Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Beat Goes On

Hamas has found governance significantly more difficult than agitation, now that it owns the Gaza Strip. When confronted with unrest, they resorted to beating protestors, armed and unarmed, and threatened the Associated Press if they took pictures of the proceedings:

Two journalists were beaten by Hamas supporters, although neither was seriously hurt. Two other French journalists suffered minor injuries from a small explosion.

One of the reasons Hamas lost patience was because of an interesting taunt. Fatah loyalists starting yelling "Shi'ites", a reference to Hamas' Iranian ties. Those apparently cause more grief than commonly known in the Palestinian territories, and Hamas -- which is nominally Sunni -- has a little sensitivity to the charge. The protestors also referred to their Hamas masters as "mercenaries", another reference to Iran.

If the beatings don't improve Gaza morale soon, what will Hamas do next?

And Looser Still...

Isn’t it interesting that a main sub-message of the Left has become “Ignore the Strategic Context?” The case involving the theft of nuclear secrets was put down to racism against a Chinese-American. John Kerry’s statement that terrorism was a mere law enforcement problem had the same sub-message. The Clinton Admin bribery was traced right back to the People’s Liberation Army, but it was handled as merely another law enforcement problem, and virtually all of those identified remain at large. Bill Clinton gets a large donation from one of the Oil For Food funding operatives - one he had pardoned - but no linkage is noted. Now Hsu mysteriously funnels money into Democratic candidates – and once again no one is so impolite to ask the question as to why someone with a lot of money – likely the PRC – is again interested in a particular party gaining power in the U.S.

How can a man who jumped bail while awaiting sentancing be released on bail?

The Real Loose Change?

At the risk of straying into tinfoil hat territory, I am tempted to guess that much that is seemingly inexplicable about Washington politics can be explained by the struggle over the control of the Justice Department: the Clinton's mass firing of US Attorneys; Bush's attempts to install Gonzales and men loyal to him in it; the campaign against Gonzales. The vast struggle swirling around it may be because the Justice Department is strategic high ground when the name of the game is covering your tracks.

The LAT quotes "aides to Clinton" as saying that Hsu never asked any favors and just liked having his picture taken with politicians. Uh, riiiiiiiiiight. And he committed the latex-glove fraud because he likes shaking hands with doctors. I suspect the FBI may have more information on whether Hsu asked for a favor or two every hundred thousand dollars by the time they complete their investigation.

If they complete it.

Nothing Left To Plunder

Africabeat links to news that China is withdrawing its support for Mugabe's Zimbabwe. The Telegraph writes: "One of the Zimbabwe president's oldest diplomatic friends, China yesterday told Lord Malloch Brown, the Foreign Office minister, that it was dropping all assistance except humanitarian aid. The move follows a decision by China, a permanent member of the United Nations security council, to work more closely with the international community in bringing pressure to bear on "rogue regimes". It represents a major shift in its previous policy of refusing to attack the internal policies of long-standing allies."

China isn't ditching Mugabe because they've suddenly acquired democratic principles. They're ditching him because his ship is sinking. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

No For 800 Please

Should we expect a surge of outrage from the Islamic world over this? Holy books used for smuggling narcotics.

My guess is no.

A Crocodile's Perspective

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In all likelihood, the right wing conservatives, headed by Ayatollah Yazdi, will beat moderate conservatives because they seem more united and organized. The infighting between moderate conservatives will most probably mean that Ayatollah Rafsanjani, their best known candidate, will be unable to pull off a ‘Shimon Peres,’ and suddenly emerge as a winner after a string of losses. Unfortunately for the West, this means that the chances for a compromise in the nuclear talks will be less likely, as this group is the one most likely to back such an option.

The fact that the "Crocodile" (Mesbah Yazdi) is backing Ayatollah Yazdi now is hardly reassuring when you consider that Rafsanjani (their "Peres"!?) has publicly announced that Iran would win a nuclear war with Israel...

Ruled By Plankton

The new issue of the Weekly Standard features Professor Rabkin's article on the Law of the Sea Treaty that the Bush administration is unaccountably urging the Senate to ratify. Professor Rabkin's article is "How many lawyers does it take to sink the U.S. Navy?" Professor Rabkin writes:

To find this convincing, one must be awed by the moral authority of the U.N. majority. To think that way means that we seek consensus at almost any price. Why do we claim to be independent, why do we invest so many billions in defense capacities, if we are prepared to go along with an international consensus, articulated (and - readjusted) by international jurists? The Senate should think long and hard before making the U.S. Navy answer to the U.N version of the Law of the Sea.

