s my conclusion after finally sitting down to watch “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Oscar-winning documentary that has turned Al Gore into a rock star (and rock music promoter). Here’s my review: it is an overly simplistic look at a complex problem and it concludes with one of the single stupidest statements ever put on film. Yes, that’s harsh criticism. But it’s the right one, given that just before the final credits, in a segment addressing what individuals can do about global warming, the following line appears onscreen: “In fact, you can even reduce your carbon emissions to zero.”

“Hey, what about breathing? Don’t we produce carbon dioxide through respiration?”

The answer, is yes, we do.

the film’s producers might as well have hung a sign around Gore’s neck that says “I’m an idiot.”

Lowry Distills The Gap

In September 1898, an outnumbered British-led army battled the forces of a Muslim fanatic in Omdurman, Sudan. The Brits unleashed machine-gun fire and artillery on the primitive warriors and suffered a loss of 48 dead and 434 wounded, while killing 9,700, wounding 13,000 and capturing 5,000 of the enemy. Winston Churchill, who was present, called it “the most signal triumph ever gained by the arms of science over barbarians.” The British ruled Sudan for another five decades.

In October 1993, badly outnumbered American troops battled the forces of a Somali clan leader in Mogadishu. We unleashed machine-gun fire and helicopter gunships on the primitive warriors and suffered 18 fatalities and 73 wounded to as many 5,500 Somali killed and wounded. It was a fight nearly as lopsided as the Battle of Omdurman, but the U.S. was out of Somalia within a year.
Lowry is rocking today. I'm betting you had never heard of Omdurman? Not PC after all. And that nasty Churchill was involved who the modern British PC Gestapo have finally managed to expunge from the history books. Yes, that's right, Churchill has been removed from the British history curriculum in case you missed it... Any more ridiculous arguments that PC is not a problem for the West?

Here's most of the rest of it so you can't go away without this gem of distillation of Barnett's (Pentagon's New Map) "Core" vs "Gap" hypothesis:

In western Pakistan, Gaza, southern and eastern Afghanistan, Somalia, and western Iraq, it has been ungoverned spaces that have created the environment in which terrorists can thrive. Our problem in the war on terror is less the absence of democracy than the absence of strong states. Tribes are inherently difficult to govern because they, as James Kurth writes in The American Interest, “do not see themselves as citizens who enjoy equal rights within one homogeneous nation,” but as “at most a collection of nations in a nation, but not of it.”

This is why even the mind-bogglingly brutal Saddam Hussein had trouble handling the tribes of Iraq. The extraordinary progress we have seen in Iraq in the past six months has less to do with winning new converts to our ideological vision of liberal democracy, and more with how we have — through inspired and very practical work at the local level — turned the tribes in our favor. We have greased palms, stroked egos, and benefited from the excesses of an al Qaeda so savage and dark that it represents a threat even to the not particularly gentle or enlightened way of life of the tribes.

President Bush doesn’t appear to have entirely absorbed this. He still insists that Muslims desire freedom as much as Methodists do. This may well be true of Muslims who are as deracinated as most Methodists are — living in societies that have dissolved traditional ties of clan and sect to make possible the individualism upon which modern liberal democracies are built. Most Muslims in the Middle East don’t live in such societies, of course, and creating them would represent a radical social revolution almost as threatening to tribal sheiks as the vision of al Qaeda.

What we are instead witnessing in Iraq is a necessary American accommodation to people for whom blood and soil mean much more than constitutional rights or democratic procedure. Is that ideal? No, but consider it part of the revenge of the tribes.

Apparently, W Has Been Way Busier...

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"The West, and the Americans in Particular, Have Been Planning [Darfur] For Years"

Interviewer: "We are visiting you at a time when events in Darfur are casting a shadow on Sudan. I would like to ask you for your opinion about what is happening, and who is responsible for it."


Sheikh Sadeq Abdallah bin Al-Majed: "The West, and the Americans in particular, have been planning this for years."

Interviewer: "The West or the Americans?"

Sheikh Sadeq Abdallah bin Al-Majed: "The Americans in particular. The reason is that they studied this region extensively - the Darfur region in particular - and realized that it is full of treasures, the likes of which have never been found elsewhere in Sudan."

Interviewer: "So in your opinion, the Americans are behind what is happening in Darfur?"

Sheikh Sadeq Abdallah bin Al-Majed: "Yes. They are behind all the tragedies that are taking place in Darfur."

... than even the leftiest of lefties have noticed! Uh-huh...

The Ten Month Waiting List ... For The Maternity Ward

Well, you can't expect a G7 economy of only 30 million people to be able to offer the same level of neonatal ICU coverage as a town of 50,000 in remote rural Montana. And let's face it, there's nothing an expectant mom likes more than 300 miles in a bumpy twin prop over the Rockies.

Friday, August 17, 2007

No Falling Over?

