Sunday, May 31, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,

Ted Rall "the eminent cartoonist" and policy analyst?
Rall is the Al Franken of cartooning and in a world where Al Franken is allowed to enter the United States Senate anyone may be aspire to be taken seriously in any ambition.

On some level I still hope that we may find proof that the vote fraud was massive enough that 51% of the American people did not actually vote for the Chicago fraud merchant. In a better world having voted for Obama could be used as a litmus test to prove that someone is either to venial or to dumb to trusted with the ballot and considered justification for disenfranchisement. What will we do with these people?

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Iraq: Victory or defeat?"

The opponents of the Iraq War have never voiced a meaningful alternative strategy. If we had not deposed Saddam then what would have happened? The sanctions regime was finished. Oil for Food had bought the governments of France, Russia, China, Canada and by extension more (such as Turkey who were pressured by the French.) To have left Saddam in place would not only have condemned millions to oppression and savagery but would have made the problems of nuclear, and other WMD, proliferation much worse and would have made the problem of terrorism in and around Israel much worse than it is now. In addition we can only speculate on how our forces in Afghanistan would be threatened if both Iraq and Iran were fueling competing insurgencies. All of the current problems, including those in Pakistan, would still exist and would be even worse. Rick's is playing for influence as he goes, his politics prejudice his analysis, Even if he was correct on a point it is dangerous to rely on his arguments.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,

Games on computers are designed with alternative story lines, why not movies? Collect audience feedback by an interactive device during the presentation and that changes the upcoming segments that are fed to the digital projector.

Some reviews can be written before the event. What is planned for this opus?
Last night Talluhlah Bankhead barged down the Nile as Cleopatra, and sank.

The Iowa class were extraordinarily beautiful, long low and slopped with four shafts they were the most graceful things on the water. I had the honor and pleasure of being the First Lieutenant Afloat when the USS England refueled from the USS New Jersey and stood there with Deck Division while we handled the lines.

Subotai Bahadur,
(who complained about Hollywood ignorance)
One question is whether the inaccuracies are do to ignorance or design? The Left believes, as thoroughly as The Party did in Nineteen Eighty Four that the message is reality and that the past can be changed. If the masses believe that Dick Cheney caused Global Warming or Freezing, or that George Bush was paid to allow the 9-11 attacks, because they saw it in a movie, then that is Reality. The only differences between the current hacks in Hollywood and the Blacklisted writers who had given us pro-Soviet propaganda such as North Star and Mission to Moscow are that today the directors have better special effects to play with and the effects of 70 years of public school indoctrination have crippled the critical thinking skills of millions of Americans.

The largest caliber gun the US Navy has is 5". The British have no guns larger than 4.5". If a modern Main Battle Tank is hit by such a round it really pisses of the tank crew who have to repaint it. These are all considered Medium Caliber Guns. Large Caliber Guns start at 6" The US Army does have 155mm, that is 6", guns but nothing larger. This is insane. Gunnery works, artillery is the Queen of the Battlefield. Air support is a ridiculously expensive way to drop ordnance on positions that could be handled by tube launched firepower. As I have said if the aim in war is to achieve a political, that is a psychological effect, then the ability to project massive firepower through the use of gunnery has an impact that no other conventional delivery system, except maybe massive wave attack B-52 plane carpet bombing, can match. If that psychological effect compels compliance then lives are saved.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,

The Arabs have been selling old rope for ready money for over 60 years now. They simply can not conceive that the bluff is finally being called. Remember that the first thing the British did with Mandatory Palestine was to carve off 60% of it to create the Emirate of Trans-jordan for the Hashemite Abdullah of the Hejaz. Remember also that the second thing the British did with the Mandate of Palestine was appoint Mohammad Amin al-Husseini as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. We can thank the Jewish Lord Samuels for that particular gift that keeps on giving. Also remember that before WW-I the territories that became Mandatory Palestine had a fairly small population which was not always dominated by Moslems. A good overview of the competing historical demographics arguments can be found at Mid-East Web.

Look at it this way, the British created out of whole cloth an Arab state in Palestine where there had never been one and they gave it to the most prestigious Arab family available and they did this over a quarter century before Israel was created. The British then gave the leadership of the local Sunni Moslem community's religious and educational life to an open anti-Semite who also had over a quarter century to develop a communal identity that could support a national movement. Then when a Jewish state was created on a small portion of the territories the United Nations offered the Arabs a second nation state within the old Mandate, and the Arabs refused. Now in 1948 the big waves of decolonization were in the future and there were less than a third as many counties as exist today, so being offered a second State was actually a big deal. Five years later the Jordanians, who had absorbed most of the proposed second Palestinian state, the first being in fact Jordan, kicked out the Mufti al-Husseini.

Billions of dollars get milked from the Western world in the following decades creating and sustaining a Palestinian refugee community despite the fact that their existence as refugees is largely the responsibility of the Arabs and not of the Jews. Now it is clear that millions of people sincerely believe themselves to be the descendants of displaced Sunni Palestinians. It is also clear that for a sizable percentage of that group, maybe 20%-40%, it is unlikely that there ancestors had more than a passing connection with the native resident Sunni population. It is impossible for the 100,000 Moslem residents of 150 years ago to become the 10,500,000 Palestinians claimed to exist today. Indeed it is impossible for the 650,000 claimed refugees of 1948 to have become the almost 800,000 refugees of 1953.

Israel is simply unwilling to commit suicide to support this fraud. The terrible thing is that between the enormous constituencies that have been built to enable the Palestinian grievance industry and the real threat of nuclear warfare involving the Iranians the cost of ending these messianic fantasies might be paid for with rivers of blood.

