Thursday, December 31, 2009


Second best dog on Earth, LOTM. The best dog, Sue, gave up custody of her little boy more than 50 years ago.

(Must be some pollen in the air. My eyes are getting a bit misty for some strange reason.)

Geoffrey Britain:
You have my and I’m sure many others sympathies, there may be no truer friend than a good dog.

Danl Watkins:
My condolences too, sir. My dog, Raymond, left us at 18 last Memorial Day. Maybe not the best Dog on earth, but she sure tried to be. Still waiting patiently for me to arrive, I’ll bet. (how can I have earned that?)

LOTM, you have my deepest sympathy. I still remember how I felt after our vet, at our home, finally sent our furry friend on to where he could finally run and chase tennis balls again. It was time, and probably past time, but we sure hated to see him go. I still miss him terribly.

You know, that’s not the least of the problems with Muslims–that they consider dogs unclean and hate them. If the burkhas and pork prohibition weren’t enough to make one think they’re all crazy/evil, their thoughts on dogs certainly would. Heck, if you look at all the fine things they foolishly avoid, it’s easy to see why they’re all so anxious to die.

PA Cat:

Heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your beloved dog. I’ve never had a dog, always been a cat person, but I think anyone who has ever shared home and hearth with a furry (or feathered or finny) friend knows how deep the grief can cut when they leave us. May you find comfort in the knowledge that you gave your pet a good life, and that no true love is ever wasted.

Karen Yvonne:
LOTM, I’m sorry about your dog. I think I know how you feel because I’ve gone through it twice. The bond between a dog and its’ master is truly something miraculous – and, being miraculous, it must be immortal. It must be.

I’m very sorry to hear that, LOTM. It’s so painful to lose a beloved dog. They are the best of friends, loving us just as we are.

PA Cat said it better than I could Lifeof.
Time makes it bearable, perseverence furthers.


Sorry to hear that. I have one pushing 15 and I fear I am not far behind you.

I can truly feel for you. My heart goes out to you.

Words do not help much here, but know that there are others who do understand. Folks who have never had a profoundly deep relationship with a wonderful animal may not understand, but those of us who have most certainly do. Cleave to them in your grief.

It may seem small consolation now, but do remember that you dog did have a wonderful life with you, was overjoyed to be with you and be loved by you. He (?) returned the love, I am sure, one thousand-fold.

That is all he ever wanted or needed. It could not have been a better life for him.

It is the best that can be; you could have done no better by the dog.

You were a blessing to him; he a blessing to you. It is a mysterious matter.

(I do not know your state of mind, but since you are a New Yorker, let me point out a local resource: the Animal Medical Center (AMC) up on 62nd over by the East River does have a reasonable counseling/support group for this sort of thing. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but I just mention it as a resource. I know someone they helped quite a bit.)

Sorry about your dog. I’ve lost a few good hounds and it always hurts.


My condolences. I lost my 15 year old labrador retriever in 2006, and while I went right out and got another dog from an animal shelter and she has become just a precious, I still miss my lab.

I have loved dogs my whole life but with my lab I came to believe that dogs came to live with humans because sometime in the distant past humans had done something magnificant and God sent the dogs to us as a reward.

But I changed that view. I came to believe that it was the dogs that had done something God liked and He sent them to us so we could pray for them.

Marie Claude:

Linda P:
My deepest sympathies. I’ve said goodbye to five of my best friends, still sharing my life with three. I know how you feel.

Mongoose #107:

When I got my new dog I thought that while she was a precious animal to be cherished, I did not seek that spark of divinity in her that I saw in my labrador.

But almost 4 years later I see that same spark in her now.

So do we provide the spark of divinity or do they bring it to us?
Or is it like an electrical circuit that flows through both of us when we are together?

Life of the Mind

Kindest regards

Mad Fiddler:
Dear LOTM,

When cataracts in both eyes caused my mother to lose her driving privileges, and the first attempted operation in 1980 nearly lost the eye, the extent of her life was shrinking to the confines of the house. No golf, no shopping, no visiting with friends, nothing. For an active and energetic woman, it was hard.

Our household had no pets since the last family dog had been crushed by a skidding garbage truck in front of my mom 15 years earlier.

While she was recovering from the first near-disaster cataract surgery, praying she would heal enough to try again, my sister and brother conspired to buy a palm-sized shih-tzu puppy. My sister brought it in a basket with bows and ribbons, rang the bell and hid in the bushes. We have a picture of our mom holding this little fluff with its black nose surrounded by a rosette of spiky fur hiding two sleepy eyes. Mom was grinning and crying for joy. That damn puppy really brought her out of her miseries.

Years later, when both parents were slowly wasting from terminal conditions, and my brother was recovering from a stroke, three dogs in the household made the difference every day between a home dominated by pain, frailty, and doom, instead bringing hours and hours of laughter, frolicking, and joy.

I’ve seen many miracles of people transcending their own self-absorption and despair, re-learning how to care unselfishly for another being, quickening to a grasp of what it means to nurture and clean and be patient without expectation of any reward but a gladness that you gave comfort and relief.

There’s a reason why programs pairing incorrigible teens and prison inmates with dogs and horses have so much success in changing their attitudes, and it is the love those animals give back to the humans.

Losing a companion like that is one of the hardest things next to losing a human family members. I pray you have healing from the happy memories, and from friends, and other such companions.

LOTM, I am sorry to hear about your dog. Dogs (and for me, cats) are what we hope for in our friends and we grieve long and hard when they pass.

bogie wheel:
LOTM – Am profoundly sorry to hear about your dear, dear friend. Though I consider “best dog ever” title to have been already taken by the unsurpassingly great German Shepherd my family had when I was a kid, I will concede that this may be an honor like Arthur’s Round Table, i.e., “first among equals.”

And forgive me for tacking into a theological wind here, my intentions are certainly not to aggravate but to comfort. Every time I consider the splendor of our beloved pets, I can’t help but think of the old catechism question and its answer:

Q: “What is the chief end of man?”
A: “To glorify God and to enjoy all His blessings.”

I had a pastor some years ago who said that he’d come to understand that the answer included the meaning, “To glorify God *by enjoying* all His blessings.”

I consider pets a unique blessing. The whole idea that we homo sapiens “shack up” (!!) with members of different species in a manner that goes so far beyond a utilitarian relationship and indeed touches upon the deepest emotional and quasi-spiritual aspects of our lives, is one of the great wonders of human existence as far as I’m concerned. And these kinds of great wonders (I second the “miraculous” description from above) are indeed touched by divinity IMHO. Not that our furry friends are divine (objection of CATS noted here) but that they are instruments through which the divine touches us. By delighting in them we glorify Him who made us all. Okay I’ll shutteth up now. Just know that your BC friends are sending condolences & thoughts of comfort your way.

LOTM @ 79

You have my full sympathy. You must feel the loss of your furry, faithful friend so very much right now. Please let the long and happy life he had with you be some comfort. It is hard to lose such a dear old friend.

jason gray:
LOTM. my condolences are offered as well.


I’m sorry. I know how it feels. When it comes to dogs, they ask so little and they give so much. I had to have my last dog put down. She was 13 years old. She had cancer of the liver. The vet said there was no treatment for her condition. And even so, I probably waited too long and prolonged her suffering. I just couldn’t let her go. She may have been just a “dog” but she was my baby, she was my child.

Take care LOTM.

My condolences. Been there several times. Dogs and cats.

Sorry to hear of your loss. One advantage of knowing dogs & cats go to heaven is knowing my friend and yours await our arrival. Dean Koontz book about his dog Trixie, provides evidence at least some dogs are angels in disguise.
Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man, without his Vices. This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain, a Dog.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Epitaph to a Dog.

We are never more human than when we care for those who are the least among us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The best to dog on earth is now at rest.
I know that grieving is a process and feelings of guilt, for not having the money to get him back surgery 6 months ago or otherwise do better or euthanize him a day earlier, may not be rational but they are real.

