Thursday, October 29, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Pick a number"


Academic delay, sabotage, lunacy or simple incompetence? The default is to defer.

Our most self consciously academic Presidents have turned out to be our worst in the last 100 years. Wilson and Obama have both proven thin skinned and hostile to constitutional liberty. Another who affected academic airs, but without any qualification to do so was Carter. Arguably the most educated and scholarly American President was Taft who did not display the personality flaws of a stereotypical academic.

A diagnoses of conspiracy or insanity demands either overwhelming evidence, like that given in the Constitution for treason, or professional judgement subject to peer review. For the first case of conspiracy or treason we have limited but disturbing evidence but not such that would at this time convince the broad electorate or an impartial jury. We do have some members of the Club who have held Top Secret clearances, Habu, myself and others, and who can speak with some knowledge of the issues. These are by definition murky waters and while we may speculate freely here I wait to hear from a broader consensus of retired Intelligence professionals on the subject. My suspicion is that over the next several months those who stood aside from what could initially be considered partisan wrangling may feel called upon to weigh in on either side.

Regarding the possibility that Obama's actions are disconnected from reality as it would be assessed by competent outside observers that could only be determined trained professionals who are usually loath to offer an opinion in advance of a crisis. If the working definition of mental illness is a condition that significantly impairs the ability to successfully function in the world as it is then a decisive judgement may be hard to arrive at. The man did get himself elected, regardless of the methods used, and that shows some competence at demonstrating functionality. Given that the demands of his position are unique it is hard to compare his failures with those of other CEOs. An argument that Obama fails to effectively serve the national interest, in either foreign or domestic policy because he is, to use a technical term, nuts does not address the question of the motives of his enablers and supporters. It is of course possible that two or three of the four possible explanations alluded to in my first paragraph are at play. There are practicing physicians, including psychiatrists, who are part of our Club. I would like to hear their opinions.

That leaves the fourth of my suggestions, simple incompetence. Even if Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, Rahm Emanuel and the rest of the gang were dreaming of the triumph of History they may simply be chortling clowns who are in over their heads. As I said above differing percentages of these elements may be at work for each of the actors, POTUS, VPOTUS, Czars, Wallahs and Grand Nincompoops, in the play that we and the world can't walk away from.

If only the Taliban were to stupefied by what they see to act.

Has anybody read this? Is this more than Strategic Hamlets redux?
One Tribe at A Time by Major Jim Gant.
H/T Theo Spark

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Threats Big and Small


(fm the BC thread "Code review")

Sergey,
all small bacteria originated 3.7 bn years ago are still with us
So bureaucrats are immortal?

Doug,
(who linked another NYT story naming a CIA asset)
If the NY Times had tried stuff like this during Korea or WW-II the relatives of US casualties would have converged en masse on their headquarters and cleaned the place out, as millions cheered.

JMH,
(who noted how hard it is to build a secure system)
Back in 1986 I was very briefly assigned a collateral duty as Information Security Officer for COMNAVSURFPAC (N-2), Intelligence. The accompanying Instruction helpfully suggested that all computers be disconnected from telephone lines and placed more than X number of feet from windows, walls or embedded power lines. See how easy it is to be secure?

Doug,
(who noted a story by a radio show caller)
I don't believe it. Real threats are real but there is no infrastructure in place capable of scanning photos of random crowds and picking out some job candidates wife and then informing the guys interviewing him. That is tin foil hat level crazy. The real threats are bad enough. My suggestion is that you stop relying on the Grauniad and anonymous radio callers. The wiki would be more reliable. The Guardian is promoting the infiltration of the immigrants to transform society and the campaigns of sedition that provoke the BNP reaction covered in the last thread.

The acquittal of the two trespassers who claimed they acted to prevent war crimes was one of the more serious fire breaks that have struck against Western civilization. The masturbatory glee of left wing lawyers at deconstructing the defenses of a safe law abiding society is what empowers the reactionaries. They do it partly because the resulting right wing activity stimulates funding for the left. Police state surveillance is something to fight but there is a legitimate role for trained professionals to be identifying and removing real threats.

On Assimilation


(from the BC thread "Alone")

It is over 20 years since Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister and the evidence is that things have only changed around the margins, and that was for the worse. Ninety six years ago an arrogant Englishman knew that his hauteur was backed by all the pink bits on the map, with the expectation, at unguessed cost, of more to come. Forty two years ago that Englishman's grandson could safely claim to dominate a conversation based on his presumably superior education, invaluable role as the trusted go between among East and West and North and South, cultural dynamism in "Swinging London," and clever timing in shedding a money losing Empire.

The problem with those who pretend to be the grandsons of Sir Humphrey Appleby is that it is clear to all but the most self deluded audience that the show lacks substance. The Mandarins no longer impress the former natives of either Britain or from the former pink bits who are flooding in. The later were invited in with as much foresight as the Romans showed in inviting in barbarian tribes to cross the limes and serve as allies.

The English have over time proven poor at assimilating foreigners in large numbers into the Imperium's culture. Despite all those missionaries playing the organ for little African Methodist souls and Princes sent to Cambridge and Sandhurst the natives did not Anglicize. The French proved more effective by ignoring the masses and uncompromisingly assimilating the elites. They at least gave the first impression that French culture could be seen as color blind and universal. America has proven more effective at spreading into popular culture than at co-opting elites.

What America did have was a great engine for assimilating large numbers of immigrants, the urban public schools. When I taught at what was at the time the most dangerous High School in New York City I found a book from the 1920s in a corner of a storage room with a title like "A Guide for New Americans." The Chairman gave it to me to keep. It was a collection of practical lessons on topics like opening a savings account and selected inspiring passages from Great Men like Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie on Americanism. The entire approach was straightforward. Welcome to America, now don't spit on the floor. It worked for millions. Different ethnic groups can share a common space that includes sufficient tolerance to sustain democracy. We have done it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Code review"


China

Oct 27, 2009 - 10:01 am

-------
My Zen moment, a reference to Japan would have missed the topic, covers three parts of the problem.
1) Intrusion of the collective down through the level of the town, past the family and into the individual.
a. The local environmental, educational, and public order inspectors.
b. Report Daddy for not recycling, follow Mommy for misregistering,
     charge the invaded home owner for grabbing a knife.
c. Canadian/Canadien Human Rights Commission investigates "intent,"
     Hate Crimes laws vary punishment by victim class.

2) The real threat to our security from attacks carried out by units of the Chinese People's Liberation Army to probe, map and disrupt American network based or reliant systems. These are potentially far more devastating than were the Russian cyber attacks on Estonia and Georgia.

3) The stultifying effects of centralization choke off the flow of information needed for both rational market operations, innovation to meet changing conditions, and efficient government administration. Eventually the centralized bureaucratic authoritarian or totalitarian model will face systemic failure.

China has set the template in all three areas and the West is following in their footsteps. Mao as a role model indeed. Economy of analysis on my part. The situations methodology, threats and outcome risks are summed up in one word, China.

Weasley Clark could be right but I suspect the messenger's motives.

Religions Sorted out


Theo Spark links to a handy dandy chart from Holy Taco that sorts out the religious mess.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Alone"


Comparisons between the American and the English polities are unreliable. We truly are as Shaw said, "Two peoples separated by a common language." In America the concept of a Yeoman Democracy was taken seriously. Military officers are discouraged from entering the Civil Service, they get fewer points than enlisted members, and with few exceptions, such as South Carolina, state legislatures were rapidly selected by the widest possible enfranchisement of the free citizenry.

American movies were about the average doughboy of WW-I or the GI Joe of WW-II and he was a pretty shrewd mature and even noble figure as portrayed. British films were generally about the officers and even when the "other ranks" were portrayed it was generally as shining examples of feudal sacrifice. An American warship can get underway, navigate across the ocean, and fire its weapons, with no officers on board. A Russian ship could not get underway. The crew of a Royal Navy vessel might have the technical know how but would they have the initiative given that they lack the cultural models to act on?