Slimed? Really?

Several House Democrats are complaining that when they visited Iraq this summer, military personnel had been given thumbnail biographies containing, among other things, their publicly expressed views about the situation in Iraq. In particular, the bios stated how the members had voted on legislation requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within 120 days of the bill's enactment. They also contained a cross-section of the member's positions -- e.g., "the year of 2006 must be a year of significant transistion in Iraq" (Rep. Ellen Tauscher) and "things have been getting worse rather than better" (Rep. James Moran).

Providing this sort of basic information in advance of the meeting seems perfectly legitimate -- it's what we used to call "doing your homework." However, according to the Post Tauscher and Moran took strong objection. Tauscher called it "being slimed in the Green Zone."

How odd to characterize a recitation of one's key vote and statements on Iraq as "being slimed."

About That Crock

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Well, yes. But that wasn't my point here -- rather, my point was that campaign finance law as it exists is a sham (I also used the word "crock") because although it limits free speech it's unwilling to actually police the big-kahuna political players involved. Like a lot of Washington regulations of its ilk, it seems more focused on producing the appearance of regulating the big players than the actuality thereof.

The Hillary Hsu-nami At Ma And Pa Paw's

People who met him said they knew only that he ran an apparel business. Efforts to learn more about his trade hit dead-ends yesterday. Visits to companies at addresses listed by Mr. Hsu on campaign finance records provided little information. There were no offices in buildings in New York’s garment district whose addresses were given for businesses with names like Components Ltd., Cool Planets, Next Components, Coopgors Ltd., NBT and Because Men’s clothing — all listed by Mr. Hsu in federal filings at different times.
Clinton and corruption. Like peas in a pod.

You know it's bad when even the NYeT can't bury the story...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lost Harry

Shailagh Murray details the long and laughable line of Reid's miscalculations on the war. First, he and Nancy Pelosi took 108 days to get a supplemental funding bill passed, hoping to pressure the White House into ordering a withdrawal that Congress could easily have accomplished by defunding the mission. Instead, with time running out, Congress passed exactly what Bush wanted. Then Reid decided to pull an all-nighter, which turned into a debacle when Republicans actually showed up for it and spent more time on the floor than Reid did, arguing against an early withdrawal.

The final straw for Reid came when he dropped the war debate entirely. He figured that Iraq would get worse and the pressure on Republicans would increase. Unfortunately, Reid miscalculated again. The end of the debate gave the surge some breathing space, and the perception of its success got shaped by actual facts and news rather than Democrat spin.

NyeT! NYeT! NYeT!

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I am looking between the lines at the venerable NYT. On 44th Street, they too are struggling, but not with Larousse. They are struggling with events. They don't know how to deal with the Surge. Some of their own reporters seem to think it may be succeeding, although that knowledge has not infected the editorial page (and must give Frank Rich fevers). And now there's Sarko. Despite pay the usual obeisance to global warming and American unilateralism in Iraq (how could he not?), he is proceeding as if he were an adjunct of the American Enterprise Insitute.

Mr. Sarkozy, who is often faulted for being too pro-American, proudly restated France's friendship with the United States, where he spent a two-week vacation this summer.

In a move that is certain to be welcomed in Washington, he announced that France would send more troops to Afghanistan to train the Afghan Army, despite his statement during the campaign that France would not remain in Afghanistan forever.

Will You Join Us?

So I would like to invite my fellow bloggers to join me in some verbal “weaponizing.”

From this moment on, I will not write about the Beijing Olympics unless the subject at hand is censorship and repression in China. And – unless the Chinese government changes its policies – when the Olympics do come, I will not blog about them at all. I will take the opportunity to write as often as I can about the lack of Freedom of Speech on the Chinese Internet and on the suppression of bloggers and journalists in that country.

I hope we could all do this together, especially since this is not an issue of right or left. It is about Freedom of Speech, something upon which the vast majority of the blogosphere can agree. We can reach across the aisle on this one, if others are willing. So…

… about those Beijing Olympics – they’re a propaganda sham until the people of China have Freedom of the Press.