Salt on my wound is that I had ordered a cart for him on the 14th and called them on the 15th to confirm, they said it would ship on the 29th, which I feared might be to late. I told them I had no money and this was painful. While they advertise that they accept old carts back to give to charity or sell to the needy at discount they made no such offer to save me money. The terms are 1/3 deposit and the balance on shipping. The first harness I got to lift him proved ineffective as it was a hip lift and not a belly sling. On the 28th I called to cancel the cart and they said that he could use the full 4 wheel cart for another $1,000 since the criteria for using the two wheel cart with center balance to reduce weight on the front legs and outrigger (like training) wheels is the ability to sit upright and walk with rear lifted. A few hours later he did sit up and scrambled a dozen feet back to his pillow. It was foolish but I called back and said ship the upgraded cart 2 wheel counter-balanced cart which they said would ship Wednesday and arrive Monday. Upon DJ's death I immediately, well almost since it took two hours until rigor set in and I was convinced he was gone, emailed them. It turns out that after all the talk that the cart was not built, just the frame and it would take two more days to finish it they had shipped it a few hours earlier on the 29th. They said I had to accept the cart and I was being charged in full. I called USAA and they said that I should refuse delivery and send them any documentation and statements I can. Given that it is a brand new and unused cart in a very standard size, they even changed my measurements to what made sense to them they said, there is no reason they cannot sell this as new to someone and just keep my deposit and a nominal restocking fee. Shipping early to an animal they knew, better than I did, was not long for the world, to collect the additional money is wrong and even worse to me is insisting that I accept delivery of what would have been a very painful object to see in my house. These are not bad people but they are acting badly in this. If these carts are ordered long in advance and used over a period of months then they can be very helpful I am sure but when an animal is already in terminal decline there becomes a conflict between a business need to sell custom built carts at $500 - $750 each, more for the full 4 wheel versions, and the fact that given the short period that the cart may be used there is a stock of used carts out there. On their web site they list used carts available but they will not guide a prospect to that page as a cheaper, and faster if time is important, alternative.

I posted an announcement on a Belmont Club thread of DJ's passing and received many fine replies. I will copy those and other statements to here.

The date and time of this post are that of his actual passing.

The Nose Knows

(fm the BC thread "President Obama urges America to learn")

Those who know me from my ramblings in here know that my admiration for our 4 footed friends and their educable noses knows no bounds. Unfortunately it isn't a workable answer. A detection dog can only be in search mode for 20 minutes before they have to take a break. They have a better union than their handlers do. The cost of training enough teams to clear the traffic at a even a Category II mid-size airport would be prohibitive. For a Cat X hub like any of the NY airports, fuhgedaboutit. Given that the threat keeps evolving, dogs aren't trained to detect peroxide, we would still need the mechanical inspection systems. Dogs have their uses, primary screening of passengers and carry on baggage is not among them.

Keep Seated

(fm the BC thread "President Obama urges America to learn")

There has been outrage expressed about the restrictions during the last hour of a flight. If we use a little logic and don't assume that everything that comes from TSA is pure bloody mindedness we may find a reason. If a plane is destroyed in mid flight it is a tragedy but the odds are that the casualties will be confined to the people on the plane. Think of the 4th plane on 9-11 that went down in rural Pennsylvania. The plan in the Detroit case was to bring the plane down over a populated urban area or at the airport by initiating the explosive when the pilot announced that they were 10 minutes from landing. That would have served the terrorists purpose of creating a spectacular public event. This is at best a stopgap response.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Comment on the Belmont Club
"President Obama urges America to learn"

It isn't what Obama said that rankles. It wasn't untrue on its face. The problem was that the words were being delivered by someone of demonstrated disingenuousness and calculated insincerity. He had his opportunity to connect emotionally with people and he just couldn't do it. He only cares about those who he knows personally. He knows persons but not people, human beings per se are just numbers, not people but The People. A news flash says that he used his motorcade to speed an injured child of a friend to a hospital. Commendable but what if it wasn't the child of a friend?

“an isolated extremist.”
Yes engaging in incendiary auto castration will tend to limit your social life. Will the government propose a program to meet the emotional needs of traumatized castrati? Nancy Pelosi's caucus needs to know.

Comments on the Belmont Club
"Iran again"

Let’s hope Hillary and President Obama don’t get on the platform just as the train leaves the station.

Hillary and Barack (there is a phrase that does not flow off the tongue) are to busy trying to get each other, and the American people, to sit on the tracks in front of any approaching train to even notice if one has left the station. That should beat a metaphor to death at least.

Most punditry on Iran has never gotten past the sophomore level theory that Shia hates Sunni so we can exploit divisions and make friends. We are still crippled by the parade of has beens and never weres who bring a level of fecklessness to the foreign policy process in this administration unequaled except for the domestic policy process in this administration.

This month's edition of Foreign Policy from the CFR is interesting. Central is Zbig Brezhinsky but off to the side is Abraham Sofaer. This could be an indulgence that indicates the self confidence of the establishment under the new regime or it could be an anchor to windward as the Carter II administration runs into a familiar hole.

The Iranian regime has imported Hezbollah thugs to beat up the people. If the Mullahs fall it will pull the rug out from under Syria, the Lebanese threat to Israel and hurt al-Qeada, who are linked to Tehran. The Norks would feel the blow too. "Axis of Evil" indeed.

Of course when they are falling is when they are the most dangerous.

The Iranians are security clients of the Chinese. My expectation is that they are taking advice from the acknowledged experts on surviving a popular counter-revolution. The next step should be to shift military units and commanders around to ensure two things;
1. Any plots among commanders will be disrupted and social links between them and local groups broken
2. When the Tien an Men time comes that the troops in Tehran are not friendly locals but hostile country boys.

Comment on the Belmont Club
"Spin versus spool"

Napolitano is following the ungulate theory of bureaucratic survival. She has gotten into an assemblage of the incompetents and now she merely hopes to keep a low enough profile so that she can survive. This makes sense because the breadth of the incompetents that have been hired by this administration, the numbers with backgrounds that would normally have excluded them from any position that required a security clearance, is so great that any one can hope to hide in the herd. Napolitano is like the Safe Schools Czar and Geithner and the Media flack who loved Mao and Rahm and the ostensible Boss himself. Individually it is easy to look at each one and say, "No Way." but as a crowd they generate enough dust and noise that they cover for each other. These are the people that you want standing next to you at an inspection.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


(fm the BC thread "Storm petrels")

Islam teaches fear of and contempt for women, fear of sex outside of marriage, fear and hatred of homosexuals. Shia square the sexual circle by having the 2 hour marriage contract. They really do think that their god is such a dunce as to fall for that. It isn't done to avoid the degradation of the women. They are still whores. It is done to get around the expectation that sex in marriage is more likely to get you into paradise. Of course that leaves an out for the use of infidel captives but they tend to be in short supply in an islamic state. In Europe they are in plentiful supply and rape gangs are reportedly common in Sweden now.

Comment on the Belmont Club
"Of some importance"

Kae Arby.
My Pet Goat
Bingo. The Left spent 8 years, including recent troll scripting in the BC, attacking Bush for not panicking before the school children and instead finishing his reading after a thoughtful pause, which was disparaged as a "frozen stare." If Obama had been in charge and had a microphone catch him off teleprompter we would have gotten a stirring rendition of "I can't hear you and the people who brought these buildings down will never hear you. Now go learn to staple insulation for a green job."

To a bureaucrat like Napolitano the difference between a good idea and a great idea is;
1. A good idea is one you steal
2. A great idea is one for which you a back date a memo in the file claiming credit.

The only way to get these interchangeable mediocrities who are governing as an assemblage of Tsars to take seriously the public safety would be to strap one, there are enough of them, or at least their blood kin, to the nose of each international flight. If we sent the Safe Schools Tsar to Yemen he could teach them a meaning for "My Pet Goat" that might produce a pro-American movement in the back country. Either that or they may decide that the Great Satan is no longer worthy of kicking around.