In England the Tories and the Whigs/Liberals/Labour competed to expand the franchise, with the Conservatives pushing hardest to broaden the lower orders, but the culture remained far more rigid and upward mobility was much rarer then in the States. Most Americans looking at the rise of the BNP may be shocked but are unaware at the deep contempt that all educated English, whether old Tory snobs or modernizing Labour technocrats have had for generations for the masses and their Yob culture of Beer, Footer and violence.

The contempt that the Left in America directs at Fly Over Country and Nascar America is a recent affectation done in imitation of their European models. Nothing would please the Axelrod Pelosi left as much as a BNP type nativist movement that justifies their ghettoizing and debasing the people who successfully built and defended America. Nothing terrifies them as much as the prospect of an alliance between Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin that could offer an alternative to the European model.

Comment on American Thinker
"Obama Comes To The Mainland"


While I agree with most of the comments here I want to caution everyone to avoid one trap that can destroy the credibility of those questioning Obama's status as a natural born citizen. His adoption by Soetero did nothing to change his status in US law. Think about it this way, an American girl marries a man from some foreign country, say Saudi Arabia, it happens all the time. They have a child, say a daughter, and then the marriage breaks up. The husband returns to his homeland and takes the child with him. In the opinion of his country that child is now a citizen of Saudi Arabia and will be raised as such. However if that child ever escapes from there and returns to the United States what do you think the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will say to them when they present themselves for admission? They will simply smile and say "Welcome home." No foreign court can take away your United States citizenship.

My guess is that there is some information in his school records that he claimed to be a foreign student to get financial aid. It is possible that he traveled on an Indonesian passport after his 18th birthday. Either of those could be used to challenge his eligibility to serve as President.

Let's Get Physical


Serendipity.
The ever delightful Anglo-Australian singer Olivia Newton-John's grandfather was Max Born who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1954. That was when the Nobel really meant something. Interestingly Born was born jewish and his principle associate and former student Pascual Jordan became a nazi Storm Trooper. The Physics Nobel is still OK.

Pity Universal disabled embedding of the video.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Cracked Crystal Ball"


only a temporary fix, though a symbolically important one
Children playing with shadows while the Beast comes closer.

principal difficulty in predicting the future is that it hasn’t happened yet
Here I disagree with wretchard. There is an element that is attracted to the Intelligence business precisely because you can predict anything about the future. Valerie Plame and her Walter Mitty husband thrived in a situation where their opinions are not subject to verification. Link this thread and the prior one together and consider how can we both retain secure control over information that should be classified and attract and supervise reliable people?

Iran has only recently admitted to the Qom plant but may have others. If the Army had taken a left turn in 2004 and removed the Syrian regime we may have found the missing WMD, freed Lebanon from the the yoke of Hezbollah and deflated Hamas. If the Army had turned right then the Iranian regime may well have collapsed.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Outlaw"


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
- Juvenal

England's "Green and pleasant land" was going to be "a land fit for heroes."

The problem with bureaucracy is that as an organization grows it must devote an increasing proportion of its energy to regulating itself. The dysfunctional burrow in and know that they are less likely to be held accountable in a large organization than if they were personally responsible. The most dysfunctional find the safest place to be is in setting and administering the rules for everyone else so they gravitate to the Human Resources department and control the organization through a network of Equal Opportunity, speech codes, and benefits programs. If the organization did impose controls so draconian as to ensure efficiency over the workers, if Brazil's Mr. Kurtzmann was able to keep staring at his teeming mobs, the process would be executed but then there would be no capacity for the Manager to focus on the purpose of the procedures. Think of the agency as being like a great ship that needs both motive power and direction. Managers can provide the former through the staff or the later but not both.

In a Democratic Republic with a free market the people choose representatives, who receive constant feed back and information about the conditions they are supervising, who provide direction and the power to get things done for the good of all is provided by individual labor motivated by Smith's Invisible Hand. In a Totalitarian Collective direction is provided by a self replicating authority that is increasingly ignorant of what social conditions really are. If Stalin only knew. Activity, like in the Red Army, substitutes for achievement of a focused goal.

This problem becomes most extreme in a government setting because there is no market information providing corrective data that a manager could use. The only inputs into the system that are considered are very belated political consequences of failure and ambiguous reports of the scope of the problem that are normally used to justify the expansion of an agency that was expected to reduce a condition that has instead expanded under the bureaus watch.

The problem does exist in private agencies. General Motors, US Steel, Railway Express, the Pennsylvania Railroad, all failed because they could not prove nimble enough to adapt to changing conditions.

Hopefully evolving technology will increasingly empower the ability of people acting as independent entrepreneurs to provide services so that managers will be able to focus on the Why? question and not be distracted by personnel administration. The expansion of government is a rear guard effort by those who thrived under the bureaucratic model to choke off the threat of an alternative and more promising economy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We Are All Going To Get Rich


From Breitbart
Japanese firms to develop small nuclear reactors.
H/T Drudge

If we just acted basically sane the future would be incredibly bright. We have the hydrocarbons, oil, shale and tar, to power our transportation network. The coal for industry and power and the technology for nuclear generation that would lift our economy up to a quantum level where we would have nothing to fear from thugs and despots and bigots like Chavez, Ahmadinejehad and the Saudis. This would give us the wealth and security to meet all of our social and environmental goals. We are throwing away a winning hand to do what? To impress a bunch of losers?

Copied OT to The Belmont Club: Online Tools.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More on the Religious Debate


(fm the BC thread "Two dramas and a third")

Teresita,
Ancestor worship is atheism because theism is the belief in a personal Creator,

Sorry no, this is solipsism. Redefining the terms to win the argument is not a tactic I can support. While one definition of theism is the belief in a personal creator that does not mean that atheism is simply the rejection of that particular belief. We see this debating trick often used as a rhetorical device and it should be challenged.

Your underlaying point is interesting and there are philosophical links between Buddhism, Ethical Culture type New Age quasi religious philosophies and Unitarianism that may leave their adherents more receptive to Socialism then those who adhere to a belief in a personal god. My argument has been that the nature of the deity in Islam is also functionally different than that in Judaism or Christianity.

-------
(fm the BC thread "The lighting of the beacons")

Matt Beck
(who called for censorship by a resurgent christianity)
all this must be committed to the flames

No.
"Dort, wo man B├╝cher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen."
("Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people.")
- Heinrich Heine
-------
wretchard,
Regarding the role of religion in Middle Earth.
There had been a formal religious worship, complete with altar, to Eru that was used and later neglected by the King in Numenor. There was no discussion of religious activity by the Men of the West in Middle Earth. Some reference was made to the religious activity by the Southrons and Easterlings who practiced barbaric rites and were steeped in superstition. When Sauron gained power over the King in Numenor he had a temple built to himself and was worshiped as a god.

What religious ritual does is open a channel between mortal humans and immortal ideals. In Middle Earth there were living immortals present who could testify to the reality of the Undying Lands. Given that what would religious activity consist of? For those who deny the testimony of the Elves or who would assert the primacy of the agents of Melkor in this world then rituals to validate another narrative would be needed. Once the last ship had sailed then Western men would need to recreate in ritual the link that had been lost. I am assuming that there was other religious activity regarding occasions like death and marriage that Tolkien glosses over.

Christianity as you say is not of this world and Islam is. Indeed Islam is as materialistic as Marxism. The afterlife is described in detail as an extension of this world. Judaism is in between I think. The focus is on this world and the assumption is that there is a world beyond that we cannot presume to define. The idea is close to Tolkein's I think.

