Build snow forts and sandcastles with the light, durable block mold. Make perfect snowballs with the plastic tong-style snowball maker. Integrated handles prevent cold and wet hands.That's right folks -- you don't even have to get your hands cold. Only twelve dollars American. Get 'em while supplies last.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Every poll suggests that Rick Santorum will lose his race to return to the U.S. Senate. That's probably good news in Pennsylvania's bobo suburbs, where folks regard Santorum as an ideological misfit and a social blight. But it's certainly bad for poor people around the world.For there has been at least one constant in Washington over the past 12 years: almost every time a serious piece of antipoverty legislation surfaces in Congress, Rick Santorum is there playing a leadership role. In the mid-1990s, he was a floor manager for welfare reform, the most successful piece of domestic legislation of the past 10 years. He then helped found the Renewal Alliance to help charitable groups with funding and parents with flextime legislation.More recently, he has pushed through a stream of legislation to help the underprivileged, often with Democratic partners. With Dick Durbin and Joe Biden, Santorum has sponsored a series of laws to fight global AIDS and offer third world debt relief. With Chuck Schumer and Harold Ford, he's pushed to offer savings accounts to children from low-income families. With John Kerry, he's proposed homeownership tax credits. With Chris Dodd, he backed legislation authorizing $860 million for autism research. With Joe Lieberman he pushed legislation to reward savings by low-income families.
In addition, he's issued a torrent of proposals, many of which have become law: efforts to fight tuberculosis; to provide assistance to orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries; to provide housing for people with AIDS; to increase funding for Social Services Block Grants and organizations like Healthy Start and the Children's Aid Society; to finance community health centers; to combat genocide in Sudan.
I could fill this column, if not this entire page, with a list of ideas, proposals and laws Santorum has poured out over the past dozen years. It's hard to think of another politician who has been so active and so productive on these issues.Like many people who admire his output, I disagree with Santorum on key matters like immigration, abortion, gay marriage. I'm often put off by his unnecessarily slashing style and his culture war rhetoric. But government is ultimately not about the theater or the light shows of public controversy, it's about legislation and results. And the substance of Santorum's work is impressive. Bono, who has worked closely with him over the years, got it right: ''I would suggest that Rick Santorum has a kind of Tourette's disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing. But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable.''
The original is behind the NYT subscription wall.
That's a huge and impressive set of benevolent accomplishments and proposals. Over the past decade Santorum has been by far the most compassionate and effective spokesmen for the world's disadvantaged. Yet, because gay activists have systematically misrepresented his record he is likely to lose to an empty suit.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
While at the Playboy Mansion to meet with campaign contributors from the porn industry, your congressman wrote a sexually explicit novel about flirting with a teenage page of the same sex but another race, whom he affectionately called Macaca in text messages that were published at an anti-pedophile Web site set up by a young worker at a gay rights group, which immediately fired him, even as Nancy Pelosi complained about the Culture of Corruption, much to the embarrassment of Harry Reid, who was as cluelessly exposed as his cousin Tara....Read the whole thing here. It's hilarious, but as with all good humor it makes a serious point.
This is the most disgusting campaign ever -- but there is a purpose behind the filth. Political pros, especially on the Democrat side, are determined to drive as many independent and moderate voters away from the polls as possible.
They want a contest dominated by political activists like themselves because they figure that their base is more energized and unified than the Republicans (who are rapidly descending into civil war and are threatening to sit out the election in droves).
The only way to thwart this despicable strategy is for moderates to turn out and vote, and to vote against the mud-slingers. But that is probably too much to ask.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Ben Cardin really blew it this time. He released one of those despicable Michael Fox commercials implying that Republicans want sick people to suffer because they have moral qualms about using government funds to kill embryos for medical research and Steele struck back. He released an ad featuring Dr. Monica Turner who points out that Steele supports stem cell research and testifies on the basis of personal knowledge that he is profoundly sympathetic to people suffering from neurological diseases. She, you see, is his sister and she suffers from MS.
This is just devastating. Cardin looks like a fool, and he deserves to.