We can only imagine how much further along we could have been in the war on terror had the Democrats joined in the effort instead of sabotaging it. For one thing, we would have long ago won the ‘hearts and minds' of those like Mokdat Ahmed Shahib who would not be afraid to offer up potentially life-saving intelligence, because they are afraid we may cut and run. Likewise, vacillating states would flock to our cause. We had no shortage of allies during the Reagan years when America conveyed an image of power, confidence and victory. Everybody wanted to be our friend then and understandably so.

Not so today, which is no surprise in light of Democrats' unrelenting defeatism. Before the surge had even properly begun, Harry Reid, America's most powerful elected democrat, rushed to the microphones and pronounced it a failure in front of the whole world. Who in their right mind would want to ally themselves with losers?

Deja Winston

Churchill's challenge was to overcome, not defeatism, but the "puzzlement, boredom and slackness" of the "first generation in European history which had been brought up to expect that there would not be another war." America today is desperately in need of a clarion call that will rouse us from our lethargy and remind us, clearly and definitively, that we too are in a fight for our lives.  

There are other lessons to be gleaned from those years: the cost of military un-preparedness; the fantasy that evil can be appeased; the romantic notion that enslaved people will rise up against their oppressors are but a few. Churchill's unifying gesture in making his predecessor the discredited Neville Chamberlain a member of his War Cabinet, a man for whom he nonetheless felt much sympathy, is an example many of today's politicians might follow.

Perhaps the overriding lesson is this: those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Speaking Of Amusing Ourselves To Death...

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"I ran for school board where I live this past fall and created some TV commercials including this one with a 'Star Wars' theme. A few months ago VH1 grabbed the commercial from YouTube and featured it in a segment of its show 'Web Junk 2.0.' Neither VH1 or its parent company Viacom told me they were doing this or asked my permission to use it, but I didn't mind it if they did. I thought that Aries Spears's commentary about it was pretty hilarious, so I posted a clip of VH1's segment on YouTube so that I could put it on my blog. I just got an e-mail from YouTube saying that the video has been pulled because Viacom is claiming that I'm violating its copyright. Viacom used my video without permission on their commercial television show, and now says that I am infringing on their copyright for showing the clip of the work that Viacom made in violation of my own copyright!"

The Real Impropriety

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What is it with these guys that they can't even run a proper sex scandal?

Who ever heard of sex scandals without sex?

At least when the Democrats have a sex scandal, it involves real, honest to goodness sex. Yeah, I know, Bill Clinton said the sex wasn't sex. But let's face it, it was. Had Bill tapped Monica's foot, the most he'd have been accused of was playing footsie, and there'd have been little to no outcry, much less an impeachment. And as Matthew Sheffield makes clear, the double standard is appalling; Democrats keep their jobs after drowning women in cars or keeping male brothels, while Republicans are hounded out of office for sex scandals without even the component of sex.

If I were the American people, I'd be totally sick of sexless Republican sex scandals by now.

The GOP needs to shape up.

Frankly, I'm disgusted that anyone is spending a nanosecond on this crap. Amusing Ourselves To Death indeed.

The double standard is appalling though. We even have Barney Frank standing up for Craig and it goes unexamined.

Lower Still

Why would Iraqis join with the Americans, risking their necks, if they
believe the Americans will leave before the terrorists were defeated? Why
should ordinary Iraqis work with American soldiers in hunting down terrorists
when prominent Americans like John Kerry, Richard Durbin, Barack Obama, Edward
Kennedy, John Murtha and Michael Moore tell them that those soldiers are as
cold and as brutal as the terrorists destroying their families, and America’s
most publicized civilian activist, Cindy Sheehan, is telling them that the man
leading those soldiers, George W. Bush, is the world’s biggest terrorist?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Saddam Killed Us

Go to Iraq. Not for a few days, like our politicians do, but for months. Spend those days living and working with Iraqis. Try answering the question I often heard from them while I was there: “Why are you Americans saying you are going to leave my country before it is safe?”

The first time I heard that question, during a heated political discussion with some of my Iraqi friends, I shot back saying, “When are you Iraqis going to start fighting back when terrorist thugs roll into your neighborhoods? Where are your Washingtons, your Jeffersons, your Gandhis, your Martin Luther Kings? Surely, in a country of 30 million people there must be some of them.”