-------
wretchard,
You are perfecting the argument that I was grasping at. The worldly faith systems, Islam and Socialism, in either Red or Green variants, seek to define all knowledge of this world in a closed system. Islam seeks to extend that dominion to a description of the world outside that reduces it to an extension of the material world. That may be a derivation of ancient greek eschatology derived from the Nestorians. Others with more scholarship may elucidate. While Judaism and Christianity have both produced extensive speculation on the nature of eternity those concepts are not essential core beliefs. Dante was vivid but not canonical. God created humanity with the desire to seek wisdom and knowledge, even to the point of rebellion, and a desire for faith. We can only do the best that we can in this world and hope for the next.

-------
For those puzzled by the reference to the Lord of the Rings and Beacons.
And when summoned they came to defend the Tower of the Guard of the West.


-------
Evanston2,
Were American public schools really started in opposition to catholicism, specifically?

Look up the Blaine Amendment, a State constitutional effort named for the same bigoted man who gave us the rhetorical gem "Rum Romanism and Rebellion." Blaine Amendments preventing state support for religiously based schools were added in most states. The current opposition to vouchers echoes the 19th century Progressive Movement efforts to build up public education that were rooted establishment Protestant determination to use the schools to americanize immigrant children and keep them out of the parochial schools. The NY Sun ran a series of articles on the subject, just go to their site and do a search. The wiki on this subject seems straight forward and controversy is noted on the talk page.

Oct 24, 2009 - 6:00 am

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"The lighting of the beacons"


As an outsider I find the implosion of Anglicanism to be a sad story. Theologically their adherence to pre-Reformation Counciliar church organization was logical. In theory they could have forged an alternative to Rome in partnership with the Eastern Churches. The problems caused by claims of authority by the Roman church under Papal authority at the Council of Trent and later of Papal Infallibility in Vatican I (1870) have not been resolved.

One day an Obama like Agent of Change may ascend to Peter's Throne and the Catholic Church will prove powerless to defend itself. The more decentralized structure of the Anglican and Orthodox communions should prove more flexible in sealing off such a threat, however they have proven less robust in marshaling their forces to respond to persistent subversion. The problem with government by Councils is that they become subject to manipulation. The process is analogous to they way that David Axelrod packed the Democratic Party caucuses to select delegates for Barack Obama even where Hillary Clinton had won the primaries, as in Texas.

If the Catholic Church rallied disaffected Protestants to rejoin the traditional Anglican and Presbyterian Churches and then seize control of the administration and assets of those bodies, not for the benefit of Rome but to restore the viability of the traditional Anglo-Saxon alternative to secularism and Islam that might begin to turn the tide in Europe. It may be to late for such an effort in Europe but there is grounds for hope. The ongoing growth among traditional Jewish and evangelical Christian communities, in Latin America at the expense of the Catholics, as well as other groups, Hindu, Buddhist etc., shows that there is a widespread base for an alternative to the choices our host offers. The choice may not be between the Catholics and Atheism/Islam.

wretchard,
From one side, there is the religion which pretends to be a political movement — socialism/communism. From the other flank there is the political movement which pretends to be a religion — Islam.

This is the essential formulation and is an excellent summary. Fighting the lies of the communists in their various guises, Red or Green, is hard unrelenting work but we know how to do it. The greatest threat is that we can grow weary of the task.

In Islam god is so abstract arbitrary and unfathomable, omnipotent and at the same time fallible, as to become simply a projection of human desire. On a deep level I see little difference between Islam and secularism. For this reason I suspect that faith in Islam is really very fragile. Its support is wide but shallow. Like the authority of the Communist Party of China it justifies itself by prior military victories. It is running on inertia and is intellectually out of gas. In the next few decades improved technology will pull the financial rug out from the oil cartel, unless the West castrates itself first under a secular/socialist Green regime. If severely checked militarily the Islamic Ummah may shatter.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Two dramas and a third"


Habu, Knight1, DennisC and Subotai Bahadur,

It is not so clear cut as to say it would be a bright line of usurpation if BHO issues Executive Orders to conform to an agreement that has not been ratified by the Senate. The State Department series listing agreements the US is bound to is titled T.I.A.S. for Treaties and International Agreement Series. The fact is that any Minister Plenipotentiary has the power to enter a binding agreement on behalf of their country. In fact every time that an army captain signed a purchase agreement for fuel in Germany they were acting as such an officer and entering upon a binding international agreement on behalf of the United States.

For decades efforts have been made to define the distinctions between: 1) administrative agreements, enterable upon Ministerial or agency authority, 2) treaties governing a purely international relationship that would be effective upon Senate ratification, and 3) conventions that would change domestic law and which should demand enabling legislation or additional assent by the House of Representatives. All such efforts have failed.

Just as the Interstate Commerce clause gives the Congress almost unlimited power to regulate domestic activity the power to enter into binding International Agreements gives the Executive almost unlimited authority to regulate domestic conditions. The only firm controls that Congress has had that prevented wild abuse of the treaty making power by the President has been custom and the power of the purse. The first means nothing to Obama and the second was ceded by Congress with the Tarp bill a year ago. If Obama orders the EPA to issue regulations in accordance with Kyoto or the Copenhagen Treaty then the only hope to overturn that would be legislation to the contrary and an appeal to the Judiciary. That is not going to happen with this Congress and may not in the next. If a repudiation did get through Congress and survived a veto there is no guarantee how the Courts would rule.

Matt Beck et al,
The discussion of the Nestorian roots of Islam is fascinating. Many of the early converts to Islam, in Syria, North Africa and Bosnia especially, were from oppressed Christian minorities who preferred Islam to the rule of the Byzantines.

toad,
The realization among some of Pakistan's urban elites that they lost in the partition by being chained to the rural Pashtun reactionaries and steppe culture has parallels. Sophisticated Greeks regret the loss of their position of influence in the Ottoman Empire. Many Jews resisted Zionism on similar grounds until the Holocaust convinced them that there was no alternative. Elitists like the Sulzbergers of the NY Times remained and remain skeptical of the idea of a Jewish National Home. Small nation nationalism was a product of the Romantic Movement, championed first by Lord Byron in Greece and a century later by Woodrow Wilson. League of Nations, UN, Wilsonian Self Determination is not the same as Democracy. The two concepts have completely different origins, allegiances and consequences.

-------
Wadeusaf,
Good catch with the draft climate change framework convention. Remember that that collection of proposed amendments is at 180 pages less than 20% of the length of the unread Stimulus, Health Care and Cap and Trade bills that the Democrats attempt, in the first case successfully, to ram through Congress. They have fun referring to the Conference of Parties (COP) that will establish a government. Perhaps they can establish a headquarters in Munich for the new regulatory entity and call it the Bavarian Administrative Department. We can all take our orders from the Bad Cop.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comment on Theo Spark:
"Video: Will the Real Chamber of Commerce Please Stand Up?"


Let us hope that Civil and Criminal penalties follow.

Unfortunately given that the Obama administration has taken the brakes off the perversion of justice in the United States, as in the dropping of charges in the New Black Panthers case and the theft of GM and Chrysler, we can expect more deceptive assaults from the left.

PUMAs


(from the BC thread "Somewhere in time")

I've met Hillary Clinton 4 times. I believe the technical term for her condition is Nuts. The room temperature drops when she enters. Many of her supporters, called the PUMAs for Party Unity My Ass, were a lesbian cabal. They brought some numbers and energy to the McCain campaign the final months but also brought emotional instability, a propensity for infighting and domineering and confusion on policy and principles. They may have repelled some social conservative voters who stayed home on election day. While Libertarian conservatives may support them on some issues they would not support them on others where they Hillary supporters stood for big government Democratic Party ideas.

Every political movement is an alliance of interest groups and eventually I hope to see studies of the 2008 campaign that will indicate why core center right voters did not come out to vote for McCain in sufficient numbers while enough of the equivalent voters on the Democratic side did go to the polls, despite the obvious extremist elements that were associated with the Obama movement. Nothing that this administration has attempted should be a surprise but I suspect that a sizable number of Democratic Party voters are saying that they just didn't know.