The rhetorical trick that Arabs can't be Anti-semites really should be rejected. It is accepting the left wing technique of thought control by language control. Yes Jews and Arabs are both considered semites. Ethnic groups do not in fact map identically to language groups. Most modern Jews are probably descended from either Central Asian Khazars or Mediterranean, especially Late Roman Empire, converts. Until the second century Judaism was gaining converts rapidly. Christianity won out over Judaism in replacing the moribund Jovian cult by combing Jewish ethics with Mithraism and other popular mystery cults, while dropping circumcision. The original semitic Jewish population was scattered in tribal groups throughout the Middle East. Most of them were forcibly converted to Islam, after the men were killed. Yathrib (now Medina) was a Jewish city and most Arabs have some Jewish ancestry. There were several semitic groupings in historical times. Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic are closely related. Aramaic was the common tongue and what Jesus spoke in his death cry.

Given all that pedantry it does not change the fact that the term Anti-semitism was designed in a European setting to refer to an animus specifically directed against Jews. The trait in question can be exhibited by people from any background, including by Jews. If Marie Claude was discussing Francophobia, and assuming that such a phenomena was widely discussed and had lethal consequences in the past, it would not add to the argument to point out to her that Napoleon Bounaparte was really an Italian and that your great great great grandmother fled with the Huguenots to Acadia.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"North Korea sends a message"

The LAT even acknowledges that the NorKs are bullies and then fail to draw the conclusion that anyone learns when they are six years old. Maybe they think we should respond by flooding the North Koreans with a saturation attack of Guidance Counselors and Social Workers. What would the Geneva Conventions say about anything that cruel and unusual?

Is Obama deliberately trying to engage in a calculated policy to convince the members of the Armed Forces that the country is so feckless that it is not worth fighting for? No one wants to be the last person killed in a war. Who wants to be the first person killed for Obama? If he can convince the professional officer corps to either retire if at Field/Senior grade or quit if at Junior grade then he will have no barriers to his plan to restructure both the military and America.

There are links from North Korea to the New Party to ANSWER and Acorn to Obama.

What the law is that the sheriff is supposed to be enforcing is a predicate. You say
b) warn the creep that if he goes past a certain bright line he will be shot, law or no law
but the law is the bright line. If North Korea's actions are not considered sufficiently threatening to justify a response under current International Law then we can debate whether the law needs to be changed, that is the bright line redrawn. Under current law the NorKs are in violation of both Security Council resolutions and of the 1953 Cease Fire. The problem is therefor worse than in the example of the sheriff and the creep. The grounds for arresting or shooting the offender exist but the sheriff is afraid to go in after him and the neighbors are afraid that if they do then they will have to feed all the starving children the creep keeps in his basement.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Give me chastity and continence, but not yet"

On this subject I am torn. The extreme left would love to set up the apparatus of Truth Commissions. Like with a Constitutional Convention the conservatives should be very careful of what they wish for. We live in a Republic and that means that a panoply of elected and appointed officials in the three branches of the federal government and in the States are supposed to be keeping an eye on each other for us. The idea that operational intelligence and confidential advice could be disclosed to settle a partisan political dispute offends me. The lawyers who gave the advice should face no risk of exposure. The only question regarding Ms Pelosi is whether she has been economical with the truth. It should not be necessary to disclose any secrets in an open forum to arrive at an answer to that question.

Pelosi is entirely beyond the point in which a politician in a more civilized age would have been left alone in a room with the knowledge that there was a revolver in the desk drawer. She has the nerve to say that she is
moving forward in a bipartisan way
as if the Republican party was a sock puppet that she could drag out or a dog with a penchant for eating her embarrassing garbage.

Two things to know about torture:
1) Everybody breaks. The key is to know your limits and work within your
2) It is good to hate the enemy, contempt is even better.

At one point the Navy pilots in the Hanoi Hilton were puzzled by the interrogators interest in the swimming pool off the hanger bay in the Oriskiney class carrier. Assuring them that there was no such amenity only resulted in more severe torture. The Navy men figured out that the North Vietnamese were being fed a line by the Air Force crews they had captured. So they started feeding them information about the wet bar on the B-52 that was staffed by Playboy Bunnies. Once you realize that you are going to suffer anyways you can work within that limit to influence if not control the situation and feed your life giving contempt for the enemy.

To go back a few threads WWBD, What Would Bombadil Do?

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The news about the news"

(who had an early fun but poor paying job in journalism)
There are now millions of trained, experienced, educated people in their 40s 50s or 60s who are getting desperate and are willing to do work, either fun or tedious, for lousy pay. They are competing with the half educated twenty or thirty somethings who expect big money for little effort in Journalism or more likely Media and Communication Arts. A whiff of Depression might correct many of the defects that have crept into Western society. This will be at a terrible cost however.

The industry creates noise in the system, and wants to sell the noise.

What rankles about the NYT, major networks, and NGO revolving door to government or cushy academic chair camarilla is their sheer arrogance and hypocrisy. All these self important mediocrities have two things in common.
1) They get most things wrong. For all their credentials they are
     poor at accumulating important facts and terrible at analysis.
2) They are just hired labor. They are grossly overpaid and often
     semi-skilled hirelings of the real businessmen.
     Their job is to sell eyeballs to advertisers.