It was unfair of me to say that. I am an American.

I had never lived in a place where a slip of the tongue could get me killed.

After my outburst, one of the Iraqis explained to me that what I was interpreting as cowardice among Iraqis was deeper than that: “Saddam killed us,” he said.

The Last Straw

Islam, of course, is a key identity marker when dealing with non-Muslim outsiders, but when all involved are Muslim, kinship trumps religion. And in fact, most tribal Iraqis I have spoken with consider AQ’s brand of “Islam” utterly foreign to their traditional and syncretic version of the faith. One key difference is marriage custom, the tribes only giving their women within the tribe or (on rare occasions to cement a bond or resolve a grievance, as part of a process known as sulha) to other tribes or clans in their confederation (qabila). Marrying women to strangers, let alone foreigners, is just not done. AQ, with their hyper-reductionist version of “Islam” stripped of cultural content, discounted the tribes’ view as ignorant, stupid and sinful.

AQI killed a sheikh over his refusal to give daughters of his tribe to them in marriage, which created a revenge obligation (tha’r)
The terrorists retaliated with immense brutality
This was the last straw, they said, and the tribes rose up.
If you read nothing else about Iraq this year, read this one.

Getting Up To Speed

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In response to the President's comments about abandoning Vietnam, some have argued that abandonment was not that important because Vietnam is now a nice capitalist country. This argument shows a callousness toward the loss of human life (in the late 1970s) and the harsh repression of political dissent (from 1975 to today) that is thoroughly out of keeping with how these people normally view international affairs. Hysterical hatred of the Iraq War and President Bush seems the only possible explanation for such an inconsistency. The present-day capitalist economy of Vietnam, moreover, is not reason to doubt the wisdom of U.S. involvement. Instead, it is reason to doubt the wisdom of North Vietnamese involvement. While America was fighting for capitalism in South Vietnam, North Vietnam was fighting to destroy it.

The Star Spangled Banner

Not ranked on Amazon, it is among the most amazing personal stories of any war. His eardrums ruptured, his face crusted with blood from beatings, one arm broken and both knees badly injured from the ejection, Bud Day was hung by the feet "like a side of butchered beef for many hours" by his captors after he refused to answer their questions. A week into his captivity he escaped. He then hiked 12 days alone in the jungle back to South Vietnam, eating frogs, nauseous from pain, only to be recaptured.

With all of his limbs now broken or shot up, he spent the next six years in captivity, undergoing mock executions, hung again repeatedly by his feet, often not permitted to urinate, beaten senseless in scenes "out of the Mongol Hordes" with whips that made his testicles like charred meat. When prison guards burst in on him and other POWs during a clandestine Christian service, Day stared into their muzzles and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

There IS Justice In This World

Human Rights Watch, that brave defender of democratic prerogatives, can’t hold a press conference in Beirut because of threats from Hezbollah. The world’s smallest violin is playing over this injustice.

Just no ability for morons to learn from it...

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

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Even the Marine Corps, arguably the least defeatist institution in America, wrote off Ramadi as irretrievably lost last August.

Then, local tribal leaders and civilians joined the Americans - and helped purge the city of every last terrorist cell. Violence has dropped to near zero. I have photographs of Iraqis hugging American soldiers and of children greeting us with ecstatic joy, as though they had been rescued from Nazis. The Marines are even considering going on patrols without body armor.

What worked in Ramadi might not work in Baghdad. The Mahdi Army's relative moderation, compared with Al Qaeda's brutality, prevents it from being rejected by the entire society. But this much cannot be denied: There are powerful winds of change in Iraq, and not enough time has passed to determine how they will transform the country.

Want to know if the surge will succeed or fail? There is only one thing to do: Wait.

The OTM Zone

Early that shift, four East Indian nationals crossed the international bridge. All were temporarily detained under federal guidelines while officers notified the National Targeting Center, which runs background checks for possible ties to terrorist groups.

Because India is considered a country of interest by the department, all of its citizens receive extra screening when trying to enter the country.

But before the background checks were complete, the four were let go and their travel documents returned, according to a government motion seeking dismissal of Cano's suit.

By the time NTC notified the bridge inspectors that one of the East Indian nationals was a potential terrorist-related subject, (they) had already released the individuals and they were in the United States," the document states.