Fortunately the tax payers will not have to support lifetime Secret Service protection for Hillary Clinton. Just 15 more months until she and her husband are 10 years out of the White House. Jimmy Carter we are stuck with.

-------
tomw,
(who corrected my error, the Clintons get lifetime protection)
My bad, thank you.

Hope the poor sods assigned to her detail get their choice of a next assignment.

Oct 21, 2009 - 11:57 am

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Comment on PJM, The Rosett Report
"First They Came for Fox News"


Rupert Murdoch is a businessman with his own interests. Conservatives do themselves no favor if they fall into the trap of expecting him to be their ideological voice or savior. He is smart enough to see an underserved market and is happy to pick it up. His other interests include extensive investments in China and we should not be surprised if that effects the perspective that his other outlets bring to stories.

After the NYT ran at a discounted price the "General Betray Us" ad George Bush should have thrown them out of the White House and issued an Executive Order that no government funds may be expended to purchase or support their product, except for cooperation with pool reportage arrangements established under prior agreements.

It is sad to think that the White House press room was built over the swimming pool that was constructed for the polio stricken FDR. That facility was paid for with dimes collected from America's schoolchildren. There is no reason to have the Press in the White House. They could be relocated to the Old Executive Office Building. It makes a good slogan, "Send the Old SOBs to the Old EOB."

NBC including MSNBC is a GE subsidiary. The web of financial links between GE and this administration and the ways in which they intend to profit from regulations and legislation that are destructive to the national security and to the economy as a whole are a story that is slowly coming out and which efforts will be made to suppress.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Somewhere in time"


Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable and juries have no idea about what they saw in the court room. Ed Levi was part of the Chicago Jury Project, that secretly taped the jurors, and some held it against him. The problem with witnesses and juries is the same as the problem with Democracy. Bad as they are it is hard to come up with anything better.

Hillary Clinton is running hard for the title of most feckless and gaffetastic Secretary of State ever. Maybe she can switch jobs with Joe Biden.

While everyone misremembers not everyone demands that the audience submit to their perception of reality. One mark of a traditional gentleman was a certain modesty in expression. A natural inclination to hedge and qualify statements is not designed to evade responsibility but rather to acknowledge limits and validate that others may have valid information also. A person displaying a sense of ethics learned from the ghetto like a child when challenged will attempt to tear down any threat "You didn't say that" or establish a story that allows no other interpretation "He came screaming out of that street like a bat out of Hell and aimed right for her" while a well raised person will have the inner security to accept their own limits "I did not hear you" or "I saw the vehicle enter the intersection after a truck cleared and the other car was already crossing."

In training for TSA and at FLETC we would do the surprise encounter, now write down a description, role play scenario. It is a humbling and important lesson. Children should all be taught the Telephone Game where a story is told at one end and works its way around the room until something very different arrives at the other end.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Dragging through history"


Momentum matters.

As I said on "The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes" thread change happens at an interface and it is often stimulated by morally questionable activity. Without foolish youths attempting Saturday night drag racing there would be no trained engineers inspecting captured technology.

This exercise happened immediately before the battles of Kohima and Imphal that turned back the Japanese invasion of India. In strategic importance those engagements could be compared to the German defeat at El Alamein in 1942. Information gained in these tests could have prevented a Japanese breakthrough.

The Burma theater is neglected by most Americans. The experience gained in jungle fighting in WW-II, and not only in the Island Hopping campaigns, along with post war British insurgency suppressions, contributed to the allied institutional knowledge base. To many Americans now believe that we blundered into Vietnam with no understanding of how to fight in a tropical environment. That ignores all this accumulated professional experience. It even disparages America's own experience in the Philippines. Sometimes the enemy convinces you that you do not know what you know.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"By way of marriage"


Why do people respond to military drill? Why do we still after enormous technical changes practice close order marching and the manual of arms? Why do we polish brass?

The answer is because it works. The military is the most practical of environments. It has to be as it deals with life and death. The drill shows training in attention to detail, patience and cooperation, listening skills, acceptance of responsibility, and trust. Respect for tradition is not a mindless activity. The fact is that when groups of people have to be moved from point A to point B it happens faster and with less confrontational supervision once everyone has learned to walk together.

My troops in Deck Division once asked why they had to polish the brass. They pointed out that they could paint it red and it would look good and fight corrosion. So I took the question to my Executive Officer, Oliver Hazard Perry III. Hap Perry was about as wide as he was tall and you usually saw his tonsils first, because he was screaming at you. On this occasion he was patient with me and explained that the ship was more than a machine, it was a community with a purpose. Then he asked me a couple of hypotheticals.

1) Suppose Lord Louis Mountbatten was coming to visit your ship, would you paint the brass?
Answer: No, Lord Mountbatten was a sailor and he would expect to see a clean but functional warship.

2) Suppose Lady Mountbatten was coming to visit, what do you do?
Answer: Paint the brass XO?

3) What are you going to do now?
Answer: Polish the brass XO.

Note that the Exec gave me, the junior officer, ownership of the ship in his example. That showed both good pedagogy and good leadership. Since our ship was the USS England, named as usual for someone who died heroically in this case an Ensign at Pearl Harbor, the use of Mountbatten was appropriate. Lord Louis was a great naval hero. He perfected the Maneuvering Board that is used to solve navigational problems and his character was the basis Noel Coward's Captain Kinross in 1942's In Which We Serve. He was killed by the IRA.


Some people have the gift, I’ll call it leadership, and it sounds like the Mother in Law had it. People can do amazing things with the right help.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Art for art's sake"


The Rhode Island School of Design, that produced Fairey, has an excellent reputation. Talking Heads came out of RISD. Part of the problem may be that students in the Arts and Humanities, like students in the Sciences and Engineering now tend to get a narrow technical education. The Common Core, all those Dead White Males, was gutted and disposed of a generation ago. That is true even at Chicago and Columbia. Obama as a transfer did not get any exposure to Columbia's Core program.

The Technical and Hard Science graduates no longer get exposed to the cultural legacy of the people they will be designing building or exploring for. Carl Sagan, whatever his politics, was right that the role of a scientist includes communicating, and that necessitates being steeped in the audiences culture. Robert Oppenheimer's knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita reassured both his professional colleagues and the greater audience that he was more than a technician with a big bomb and in so doing increased support for America's new role as a nuclear power.

The Arts and Letters graduates are also now increasingly schooled in technique without content. They no longer are expected to learn how the world works. How then can they write meaningful poetry, prose, music or create illustrations, even non-representational ones, that communicate anything to an audience? As an example while I am a terrible at mathematics I did realize that the Calculus belongs in the Humanities. It is a new language and once you grasp the key concepts then you have experienced a paradigm shift. An artist who lacks that experience is as crippled in my estimation as a painter who is colorblind or a musician who is tone deaf.

Ideally all should be schooled in some basic knowledge of how the world works and more importantly, how people work. Unless your goal is to perform a purely onanistic exercise in exploration for its own sake, like the fabled wealthy Mad Scientist working away in a remote laboratory, everyone needs to do creative work with some understanding of what it all means to people. A basic knowledge of History and Economics and Anthropology would make for better Artists and better Engineers and Scientists. Some familiarity with physical laws and human expression would also make for better Economists and Historians.

My secret regret is that I was never good enough at the mathematical courses. I still shudder at the memory of being introduced to Schrodinger's equations in freshman chemistry. That was in the supposedly non-calculus version of the class. The Queen of all disciplines has always seemed to me to be Architecture because it demands the most well rounded education.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club
"Honest as the day is long"


My suspicion is that the successful liar chooses to deliver a largely emotional message wrapped around nuggets of pseudo information. The mind rejects a purely content free message, even Seinfeld couldn't offer shows about absolutely nothing. The key is to choose false content that is sufficiently esoteric that most members of the audience will be unable to absolutely refute it on the spot. How many people felt qualified to challenge Ward Churchill's claim that he was a Native American?