Check out the video here.
And, let it be noted, Dr. Turner is also the former Mrs. Mike Tyson.
Steele Scores Again!
Ben Cardin ran one of those "ordinary people endorsing the candidate" ads. Steele tracked down the identies of the people interviewed in the ad, and they turn out to be not so ordinary. Check out Steele's counter-ad here.
Damn, this guy is good!!!!! Several months ago, when Steele fired the consultants sent to him by the RNC and hired a bunch of local Maryland talent, people said it was a sign of unprofessionalism and disarray in his campaign. On the contrary, he knew exactly what he was up to, and the contrast between Steele's local team, which is churning out brilliant product, and the incompetence of the RNC operatives is more than embarrassing; it's a scandal.
Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin this afternoon declined to participate in an NAACP-sponsored debate with the other two candidates for U.S. Senate tonight in Charles County, Md.Read the whole thing here.
"I just spoke with Mr. Cardin about an hour ago, and he said he had three other engagements," said the Rev. Willie Hunt, pastor of New Community Church of God in Christ in Waldorf.
Mr. Cardin's forgoing of tonight's debate comes one day after the 10-term congressman stammered and stumbled through a debate with Republican nominee Michael S. Steele and Green Party nominee Kevin Zeese.
This is not good for Cardin, not good at all.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
His argument is that a persistent left-wing bias in major films has alienated the moviegoing audience and now that alternative media are easily available even the biggest blockbusters cannot reliably draw a sufficient number of movegoers to make a profit. Political correctness could only be sustained when Movies and TV had a monopoly, but now that alternative media, especially the intenet, are available, the audience is free to seek other forms of entertainment. Moviehouses are empty and the major movie industry is doomed. In its place is emerging a plethora of small budget entertainments, cheaply produced for niche audiences.
Most of his argument is conventional wisdom, but what is interesting is that he weds this CW regarding the effect of the internet with Michael Medved's assertion that until recently Hollywood was able to get away with advancing political and moral positions that most of its audience found offensive. This, he argues, explains the sudden collapse of big cinema. Audiences, offended and alienated by the left-wing bias of what they were seeing, were desperately looking for an alternative to the TV/Hollywood monopoly and as soon as alternative media were available, they jumped for it.
Could be. I still think that the problem is that the big productions are just mindless, insipid, and dull as well as being ideologically offensive. If the big films were consistently entertaining it wouldn't matter what their ideological content was. They would draw audiences. But they are dumb and boring and that alone explains their failure to connect with a sizeable audience.
Driscoll is right that big budget productions are doomed -- the market just won't sustain them any more -- but I doubt that ideology has much to do with it.
First, as Don Surber notes [here] such an order is blatantly unconstitutional. The courts cannot compel the legislature to do a damn thing. They are co-equal branches of government. I agree that sensitive issues should be settled through the political, not the judicial process, but if the legislature decides not to act, as it has done so far, that is their prerogative, and there is nothing the Court can do about it.
And, in case you hadn't noticed -- the justices clearly haven't -- we are in the final days of an election campaign. What the court has done, in essence, is to hand a huge issue to the Republicans. Tom Kean is already affirming his opposition to gay marriage [expect every Republican to do the same], and now every Democrat will be questioned on the issue and have to take a stand that either alienates his base and suppresses turnout, or really tees off the majority of the voters.
Stay tuned.... Things are getting interesting in the Garden State.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Read it here.
The latest Senatorial poll shows Steele almost even with Cardin -- 39-41%. There's still a huge undecided there and that race can go either way.
Read it here.
The latest Keystone Poll -- [Terry Madonna's organization down at F & M University] shows Santorum leading Casey 46 to 41 in a survey of Pennsylvania's 10th district. That's in the northeast of the State, bordering New York and New Jersey, and is supposed to be strong Casey country. The three point gain for Santorum is not unexpected, given the huge effort his people have been making in recent days, but the ten point drop in Casey's support is suspicious.
Still, it's interesting. Don't write off Senator Rick just yet.
The Center's website is here.
Read it here.