This is Clintons response to al-Qeada, they bombed our embassies and the Cole but we didn't give them the satisfaction of trying to root them out. Even Clinton has intimated that in hindsight he wished he had done more. Even Carter would have gone before the public and tried to do his job. Eisenhower could play golf and talk about disarmament because everyone knew that he understood and could fight a war. Besides Ike had the Dulles brothers so both the allies and the enemy knew that we were not paralyzed waiting for the boss to pick up the phone. With Obama the expectation is that the nobody does anything without approval from the White House. That may mean Barack Obama or the troika of Emanuel-Jenrette-Holder. Even if that wasn't true and the White House could delegate we can't trust the authorities to do the job because in every instance for 11 months now Obama's appointments have proven to be disastrous. The initial expectation that Gates would continue to operate with wide latitude has faded. The 8 month delay in issuing an AfPak strategy makes clear that he is now just a gopher.

Comment on the Belmont Club
"Storm petrels"

When seconds count the police (SAS) are only minutes away.

"al-Qeada doesn't take a holiday."
Rust never sleeps.

One possibility is that busy bees have been building information firewalls again.
What is Jamie Gorelick up to these days?

The links between al-Qeada and Iran were denied and ridiculed by the Left. They are now becoming more certain. The Saudis have gone to some effort, and we must be careful since they do engage in sophisticated intelligence and disinformation operations themselves, to claim that Iran is backing the insurgents in Yemen who shelter AQ. Osama bin Laden's family were living in Tehran under state protection and have recently fled to the Saudi Embassy. There are wheels within wheels here as they betray each other. Sometimes both sides are the bad guys.

Is there a Yemen linked network in America? There was a cell exposed in upstate NY a few years ago. The Somalis are very present and the public has not been warned of the threat hosted within that community. The presence of Black African Islamists from West Africa is something that the public is also completely unaware of. There are links between these groups and Europe. Who was this bomber seeing in The Netherlands, which mosque did he attend? Another key locus in their network is Milan. The foot soldier with the explosives is the simpler problem. The Imam who builds the network but who has no prohibited items on him is the harder problem that we must learn to intercept.

It is very hard for the average airport screener to identify these people. If they have a foreign man in front of them with a collection of pamphlets in arabic how can they know if these are harmless tracts urging wives to be faithful and children to brush their teeth or readings from the hadith that are used to justify jihad? We need trained translators and intelligence specialists at the airports. That is a very expensive and demanding program to set up.

Remember though that when the threat is flying in to the United States identifying them and stopping them is not something for US Homeland Security to do. In this case it was the Dutch airport security that should have caught the guy and didn't.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Open Wounds

(fm the BC thread "Speeches without words")

A year and a half ago I shared my opinion on what to do with the WTC site on LGF but saved it to my blog,
My 2¢'s worth. Build Three towers two of 100 stories each, one of 120.
First the Tower of Justice and Liberty, for government and legal tenants.
Second the Tower of Hope and Wisdom, with a Hospital and University.
Third the Tower of Freedom and Commerce, for entrepreneurs and artists.

Make the first 40 stories residential. Accept no delays and get it built!

My refinement would be to move the UN to Governor's Island, so it would always be in the sight of the middle tower.

There are times where I disagree with you and I understand the temptation that some have to question whether the cost we paid to end slavery was worth the damage done to the federal system. That is I understand it but disagree with them. On this one I am with you.

The costs of the Civil War and the resultant centralization of power and debasement of the states is solely the fault of the oligarchs of ant-bellum South Carolina and those leaders in the other southern states who knew better but failed to stop secession. If Virginia had stayed in the Union then North Carolina would have stayed in. There was at least a chance that given the real affection for the Union across large tracts of the South that the Confederacy might have peacefully imploded. We will never know. Some argue that slavery could not have been ended peacefully but I suspect that the plantations were going to fail anyway and the probability of ending the practice might have been near. The need to address the status of slavery and the impossibility of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act, which was cited in the Acts of Secession, was thorny and would have still left a legacy of bitterness on all sides. It is hard to argue that such an alternative would not have been better than 600,000 Americans dead and a century of bitterness and poverty.

All that said the South chose the War and Lincoln properly fought it with one goal in mind, restoring the Union. John Wilkes Booth did the South no favor when he killed Lincoln. The Constitutional issues should not remain frozen in time but should be addressed. The Confederate Constitution was an interesting document. There are ideas in it worthy of consideration or at least useful in stimulating debate. The quality of the construction of the subsequent 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution has produced mischief. Like the Commerce clause the Citizenship clause and the Due Process clause, both in section 1, have proven to elastic and subject to abuse by those in Congress and the Courts seeking to centralize power. We now face the possible abuse of the Apportionment clause in section 2.

On Airport Screening

(fm the BC thread "White Powder")

First my experience with TSA is not current and my opinion is not official but it is probably accurate.

The attempt to destroy the Detroit flight was not a TSA failure because he did not board in the United States where TSA is. There is an ongoing story being built that screening is ineffective because of PC. That is used as a shorthand or really a cover for a call to either "profile" meaning screen muslims to the exclusion of others or to simply exclude moslems. Such policies are inadvisable as called for and the reference to PC is misapplied in that security is not simply hurt by a squeamishness about inspecting moslems. Are there reasons to inspect some moslems more carefully? Yes and the manual that was improperly released contained directions to screen persons carrying some passports more intensively.

For reasons that have already been gone over persons from other ethnic or religious backgrounds cannot be exempted from screening. It would be impossible to tell anyway who the threat is that way. Would you go up to everyone in the airport asking "Are you a moslem?" like the Orthodox who come up to you in NY and ask if you are a jew. Aside from the fact that al-Qaeda may instruct their operatives to lie at that point, the scoundrels, there are other obvious limitations to that approach. Most moslems are not arabs. Will you then focus on South and East Asians and Filipinos to ensure that they are not secret Indonesians? Will you be able to tell the real Sikh from the jihadi pretending to be a Sikh? How do you react to the fact that most arabs in America are not moslems but christians of Lebanese descent? Will you then exempt Christian arabs from screening, if they prove they are not moslem by eating bacon at the checkpoint? Then again many of the early pioneers of Palestinian terrorism were of a christian background. The members of the minority often are found in the revolutionary vanguard. So maybe we should focus more on college educated christians. The point is that the threat is not limited to one easily identifiable ethnic group, this guy was a black african not an arab, and is a political and religious ideology. They will use an innocent as a mule. They will recruit members of other groups. Adam Yahiye Gadahn was born Adam Pearlman. Are we going to focus on every crazy jew in California? It is a tempting idea but it may not be the most efficient way to proceed.

Of course I over state the problem and we do need to both provide a basic level of screening to everyone and then screen identified threats more intensively. The point is that just saying more moslems and fewer grandmothers is not the best way to improve security. There are two problems that could be called PC related that effect security.

One is the plethora of special sensitivities that are imposed on the screeners, with the moslems being a small part of the problem. Indeed the concern I have is that all the noise from other passengers needing accommodation in some way may mask the signal of the real threat. There are posters all over TSA work spaces pointing out the difference between moslems and sikhs and their head gear. Since we do not screen them any differently because of their religion why is this information imposed on the screening staff? It is to assuage the sensitivities of the sikhs. The Pennsylvania Dutch should demand that government spend hundreds of thousands of dollars distributing posters about their hats just so that they can get equal time. Mothers traveling with babies are allowed ice packs and packaged breast milk that other passengers would not be allowed. Mothers can show up with strollers that cannot fit through the x-ray machine. People who believe in homeopathy show up with little vials that can not be put through the x-ray and are inspected by having you look at them as the owner holds it up before you. If it was up to me I would then ETD inspect the owners hands to see if they had been handling explosives, since you can't wipe the sacred vial itself. Of course if it was peroxide they were smuggling to make an explosive that would demand a different test and it would not do to test the hands. Every TSA screener, they are called officers now God help us, has to see a movie in training on screening "People With Disabilities." The whole point of the hour is not reviewing specific techniques, although some are usefully gone over, but to communicate the self worth of the people at whose behest the film was made. In it a man in a wheelchair says "I am just like you I drive a nice car. I have a nice job and a family." This is being watched by entry level screeners who probably are making a lot less money than the man in the video. The HR Program Manager who introduces the video emits more signals of wealth and power than a duchess in a 1930s costume drama. It always surprised me after I showed the film that the new hires didn't go out and find some disabled person to knock down.