Often I have had an aggressive young leftist attempt to end a debate by demanding the production of a citation on some point, as if we were engaged in some dissertation defense. By invalidating argument that hasn't prepared reference to approved authority and preparing their own positions based on claims that are hard to verify or invalidate they avoid challenges to the overall message.

Robert Heinlein had Jubal Harshaw say he won debates by referring to "The British Colonial Shipping Board," knowing his debater would be unaware that there was no such body. Adolph Hitler famously acknowledged the utility of the big lie in Mein Kampf.

-------
[after observing the gambling tables at Rick's]
Customer: Are you sure this place is honest?
Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long!
- fm Casablanca


Apologies for only finding the colorized version.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"An evening in Sydney"


(regarding our variable legacies)
The Rabbi looked at the congregation and looked at the departed and looked back at the congregation. "Well, his brother was worse."

Little things do mean a lot. Only a very small man would refuse to tie a small child's shoelace. Perhaps that is why we love dogs and small garden plots. They allow us to be decent in a small way. John Keegan said that during WW-I the British trenches were the scene of intense gardening. We had a saying on the ships, "Big dogs don't bark."

presbypoet,
Regarding our furry friends. There is a line in Blade Runner when the inventor tries to console the replicant, Rutger Hauer, who is about to kill him, "The light that burns the brightest ..."

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Modern times"


The Joker in the deck for that Inuit Circumpolar Council is Russia. Putin has a vested interest in seeing to it that Alaskan North Slope oil is not developed, that North American shale, tar sands and coal are not developed and that Greenland does not produce oil. When we hear a stupid idea we should ask cui bono?

Resource dependency is a real problem. Most wealth generated from extraction is stolen or wasted on a consumption binge. What is needed is a strong sense of cultural values that encourages people to use the income as finance capital for investment in human capital and then in industrial infrastructure.

Without all their oil the Norwegians would be just poor ignorant fisherman whose opinions about world peace deserved to be ignored, but with oil they are rich ignorant dhimmis whose opinions deserve to be ignored. If the Inuit hire BHOs crack team of financial advisors they can be confident that several trillion dollars worth of oil can be safely extracted and made to vanish like it had never existed.

-------
erc rodson,
(who argued correctly why the oil industry did not hurt the US)
Regarding the sanctity of contracts, a couple of small cases slipped by under the radar recently that you might want to look up. They may be cited in some obscure journals but the records are most likely being stored in a trunk in a old vehicle left at the impound yard. Just dig for the files labeled GM and Chrysler.

Oct 18, 2009 - 8:03 pm

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Great Bullet Scare


(from the BC thread "Buy one take ten")

Mongoose and Tamquam,
(who were concerned about a story about DHS buying ammunition)
I do not see any reason to act like this is part of some Black Helicopter conspiracy. There are around 50,000 armed Law Enforcement Officers in the various units of ICE and CBP. The contract calls for delivering 80 million rounds a year for 5 years. That works out to 320 rounds per officer per year. Officers have to shoot qualification rounds every quarter, they can miss a quarter occasionally, and they receive free ammunition to go practice on their own time. Proficiency is important and I think most readers of the BC want them, and all LEOs, getting their practice done.

Federal Law Enforcement, like members of the Armed Forces, are not the enemies of the American people. Their bosses are another matter.

-----
My thanks to Mad Fiddler for the correction where I double divided. All this gives the officers is less than one clip every 2 weeks for training.

-------
Mongoose,
(who was surprised there are more LEOs in DHS than in the FBI)
The FBI are the elite, there should be fewer of them then of the regular units. Most marines are not Force Recon and most soldiers are not Airborne Rangers. The Bureau is in the Dep't of Justice. For DHS the elite are the USSS Special Agents (non-uniformed,) For CBP numbers (2008) see: http://tinyurl.com/ygb4weq

• CBP officers: 19,726
• CBP Border Patrol agents: 17,499
• CBP Agriculture specialists: 2,277
• CBP Air and Marine agents: 1090
Agriculture Specialists are unarmed. The basic CBP officers are the ones at the border crossings and airports who ask to see your passport and if you have over $10,000 on you, any meat, fruit or seeds and if you visited a farm recently. Given the size of the border and the country these numbers do not seem excessive to me.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a separate agency with over 10,000 agents. They are the ones responsible for finding and deporting the millions of illegal aliens. The Obama administration has shut down recruitment for ICE .

An Invasion Denied


(fm the BC thread "Buy one take ten")
AZM,
(who had an OT on reaction to Geert Wilders being allowed into the UK)

Tie it back into the thread topic. This is easy. Radical Muslims refuse to assimilate and accept the core Western values of tolerance, rule of law and comity that permit free citizens to share a political space. They openly proclaim that they are part of an invading army that is subjugating the host victim, only they are not usually bearing arms and they do not meet the other standards (discipline, identifiable uniform or device, state sponsorship, openly bearing arms) of lawful combatants under the Geneva Conventions. The politicians and their enablers refuse to acknowledge the reality that these invaders admit to. To refuse to do so is insane.

In fact a clever apologist could argue that they do in fact meet the Geneva standards if we would only acknowledge it and treat them as such. They have a written code and guide, in the Koran and Hadith and receive detailed instructions from an organized chain of command. They wear identifiable uniforms, the long brown coats and full beards of the men and burqas of the women, that are specifically designed to set them apart and identify them. They are funded and supported by the Saudi government and agents of the Saudi royal family. The only standard they fail to meet is that they carry weapons secretly, although they openly proclaim their intent to do so.

The Tragedy of Orthanc


(from the BC thread "Buy one take ten")
Ashen,
(who commented on the death of the spiteful false savior)
And yet Saruman, like Sauron and Gandalf/Mithrandir/Olorin was of the Maier. He had participated in and had heard the music of the Ainur at the beginning. He had seen Eru Iluvatar. He knew better, that was why he is a tragic character.

Imagine knowing what perfection is and knowing that you have fallen to being a parody of a parody (Sauron) of a parody (Morgoth) of the One.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Buy one take ten"


Somewhere I read that there is a reliable test that can tell the difference between healthy adults and adolescents. A normal healthy adult is susceptible to being taken in by a trained functional salesman, especially a confidence artist. However the same adult usually has the inner stability and experience to detect that there is something wrong with a true sociopath. The difference is that the manipulative salesman is other directed and the lunatic is entrapping his victims in a narrow world of his own construction. In other words healthy adults can fall victim to a Bernie Madoff but rarely are taken in by a Charles Manson or Reverend Jim Jones. When otherwise sane adults do get caught up in a sociopath's delusion it is usually as part of a mass movement, which has its own dynamics.

For children the opposite condition applies. They are used to people in the adult role taking responsibility and projecting authority over them. They can detect whether the person they are dealing with believes in what they are saying or is lying to themselves. Adults lose that inner sense or at least do not expect that high a level of honesty and consistency from other adults. For the child or adolescent the sociopath who truly believes in the story they are selling, no matter how divorced from reality, is credible but the slick salesman who is only peddling a line sets off their warning bells.

As government controls infantilize the population we become more vulnerable to being swept up in fantasies by a Messianic "One." I hope that Dr Sanity does not come after me for pontificating or shrinking without a license.

Bait and Switch


(from the BC thread "The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes")

The rule in lifesaving is never let a drowning person grab a hold on you. They will pull you under. The fact is that we are mortal, at the end we all are out of money, time , hope and life. As the end approaches people will get increasingly desperate and will demand an infinite level of support from all around them. If they were prudent, productive and lucky then they will have money, there is never enough because the end is never what is desired, to extend life and mitigate the suffering. If they were also loving and decent and lucky then they will have friends and family to comfort them and help them obtain medical and other assistance.