As Elmer Wheeler said, "Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Alien invasions we have known"

FWIW Tolkein was very clear that the power of the Ring was a greater danger to Gandalf because of his own power and his needs, which is to say the magnitude of his vulnerability to temptation, than it was to a lesser being. The hobbits were able to bear the burden because of their prosaic quality. They were tough, not just physically but morally and spiritually. They were literally sons of the soil and lived in holes. The only magic hobbits practiced was in getting out of the way. Ents also would have been less vulnerable. They did not practice magic, they merely accelerated the forces of nature when they were angry. The only creature seen as completely immune to the effects of the Ring was Tom Bombadil. What he was is never explained. He was sui generis, either a Greater Power that chose to stay apart from the Valar or a projection of the mind of the One true God Eru or the living personification of the natural world untouched by magic. All magic spells and manipulations, which are essentially deceits, fail before him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Sri Lanka's Bad Example"

Just what price did the LTTE pay by ceding the moral high ground? They lost because they were beaten. The cost of disapproval by some at a cocktail party was exactly zip.

You could write an article using the Time format that begins "Of course ignorant people think that we are trapped into always walking on land and needing special equipment to travel on top of a large body of water while consuming a mix of proteins and carbohydrates. That is clearly nonsense put out by the lobbyists of the shoe manufacturers and big agribusiness. If only we examine our flaws and correct our selfish misperceptions then we will be able to walk safely under the waters and live off of cotton candy."

What is noticeable about the Time article is that it is an almost perfect inversion of reality. It is anti-journalism.

People do believe in this. They send money to Al Gore and give us Cap and Trade.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Enter the Labyrinth"

We have but a fraction of the works of Aeschylus. Plays that won and defeated the poets whose works we have are destroyed. Literate civilizations have vanished with barely a trace. The Talmud was at one time on the edge of being lost. More recently Hollywood movies with famous actors have disappeared when their luminous nitrate stock film disintegrated or combusted. The records of millions of WW-II era veterans, my father among them, were destroyed in a fire at St Louis. The world is a fragile place. The loss of knowledge is an extinction, a world gone forever.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Alphonse, meet Gaston"

The US government compares unfavorably to an episode of “Are You Being Served?”

Regarding the future of Hamasistan, the Sri Lankans have shown the way. The Israelis, the Arabs, the Chinese and the Russians may simply decide to ignore the Americans. Netanyahu has a single problem now. He must convince the other serious players, that leaves out the US and EU, that Israel is more important than Iran. If he can do that then the Russians and Chinese will double cross the mullahs and the Iranian regime implodes. The alternative is Russia and China backing Iran and Syria resulting in a death struggle by Israel.

(re. China and Pakistan, Russia and Iran)
China also has interests in Iran, there is a contract for the gas fields. Russia is linked to China via the Shanghai Cooperation Council. While my first instinct or hope was that there would be a rivalry between them that the US or Israel could play to advantage I now think that they are acting in concert. Putin supports China and China opts for the Strike South. Israel has to convince China that she is not worth fighting and that Israel can support Chinese access to raw materials. If Obama and the Iranians have scared the Arabs enough then they may support Israel and then Netanyahu could pull it off. If you are right or Putin miscalculated then China should support Georgia vs. Russia in the Caucuses and Japan vs Russia in the Kuriles and start moving North.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,

Even the head chopping functionaries of al-Qada claim that when they kill they seek to do so quickly without unnecessary suffering. The agents of “Peace Processes” have decoupled the Law from Justice, Reason or Humanity. The old Air Force motto “Peace Is Our Profession” aroused deep suspicion from soldiers and sailors given to more prosaic job descriptions. At my Code of Conduct lecture I was told that “Prepare to Conduct Prompt and Sustained Combat at Sea” was a lot of corporate crap. It was our job to “kill people and break things.” The fact is that, despite my teasing, the Air Force did its job. The UN, where Peace is a profession but not a job to be accomplished, has spread death and misery.

Remember that The March of Dimes was created as a charity to fight polio. America’s schoolchildren collected dimes during The Depression so that FDR could have a swimming pool. When Salk created a vaccine the March of Dimes faced a crisis and reinvented themselves after finding an incurable condition in Birth Defects. FDR’s swimming pool is now the White House Press Room.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Do you want to know a secret?"

There are to parts to the information security problem. One part is guarding the information from unauthorized disclosure. The second part is having information worth protecting. The second problem does not depend on technical systems but on human systems. If the people are not reliable and the culture does not promote the right mix of risk taking, inquiry, discretion and loyalty then no technical edge will work. The relentless politicization of the intelligence process by agents of the Democratic Party, particularly Pinch Sulzberger's NY Times and some but not all of the employees at the CIA in conjunction with Valerie Plame and her execrable husband have cost us in ways that are hard to measure. How do you quantify negatives? The cost is in talent discouraged, studies not conducted, investments not made and former allies who no longer give the same level of support.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Stop or I'll kill myself"

The bad news is that because of the wholly unnecessary coddling of LTTE terrorists by the West the government of Sri Lanka has found other patrons. We could not support destroying the Tigers because they were supported on occasion by India and the Indians are saintly, a movie said so. Also destroying the Tigers would set a bad precedent regarding other Marxist mass murdering terrorists, such as the Palestinians and their supporters in places like Pakistan, who are engaged in low level war with India, who are on the other side of the Sri Lankan conflict. At this point it is all to complicated for Western journalists or diplomats to follow and they adjourn for a liquid lunch.