And the Fed just told the markets -- I suppose shorts in particular -- that it will not allow a major financial institution to fall over for lack of an ability to fund its assets, or alternatively force the sale of those assets at distressed prices.

The Fed has just executed a nicely calibrated maneuver intended to install confidence in our lending institutions while electing not to bail out those hedge funds who may have taken excessive and imprudent risk. They will continue to have to sell assets to meet August 15th redemption notices for September 30th -- runs on their "bank" as it were. It has thus protected the markets from an even greater avalanche of assets -- mortgage assets in this case -- hitting the market and driving down prices from banks who have access to t he Fed discount window.

Mean Ends

The ends do not justify the means, no matter how noble the ends may be. Koogler realized this not long ago, when Chavez shut down the one major independent media voice left in Venezuela and finagled dictatorial powers for himself. The cult of personality, as Koogler accurately describes it, brings back memories of other tyrants who had to turn themselves into secular gods in order to cow their populations into acquiescence.

Koogler's reconsideration is well worth reading. It's not easy to admit error as Koogler does in this piece, and he explains his change of heart very clearly and rationally. The sooner that the American Left follows Koogler's advice, the sooner we can start working to help the Venezuelan people free themselves from Chavez' megalomaniacal grip on power. Be sure to read it all.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Still The Same After All These Years

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Far more interesting than the essentially trivial Wright, the IRGC (known as the Pasdaran) has itself commented on the possibility as follows (as quoted by the BBC):

In a statement published by Iran's Mehr news agency, the IRGC condemned the plan as "worthless resolutions" issued "dauntlessly and under baseless pretexts... to damage this holy institution".

"Those who are enchanted by the material world fail to realise the depth of the spiritual power and iron determination of the devoted members of the IRGC, which have roots in the religious beliefs of the people, and will witness the definite victory of the children of Islam against global infidelity," the statement said.

What's interesting here, of course, is that the Revolutionary Guard responds in religious terms. It almost sounds insane to us (people like Wright probably don't even believe it's real) but this is the voice of Khomeini's 1979 revolution still speaking loud and clear.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Today's Innumeracy Update

So in 2004, there were a total of 14,328 suicides in the US in the age group 20 - 44 (the group that I think pretty well covers the population in Iraq - some are younger, some are older). the total population in 2004 in that age group was 104,259,000 - so the rate/100,000 population was 15.25.

So the suicide rate among all active-duty troops is lower than the 2004 norm - even at the current high point - and the rate among combat troops is slightly above the norm.

JAM: The Terrorist Human Shields

“I cry all the time,” he said just before he set off. “I wish I was outside Iraq where I would not have to be afraid.”

I shook his hand. He returned to his post. And I felt useless. What could I do for this man? There are so many with stories like his in Iraq.

“What kind of country is this,” Feris said to me in a trembling voice, “where people do this sort of thing to their own people?”

Meanwhile, or at least so it appeared, I was safer at that outpost because the Mahdi Army was there. They did not want to hurt their own people with rockets and mortars. Moqtada al Sadr’s infiltrators and sympathizers enveloped me in a force field.

Iraq is a strange country. Where else can American civilians like me be protected by terrorist human shields?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Did I Mention They're Like The SS?

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Hence the designation of the entire group, to reach all branches of that conglomerate. Both WaPo and the Times in its own article on this tonight emphasize the unusual step of labeling part of a sovereign nation’s military a terrorist group, but Wright’s story in April had a bit more nuance on that point: “The Guard is separate from Iran’s conventional military — and less than one-third the size, according to [Anthony] Cordesman. Iran’s regular army, navy and air force total more than 400,000 troops. The Guard numbers about 125,000.” The Quds Force, which is part of the Guard, reports directly to Khamenei to boot. The obvious, and obviously imperfect, analogy is to the SS vis-a-vis the Wehrmacht. Which is to say, yeah, they’re military, but they’re a lot more than that, too.

Halliburton From Thin Air

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And then Ramirez takes us into Chavez' fantasy'land of promising imaginary projects and goals, when he says that in Venezuela we will have our own "Halliburton" which will provide oil services to Venezuela and other countries. This from the man who presided the genocide of Venezuela's oil technological capability when he fired not only 19,000 oil workers, but more importantly, 1,000 Masters and Ph.D.'s in oil and oil related areas that worked at Intevep, Venezuela's oil research and technology center, the number one center at the time on research in heavy crudes.
But maybe his projects are like Chavez' 14 gift refineries to the world, or the project's with Argentina's Enarsa that have been kicked around for two years and not one has gotten off the ground. The problem is that while Ramirez and his kind are more concerned with funding political revolutionary projects elsewhere, than with the well being of Venezuelans.
What a lying, cynical clown this man is!

Welcome To BSOD

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It’s unsettling to think of the world being run by a futuristic computer geek, although we might at last dispose of that of classic theological question: How could God allow so much evil in the world? For the same reason there are plagues and earthquakes and battles in games like World of Warcraft. Peace is boring, Dude.