The best way to increase the resources available to the elderly and to their friends and family is to unchain the economy and reduce the role of government. To chain the economy and expand the government in the name of providing health care, or food or clothing or shelter, is akin to allowing the drowning person to kill the rescuer.

The bitter irony is that the Democrats in the government both use the fear that the elderly feel to push for expanded government control, first through Social Security then through Medicare and later through expanded financial regulations, and then decide that the elderly are not worth saving. What has happened is that people who spent their entire productive lives, over 60 years, expanding a system that transferred wealth from the productive members of society to the elderly with ever increasing promises of support are now seeing those benefits diverted to new constituencies, such as illegal immigrants. Unfortunately for those who supported and relied on the Social Security/Medicare system the wealth that has been diverted to these wasteful Ponzi schemes is no longer available to strengthen the economy and support the elderly.

Instead of calling this miracle "Loaves and Fishes" I would call it "Bait and Switch."

-------
Subotai Bahadur,
(who had a shocking tale of abuse witnessed in the British NHS)
Thank you for the story. I hope your little girl is well now.

elby,
(who noted that 500,000 lost their jobs last month)
Methinks the real unemployment rate is around 20%. The government only counts people who are getting unemployment. If you are working a part time job or if you have been out of work for over one year and the unemployment stops then you are no longer counted. Did you see the report that NY State stopped payments to an unemployed lawyer who had stated on her blog that she was making $1.30/month in revenue from her blog ads?

bogie wheel,
(who described the Ponzi element and vast padding of gov't payrolls)
Good work. The 2009 Statistical Abstract says that in 2006 there were 5,128,000 State workers and 14,199,00 local government employees, rounded to the nearest thousand for each. Read it and weep and note the trends.

tanstaafl,
Look for the ... slush fund, aka the Porkulus, ... prior to 2010 elections.
Correct, the Stimulus is really the trillion dollar slush fund.

A truly honest politician would walk into a room full of retirees and tell them the truth.

There are three groups of people in America.

1) Those in this room who voted to give their wealth to other people who had retired over the last 60 years.

2) Those who voted to set up the system that gave them the money, who have already received it and are now dead.

3) Those who are now working or who are going to work in the future. You expect that third group to send you their money because you sent your money to someone else. They may not want to do that.

The money that the people in this room are expecting to get from the government is not your money. Forget that idea, it simply is not true. Your money was already spent on other people. That is the system that you and the people you sent your money to voted for.

Given that you are asking the workers of the future to support a life expectancy, standard of living and level of medical care vastly greater than that which would have been available to people when this Ponzi scheme was set up 70 years ago and given that doing so will condemn those future workers and their children to a lower standard of living and life expectancy and given that if you and those you sent your money to had instead supported a smaller role for government and increased investment in the productive economy then both you and the future generations would not be facing these financial constraints you are asking a lot, indeed to much, of the future and something must change.

We can unbundle ourselves of this burden and do so humanely over a 20 year period. We must begin.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Comment on Gateway Pundit
"Shocker. Obama Census Workers Will Ignore Immigrant "Legal Status""


The 14th Amendment section 2 does state that apportionment shall be made in accordance with the number of persons, not citizens. Section 3 says that apportionment will be reduced for denying the right to vote to males over 21, except for Indians not taxed. That section was never enforced anyway and blacks after Reconstruction ended were denied the right to vote until the 1960s.

A new constitutional amendment is needed stating that the apportionment of Congressional seats shall be in accordance with the number of citizens eligible to vote, as recorded by the Census.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes"


Robert Reich has half or maybe a third of the problem solved. venividivici is correct that Reich's assumption that only government and not the market can provide cost controls is unwarranted.

Reich sees the costs in solving problems, including the opportunity costs. For a person on the Left that is a major revelation. He does not understand how wealth is created or how that can help solve the problems. If the economy was unchained then there would be wealth to provide improved care for the elderly. The Left, including Reich, think that increasing wealth automatically increases costs, especially externalities like pollution. This does not come from Marxism, it has piggybacked on and may come from the Romantic tradition that was opposed to Capitalism.

In a soundly managed market economy government would punish corruption, competition would reduce costs and innovation would increase wealth.

-------
Change happens at an interface. Inside the traditional envelope of activity is where things are tested and reliable or at least predictable. Change is by definition "cutting edge" and therefor beyond general actuarial rationality. That is why in a healthy market economy a small number of wealthy people are willing to pay for high risk innovative treatments. The changes that they pay for either fail to work, to bad for the dead old rich guy, or result in improvements that improve service at a lower ongoing cost for everyone.

This model applies to all forms of technical innovation. Automotive engineering benefited from enthusiasts and race car fans. The internet benefited from the expenditures of sexual adventurers and foolish rich people willing to pay an outrageous amount for tobacco created the trade networks that created America. None of these innovations were justifiable as an economic good or a moral good, if the time static interests of the whole society are used to justify the expenses that individuals were willing to incur.

Reich and Zeke Emanuel evaluating whether a treatment for Grandma is rational based on what the society as a whole could do with the money misses the point. It shouldn't be society that decides but Grandma and her family. It shouldn't be society that pays but Grandma and her family.

Young liberals always defend seatbelt laws by pointing out that people foolish enough not to use them get injured and then "we all have to pay." If I respond by asking "Why?" they accuse me of wanting to shut down the municipal hospitals and the Public Health Service. Then they laugh like they were remembering a particularly fun Professor. There is no connection between the existence of a public hospital and the imposition of a control over private conduct, and if there was I would prefer the freedom of private conduct and hope that if I needed it I could benefit from the freely offered charity of my neighbors. Of course the same young people who feel entitled to sit in judgement on the conduct of others will engage in every self indulgent form of risky behavior that offers itself to them. If I am driving the car you will use your seatbelt, because I told you to.

Oct 14, 2009 - 9:37 pm

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Brainstorm


(from the BC thread "Armageddon revisited")

I just had a brainstorm.

Pause, whenever I hear that phrase I inspect the room for evidence that Joe Biden may be speaking.

We are adopting a European style administration that has a somewhat flexible view of constitutional strictures and an infinite appetite to redistribute and skim off wealth. Meanwhile the real Europeans are abolishing their heritages of national sovereignty and subsuming themselves in a rapacious collective administration that seeks to be subsidized by America, even as it criticizes us. The make deals with a hostile Russia that demands entry into Nato and the EU just to embarrass us and extract side payments. Clearly we have failed to control this process, so here is my proposal. We should join it. The US should demand admission to the new EU, and invite the Russians to join also. We should remember the wisdom of Sir Humphrey Appleby on why the UK joined the then EC.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, Britain has had The same foreign policy objective for at least The last 500 years: to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with The Dutch against The Spanish, with The Germans against The French, with The French and Italians against The Germans, and with The French against The Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now, when its worked so well?
James Hacker: Thats all ancient history, surely.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, and current policy. We had to break The whole thing up, so we had to get inside. We tried to break it up from The outside, but that wouldnt work. Now that were inside we can make a complete pigs breakfast of The whole thing: set The Germans against The French, The French against The Italians, The Italians against The Dutch. The Foreign Office is terribly pleased; its just like old times.
James Hacker: Surely were all committed to The European ideal.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Really, Minister. [laughs]
James Hacker: If not, why are we pushing for an increase in The membership?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, for The same reason. Its just like The United Nations, in fact. The more members it has, The more arguments it can stir up. The more futile and impotent it becomes.
James Hacker: What appalling cynicism.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes. We call it diplomacy, Minister.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Armageddon revisited"


It is not necessary to drop a nuclear bomb on Cairo. Nasser built one, it is called the Aswan High Dam. My guess is that one day some Islamic group will blow it up to kill Copts or Mubarak or just to kill.