The other patrons the Sri Lankan government turned to are the Chinese. They are building a major seaport in the country that will go nicely with the one they have built in Pakistan. While we dither and lose all influence over the actors and shove our military into the back of beyond the Chinese are locking up the Indian Ocean.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Notes from all around"

The game is called “kicking the can down the road.” It has been done so often that the Times’ Editors do not have to wake up before filing the piece. Any program can be criticized as not meeting some threats or facing a vulnerability. It can then be subject to some litigation that inflates costs. The same goes for special interest group agitation. That can be used to attack the program both for heartless indifference to some interest unrelated to the purpose of the program and also to ridicule the program as a wasteful captive of special interests if it responds to the blackmail. If the program is kept lean then it is vulnerable to emerging enemy technologies. If it is made robust then it is to valuable to ever use and is therefor a complete waste. If the program cost needs to be cut then they call for reducing the number of units authorized. If the number of units to be purchased drops then the cost per unit is declared to have “soared” and the whole program will be declared “an expensive boondogle.” A program is cut to fund a better alternative, which is then subject to the same process of delay and cost inflation and cuts in the numbers planned. Something will be found wrong with the trucks for Iraq proposed. The Times will discover they are not needed after the submarines are cut.

Essentially the same technique has been used to destroy the nuclear power industry in America. The agents who have spent decades perfecting these maneuvers are now expanding to discredit and destroy other industries. The pharmaceutical firms are under increasing attack.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"The bill"

(who complained that a hospital charged $273 for a Tylenol)
I feel your pain. A few weeks ago my wireless mouse needed to eat more batteries. At Home Depot I picked up the big pack of 48 AA in the g-d d-mn plastic clamshell. Cutting it open with the very nice blade I picked up at FLETC a year ago I slipped and cut my finger. It was bleeding so I walked over to the closest ER to see if I needed a stich. I told them explicitly that I had no job and no insurance. After a 45 minute wait a young doctor took a look, squirted a little water on it and said I was fine and he would note that I needed the lowest level of care. Before I left I reminded them of my status and asked for the bill if any and was told to just go home. A week later a bill for $1,100 for emergency room services showed up.

They can go hang themselves.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Comment on Theo Spark,
"Bedtime Totty, re: Carrie Prejean"

Credit where credit is due. Donald Trump made the correct call on this. If more businessmen, politicians and public figures (The Donald is all three) made it a habit to slap down the pretentious thug mice of the thought police the world would be a better place.

It would be even better if Trump were to call the abusive twit who caused this problem in, fired him and then sued his sorry butt for breach of contract. His agreement to to be employed as a Judge in the beauty pageant must have included a clause to the effect that he could not willfully act to harm the reputation or value of the enterprise. By sandbagging the girl with a political question and then stirring up this campaign against her he has damaged both Miss Prejean and Mr Trump. They should both take him to court.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"De l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace"

The CNN anchor "Amwha?" staring down her nose and intoning Sue-Zahn is a bookend with the boy bimbo flack Orzag in this confederacy of dunces. They remind me of predatory cats but without the charm. Cats are perfectly designed machines for hunting a mouse. Their kitty fire control system is optimized to lock in on a crossing target moving at moderate speed at a range of two to three body lengths. To short circuit them all you have to do is slowly roll a ball directly at their feline face. You can almost see the warning message CBDR (Constant Bearing Decreasing Range) flash in their eyes as they panic.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"The departure of Mckiernanr"

Please confirm that missiles that were designed to hit India have sufficient range to reach the U.S.

There is no longer security in isolation for America. Northern Mexico is dissolving under the pressure of corruption, drug gangs, and both Sunni and Shiite infiltration. Once they get a warhead they will be able to smuggle it into Mexico and then it will only be a matter of time. Tons of drugs breach the border routinely and enter the United States. How can we expect to keep out a warhead under these circumstances?

Paradoxically the swine flu episode might have strengthened the hand of the central government and bought us a little breathing space.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"A laughing matter"

These are the professional experts on communications and comedy who have spent 30 years cursing Ronald Reagan as a mere failed B-movie actor. If you think that this is a joke I have three words that should ensure that you either never laugh again or are reduced to banging your head on the wall as you are stuffed into the strait jacket,
Senator Al Franken.

It does not have to be like this. Hubert Horatio Humphrey may not have been elected President but, while he was a committed partisan liberal, he was admired on both sides of the aisle.
Like Jack Kemp he was a Happy Warrior.

Mr. President, I’m going to bring you up to date on all the political jokes.
- Will Rogers
I already know them all. I appointed most of them.
- Herbert Hoover

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Who stays wins"

Ms Coulter, in her subtle nuanced style, wrote the Op-order on changing their culture on 9/13/2001.

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
What we need now is Staff who can expand that into a Field Manual.

The theory was that post-colonial era policy for Wackistan and Pestholia would have three foci.

1) Defense, we “sell” them shiny toys, paid for by the US taxpayer, they provide remote site sensor stations and port call facilities that keep our Medical and Legal Corps busy treating the resultant cases of venereal disease and drug usage.

2) Education, we skim off the top 1% of their youth to study law and drugs at Columbia, administration and wine at Harvard, money and pizza at Chicago, philosophy and coffee at Paris or tennis and girls at Stanford. This subsidizes Western institutions and again usually the money comes from Uncle Sugar.

3) Development, unemployed holders of advanced degrees are sent off encourage the building of wells without tax collectors at the bottom and inoculations for people who at best have the husband talk to the Doctor in one room while the female patient waits in another room.