Protecting Priva ... Huh?

Initially, in the Seattle P-I's report, the men were asking unusual questions on the one ferry. ABC's follow-up informed us that the FBI had confirmed the same two men had asked a lot of unusual questions on other ferry routes, which had prompted ferry workers to tip the FBI about the situation. Now we find out that the pair had measured distances in the cargo hold and taken pictures of restricted areas.

The Seattle P-I insisted that they felt a duty to protect the privacy of these two men. The FBI wanted to make the pictures public because "the result of not doing anything at that point in time is a ferry blowing up and thousands of people losing their lives." Which organization has their priorities more in order?

Please Stand By...

Plant owners’ refusal to hire blue-collar workers over 35 or 40 is colliding with the demographic reality of China’s one-child policy. The number of workers in the 20-to-24-year-old range is already shrinking as more of them go to universities instead of entering the work force after high school, and the International Labor Organization projects that workers in this age range will edge slowly downward through at least 2020.

Stand by for Chinese politicians complaining that America is exporting its high wages and labor standards to countries that don't want them.

We are experiencing demographic difficulties...

In Case You Don't Remember Why Congress Is Rated Lower Than W

Of course, the new Real Problem is the Iraqi Government...

Levin, while saying military progress was being made, said the troop build-up could not be considered a success because its purpose was to make way for political reconciliation, and that hasn't happened.
So, first the U.S. Congress will take a vacation...
...then after that vacation, they'll take a "recess"...
...and then hear from General Petraeus.

Did I Forget To Mention Rule No. 19

To be sure, it is a simple given that the religious male fanatic who flies into a violent rage even at the thought of an exposed woman’s ankle will also be, in some other dysfunctional and dark secret compartment of his fractured life, the person who leads some poor helpless young boy into his private chambers.

The key issue here is that the demented sickness that underlies Rule No. 19 is by no means exclusive to the Taliban; it is a widespread phenomenon throughout Islamic-Arab culture and it lies, among other factors, at the root of that culture’s addiction to rage and its lust for violence, terror and suicide.

There is a basic and common sense empirical human reality: wherever humans construct and perpetuate an environment in which females and their sexuality are demonized and are pushed into invisibility, homosexual behaviour among men and the sexual abuse of young boys by older men always increases.

Castro Roots For Dems

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HAVANA (Reuters) - Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is tipping Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to team up and win the U.S. presidential election.

Clinton leads Obama in the race to be the Democratic nominee for the November 2008 election, and Castro said they would make a winning combination.

"The word today is that an apparently unbeatable ticket could be Hillary for president and Obama as her running mate," he wrote in an editorial column on U.S. presidents published on Tuesday by Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma.

Who'd a thunk it? A blood-drenched thug in favor of Dems? Don't expect to see this one on the front page...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Distant Snapshots

“Look,” he said. “The other contractors I know who train the police are also optimistic. Many file extensions to stay longer because they feel like they’re making a difference. I never hear anything negative from any of them. We watch the Iraqis progress over time because we work with them daily. Most American soldiers don’t see the progress because they observe the Iraqis from more of a distance. You yourself are only seeing a snapshot in time. If you think it looks bad now, you should have been here two months ago.”

Did I Mention They're Totally Nuts?

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This is actually one of the minor themes of my forthcoming “Iran Time Bomb,” since nowhere on earth has sexual repression been taken so such ludicrous extremes as Iran. That whole business about covering every centimeter of every strand of female hair—to protect the otherwise innocent males from the enormous sexual power emanating from the hair follicles—is totally nuts. And it’s obvious that there is a fundamental connection between terrorists and sexuality. They are mostly raised in an all-male society, which creates impulses among adolescent boys that they are told are unclean…you don’t have to be a Freud follower (although I am, mostly) to see how the repression involved in that sort of environment translates into enormous explosive violence.

Fear Factor

As always, everyone involved is talking about “sensitivity,” when the real motivation behind this craven incident of pre-emptive self-censorship is very obviously fear.

A popular comic strip that poked fun at the Rev. Jerry Falwell without incident one week ago was deemed too controversial to run over the weekend because this time it took a humorous swipe at Muslim fundamentalists.