President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have succeeded beyond expectations in lining up China as a strong ally in forcing North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The New York Times reports that the Chinese are even threatening to ratchet back on their oil shipments to North Korea, which is totally dependent on Beijing for fuel.
But Bush is getting no credit for it and neither are the Republicans. All of the focus has been on the role that Rice and UN Ambassador John Bolton are playing in forcing North Korea back from membership of the nuclear club.
Despite 36 straight months of expansion, an unemployment rate of 4.6%, and inflation at an annual projected rate of 2.4%, the media still can't bring themselves to report on a Republican economy honestly. Business & Media Institute found that TV networks gave twice as much airtime to negative stories as positive ones (62% - 31%). Bad news was twice as likely to get full-length treatment as well. The people interviewed by the network were three times more likely to relate negative anecdotes. To no one's surprise, CBS took the lead in negative coverage, committing 80% of its economic coverage to bad news in the middle of a huge economic expansion.
No industry can be that incompetent by accident. There has been a deliberate attempt to deceive people through anecdotal coverage in a period where all of the economic indicators have shown remarkable and broad growth. IBD warns its readers that the TV networks, at the least, have conducted a propaganda operation….
Read it here.
The behavior of the MSM, especially the NYT, Time, Newsweek, and the big three broadcast networks, has been nothing less than disgraceful in this election season. Things have never been better, either at home or abroad, than they are now; the Bush administration has a record of diplomatic and economic successes as great as that of any President in history, yet the public perception is overwhelmingly negative. And the MSM bears the burden of blame for that disconnect.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Read it here.
she is, by far, more attractive than all the Democratic candidates combined.
Sounds right to me. Here's wishing her the best of luck against Jack "Abscammer" Murtha.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
From the Times
THE latest media darling of Scandinavian politics is not only black, beautiful and Muslim; she is also firmly against the wearing of the veil.
Nyamko Sabuni, 37, has caused a storm as
’s new integration and equality minister by arguing that all girls should be checked for evidence of female circumcision; arranged marriages should be criminalised; religious schools should receive no state funding; and immigrants should learn Swedish and find a job. Sweden
Read about her here.
I always thought of it as gooey socialism, but when you think about it socialism and fascism have a lot in common. Either way I never cared much for it.
We got back home this weekend to find that the leaves on the hill had finally popped. This is a glorious time to be in the mountains. Too bad it only lasts a few days, and then the leaves fall, and the dreariness of winter descends. But that is a worry for tomorrow. For now it is enough to simply walk in splendor through the realms of gold.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Leaving in a few minutes, as soon as "She Who Must Not Be Named" is ready, for Philly. Will be speaking at the Pennsylvania Historical Association Meeting at 9:00 am. Subject, "Catholicism in Nineteenth Century Philadelphia." Interesting panel. I'm chairing, so they can't start without me.
Damn..., "She" had better get ready soon or I'm leaving without her. Not looking forward to the traffic on the Surekill Expressway. It will be nice to hang out in the Historical district again. It's been a few years.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
“For most Americans, particularly the marginal voters who are going to determine the outcome of the election, it started a couple weeks ago. Between now and the election, [the Republicans] will spend $100 million in target House and Senate races in the next 21 days.”Meanwhile, the
Democrats are broke.What is more:
Netroots is a bust. MyDD, DailyKos and Swing State Project raised a total of $400K for Ned Lamont. $400K? That’s it?Even the deep pockets are deserting the Democrats. Soros is unavailable for comment.
And there's this:
[R]abid homophobism [is] racing through the Democratic blogs as they try to out Republicans and flog this Foley thing into some sort of Watergate. There is a desperation that infuriates the easily excitable, but amuses those of us who have seen a Democratic Party breakdown before.Read the whole thing here.
Surber's a smart guy and in the past his political analysis has been spot on. I sure hope he got this one right -- the Dems are downright scary.
Is "homophobism" a word?
Sunday, October 15, 2006
This is what Mars Opportunity Rover sees when it looks at Victoria Crater
Neat, huh? For large scale versions of these pictures and other astronomical images go here.