That leads to the second issue that limits the possibility of shifting to a system where we just pick out the bad guys first. Think of who is doing the screening and making these judgements. It has to as mechanical as possible in deciding who gets sent to secondary screening because the person saying please go to that line is a very entry level Federal employee. Who here wants to give them more discretion in the use of power? The original idea was to hire the TSA as "Screeners" to do just that screen and if anything alarms refer to a trained officer, LEO or Aviation Security Inspector or a Supervisor for further evaluation. That quickly was changed into Screeners resolving their own alarms and now they are called Officers, get shields and uniforms that look like LEO gear and they are getting a union. All of those are bad ideas.

BDOs can work but there are to few of them and they need to be carefully selected and inspected separate from the regular crony ridden TSA staff. Most of the Managers at TSA are retired police sergeants with neither the aptitude nor the interest in effectively managing a workforce like TSA has. The internal promotions may be no better given local politics, the presence of many former private security people from before TSA who stayed on, and a priority on reducing turnover and avoiding EEO complaints. The evaluation system is an expensive complicated fraud. The organization should be returned to its roots, Screeners demoted to Screeners and real Federal LEO Managers from CBP should be put in charge. The trained Aviation Security Inspector (ASI) force should be expanded to provided an unarmed authority in addition to the armed presence that CBP could provide. This would also provide a career path for Federal Air Marshals to move into. Right now their job is a dead end.

More thoughts.

(who has not flown commercially since 9-11)
I'd suggest trains could stage a revival but the government did for that industry what they will now do to health care. Trains are more of a security nightmare than planes are.

Kae Arby,
You do not want TSA doing random cavity searches. The reductio ad absurdum does not improve security. We need an airline industry. Checked baggage is not the problem. We want everything sent to checked baggage. The problem is what they are allowed to bring past the passenger screening checkpoint. People hate checking bags for several reasons;
1. Fear of theft by luggage handlers
2. Fear of delay at baggage claim
3. Work, child care or similar issues.

There are ways of dealing with these issues.
1. Put cameras in all baggage handling areas with displays in the public area. Just knowing this is being watched by strangers will cut theft by 90%. The TSA inspection areas, where baggage is opened could not be seen by the public but should be under management surveillance.

2. To bad, next question?

3. No carry on that weighs more than 2 kilos should be allowed, that would cover the executive laptop or book, except for childcare items needed on the flight. That means that the ice chest with the weeks supply of breast milk and the Rolls Royce of baby strollers should be sent to checked baggage before coming to the passenger checkpoint.

Please do not give advice on smuggling prohibited items onto an aircraft. It is one thing to argue that the policy should be changed. There was an episode of All in the Family some 30 years ago in which Archie suggested arming the passengers, so Norman Lear got there first. It is another thing to place our host or fellow Belmonters in a legal bind. Anyone caught with a modified container would be in big trouble.

keelie aka philip,
(who noted Glenn Beck's praise of Israeli security)
We have a Behavior Detection Officer (BDO) program. The problem is that since it is in TSA the wrong people may get sent in to the program and the Managers don't want the work. What Management wants is more entry level part time bag loaders. As it is the BDOs may be the wrong people who pull a few passengers just for the numbers. They do tend to catch couples going off for a romantic weekend with someone other than their spouse and college students with a drinking ID.

Ragnar D,
you have a pretty good chance of sharing your meal with an undercover air agent
Also your seat mate could be an arab in full dress with robes and head gear and you will chat affably with them safe in the knowledge that anyone on the plane is OK. Good security reduces prejudice and conflict.

Comment on the Belmont Club
"White powder"

Is this the same Nigerian banker's son who just wrote to tell me he has $50 million he's waiting rio split with me? If the US prosecutes him I want the government to send me my money. Where's a lawyer?

Once upon a time I took a multiple guess test on Combat Systems, if this is still classified shoot me, there were a series of questions on how to deal with threats to your ship from the another ship (surface), a submarine (subsurface) or an aircraft (aircraft, they have no imagination.) In each case the correct answer was, "With an aircraft at a distance." The same logic still applies, Get them there rather than here. Point Defense is the industrialized equivalent of prayer.

(who rashly described his distress)

On the last thread there were stories that the perp had no passport and was on a No Fly List. Here we are told that he had a valid visa. Possession of a visa does not mean admission, it just means an easier interview at the immigration and passport inspection station by CBP. However American Express will get you points. Just kidding, this is the laugh in the face of death thread, isn't it?

Comment on the Belmont Club
"Speeches without words"

We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing.
He claimed that the secret of his success was that at Harrow School he was not considered bright enough for the Classics course and was placed in the English track. He knew the English language and the English people. Churchill was perfect in the moment and the British people displayed their virtues with him. With the cynicism of a true romantic he was unencumbered by illusions about Democracy.

At the first chance they had they threw Churchill out and swallowed the National Health Service.

There was good in the old craft of political oration. A politician was expected to have command of the facts and then to thoroughly and at length explain his position to his constituents. It was not all bombast and waving a bloody shirt. Large crowds of common people would gather and listen for hours as a candidate went over an issue and described and justified a proposed policy in detail. Any errors in logic or omissions in fact would be exposed by the press.

The argument is often made that television and the sound bite have replaced true argument, a series of logical steps based on facts and leading to a conclusion, with emotional messages. I can not think of any other time in history in which serious politicians would have even thought of bring a bill before the Congress that has not been read by most of the members and which can not be explained and defended in detail before the public.

For Universal Screening

(fm the BC thread "Over Detroit")

Sorting passengers for additional screening by the use of a trained Behavior Detection Officer (BDO) works. That does not mean that universal screening, including elderly men and girls who look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, can be abandoned. Terrorists are not only young men from the Middle-east. Members of other groups, especially Europeans who can blend in, are targeted for recruitment. Forty years ago the Palestinians learned how to seduce European girls and then give them a going away present to take on the plane. Just look at the movie "The Battle of Algiers" to see how over 50 years ago they used European looking girls to smuggle explosives past a check point. The film is fiction. The lessons are true.

Debunking the McVeigh Analogy

(fm the BC thread "Over Detroit")

Whatever Timothy McVeigh was he was not a good Baptist. The thing about jihadis is that by the nearly universal consent of the Ummah they are good moslems. Arguments may be made about their interpretation of certain passages in the koran or reliance on particular hadiths and the tactical appropriateness of a given action may be deplored or its impact on other moslems, as being less justifiable than the harm caused to infidels, may be condemned. Their goals, sincerity and conformance to the true spirit of the religion and their inclusion in paradise is not seriously disputed. In McVeigh's case there is no equivalent theology that can be used to accept or even approve of his actions. Anyone who justifies the Oklahoma City bombing does so from a strictly secular perspective or according to the tenets of some cult that is farther from Protestant Christianity than Islam is from Nestorian Christianity.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Comment on the Belmont Club
"Over Detroit"

THe metal detectors detect metal. Gunpowder taped to the leg with a vial of liquid accelerant would only be detected by a pat-down and chemical Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) systems. Since this person was screened overseas I can not speak to their protocols. In America TSA conducts physical pat-downs on people who can not go through metal detectors, because of pace makers usually but anyone can request the pat-down. Some people are selected for Special Screening because they are on a list or randomly. If a Behavior Detection Officer, they are rare in America, the rule in Israel and should be everywhere, was around and they had seen this guy then he almost certainly would have been flagged and pulled for additional screening. The ACLU fights physical pat-downs and most security procedures. Efforts to send all passengers through ETD walk through puffers have failed as the machines proved unreliable.

If the US CBP was doing pre-screening at the point of embarkation, they do in some but not most places, then they might have encountered the guy. Customs very rarely does physical pat-downs for an inspection not incident to an arrest, far less then TSA does. They are not screening for explosives but for visas, drugs or other smuggled valuables and admissibility to the United States. Customs should be put in charge of TSA in America, changing from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers to Customs Immigration and Transportation Control Officers (CITCO) with the TSA reverted back to being Screeners.