The Washington Post and several other newspapers around the country did not run Sunday’s installment of Berkeley Breathed’s “Opus,” in which the spiritual fad-seeking character Lola Granola appears in a headscarf and explains to her boyfriend, Steve, why she wants to become a radical Islamist. ...

Or ... Those Who Say He's Nuts May Be Winning

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“The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly,” Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran, referring to U.S. troops in Iraq. “Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation.”

No Corruption Here ...

The Wall Street Journal has noticed a strange correlation between the donations of a major contributor to Hillary Clinton and a family living in a modest Daly City, California home. Despite having an annual income that would likely qualify as John Edwards' other America, the Paw family has contributed over $45,000 to Hillary's electoral campaigns -- on the same days as mega-donor Norman Hsu, who once lived at the same address
... just move along now. We all know that Hillary lives by different rules...

And Don't Forget The Smoking Ban...

He points to Anbar, as do most of the war's supporters. In 2006, Anbar only produced 1,000 recruits for the local police forces. Already this year, over 12,000 have volunteered for duty in Anbar, showing that the locals and the tribes are committed to securing Iraq.

The opportunity comes at a curious but providential juxtaposition of events. General David Petraeus had finally implemented the correct counterintelligence strategy at almost the precise moment that al-Qaeda overplayed its shari'a enforcement. The final straw for most Iraqis was a ban on smoking on top of all the brutality they had already endured from the terrorists. Even the nationalist insurgents saw the American troops as preferable to the radical Islamists at that point.

Graham believes that we already have the momentum for real reform and stability, although it will take a while to get the Sunnis to buy into democracy. All we need to do is keep clearing ground while the Iraqis stabilize from the ground up.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Clock Runs Out As Predicted

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But as I noted then, Sen. Kerry's home state of Massachusetts has a very unusual, extremely generous and pro-plaintiff three-year limitations period for defamation claims. Massachusetts' three-year statute of limitations for defamation claims made it the very last feasible venue in which Sen. Kerry conceivably could file suit and gain his public vindication, if the SwiftVets' allegations about him were false. Those claims were certainly, indeed deliberately, injurious to his reputation; his damages arguably include the loss of the 2004 presidential election, however that might be valued in dollars and cents; and if John Kerry could hope to find a home-town advantage anywhere, surely it would be there. But now he's let the incredibly generous Massachusetts statute of limitations run out, too.

Nature Loves Man Ruthlessly

What is the proper end of human consciousness? Because of we don’t know what consciousness is for, we can’t very well say that this or that individual is pathological, can we?
Now, if you adopt a strictly Darwinian, materialistic view, then the answer to this question is obvious: a healthy person is simply one who survives, because that is the whole point of natural selection. Thus, Stalin was more healthy than the 20 to 40 million people he murdered, just as Hitler was clearly more healthy than the 6 million Jews he slaughtered. Survival of the fittest is the final arbiter in nature. You may think that I am being a bit polemical, but this was the philosophy of one of the forerunners of postmodernity, Nietzsche, who believed that the whole idea of “God” was a pathological meme that simply protected the weak and infirm from the harsh judgment of nature. Nature loves man ruthlessly, as someone once said.

The Wages Of One Percent

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many people forgot that in order to consume and invest, one needs to save. This elementary truth was lost as millions of people responded to perverse government-generated incentives by living beyond their means. What we are seeing today is nothing less than the inevitable price of behaving irresponsibly.

As is often the case with a financial crisis, the original sin behind the current turmoil has to do with government policy. Since 2001, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates absurdly low in order to prevent a recession. Between 2003 and 2004 the rate at which the Fed allowed banks to lend to each other overnight was 1 percent! This convinced people that there was abundant money for anyone who wanted it. Easy money begets extravagance on the part of those who lend and on the part of those who borrow. So financial institutions came up with irresistible offers, including mortgages that required no down payment and adjustable-rate loans that charged low interest in the early years.

On Illegal Labor Fungibility

One particular consideration I think is underdiscussed is the fact that much of the labor illegal immigrants provide substitutes for women's home labor. And I don't just mean nannies for rich women. I mean cleaning services, and food processing, and dry cleaning, and grocery delivery, and all the other things that make it possible for large numbers of women to work outside the home. In an ideal world, of course, women and men would take equal responsibility for the household. But in the less than ideal world that we actually inhabit, an increase in the price of those services would probably mean that fewer women would find it cost-effective to work outside the home.