Read it here.
Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.
Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are bracing for losses of 25 House seats or more. But party operatives say Rove is predicting that, at worst, Republicans will lose only 8 to 10 seats -- shy of the 15-seat threshold that would cede control to Democrats for the first time since the 1994 elections and probably hobble the balance of Bush's second term.
Is this just bravado -- the WaPo seems to think so, but I would never, ever bet against Rove on these sorts of things.
Don Surber agrees:
Let's see, they pulled it out in 2000 and 2004 against predictions of wins by Al Gore and John Kerry.
My money is on the White House.
Read the whole thing here.
If he should lose in November, the strength of the campaign he has run in this annus horriblus should guarantee him a future in the party. I’m firmly a Romney guy and I’ve always been to Santorum’s left on some social issues, but if he winds up having a lot of time on his hands come next January, he might consider making some leisure trips to Iowa. Santorum has shown himself to be full of the qualities that many other high-level members of our party lack – guts, determination, commitment, and passion.Check it out here.
I too admire Rick's integrity and courage, but running a losing Senate re-election campaign is not usually seen as the path to the presidency.
I seriously do believe that it's very hard to have a functioning society if you can't make cheap jokes about each other all the time. One of the key signs of a shared culture is if you can all cheerfully abuse each other. In the space of the last five years the multiculturalists seem to have internalized the psychology whereby it's taken for granted that you make whatever abusive jokes you want about Christians, but none of those same jokes can be made about Muslims. Well, the minute you accept that, I think you're doomed.Read it here.
Well, maybe not doomed. We have long been culturally hyper-sensitive. I remember reading in Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract that in the early Twentieth Century players' nicknames often focused on their ethnic origins or physical peculiarities [think Chief Bender or Three Finger Brown], but at some point such terms were dropped. Similarly, I can recall in my youth some of the old lounge comedians complaining that they could no longer make the kinds of jokes they had when they were coming up because people were starting to take offense at them.
What we have in such things is a very precise and sensitive indicator tracing a major cultural change.
My sense was that the emergence of such sensitivities reflected or was consequent on the rise of the civil rights movement, but that may not be the case. It might just as well be an indicator of the breakdown of the common culture that sustained high levels of social capital through the great economic and military crises of the thirties and forties. It has also been suggested that minimizing cultural differences was part of the public propaganda effort aimed at preserving national unity against foreign enemies in WWII. If that is the case, then a willingness to joke about national origins reflects cultural insecurity rather than cultural confidence.
And, be it noted, if the perceptual change that prohibits ethnic references precedes the emergence of a politically potent national civil rights movement in the post-war years, we might be looking at a factor that allowed such a movement to grow.
In short the question is raised: "Does cultural change precede, or is it consequent upon political action?" Or, more specifically, "did civil rights activists and federal institutions bring about cultural change in mid-twentieth century America, or did they merely reflect it?"
Just riffing here -- but such speculation might result some day in an interesting, potentially important, and easy, study. Graduate students in history take note.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
At least some New Orleans residents are prospering in the aftermath of Katrina.
Fox News reports:
In the year since Hurricane Katrina drove out many of the people of
It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This--listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity--is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.
We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?
Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.
And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.
And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.
What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace--of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together.
Read the whole thing here.There are serious and defensible ideas to be advanced from the Left, but they are not being heard in the current atmosphere of stridency and thuggishness. This bespeaks a fatal insecurity on the left, a lack of faith in their own intellectual resources and capabilities. Afraid that they cannot compete in a test of ideas, they descend gleefully to the level of playground bullies and try to intimidate their opponents, and in doing so they are also doing serious damage to our political culture.
Prof. Glenn Reynolds, the "Instapundit", is the latest right wing figure of note to declare that the Republican Party is headed for unmitigated disaster in the coming elections. The problem, he argues, is that the Party leaders in the White House and Congress didn't pay attention to the blogs. If they had they would have known that a number of policy decisions they made in the past year, from the Terry Schaivo case, to the Harriet Miers nomination, to the Dubai ports deal, to opposing immigration reform, to their unwillingness to ruthlessly root out corruption in Congress, alienated some major portion of their base.