To everyone’s surprise the mechanisms of Western Civilization are so good that even when entrusted to agents of the US DoS, or NGOs or the UN (WHO and FAO) they still work. We did not convince them to take the gift of Birth Control that has so dramatically changed the life of women in the West, and their portrayal in the Belmont Club. Instead of that we gave them Death Control. The populations of Wackis and Pestholes have exploded. If they had stayed where they were 60 years ago relative to the West the problem would be simple but now there are just to many of them and they are on the move. To be exact they are coming here by the hundreds of thousands. Once they arrive their population continues to expand and claim the benefits of citizenship.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"The sultans of swat"

It is a peculiar conceit of the left to spend endless energy "celebrating diversity" and "cherishing authentic native cultures" while at the same time treating human beings as interchangeable cogs. All inputs are not equal however and an edifice built from substandard mortar will collapse. Judaism or Protestantism may be essential to a creative adaptable civilization. It is certain that they can not be substituted for by Islam. The Pakistani gentry may win their war with the pastoral raiders, it is a struggle that has happened throughout human history, but I doubt it. However even if they do so to the passing profit of American academics and politicians it would not fundamentally change the construct of Pakistani culture. The Taliban are more brutal and ignorant and reject the products of modernity but the established forces they struggle against differ in degree more than in kind. Traditional forces unlike the reactionary revolutionaries of Salafism are less brutal and are willing to use the goods and trappings of modernity but have proven incapable of supporting a tolerant and creative society. They may use what is produced by Jews and Christians but they contribute little that is original.

How fitting that tonight's movie is The Merchant of Venice.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Richer in chains"

Education is the key but that includes a lot more than what the Drone at the front of your ordinary classroom is coughing up from the State approved curriculum. The curriculum is heavy on Critical Thinking, which is considered a skill, and light on facts. Good education should start with a consideration of goals. Otherwise it becomes the equivalent of the Search for Peace in the Middle East, all Process and no Results. The unions and progressives, who hate anything that implies accountability, always ridicule any talk of standards as as a directive to "teach to the test." As a bare minimum that is an improvement on spending 175 days without covering the content on a reasonably objective test.

My idea of replacing the last year of High School with 6 months of universal common military training would place everyone in an environment where real skills and facts are taught. In addition I would mandate that the current Economics and Civics (the later in NY is referred to as Participation in Government or PIG) classes be replaced. For Econ I would start with the excellent materials produced by Junior Achievement and then sponsor every student for the NASD series 7 exams. That would at least give them a feeling for how capital markets work. The Civics would be covered best during the subsequent military based training.

I have taught at both the most dangerous school in NYC and the second best. The present system does not work. We can do better.

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Wings over Liberty"

Just read the memo and by the standards of historical white-wash it is pretty low. Someplace I have a copy of Lord Denning’s Report on the Profumo Scandal. Now that was a fine bucket of white-wash. The best bit in today’s offering is that the current Acting Director of the WHMO is really a Mulligan. The report includes the Deputy Director’s weasel worded email assigning his boss the responsibility to tell other WH staff and creates a passive expectation that everyone thought that everyone else was handling public notification, with the attached For Official Use only (FOU) boilerplate mysteriously attached to excuse the failure to notify. In fact the report does not offer any evidence that would disprove the rumors about the flight being a junket or political favor initiated from the WH. All we have here is a description of a hapless low level functionary shuffling papers and complaining about his bad back. A scene from Yes Minister ensued. It is entirely possible that the flight was stuffed with Hollywood A, B and C listers, we just don’t know.

In government the difference between a good idea and a great idea is:
1) You steal a good idea
2) You steal a great idea and backdate a memo for the record to show you
      thought it up first.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Wink, wink"

Israel could decapitate the Syrian regime at any time with conventional arms. They could eliminate President Assad, his top 20 henchmen, and bury the two villages that the Alawites come from. They could do this with no notice and then tell the American Ambassador to go take a running leap at a rolling donut. Finally they could announce that if Iran does not unconditionally disarm then Israel will close the Hormuz Straits.

If I was the Israelis I would have buried shielded nukes in a dozen foreign cities years ago. Perhaps a leaked message to look under the public restroom in one of the Moscow subway stations would be how they should deliver the ultimatum. Could they have done this? Absolutely, and why shouldn’t they? The Chechens prepared for the Beslan assault by hiding their weapons within the walls of a school they were hired to build. Why shouldn’t that technique have been used by others?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The morning news

Four stories that I linked to on the last Belmont Club thread that help paint a picture of where we are heading to.

Banks returning bailouts will face conditions

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – Banks that want to pay back their federal bailout funds and free themselves from government restrictions on compensation and dividends will have to sever their ties to another financial assistance program.

Financial firms eager to return infusions from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program will have to demonstrate that they can operate without debt guarantees provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., a senior government official said Tuesday. The FDIC program allows financial institutions to borrow money at lower costs.

The new requirement will make it harder for some institutions to get out from under government rules attached to the bailouts, another shift in a changing landscape for banks. It also illustrates the government's desire not to have banks abandon the bailout program if they are not financially prepared to do so. ...
Once the fish is hooked you keep him from paying the principle. He exists to cough up the vigorish.
Group seeks to block Chrysler/Fiat as Opel heats up

By Emily Chasan and Madeline Chambers
NEW YORK/BERLIN (Reuters) – A group of investment funds sought on Monday to block Chrysler's planned alliance with Fiat SpA, while the Italian automaker advanced its bid to overhaul the industry by setting its sights on Germany's Opel.
The dissenting lenders led by Oppenheimer Funds and Stairway Capital argued in a New York bankruptcy court that the sale proposal was "orchestrated entirely by the U.S. Treasury and foisted upon the debtors."