Richard Reid should appreciate that al-Qeada considers the near anniversary of his effort worthy of repetition. It would be interesting if the bomber here had intended to make an attempt on the 22nd, Reid's anniversary, or was the plan focused on Christmas day.

What Is To Be Done?

(fm the BC thread "The ending year")

On the effects of free trade on industrial capacity, and national security and consumer culture, my position is closer to no mo uro's than to Mongoose's but I do understand both sides. I deplore the low expectations and self destructive behavior of so many that manifests itself in the imports of nondurable goods, poor education, susceptibility to manipulation, empowerment of Left wing media elites and corrupt politicians, destructive tax fiscal and regulatory policies, and the flight of, first manufacturing and then engineering, jobs overseas. The dysfunctional behaviors that start in what can be called proletarian culture have spread through society.

If I spoke any more forcefully on the need to cultivate traditional values and standards in order to both maintain the sinews of our defense establishment and guide the essential proletarian segment of society into a productive pattern of consumption and savings, and politics, then I would get accused again of being a nose in the air naval officer who doesn't appreciate the honest and well educated troops. My point is just that to attain the goals that I think we all want calling in the government and saying that there ought to be a law that stops people from buying "unnecessary" big screen TVs is the wrong way to go. It is not a Libertarian position, I am not one, to say that giving more power to the government and hiring more GS-5, 7 or 9 clerks is not a good idea. The problems are real and we need to work on them in politics, education and in the media. Calling for trade barriers does not help.

For example we have a problem that trillions of dollars flow to Islamist regimes like KSA and Iran. Banning the import of oil from those countries will not improve our position. What will improve our position is drilling in the US and offshore, refining and purifying coal and developing other sources such as shale and building nukes. If we follow that policy while using our technological skills to improve efficiency and at the same time buy up every drop of arab oil we can then in a few years we will be free of the oil yoke and they will be back to being often ignored pests in the desert.

Some may argue that we should have fought a war for oil and paid back KSA by seizing the wells in the Eastern Province while using our control of Iraq to knock the price of oil down to $5/bbl. That would have bankrupted Putin and Chavez on the spot and broken OPEC while putting China and Japan in a better relationship with the US. That question of might have been alternatives will get debated for centuries and to me it is more a technical than a moral issue. The problem we now face is the same one Vladimir Lenin did, "What Is To Be Done?"

Sara (Pal2Pal),
Wonderful blogging memoir.

Well said, my point is that if we strengthen at home we will have the advantage to open markets in negotiations. Carts and horses.

(who lives where Obama is vacationing)

There goes the neighborhood.

You can tell a gentleman who boozes
by the company he chooses.
Then the pig got up
and slowly walked away.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Googly Eyes

(fm the BC thread "The thrill of victory or the agony of defeat")

Christopher Walken has made a career of doing this

You wait long enough and everything comes back. I remember when Saturday Night Live was funny. Good of Christopher Walken to pick up the sword. He is a serious professional. I read once about his monk like work habits in preparing for even the smallest role. Once I met him at the airport. He was unusually detached in his demeanor. You are correct that he did those voice patterns deliberately and I would like to hear from a professional, probably a neurologist, if they could mean anything in Obama's case.

For Free Trade

(fm the BC thread "The ending year")

We have way too much junk as it is

What you are advocating is exactly the same as the position of the elitists of the AGW cult. Who died and made you Pope able to decide what is good for other people to buy with the fruit of their labor? It is reason for me to thank my parents that they taught me not to feel deprived without polyester clothes, paintings on velvet and laminate pine furniture but that does not give me or you the right to deprive other people of those goods if that is what they want to do with their money. If the tastes and choices of the people are deplorable then that is a failure of education that should be addressed. Perhaps if you send $20 to public television they will show the students episodes of Jane Austen on Great Performances.

The Republican party in the 19th century was the high tariff party and in the last 30 years it has become the free trade party. Free trade builds wealth and allows capital to be deployed to achieve an optimum in a position of comparative advantage. That wealth can then be used to improve many facets of society. It would be healthy for the elites to support through charity efforts to improve the taste and judgement of the people. It is natural for communities to guide and improve the judgement and standards of their members through religious and other voluntary associations.

A rational immigration policy is part of a healthy effort to ensure that an unnecessary pool of unskilled labor is not imported. In part that would help shift the public demand for goods away from the disposable and wealth exporting items you deplore into a higher savings culture. That does not mean that I am opposed to immigration, only that I believe that it should be encouraged for the good of the admitting nation and not just for the interests of individuals. I would eliminate most of the changes regarding family reunification that Ted Kennedy sponsored over the last 45 years.

A Belated Happy Hanukkah

Competition makes us all stronger. I give you all a slightly belated Happy Hanukkah.

Judas Maccabeas would be proud of the lovers of liberty in the Belmont Club.

Comment on the Belmont Club
"The ending year"

There are so many things worth working for, worth even fighting for, a pretty girl who can sing and make the world different, the pretty girl that Bob Hope brings out to reassure the troops that crazy as it is where they are the world still makes sense and they are really OK, the people you live with by choice or blood and the minds you connect with on the web, and the dog, don't forget the dog.

Saturday the movie was Mrs Miniver. Here is a tribute to Greer Garsen and a time when we knew what was important. Tune by Fain and Kahal, voice by Old Blue Eyes.

A Merry Christmas to all.

NYC & Detroit

(fm the BC thread "Motor city")

Jeff from Michigan,
Interesting. New York has a larger design margin or more inertia to keep it running because it has or had more diverse industries and a more diverse ethnic mix. As for corrupt local minority pols using cultural sites or construction boondoggles to siphon money off the suburban voters we have that too. Our Governor's father is Basil Patterson who milks the Apollo Theater. The Census is in the best of hands. You do not have to ask about the results.

Any Odds for Adults Again?

(fm the BC thread "The thrill of victory or the agony of defeat")

Christian Toto,
Maybe they should change the name again. Global Warming didn’t work ...
Hot Air is taken.

his seventeen year marriage to Darth Vader?
The Secret Service must draw short straws to get assigned to her. If we locked Michelle Robinson Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in a room together who would you put your money on? She served a purpose as a rally point for whiskey's fan club. Not true Sex in the City fantasy women but the Oprah fans. By that I mean lonely grievance collectors who more than physically are emotionally a size 14 and larger and willing to believe it when a magazine tells them that MRO is glamorous.

his troubles are completing a decade long demolition of the prestige of the American Presidency
The question is how deeply structural are America's problems? There are clearly some weaknesses for the acolytes of Alinsky to exploit. The problems that are manifesting themselves as a draining of American power, the withdrawal of the physical tools, weapons, industry, skilled labor, innovative and risk taking researchers, creative capital formation and plain self confidence, that are needed to successfully engage a world in crisis and defend the fragile gift of liberty from the forces of totalitarianism and thuggery and fraud, are still I would hold largely self inflicted.

If the public turns, a very big if indeed, then America's stature could change dramatically. If the financial crisis was artificially induced and if there was foreign manipulation involved and if that manipulation was aided or instigated by agents of a foreign government, all very big ifs indeed, then the question of debt and the limitations that it imposes takes on a whole new perspective. At this point I think it is even money that in 2012 we may elect a President Petreaus or Giuliani or Cohen or even Dick Cheney or another who would tell the world again that adults are in charge. We could build 12 more army divisions and another 300 ships and 500 F-22s and 2,000 more nuke warheads. At this point I give our odds on doing that as no worse than 1 in 10. There may even be a 1 in 200 chance that something serious unravels the whole administration, not a birther scenario but as power ebbs stories will come out.

If the Iranian regime implodes then the file cabinets in Tehran may not get burned fast enough.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Comment on the Belmont Club
"The thrill of victory or the agony of defeat?"