At the end of this process, the Republicans have managed to leave every segment of the base unhappy, mostly over things that weren't even all that important. It's as if they had some sort of bizarre death wish. Looks like the wish will come true . . . .Read the whole thing here.
As I've said before, the Republicans deserve to lose, though alas the Democrats don't really deserve to win, either. I realize that you go to war with the political class you have, but even back in the 1990s it was obvious that we had a lousy political class. It hasn't improved, but the challenges have gotten greater. Can the country continue to do well, with such bad political leadership? I hope so, because I see no sign of improvement, no matter who wins next month.
My reaction -- what self-serving bullhockey!
Are we to turn the party, the government, the conduct of the war, and everything else over to a bunch of narcissistic amateur loudmouths with keyboards?
The Democratic Party is going down that path right now, and the results are not pretty, nor do they promise to lead to good government.
Do we really want a government that responds dutifully to direction by the Kossacks and Move Oners? Neither should we want a Republican majority to follow the prescriptions of the conservative bloggers. There are good and rational reasons for every one of the policy decisions that the Instapundit denounces. Certainly the Schaivo stance was controversial. So was the Miers nomination..., and so on. But in each case the decision was eminently defensible, and I usually supported the leadership's positions.
I applaud the Republican leadership for having the courage to take difficult stances, even if they were unpopular with the ideologues of "the base".
Remember, "al Qaeda" is Arabic for "the base."
Blogging is fun..., I certainly enjoy it. But like journalism it is essentially an irresponsible game. Those who actually have to wield power cannot allow the ideological enthusiasms of their respective "bases" to determine their decisions.
These are, as John Keegan recently remarked, mean and dangerous times. The issues at stake are far too important to be turned over to tumescent fringe elements in either party. The center must hold.
Instructors praise her incredible talent, exceptional work ethic and endless dedication.I'll say! I look forward to seeing more from this lady.
Check out the ARC here.
From Tim Blair:
Whenever he mentioned Lancet’s previous MegaDeath survey from Iraq, John Pilger always stressed that the report had been peer-reviewed:
“ ... this rigorously peer-reviewed report ... ”
“ ... a peer-reviewed study published in the Lancet ... ”
“ ... a comprehensive peer-reviewed study in The Lancet ... ”
“ ... a peer-reviewed Anglo-American study, published in the British medical journal the Lancet ... ”
“ ... a peer-reviewed study in The Lancet ... ”
“ ... a Johns Hopkins Medical School study which was published and peer-reviewed in The Lancet ... ”
You get the picture; the study has been peer-reviewed, you proles! Don’t question it! Yet there are some who doubt the authority of peer review:
The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability—not the validity—of a new finding. Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.
A recent editorial in Nature was right to conclude that an over-reliance on peer-reviewed publication “has disadvantages that should be countered by adequate provision of time and resources for independent assessment and, in the midst of controversies, publicly funded agencies providing comprehensive, reliable and prompt complementary information."
Who is this peer-review heretic? Why, none other than Lancet editor Richard Horton.
(Via J.F. Beck, who has further Horton news. Also, please drop by the site of stats teacher Notropis, currently asking a few commonsense questions about the latest Lancet lunacy. Previous Lancet posts here, here, here, here, and here.)
Read the original post with comments here.
"Wuz" links to a site where you can contribute to this probably doomed attempt to clean up a little corner of Congress. Check his post out here.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Read it here.
Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in
have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet-high marijuana plants.
General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.
"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.
Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.
"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.
Bob Casey's handlers had him stuffed full of catch phrases he could use, and use them he did.
"Remember, Bob, to use the word to use the word 'rubberstamp' at least half a million times" they told him. "People hate rubber stamps, they like the paper ones you can lick, especially the ones with strawberry flavored gum on them. So every time Santorum opens his mouth, call him a 'rubberstamper.' That'll work real good. Trust us."
"Oh yeah, and don't forget to call him 'desperate.' Voters don't like desperate either."