A lawyer for the group, Tom Lauria, said some identified publicly in the politically charged reorganization have received death threats "which they perceive as being bona fide." Those lenders have notified police and the FBI, he said.
President Barack Obama called the dissenters "speculators" in public criticism last week for refusing to join Chrysler's biggest banks in a government-brokered deal to wipe out Chrysler's $6.9 billion debt and move forward with the Fiat alliance.

"We still have a very fragile coalition to get from here to there," Corinne Ball, Chrysler's bankruptcy lawyer, said near the start of a court hearing on Monday.
Chrysler asked U.S. Judge Arthur Gonzalez to schedule a hearing as soon as May 21 to approve a $2 billion sale of most of the automaker's assets.
"Absent a prompt sale, approved in the coming weeks, the value of the debtors' assets will rapidly decline and the ability to achieve a going concern sale will be lost," Chrysler said in court documents supporting the sale to Fiat.
Gonzalez adjourned a hearing on Chrysler's request until 2:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.

JPMorgan Chase Co lawyer Peter Pantaleo, of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, told the court on Monday that Chrysler had more than the required support from the secured lenders to support the proposed sale.

JP Morgan led a group of banks that control about 70 percent of Chrysler's debt. They've agreed to a deal that would pay lenders $2 billion

Chrysler's bankruptcy, one of the biggest U.S. public company bankruptcies ever, is widely seen as almost a dry run for a potential reorganization of General Motors Corp.

GM, which like Chrysler is surviving on government bailout money, faces its own restructuring deadlines on June 1 and is trying to restructure its business in the U.S. and overseas.

This includes the potential sale of its German-based Opel unit, possibly to Fiat.
Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Sunday his company could seek a merger with Opel, then spin off and list the combined entity.

Combining with Chrysler as well as Opel, which makes up 80 percent of GM Europe's annual sales of $34.4 billion, fits Marchionne's strategy of bulking up Fiat to survive the crisis engulfing the auto industry.

"Industrial logic-wise, Opel makes a lot more sense than Chrysler. The big hurdle we can see is social cost," Nomura International analyst Michael Tyndall said.
"It's all very well to say they compete broadly in the same markets with similar platforms and there may be economies of scale. But the broad translation of economies of scale is fewer jobs and I'm not sure if the Italian or German governments have the appetite for the job losses a merger would entail."
The biggest opposition to a deal is likely to come from German and Italian unions.

Opel employs around 25,000 people at its factories in Germany.
Germany's finance minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, said Fiat's plan was "interesting," but needed a closer look following talks with Marchionne. Guttenberg said Fiat was seeking Europe-wide state guarantees as part of the GM Europe deal.

As well as Fiat, Austrian-Canadian car parts maker Magna International Inc has expressed an interest in Opel. Magna declined to comment on Monday.
In fresh reminders of the dire state of the global auto industry, French new passenger car sales fell 7 percent in April and Belgium reported a 22.8 percent drop.

Spanish automaker association Anfac said car sales in the country fell 45.6 percent in April, declining faster year-on- year than in March, which saw a 38.7 percent drop.
It is inconceivable to me that all this lightening fast special handling to grease the system for Fiat by the Chicago crowd and European politicians could occur without massive corruption. What are the payoffs? The KGB used to insist that assets take money, even if the sums were small. A documented corrupt traitor was more reliable to them than an ideological enthusiast.
NATO holds Georgia war games, Russia critical
By Matt Robinson

TBILISI (Reuters) – NATO launched military exercises in former Soviet Georgia on Wednesday after heavy criticism from neighboring Russia and a brief mutiny in the Georgian military.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Russia, which fought a war with Georgia last year, of trying to foment a coup after a local tank battalion rebelled against the Tbilisi government on Tuesday. Moscow denied involvement.
The mutiny ended without bloodshed but cast a shadow over the start of the month-long exercises, in which over 1,000 soldiers from NATO countries including the United States and allies will practice a crisis response and train peacekeepers.

The Georgian Defense Ministry said NATO would spend the next few days setting up a staff headquarters at the Vaziani base outside Tbilisi ahead of field exercises next week.

Russia has strongly criticized the exercises on its southern flank as "muscle-flexing." Its envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin told Reuters on Tuesday the alliance would be better off holding the maneuvers "in a madhouse" than in a country where troops were "rioting against their own president."


Russia crushed a Georgian military attempt to retake the pro-Moscow separatist region of South Ossetia last August, routing Tbilisi's army and prompting criticism in the West for a "disproportionate response."

NATO said this month's exercises should not be misused.
"This exercise has nothing to do with Georgia, it has nothing to do with Russia," said a spokeswoman for NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. "Georgia is just hosting the exercise and nobody should interpret the exercise in a different way and use it for other purposes."

Further souring the mood, Russia announced the expulsion of two Canadian staff at NATO's information center in Moscow on Wednesday -- a response to the Western military alliance's decision to throw two Russian diplomats out of Brussels last week over a spying scandal.

Armenia, Russia's closest ally in the South Caucasus, on Tuesday joined Moscow's friends Kazakhstan, Serbia and Moldova in pulling out of the NATO exercises they had been invited to join despite not being members of the alliance.

Georgia and Azerbaijan, also not in NATO, are the only former Soviet republics left taking part.
Kazakhastan pulling out underlines that the effort to create a Northern supply route for Afghanistan is probably unsustainable in the face of Russian or Chinese opposition.