The is the brilliant speechifier we were sold? He reads like everything is in phonetics and the language is Japanese. He doesn't even seem to know what he is talking about. He breaks in odd places where a person who is thinking about the sentence would not. Obama appears disconnected from reality. He went to a meeting without knowing the result. As someone who is supposed to have been a lawyer he should know that is as foolish as asking a witness a question in front of a jury without first knowing the answer. It may be possible at some time for a President to conduct personal diplomacy to achieve a breakthrough on a life or death issue. Any equating of the climate negotiations with such an occasion would in itself be evidence of a delusion. Even if you believed in the underlaying precepts behind AGW theory there was no reason to have Obama do anything other than show up to cut an opening ribbon or arrive to take credit for an agreement that was already in the bag. Anything else is simply insane.

Is he next going to personally sit down with the heads of each State's education department to oversee the rewriting of curriculum? If he decides that the planets biggest problem is the "Digital Divide," and it can be solved by cutting the price of the X-box in half, will he then chase Bill Gates down a corridor yelling "I want to talk to you?"

People like Obama collapse when other people start to ignore them. He is like the bully your mother told you to walk away from. He is already becoming a joke and the late night comics are a following not a leading indicator. They are not brave souls speaking truth to power. They kick dogs who are down.

Selecting a Caesar

(fm the BC thread "A Cycle of Cathay)

Petraeus could end up being more of a Sulla than an Eisenhower

Perhaps neither an Eisenhower nor a Sulla but more like the would be American Caesar, MacArthur. We probably did better with Eisenhower but MacArthur's actual record in managing West Point as Commandant and Japan as Viceroy was both innovative and moderate. Some would even consider him a progressive.

My biggest concern about Petreaus is that after Obama I am reluctant to sign onto another great unknown. Whoever gets put up by either party needs to be thoroughly examined first. There should be no more secret friends, hidden documents or unknown opinions.

That is why I like the Founder's original concept for the Electoral College. Established leaders from the States should be identified and then should select the right person for the job. It is intended to ensure that they will be insulated from temporary passions and will base their judgements on real knowledge of the candidates, and a devotion to the long term interests of their communities. The EC should not be abolished but should be placed on a firmer basis with members serving four year terms to fill any vacancies and at least the top three from each state being the Governor, Speaker (or equivalent) and Chief Justice, serving ex officio.

You consistently talk about coups and insurrection like you were in a hurry to get there. A bad thing may happen but it does not need cheerleading. Also you overestimate the power of both Chicago and the hard Left. Corzine lost, they are in real trouble, the bankers did not sign on for a suicide pact.

It would take an Amendment to fix the problem of the Electors now being meaningless temporary hacks on the order of the functionary who signs the dollar bill as "Treasurer of the United States." My earlier thoughts on this were mentioned on March 03rd and July 25th. They are on my blog here and here .

Comments on the Belmont Club
"A Cycle of Cathay"

This may be a good moment to speak up for moderation. Conservatism means to conserve and as Teddy Roosevelt knew that includes conserving the natural gifts that have been entrusted to us. An economically free society with values rooted in a religious sense of morality and responsibility proves to be a better steward of the environment than does one organized under socialism. One of the terrible things about the ADW scandals is that they may discredit science in the popular imagination and may empower those with coarser views of nature. Socialism poisons the earth and water, as Vaclav Havel said "look out the window."

The Republicans have to learn to stay on topic. They had a good theme before they allowed the MSM to ignore it in the manufactured economic tsunami of 15 months ago. Drill here drill now and develop gas, oil, coal and nuclear. Invest in new technology research. Do all of it to build the sinews of liberty and the capital to invest in really protecting the earth. That does not mean tossing billions down the rat holes of green jobs for Obama's unskilled voters and buying mortgages and bonuses for the Democrats of Fannie Mae. It means spending on skilled labor and telling those that refuse to get an education that will make them useful that they will lose. As Lenin said, "He who will not work, he shall not eat."

China is building real power based on coal and access to raw materials. Russia is building real power based on controlling access to energy for Europe. The US needs to keep real power, not soft power and pretty pieces of paper, to keep the peace. Then maybe we can move towards a world safe for the pretty pieces of paper and unicorns.

In the interest of science, as you said, I would question one part of your fine analysis.

2) China has the full backing of India.
It may be more accurate to say that India is keenly aware of it's vulnerability and is like China aware that the need for hard power trumps any concern over climactic costs. India is probably more torn than China is about the risks of environmental damage from industrialization. They are a democracy and Bhopal is an emotional issue in their experience. China may not like that any program that unfetters her industrial growth will also benefit her rival India. Both nations here are in a tactical and temporary alliance. Right now China is growing faster and has India strategically surrounded. If the chinese economy cracks and urban-rural pressures destabilize the regime then her comparative advantage over India may be reversed. Either way the big loser in all these calculations are the Tibetans.

If Obama stays at minus 20 or worse in the polls for a month and the Democrats begin to really fear a tsunami in November then I predict that there will be efforts to gracefully ease him out. One day we can wake up and hear serious looking news anchors reading reports the Obama is going to Bethesda, that Obama is seeing a specialist, that Obama is recuperating in the country, that Obama is gone. This could be like the old joke about Grandma's cat.
"How is the cat?"
The cat is dead
"How could you be so cruel as to spring that on me? You should have lead up to it."
Whaddaya mean?
"You could have said the cat is on the roof, then that the cat had caught a cold, then that the Vet was trying something heroic, then that the cat passed peacefully. You know I loved that cat."
I'm sorry. I guess I'm an insensitive jerk.
"So how is Grandma?"
She's up on the roof.

A week is a long time in politics but another maxim is "Don't back no losers." Anything could happen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Comment on the Belmont Club
"The ghost of Christmases past"

Like the hobbits in The Shire or Butterbur in Bree they were sheltered and had ceased to remember it. Gratitude is the least sincere human emotion. For what they are about to receive Oh Lord may they be truly thankful. The worst thing is that the Europeans frittered away this opportunity. The United States gave them hundreds of billions of dollars worth of security for over half a century. This allowed the old wounds and grievances to heal and an economic miracle occurred. Instead of strengthening the roots of their civilization they spent the resultant capital as foolishly as any profligate.

What is amazing about the American military is how truly decent they are. Never in history has there been another comparable force that engaged in either combat or occupation duties and behaved so decently. They really will fight like lions in the morning and then volunteer to go paint an orphanage. The Marines say, "No better friend, no worse enemy."

Wikipedia continues to implode. They seem determined to in a small way prove the need for a knowledgeable elite by discrediting the wisdom of the crowd that an open source editing model depends on. The problem is that the verifiers of the elites in the institutions are now corrupt. We must fight the Gresham's Law phenomenon in which a small group of ideologues get to hijack a theoretically open intellectual marketplace like the wiki.

When my father was in Italy in WW-II Jascha Heifetz jumped into his foxhole when the Germans started shelling. We were all in it together. The Left hated and demonized Bob Hope and the decent performers who worked with him. They hate the common soldier.

People can remember, they can choose to remember. When I was a freshman in college I sat on a plane next to an old man who told me that when he was a young boy he had listened to the old men talk of when they were young boys gathered at the train depot and telegraph office with the adults to wait for the casualty lists from Gettysburg.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
We are each a living link to deeds and generations that have meaning as long as we will them to. When people surrender to the anomie of the totalitarians they break the ties that bind them to the past and make them individuals in the present. When they reject all learning and experience that does not come down from above, as do Islam and the post-modern scientists of AGW, they are reduced to meaningless objects. In doing so they not only kill a part of their own humanity but they kill all those who went before. As long as I live the boys who waited for news from Gettysburg have a voice.

If you do not appreciate the past then you can not judge the present. Errors are to noted and corrected, in acknowledging them you gain both a normative improvement and establish credibility that increases the value of your future judgements. The Left always says that they criticize America to improve it but they lie because they rely on false data and false precepts in building their criticisms. Honest criticism should be welcomed

Marie Claude spoke badly here in two ways. First she could have framed her argument in less challenging manner. While this is not a Memorial Day observance the tenor of our hosts original post was about the need to appreciate unselfish sacrifice and the opportunities it offers to build a shared vision in liberty. Responding with a narrow partisan defense is as inappropriate as if an American was to show up at Bastille Day celebration at the French Embassy wearing shorts and a big hat and asking how much things are worth "in real money?" Second it would have aided the credibility of her argument in general if she had a more forthright attitude about what Europe's real problems are and how she proposes to deal with them. Otherwise all issues are reduced to meaningless tactical ripostes.