The primary target in Israel is the reactor facility at Dimona. Israelis call it the "Banana Factory."

Regarding the fraudulent 2007 NIE report that was used to cripple efforts to control Iran and which also boosted the Democrats in the run up to the 2008 election, actions must have consequences. The production and use of the false report to aid hostile foreign powers was a clear case of treason and sedition. Remember that Iran was and is engaged in active combat killing American soldiers in Iraq. If those who engaged in this fraud faced consequences, if their sense of overwhelming immunity was torn asunder, then we would be restored to a world in which reasonable people can disagree over policy.

The failure to permanently disbar Clinton for his admitted perjury started the devaluation of any sense that would be any consequences for assaults on the foundations of constitutional government. In addition the laughably soft response to Sandy Berger's "Docs in his socks" destruction of the historical record in the National Archive was a body blow to any sense that those committing an outrage may be held accountable.

-------
F,
(who praised my analysis)
Thank you for the kind words. I claim no special knowledge of intelligence value. Now if only someone would offer me a job.

The Israelis have put much effort into their "Iron Dome" missile defense system. That should give some point defense capability but would not defend against a nuclear airburst. How many of Israel's warheads are kept in storage at Dimona and how may are launch ready? The problem they face in needing to prevent a decapitating first strike is similar to that faced by Pakistan, only in Israel's case it is even worse because the country is so incredibly small. What Israel needs IMHO are more submarines. Fuel cell powered subs with long deployment times armed with either nuke cruise missiles or ballistics would be their best option to guarantee survivability.

A few more hunter killer submarines would give the Israelis the option to blockade Iran. That would be a Samson option move in the face of an existential threat, unless prior support was forthcoming from other interested parties. If Iran is blockaded they will of course move to stop all traffic going into the Gulf. Any unsupported Israeli threat to close the Straits of Hormuz will produce panic and a confrontation with Japan, Nato, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudis, the Russians who the KSA have now concluded a defense deal with, and the US 5th Fleet.

The Dimona location does minimize collateral damage if targeted. The greatest risk would be to the town itself (pop. ~36,000 according to wiki) and to archeological sites around the Dead Sea 22 some miles away and then the Jordanian desert. Beer'sheva, a sizable small city, is to the North-west.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Sixty seven years"


Basics.
The movies taught men how to be men and women how to be women. They had something for everyone, a beauty suffering in great clothes for the women and a knock down fight for the tough guys. While they choose sides in political debates, and unashamedly cheered for FDR, the tough immigrant merchants in charge insisted on a basic respect for the audience and worshiped America. Jewish boys from Brooklyn sat among the palm trees and made up songs and stories about dancing in Venice or a small town Judge in Protestant Ohio and it worked.

While the writers actually did go to the trouble of sitting around in Super Seeekrit Party meetings to discuss advancing the red agenda during the day they stopped pretending that they were still holding undergraduate bull sessions. They had jobs.

Orson Welles said that a film set was "the world's greatest set of electric trains." It was a place where the essential roles of fantasy and practicality could come together. Both are needed to keep us creative and productive, otherwise we are just ants toiling away. Movies appeal to the naval officer in me. A studio was like a ship. Hundreds of tough hard working craft specialists come together to build and operate an incredibly complex machine under the direction of ruthless tyrants and take it in search of the unknown. What could be more romantic?
[last lines]
Captain Ramius: "... and the sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home." Christopher Columbus.
Jack Ryan: Welcome to the New World, Captain.
- The Hunt for Red October
H/T imdb

Monday, October 12, 2009

On a Troll


Take it as a rule of thumb from now on that while a Jew may say Shalom and an Arab may say Salaam no one speaking English ends a debate point or conversational riposte by saying “peace.” To do so reveals a high level of hostility and aggression towards the recipients. My recommendation is that people go to PJM, open the “Palintracker” thread and scroll down to comment #63 by fireyourguns.

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Happy trails"


Obama is preemptively destroying the US nuclear stockpile. That reduces the credibility of our deterrence. It increases the probability of aggressive action by everyone else.

The difference between now and the world of Bogart is that then the struggle was perceived as a contest between people, some right and some wrong, but both with mutually comprehensible reactions to questions involving issues such as force and fear and love and hate. Bogies newspaper is attacked by fascist thugs and stooges but it would have been to incredible to expect the audience to see them being lead by simpering self destructive monsters like whiskey's tranzis and sexually confused sluts.

Evelyn Waugh did have characters like the ones who have brought us to this pass. The difference is that back then most of them had enough of a survival instinct to support the majority in its struggle to survive. Ambrose Silk, Poppett Green, Parsnip and Pimpernell and friends at least knew who their real enemies were.

The Best


(from the BC thread "Changing places")

whiskey,
the transnational, transgendered clowns that ... self-immolated in WWI

One correction. It was not the poseurs who died in WW-I, it was the best that Western Civilization had. The real aristocrats inspected their troops feet and then lead them over the top and walked into the machine gun fire of the Somme. In one day the British lost more men than the Americans had during the three days of Gettysburg exactly 52 years earlier. British casualties on July 01, 1916 totaled over 57,000, meaning that one out of every thousand inhabitants of United Kingdom were lost in one day. Make that one out 250 men of fighting age. For the officer corps, the true aristocrats and the educated urban professionals who truly believed in and built and lead Western Civilization, the proportion was much larger. They never recovered.

On Moderation


(from the BC thread "The End")

Mad Fiddler,
For the record, I specifically disavow the use of violence to overthrow the government. Anyone posting any such advocacy must be regarded as utterly irresponsible and most likely an agent provocateur, intent upon creating suspicion and hostile response to Pajamas Media, our gracious host, and to free speech in general.

You are correct here. We can expect that Mobys will infiltrate the blogs in an effort to discredit us by posting needlessly inflammatory statements or even attempt to entrap people into making or concurring with statements that can be seen as legally actionable by a hostile prosecutor. Do I think that Holder is capable of being a party to such a tactic? Will a defense plea of entrapment work? Need you ask? We must keep these lines of communication open and look out for each other.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club
"Changing places"


The Republican Party arose in the 1850s around the following core principles and groups:
1) Freedom of labor
2) Small farms
3) Entrepreneurial manufacturers
4) Sound currency and strict banking standards
5) High tariffs.

The Democrats were the party of captive labor, large export driven agribusiness, large industries, debased currency with lax lending rules and free trade.

The only place where the parties have really changed their positions is with regard to free trade. The Democrats ostensibly call for stricter control over imports as a sop to labor. What really happened was that they learned that they could institute tariff walls and regulations to punish their rivals and then as the party of the larger industrialists and export driven agribusiness they could use the corrupt political process to buy influence and craft special exemptions in their own interest.

The evidence is clear that over time the Democratic approach introduces massive inefficiencies and results in general impoverishment. If uncertain how that can happen just go down to a GM plant, now owned by a troika of the US Government, the UAW and Fiat, and ask how it feels being down 45%, or walk over to a Hummer dealer and ask how they think being owned by China will work out and how those trade barriers, tax rates, labor and environmental regulations, and destruction of the financial markets to support the friends of Franks and Dodd are working out for them?

My submission for a campaign theme for use on either side of the pond:
You owe nobody anything. You don't have to apologize to anybody."

Thomas Friedman gets it right.



caveo of volatilis volutabrum
I must remind any Powers that Be that I still have more to see and do.

-------
We will soon hear about how a heroic SWAT team freed Thomas Friedman from captivity in Rush Limbaugh's closet in Florida.

Wait, breaking news, photography of the rescue from the evil disgiused Rush has just been revealed.