Now for the Pièce de résistance
Secret U.S.-Israel Nuclear Accord in Jeopardy
Obama's efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons reportedly threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel's nuclear arms from international scrutiny.
The Washington Times
Wednesday, May 06, 2009

President Obama's efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel's nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current U.S. and Israeli officials and nuclear specialists tell The Washington Times.

The issue will likely come to a head when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mr. Obama on May 18 in Washington. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to seek assurances from Mr. Obama that he will uphold the U.S. commitment and will not trade Israeli nuclear concessions for Iranian ones.

Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, speaking Tuesday at a U.N. meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), said Israel should join the treaty, which would require Israel to declare and relinquish its nuclear arsenal.
"Universal adherence to the NPT itself, including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea, ... remains a fundamental objective of the United States," Ms. Gottemoeller told the meeting, according to Reuters.
She declined to say, however, whether the Obama administration would press Israel to join the treaty.

A senior White House official said the administration considered the nuclear programs of Israel and Iran to be unrelated "apples and oranges."

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"As apple pie"

Rahm Emmanuel, the Judas Goat of this administration, told 300 major contributors to Jewish organizations that Israel had better acquiesce to the Palestinian state, or else. The "or else" being an Iranian nuke. There has never been thuggery like this from the White House. No matter what you thought of Andrew Jackson or Lincoln or FDR or LBJ or Nixon or any of them, this is violence and theft in broad daylight. My Father once said of someone, "He has the nerves of a Burglar."

The government is a beast that can and will simultaneously tax gasoline and tires and raise highway and bridge tolls to subsidize mass transit while raising other taxes, thereby crippling the businesses and individuals who would use the mass transit systems, in order to subsidize the UAW that can't support itself by building automobiles for the market.

Most people believe that rent control works. Most people will believe in anything that shifts the shell hiding the costly pea.

And this is from a lifelong Democrat!
One tactic the MoveOn Democrats and their media coconspirators abused was the testimonial condemning Bush that always started "I am a loyal lifelong Republican but..." It was so overdone and was so obviously fake that it became a running joke in the blogosphere. Since the purpose was to establish a trail that could be referred back to later when feeding a story to the rubes the ridicule it received from the initial audience was unimportant. The technique might have roots in the old Soviet trick of planting a story in the New York Times, caring only incidentally about the Americans who might be gullible enough to swallow it but knowing that the ability to point it out later in the Third World would be priceless. "You do not believe me Comrade? My source is The New York Times." I expect that deception is not the case with Mr Card, who probably really exists, but the use of the line on our side does make it all the better.

The Census I believe is remaining under the Commerce Department but I have no confidence in how it will be conducted.

Michigan is rapidly becoming the American Lebanon. There are four interest groups in play and three of them are acting against the interests of the nation. The majority of the state is still a productive blend of small and large communities populated by a mix of assimilating immigrants and the descendants of the settlers of the 19th century. Traditional midwestern culture is productive. The problem is in the confluence of the other forces. There are the coddled elites of the left wing university enclaves MSU in Lansing and UM in Ann Arbor and their satellites form a significant power bloc with about 100,000 students and associated faculty and other stakeholders. The Automobile and other industrialized industries are but a shadow of their former selves but were the crucible in which a dysfunctional proletarian subculture developed over decades. This being America marginalized racial minorities became caught up in the trap of high wage semiskilled factory labor. Now there are concentrated pockets around Detroit of several hundred thousand people with expectations completely divorced from what the market would offer them. Michigan is also home to a large and growing Islamic community, particularly around Dearborn. Which unlike earlier immigrants from the Middle East, who were largely Christian, show little sign of assimilating and who may interact with other groups to reinforce mutually radical elements.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Air Force None"

I want to see the flight manifest. Who, besides active duty Air Force personnel, was on that plane?

Does the file cabinet marked Obama Memory Hole eventually reach critical mass?

From the last thread regarding Georgia et al, can anyone explain why the Baltics are folding? Armenia and Moldova are no surprise but Estonia and Latvia I thought would put up a fight The financial meltdown must have really taken the wind out of them.

(who is given to technical analysis predictions of disaster)
My absolutely worthless guess is that 18-24 months out we will be facing the perfect storm of inflation caused by the Porkulos and associated financial pressures, such as firms desperate to raise cash because of the tax and regulatory pressures, and wage pressures as card check and Acorn mobilize the masses. That will be accompanied by a second round of contraction as individuals and businesses horde cash and global instability drives down trade. Nuclear war threats do not encourage people to run out and get a plasma TV so they can see armageddon better. The text book says that anticipated inflation encourages spending before the value of the money depreciates but I think that the expectation of increased taxes, unemployment fears and a need to hold onto wealth in expected disorder to come will result in people spending less to hold some liquidity, maybe more will be converted to other stores of value, gold etc.

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The PKK loses its gamble"

(who was "e-mailing and chatting with friends in Tbilisi" about the mutiny/coup attempt)
Twenty years ago I was working in the Central Users Site of The University of Chicago Computing Organization in Harper Library as the People’s Liberation Army attacked Tien an Men Square. The palpable sense of both being there and being unable to help flowed through me. Unfortunately the logs that I had saved were lost years ago but I remember them, “The soldiers are gathering at the train station” “They are entering the square” “Help us, they are killing us.” Like what Wilson purportedly said of the new medium of cinema after a screening of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” Real people are dealing with life and death while the children in Washington are busy calling Hollywood for rewrite to fix the plot.

There is nothing in the Constitution that says only lawyers can be appointed to the SCOTUS or any bench.