The Whetting

Instead of securing the cottage or working to catch them in the act, this woman decided to keep them from breaking in -- by giving them what they wanted. Appealing to the sense of fair play with criminals turns out to be a waste of time. Instead of sating their appetite, she whetted it instead, and they showed no gratitude towards their benefactor at all in selecting their target.

Appeasement never works. Burglars always want what hasn't been left outside on the doorstep. Danes always want more Danegeld, poetically speaking. Terrorists and tyrants once rewarded for their violence expand the use of it, until they achieve an abject surrender or someone finally decides to fight back.

Explaining Everything

In the final analysis, the existence of God is the only thing that prevents honestly dishonest human beings from inevitably coming to Nietzsche’s stark conclusion: “I am God and all is permitted.” Nietzsche also knew full well that once the appeal to absolute truth is vitiated, raw power comes in to fill the void. Such is the law of the Darwinner & loserman cosmic jungle.
Scientific or logical truth is always relative truth. Thanks to Gödel, we know that there is no system of logic that can fully account for itself or that can be both coherent and complete. Rather, completeness is always purchased at the price of consistency, while a rigidly consistent system will always be incomplete -- say, a consistent program of materialism or determinism.
This is why Marxism (and all the leftist ideologies that flow from it) is such an inadequate theory. In explaining everything, it explains nothing.

The Keyhole

And most importantly, there is no myth that human nature is malleable, and radically changed by money and education. Thus there exists on the other side of this modernist door, in this enticing garden, our old now taboo words like lazy, stupid, traitor, cowardly, no-good, disgraceful, shameful, etc., and an expectation that when a society is given too much money, leisure, and affluence, people will usually do all sorts of ludicrous things, being people after all—perhaps in our own time like watching Anna Nicole Smith Fox News Alerts, complaining that Wal-Mart has run out of motorized shopping carts as you devour Big Macs (I saw just that two days ago), and spending $10,000 on batteries and hydraulic lifters for your car while not investing $200 a month for catastrophic health insurance plan.

Then you put down the poems of Catullus or Homer’s Iliad and get sucked back through the keyhole into our modern world,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Barack's Magical Meme Green Alligator

Personally I'm not aware of any respectable source, even those that are opposed to the policy underlying OIF, that seriously maintain that Coalition forces are just "air-raiding villages" and tootling around "killing civilians". The recent Brookings Index on Iraq actually does describe the process of indiscriminately bombing villages and killing civilians, such as for example on Page 10. But these are attacks by al-Qaeda or terrorist insurgents. There are other tables depicting attacks by sectarian militias on civilians. There are tables describing homicides. But there are none describing the activity which Barack Obama says he will curb.

It's the Green Alligator, gawping in all its toothy magnificence.

Earning It

Large numbers of Iraqis detested us after the prisoner abuse stories, and some over-the-top attacks on Fallujah, for example. But through time, somehow the American military has managed to establish a moral authority in Iraq. It’s not the only authority, but the military has serious and increasing moral clout. In the beginning, our influence flowed from guns, or dropped from the wings of jets. Later it was the money. Today, the clout still is partially from the gun, and definitely the money is key, but there is an intangible and growing moral clout and it flows from an increasing respect among Iraqis for our military. Washington has no moral clout in Iraq. Washington looks like a circus act. The authority is coming from our military. The importance of this fact would be difficult to overstate.

Models Of Lucidity

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Over the past few months, I have been debating Roman Catholics who differ from their Eastern Orthodox brethren on the nature of the Trinity, Protestants who are willing to quarrel bitterly with one another about election and predestination, with Jews who cannot concur about a covenant with God, and with Muslims who harbor bitter disagreements over the discrepant interpretations of the Quran. Arcane as these disputes may seem, and much as I relish seeing the faithful fight among themselves, the believers are models of lucidity when compared to the hair-splitting secularists who cannot accept that al-Qaida in Mesopotamia is a branch of al-Qaida itself.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


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Dan Riehl asked me that last night in response to yesterday’s post about the Roggio’s scoop. Answer, per the 9/11 Commission report: a-yup.

The Pitiful Proxy

I haven't seen current data, but in 1980, American males between the ages of 15 and 24 died in car accidents at almost exactly the same rate as in France and Germany, but at double the rate in the U.K., and triple the rate in Japan.
The leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S., according to the C.D.C., is "congenital malfor­mations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities." I know of no evidence that American doctors are less well able to treat those conditions than physicians in other countries.

Likewise, the second leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S. is "disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight." As we all know from reading the newspapers, doctors and hospitals are now able to deliver, and try to save, babies with an astonishingly low birth weight. But not all of those babies survive. In most of the world, extremely premature babies are not recorded as live births, and therefore do not contribute to the infant mortality rate.

RTWT. This is what passes for "science" with the same liberals who believe that CO2 drives global warming. Truly pitiful...