Dec 22, 2009 - 4:11 pm

often associated above all with the creation ...

Don't you love the passive voice? This was written by an aspiring bureaucrat. Often associated by exactly whom?

OT, follow this; BHO is down to -21. The Obamists want to control the conversation and keep everyone reacting in a panic. They issue messages that they are in charge and their enemies are in disarray. Do not believe them. The MSM gets everything wrong. They then get to cover a series of crisis and pretend that everyone was surprised. The Chinese also are far from invincible or rich or examples of successful central planning creating wealth out of air. They are teetering on the precipice of a collapse far harder than what hit the US 15 months ago. In China's case the economic irrationalities are deeper while in America's case to a considerable extent the crisis was artificially induced. Still given the sinking poll numbers and erratic performance of the client that they are deeply tied to they may be feeling like a someone tied to a drowning man. Remember if you owe the bank a million dollars the bank owns you but if you owe the bank a trillion dollars then you own the bank.

(who will teach my story of the memories of Gettysburg)
Of course. I have taught HS History myself and used the story. Wish I could find a private school and get back to work.

Subotai Bahadur,
(whose daughter has necrotizing fasciitis)
There is nothing worse that can ever happen to you in this world now. The pain and fear are already behind you. May that thought be of some comfort and may she recover to health and joy.

Regarding the status of the constituent states of the EU, I mentioned this at #48 of "The mystery of Yemen".

Dec 22, 2009 - 8:08 pm

Monday, December 21, 2009

Boxing Bonaparte

(fm the BC thread "Year end thoughts")

While Napoleon did anticipate many of the techniques used by authoritarian regimes since the 19th century he did so before the ideological categories that underpin those regimes were developed. Personally he probably believed himself to be a revolutionary Liberal. He had started as a Jacobin and recoiled from the irrational excesses and incapacity to govern of the Terror. His Empire was in his vision an aristocracy of merit, coupled with bureaucratic efficiency. The centralizing power of the State had been anticipated by the later Bourbons under the Intendant system.

Historically the greatest enemy of monarchy was the aristocracy, who controlled the peasantry. Kings, or emperors from before the time of Rome, would ally with the commercial middle class, such as the Intendants were drawn from. When these alliances break down, as happened in England in the 17th century and France in the 18th century, a crisis can occur. France was unusual because the peasants in most areas were opposed to the old nobility, who had been deliberately weakened and separated from their communities by the royal policy.

Comment on the Belmont Club
"Motor city"

There are a few taboos that tyrants cross that lead to their downfall. The Histories are fairly straightforward about this. One way a tyrant gets removed is by overstepping his external bounds and picking a fight with someone willing to crush him. That is what happened to Pol Pot in Cambodia but it is probably the most likely way that an oppressive regime can come to grief. It is far rarer for an entrenched dictatorship to collapse in the face of an internal revolt. The Soviet Union imploded, to an extent until the KGB reconstituted, under economic pressure. Marcos was swept from power by domestic forces. Tyrants can usually survive a reputation for incompetence and brutality. In fact when a regime begins to reform it is at the greatest risk. Louis XVI and Nicholas II were both more mild mannered than their ancestors. The only forms of corruption that are seen as justifying rebellion in most traditions is sexual license. The tyrant or his sons start assaulting the wives, daughters and sons of the gentry and they get removed. That is what happened in Athens to Peisistratus' son.

So the sad fact is that running a community into the ground is a successful strategy for a politician, with two restrictions. Don't so weaken the place or insult bigger powers that you get invaded. Don't put your fingers on the personal, as opposed to financial, goods of the gentry. Obama has offended most foreign powers. His gratuitous confrontation with China will be paid for. So far he and his followers have not imposed to deeply on his victims sense of personal family honor. The Safe Schools Czar fiasco matters. Increasing pressure on education and abortion may make some feel that line is being crossed.

A Real Crisis

This is important, as close to a coup d'etat as I can imagine happening in America important.
Please read this.

It takes 67 votes to change the rules of the US Senate, always has. Reid inserted into the Health Care bill a provision that changes the rules so that it will take 67 votes to repeal the legislation. They are passing this change with only 60 votes. This is a bare faced assault on the Constitution. This is on the order of what Obama and Chavez's friend the thug Zelaya attempted in Honduras. This is happening in America,

Assertive Toleration

(fm the BC thread "The mystery of Yemen")

Fletcher Christian,
The "first clause" argument is a false one. All that the term "well regulated" meant was that a good militia was composed of the free citizenry and responsive to the will of the Sovereign, which in America is the people. A badly regulated militia would have been a tool of an oppressive dictator, like the dragoons of 17th - 19th century Europe or the barracks police (militsia in Russia) of 19th - 21st century Europe. Whatever the arguments about the role of guns in America or about the appropriateness of here speculating on their use in any coming crisis the 2nd Amendment does not call for government control or limitation on the right to bear arms.

Personally I am uncomfortable with much of the apocalyptic militia talk and find the racial speculating and baiting offensive and stupid. White, Celtic or other communities have no divinely granted monopoly on virtue. They have supported ideas that encouraged personal liberty and economic growth. If they became intolerant then they would lose that advantage. The trick is for people to defend their liberties from government oppression without becoming themselves intolerant of dissent from either within their ranks or from a minority. The Constitution is not a suicide pact so it might need defending but any talk of forming a separate ethnically based community would be the antithesis of what is needed to defend liberty. Any separatist group would rapidly degenerate into an abusive and intolerant gang destructive of both personal liberty and economic activity.

The history is (I know that I am leaving vast swaths out but this is at most a time for the short course) that due to particular circumstances and at enormous cost after the Wars of Religion, in England the Civil War, the English bound their Sovereign to the popular will under the doctrine of King in Parliament. At the same time they bound the religious passions of the Church of England under the doctrines of Non-resistence (to Civil Authority) and Toleration. This rather unique set of conditions produced a vigorous intellectual and commercial culture that transplanted to America. In particular the English brought concepts of Non-resistence leading to secular government and Toleration of religious Nonconformists, and later of other minorities. This bound, after much grief, the commercial and intellectual gifts of Scotland to the expanding empire. Initial excursions into theocracy by the Puritans in America were soon supplanted.

America has benefited from this legacy that the English and the Scots brought here. People from all over have assimilated to the productive tolerant culture they created. That culture and the Constitution rooted in it may need defending but any call that attacks it at the roots will and should fail.

If any person or groups of persons engage in sedition, treason or subversion then they need to be identified and prosecuted. America should be in control of its own borders and criteria for citizenship. If anyone does not profess values compatible with the expectation that they will assimilate into the polity and become loyal defenders of the Constitution then they should be rejected. Everyone else should be welcome under the reasonable restrictions, no risk of becoming a public charge, etc., already in place. Doing so and identifying and confronting those who are a threat is much harder than simply going tribal and throwing out everyone who has to many vowels in their name. That is to bad, and it is work that needs to be done correctly in accordance with the Constitution.

Comments on the Belmont Club
"The Copencabana"

The Union Delegate from Goodfellas does better when the guys working in the pit don't wonder what happened to their pensions. Tip O'Neill famously said that "All politics is local" but not all politicians are small timers. Obama is a ward heeler at heart with delusions of grandeur. He strode onto the world stage and he tripped. The Chinese are now in a state of barely controlled conflict with America. The Indians must be desperately seeking for a lifeline. Six two and even they were exploring a deal with China about something more substantial than wind farms when Obama broke into the room.

They went into the back room to see if anyone left any chips on the table and discovered that the mark for The Sting was as busted and fake as the rest of the actors. We may end up grateful to Chris Dodd and Barney Franks for breaking the bank 16 months ago. It traumatized the system badly enough to get Obama elected but at the same time it drained away the loose change they were counting on to grease their games.

... the victim has to be kept in a pitiful state forever, so the shakedown can become even bigger

We are all Palestinians now.