From the AP wire this bit is ominous
The NATO exercises, which continue through June 1, were originally planned to include about 1,300 personnel from 19 NATO and partner nations.
But some former Soviet republics have recently decided not to take part.

Among the countries to back out was Armenia, which is dependent on Russia for its economic survival. Four other former Soviet republics — Estonia, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Moldova — and Serbia also had decided to pull out, the Russian newspaper Vedomosti reported Tuesday.
How horrible it must be to be a small nation and knowing that you are alone and the Bear is coming. Poland must look East and West and wonder, what has changed? The thing is that much has changed. The problem now is one of will more than capacity. Poland could probably fight Russia to a draw if she had any support. Nato could kick Putin's hollow husk of a regime in. The problem with the West is that it is turning inward and giving up. Like the dog that has stopped eating and waits for the end, they will not fight.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The Taxman Cometh"

Companies have been fleeing from American Jurisdiction ever since Sarbanes-Oxley was instituted. The flow will now become a flood. Schlumberger and Trans-Ocean have relocated. For some reason I wonder if Jamie Gorelick’s fingerprints, she is on SLB’s Board, are on both sides of this situation. Who will remain in America? Google and GE are heavily invested in Obama. What do these policies do to their competitors?

Most people simply conflate Fascism and Nazism. To some extent this is understandable. Both were highly syncretic and arbitrary systems that relied less on theory then on inertia to sustain the regimes as they progressed, or more accurately as they decayed. In the case of Germany the regime was always a fusion of ad hoc administrative measures and terror. No one who meant anything read Rosenberg’s philosophy as a policy guide. It is unlikely that anyone who mattered ever read it at all. Italy was different in that at least at first Mussolini tried to organize according to a theory of State Capitalism buttressed by special interest syndicalism. There were precedents for some of his governing and legislative structures in Europe’s medieval heritage. For example the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge had seats in Parliament at one time and the Bishops represent a special community. Guilds had sent representatives to Court to advice princes in some places. The terms Falange and Fascism became associated with garden variety authoritarians in Paraguay, Spain and Lebanon or full totalitarian terror in Germany but the concept was closer to what many people expected the New Deal to lead to in America. That it did not may be explained by the size of the country, the rise of foreign threats that created a purpose that overrode domestic divisions and finally that FDR, for all his faults, did not seek to be a Dictator.

(who IMHO misstated the law on abandoning citizenship for tax avoidance)
If someone gives up their US citizenship to avoid taxation they are then permanently barred from ever reentering the country. For a corporate body what can the US do, impose prohibitive tariffs against products shipped by former US entities and damn the GATT?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"I will decide who gets what"

(on a thread that discusses inter alia art, Dali Bosch Picasso etc., and looming conflicts)
My watch hasn’t melted yet. One day a ship will pull into NY harbor with a container that was prepared in Iran and then many watches and things will melt. Why NY? Remember what BHOs Chicago neighbor and rival Jesse Jackson called The City, Hymietown.

(who approved of Obama's planned energy research agency)
Obama takes the D out of DARPA. The civilian benefits of Defense research are made possible because of the discipline in the management of the research community and the focus that ensured broad based support. ARPA-E is another boondoggle factory in the making. It isn’t that the projects are all inherently unworthy, it is that a government administered civilian research system is a wasteful way to achieve results. If you really want to get energy efficient technologies developed then double the defense budget. Naval Engineering is all about energy efficiency. Between DoD and the Market we could have hundreds of small safe sealed 10 Mw reactors being produced “like sausages” and new battery and fuel cell systems.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"In the central blue"

After the First World War, and in the spirit that later produced the Washington Naval Treaties, Britain's Treasury established a policy that the Imperial Defense Budget should assume that no serious threat of war would exist for the next ten years. Ten years being the rule of thumb time needed to move a new capital weapons system (at that time a battleship) from concept to operation. The rule was not entirely unreasonable in 1919, or 1920. Churchill, yes Winston Churchill, made the rule self perpetuating in 1928. Of course the 10 year rule was not lifted until 1932, only one year before Hitler came to power, and expenditures did not begin to increase until later than that, far to late as events proved.

Ninety years ago the technologies were impressive but far less complicated than what is designed today. Obama is not only crippling our ability to respond safely to a challenge by Russia or China in the next ten years but by choking off the flow of capital, financial, industrial and human, to the defense industry he is making it less likely that we will be able to retool and respond to future threats.

Agreed about the B-52s. It always seemed a good idea to me that we reengine them and give them to Australia. They could patrol a lot of ocean and stave off a Chinese push South for another 30 years.

Now that America is exposed as unreliable the question is what will our allies do? The Australians, the Indians, the Japanese, the Taiwanese, The Poles and the Israelis have serious security issues. They were not friends of Uncle Sam's for reasons of sentiment nor due to ideological affinity, except in so far as we face common hostile regimes that hate us equally due to the common threats' totalitarian impulses. Will they submit and go quietly into the night? Or will they find a way to unite outside of the American umbrella? Can Australia, Israel, India and Japan pool their resources to produce 5th generation warplanes, fuel cell powered submarines and Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles and advanced surface to air interceptors?

Taiwan may submit, Korea may be unable to join any club that includes Japan, and Australia under the current regime is selling itself to China but I think that there is an opening for Japan and India and others (Israel, New Europe) to form an alliance of sorts to contain the new Axis of Islam and the Shanghai Cooperation Council. Yes I know they have tensions but it is a useful construct to consider. The alliance of over-reaching Russia and China is to unstable to hold but as Putin dances ever faster to deny the demographic facts he might trigger explosions in all directions.