Comments on The Belmont Club
"The 2010 to Yuma"


The great disconnect is between the assumed condition and the presumed remedy. Even if Global Warming was not 3 parts hokum it does not logically follow that the solution is the imposition of controls rooted in the prejudices of 18th century elitism, 19th century socialism and 20th century totalitarianism. As Al Smith said "The cure for the evils of Democracy is more Democracy." The cure for the problems of Capitalism (externalities wrought by economic liberty) is more Capitalism. If anyone is ruining the environment it is the Socialists. The Soviets just about ruined Lake Baikal, the Caspian is drying up and China is a Socialist environmental disaster.

If we choose failure, as I noted on the last thread, our ruins will speak of our failure.

-------
The stranded ships of the Aral Sea. The ideology that produced this is now shaping US policy.


-------
Regarding the Precautionary Principle, Joseph Heller got this right.
You may only go in to see Major Major Major Major when he is out.

Oct 12, 2009 - 8:32 pm

-------
Inductive versus deductive reasoning. French Cartesian logic versus Anglo-saxon experimental science.

Oct 13, 2009 - 4:17 am

On a path to failure

(from the BC thread "The end")

We have the answer today on the planned Europeanization and deconstruction of the US Armed Forces.
Obama says he will end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

My concern is not with the policy but with the intention behind it.

In other news:
1) Iconic Hummer brand sold to Chinese manufacturer.
2) Polish President ratifies EU reform treaty.

The last time that I am aware of in history that a great and powerful civilization choose to adopt pacifism and abandon productivity in the face of outside pressure was the Khmer who collapsed before the Thai and Viet invasions after converting to Theravedra Buddhism. Will people look at our ruins in 800 years and wonder, "How could they?"

Angkor Wat


Lopburi



Phanom Rung


Phanom Rung

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Latin lesson


(fm BC thread "Exit, stage left; exeunt stage right")

bogie wheel,
(who declined to decline)
The latin lesson.

Comment on Theo Spark:
"Question?"


Theo,
Turn your head very carefully and slowly and look to your right. Is your wife standing there? If so then the droning noise is nothing important and you can ignore it. Otherwise I suggest seeking professional help. Am I correct that the National Health Service has an Expedited Droning Noise Service? If that applies it should get you pre-evaluated for an Audiology consultation in 5 to 7 years, depending on the breaks, funding, possible job actions and future EU Droning Directives.

Actual appointment with the doctor to follow, if approved, within 4 more years, on average, extrapolating from data collected in the 3rd quarter of 1997, in 3 districts in Wales.

Comment on the Belmont Club
"The end"



THE END
(written by The Doors)

The Doors - 1967
Niko - 1976


This Is The End
Beautiful Friend
This Is The End
My Only Friend, The End

Of Our Elaborate Plans, The End
Of Everything That Stands, The End
No Safety Or Surprise, The End
I'll Never Look Into Your Eyes...again

Can You Picture What Will Be
So Limitless And Free
Desperately In Need...of Some...stranger's Hand
In A...desperate Land

Lost In A Roman...wilderness Of Pain
And All The Children Are Insane
All The Children Are Insane
Waiting For The Summer Rain, Yeah

There's Danger On The Edge Of Town
Ride The King's Highway, Baby
Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine
Ride The Highway West, Baby

Ride The Snake, Ride The Snake
To The Lake, The Ancient Lake, Baby
The Snake Is Long, Seven Miles
Ride The Snake...he's Old, And His Skin Is Cold

The West Is The Best
The West Is The Best
Get Here, And We'll Do The Rest

The Blue Bus Is Callin' Us
The Blue Bus Is Callin' Us
Driver, Where You Taken' Us

The Killer Awoke Before Dawn, He Put His Boots On
He Took A Face From The Ancient Gallery
And He Walked On Down The Hall
He Went Into The Room Where His Sister Lived,
And...then He
Paid A Visit To His Brother, And Then He
He Walked On Down The Hall, And
And He Came To A Door...and He Looked Inside
Father, Yes Son, I Want To Kill You
Mother...I Want To...fuck You

C'mon Baby, Take A Chance With Us
C'mon Baby, Take A Chance With Us
C'mon Baby, Take A Chance With Us
And Meet Me At The Back Of The Blue Bus
Doin' A Blue Rock
On A Blue Bus
Doin' A Blue Rock
C'mon, Yeah

Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill

This Is The End
Beautiful Friend
This Is The End
My Only Friend, The End

It Hurts To Set You Free
But You'll Never Follow Me
The End Of Laughter And Soft Lies
The End Of Nights We Tried To Die

This Is The End
/lyricsplayground.com

Most notablyand on topic used in the opening to Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now.


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My first comment on this thread, that I regrettably am late to, went into moderation. The work of Captain Morrison's son and of Mr Coppola got to Limbo ahead of the rest of us.

For 800 years Constantinople absorbed the fiercest assaults of Islam. That shelter permitted Western Civilization to survive and Western Europe to grow strong enough to eventually overtake the Caliphate. Given that the shelter that the United States provided for the same region of Western Europe over the last 65 years has produced no such happy effect we should consider what the Byzantines and Western Europeans, Romans and Franks to the Moslems, did right and what we have done wrong by comparison.

Friday, October 09, 2009

On Isolationism


(from the BC thread "Exit, stage left; exeunt stage right")

Isolationism was a 19th Century ideal that depended on two conditions it's advocates did not acknowledge.
1) Dominance of the the Sea by the Royal Navy.
2) Physical isolation from any potential enemy, other than Mexico.
Mexico has always been America's Lebanon but never was a serious rival.

The Isolationism of the 1930s was already an anachronism. Fortunately the second condition still held and that permitted FDR the physical space and time needed to prepare a reluctant nation to enter WW-II.

The fact is that we cannot withdraw from this struggle. China will compete with us for resources in Asia, in Australia, in Africa and in Latin America. Russia will attempt to control energy supplies and use them to dominate essential sources of wealth and power that we cannot have used against us. While the world no longer defines power by access to coal and iron, as it did when Containment theory was first formulated after WW-II, the key regions of England, Germany, Japan, Russia and the USA still exist. The new sources of power may have moved a few or a few hundred miles, from the Ruhr valley or from Manchester or from the Ohio valley or from the Donets basin, and some new regions have arisen, in India, Israel and China but the United States cannot allow hostile forces to gain preponderant control of a set of key locations.

Charles Krauthammer connects again. "Nothing is written."
Unfortunately, Dr K cannot get up and dance like Peter O'Toole.

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luddy barsen,
(who noted the superiority of light sweet Saudi crude)
Agreed but the difference between Arab oil and German coal is important. The first was an asset that the inhabitants could use to build industrial and military power. It was important to the US to keep the Soviets from controlling the Ruhr because that location served as a nexis where energy sources, the basic industrial raw material (iron ore), physical, financial and intellectual capital and transportation routes come together. That is true of all five of the key locations I reviewed, Saudi oil is a contributory good and we certainly do not want it to fall under the control of an enemy but the Saudis themselves have proven unable to assemble more then two (energy and finance) assets from the six that I listed.

On Aspirational Praise


(from the BC thread "Exit, stage left;exeunt stage right")

luddy barsen,
simply give him no orders except to do what he is about to do anyway

That is the Bart Simpson approach to dog training.
"Go ahead eat that thing, sniff that butt, now wander over there."

When training a dog or a child you begin with Anticipatory Direction so you can praise them for associating their desires with your instruction. Sometimes you evaluate them based on how you want them to perform rather them their actual achievement. That is what I call Aspirational Praise. When the performance fails to measure up to your goals a dissonance is produced that should result in a correction. The push of anticipation usually works better than the pull of aspiration but both need to be carefully controlled and backed by both praise and correction. In the case of Obama we have someone who has benefited for over a third of a century from an almost purely Aspirational approach on the part of everyone who controlled the rewards that he sought. In addition he has been remarkably effective at using the racism card to eliminate the essential component of correction from any situation in which he failed to perform up to the desired standard.

Country folk I understand have a saying, "The dog won't hunt."

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Obama is known for things he has Won, not things he has Done.