Regarding the Robert Taylor Homes. A cop told me there was a bar across the street they called "The Bucket of Blood." Long time ago I went to get take out from the "Ali Trolley" at 51st and State. Bringing that back to the dorm got me the Large Brass Ones award among my peers. That and walking down to 63rd, past the Blackstone Rangers, to get take out at Tai Sam Yon's. Lived to tell the tale.

Reductio of Rights

Great moment in tweeting by me:


@michellemalkin Harkin: "Access to safe places to engage in physical activity" is a right. So the gov't must subsidize the "No Tell Motel?"

Message to McCain

(submitted from his official contact form)

Dear Senator McCain,

Please consider gathering support for an amendment that would link Health Care and National Security/Veterans Affairs. This could be done by exempting all Veterans eligible for VA coverage from any mandatory insurance requirement. There are several benefits to such an effort.
1. It would draw in broad support from both sides of the aisle
2. It rewards military service and spares veterans a punitive tax
3. It would open up the debate for reforming the VA system
4. It opens the question of why benefit those who did not serve
5. It would clarify the unconstitutionality of mandating insurance.

Last year I worked as a volunteer on your campaign and served as a driver in New York. We met several times and your personal courtesy to me was exceptional. In my work, I was a Supervisor for TSA at Laguardia, I have met hundreds of politicians and worked closely with the Secret Service. So I have no illusions about them as people. Even where I disagree with you on a policy issue, as I often do, I find your decency exceptional.

Unfortunately at this time I am unemployed and without benefits. Despite my years at the University of Chicago, service as a Naval Officer and work experience I have no prospects and things are now looking very bad. There are undoubtedly thousands like me who are not being counted in the official unemployment statistics. Your continuing efforts to protect the fundamental freedoms that made America a beacon of liberty and prosperity are appreciated. The character and fabric of our society are now more threatened than they have been in many generations.

Please keep fighting.

Comment on the Belmont Club
"The mystery of Yemen"

Langley has the answer IMHO, Egypt is like Wilmer the Gunsel, ready made to be the fall guy. The importance of Egypt in the Muslim mind can not be overestimated. Saudi Arabia, despite the importance of Mecca and Medina, has been a backwater since the death of Muhammad. Turkey is important as the seat of the old Caliphate and the old Roman Empire but is otherwise peripheral. Syria and Iraq are genuinely important. especially to Shia. Egypt however is more important for several reasons;
1. Cairo is the seat of the most important Sunni scholarship
2. Egypt is seen as the tool of the Americans
3. AQ would love to kill the Copts.

The Muslim Brotherhood is close to victory. Hamas is the Brotherhood in Gaza. al-Qeada, which also has strong links to Egypt, can not ignore the struggle to the North. From their perspective Egypt is the prize and Pakistan is a side show, with nukes.

The Republicans should announce that when they take control they will pass a law that the US will only maintain full diplomatic relations with sovereign states and not with constituent components of a polyglot empire. That means we should tell the Brits, the French, the Germans et al that they have to make a choice. We did not open embassies during the Soviet era in Byelorussia or the Ukraine, despite Stalin's offer to open embassies in Texas and New York and admit them to the UN. Of course FDR declined that invitation by noting that he could not guarantee that Texas would vote the same way that he did.

The Republicans should be clear that they intend to repeal the entire Obama project as illegitimate and that in neither law nor jurisprudence should anyone expect any respect for precedence or stare decisis to protect any act, contract, or ruling of this administration.

Dec 21, 2009 - 9:41 am

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Comment on the Belmont Club
"Year end thoughts"

... for me, it’s what went on inside the castle, not outside.

Wretchard may have a point. What happened inside the castle is the usual. It happens in almost every Mayor's office, in Legislative Cloak rooms, and in many small time and big city Judge's chambers or Lobbyist's Hospitality suites. That was business as it is done from Chicago to Shanghai. Anyplace that resources are not allocated according to the market you get the Gatherer and Sharers who meet to divide the swag. The surprise is that after several thousand years of practice they are still so bad at it. Not at achieving results in the sense of solving whatever ostensible problem was at hand, we knew those weren't to be expected, but that they are so bad at simply pulling off a meeting in which they simply have to show up and divide the loot.

What went on outside shows that the fearlessness of the totalitarians has, like sunspots do, reached a period of maximum that may coincide with dramatic changes to the human environment. These episodes come in waves, tied to many factors but a cohort of ill raised but well cosseted youths loose at the same time that major powers are competing over resources makes for a lethal combination. Similar conditions may have held in 1848, 1914 and 1968. Chavez was cheered inside the hall but he was there as an emissary of the mobs outside.

The brutality of the Danish police may indicate that they are now the incipient tools of new Gaulieters, willing to serve any authoritarian impulse. Many Americans viewed our own law enforcement community with dread after the excesses of Janet Reno's reign of terror. I understand that but as a former member of the community I view the tool with less fear than I do the hand behind it.

It is possible that in the small countries of Europe, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, a reaction is setting in and the police are finally being told to defend their own people. We should not assume either the best or the worst. The tide may not have turned but we should not heed the advice of our enemies that resistance is futile.

As the Mayor of Chicago said in response to a similar disturbance, "The police are not there to create disorder, they are there to preserve disorder."

Comments on the Belmont Club
"Half full? Or wholly empty?"

Marx is proven to be wrong again. Karl that is, Groucho has a better track record. History is coming around twice only now it comes first as a farce and the second time as a tragedy.

... will the crowd on the wrong end of the truncheon chant “free hookers”?

I found the video but Cecil while sincere seems to have the problem backwards.

bogie wheel,
(who asks if the voters thought they were voting for Morgan Freeman)
My theory is that they thought that they were voting for Tiger Woods.

Six active threads. This is where Scotty calls up from Engineering, "Cap'n, She no can take much more of this. The positronic decouplers in the antimatter coils are going to blow."

Senator Nelson is the story. The rest was just distraction to keep eyes off the skullduggery and hack renting that Rahm & Co. were conducting while people were watching the Magician's hand in Copenhagen.

getting very very tired of handing over money to idle socialists

If only they were idle. Unfortunately paying them to stay home and conserve carbon doesn't work.

Comment on Andrew Ian Dodge,
"Running for Selectman"

(On "Theo Spark's: The Last of the Few")

The best of luck to you.

In the spirit of old fashioned hypocritical smear gutter politics from the Left you can now expect to have the privacy of your entire family on at least two continents destroyed. It would not surprise me to discover that they spread dark rumors about your affiliation with Theo's virtual spud farm and start accusing you of belonging to the Tea Totty Party.

You could counter by denying the rumor that hordes of glamour models will descend on Maine after your election. That should bring a smile to a few flinty old Down Easterners.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"The pointing finger points"

Obama and Hu argue over precedence.

Obama has managed a minor miracle. He installed a socialist government in America that was the dream of the European Left and he has managed to thoroughly offend and alienate the hard core Second International Socialists in less than a year. His conduct towards the British was so boorish and contemptible that the entire country is running to the right and the Grauniad is trying to get their first. The Scandinavians of all people now detest him. He snubbed the King of Norway, his Government Motors auto company just announced that it is killing Saab of Sweden, his Global Warming circus elicited firmer policing in Denmark than any Islamist riot could have. It is icing on the cake that Tiger Woods, who is rightfully viewed as a progenitor of Obama as a media darling, has been dumped by his wife who is moving back to the Old Country.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Escape from Copenhagen"

“anti-democratic, anti-transparent and unacceptable”

The President of Bolivia now knows how a majority of the American people are beginning to feel about the recycled bovine detritus in a portable meal suitable for the gaming tables form that have come at us in the form of 1,000+ page unread and unwritten bills. The biggest surprise may be that Obama and his putative supporters have always done business this way. The hypocrites are the sophisticated European parliamentarians who have been talking socialist claptrap for generations but who expect the old forms of substance and productivity to be observed in their presence.

The place is a zoo. We are lucky to to escape.

E. Nigma,
(who quoted Hedley's recruitment list and then called BHO Bart)

Sheriff Bart was smart and funny. Mongo liked Sheriff Bart.

You had it right the first time. This act is a less funny version of the Chicago Mob as Hedley Lamarr and his crew.