So we got a lot of desperate rubberstamping from Bob.
And somebody told Santorum to look and sound scrappy. So there was a lot of fingerpointing and shouting and personal putdowns and general carrying on. I suppose it was supposed to be exciting, but it just looked stupid, and that's supposed to be Casey's role.
And Casey really did look dumb, especially when talking about foreign affairs. It's clear he doesn't have the slightest grasp of the issues and individuals involved. He was completely out of his depth on Korea and should just keep his mouth shut. Come to think of it, that's pretty much what he's done so far and it's worked just fine.
Santorum was aggressive throughout, irritatingly so. At times he looked just mean. But Bob just looked completely clueless.
Santorum got off the best line at the end. Noting that he aggravates a lot of people he said, "What do you expect? I'm an Italian kid from a steel town." Given that the debate was held in Pittsylvania country, that one did him some good.
Santorum won tonight decisively, but it's probably too little to late and will be seen by too few people.
UPDATE: The folks over at Real Clear Politics agree with me. Santorum won big last night, but it won't be enough.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Recent U.S. intelligence analyses of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs were flawed and the lack of clarity on the issue hampered U.S. diplomatic efforts to avert the underground blast detected Sunday, according to Bush administration officials.Gee, I wonder why.
Some recent secret reports stated that Pyongyang did not have nuclear arms and until recently was bluffing about plans for a test, according to officials who have read the classified assessments.
The analyses in question included a National Intelligence Estimate a consensus report of all U.S. spy agencies produced several months ago and at least two other classified reports on North Korea produced by senior officials within the office of the Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte.
The officials said there were as many as 10 failures related to intelligence reporting on North Korean missile tests and the suspected nuclear test that harmed administration efforts to deal with the issue.
According to officials familiar with the reports, the failures included judgments that cast doubt about whether North Korea's nuclear program posed an immediate threat, whether North Korea could produce a militarily useful nuclear bomb, whether North Korea was capable of conducting an underground nuclear test and whether Pyongyang was bluffing by claiming it could carry one out.
The failures would be the latest in a string suffered by U.S. intelligence in recent years, as described in a series of government and nongovernment reports. Past stumbles have included missing chances to detect or stop the September 11 attacks, faulty assessments of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, the failure to predict the 1998 round of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, and overly optimistic predictions of the Iraqi reaction to a U.S. invasion.
Intelligence officials are hoping President Bush will make a comment supporting U.S. intelligence agencies' performance on North Korea, something he has not done to date.
Read it here.
The ineptitude of the American intelligence community, especially the CIA, has been manifest for decades. The only thing these clowns seem to be good at is bureaucratic infighting. I applaud President Bush's efforts to clean up the Augean Stables, but fear that bureaucratic inertia, the treasonous behavior of rogue VIPS, and the shameful complicity of major journalistic outlets [yes, I'm talkin' bout you, NYT] has largely frustrated attempts to bring about long-needed reform.
The same team issued a similar report in 2004, with the avowed intent of influencing the presidential election of that year, claiming 98,000 excess deaths, four times greater than the official UN statistics for that year. Here's the Reuters report on the latest Hopkins study. Here is the 2004 Hopkins study. Here is the official UN report for 2004.
It seems that the Hopkins group inflated their estimates for political effect in 2004, using a mode of analysis (cluster sampling) that lends itself to such manipulation [what counts is how you define and choose the clusters to be sampled]. This calls into question the current figures, also admittedly released in order to influence elections.
Megan McArdle over at Jane Galt's desk tries to put these statistics into some context. She cites the death rates for other, much more vicious, conflicts like the American Civil War and WWII. Read it here, and note her comments relating to the generally low quality of statistical work done in the field of public health here.
Tom Barnett provides another, perhaps more useful, comparison. The UN estimates that during the entire occupation excess deaths in Iraq total to less than 50,000. This is a terrifying figure, but it is less than the annual number of excess estimated deaths the UN claimed during the sanctions regime put in place after the first gulf war, and it pales in comparison with the number of deaths inflicted on the Iraqi and other neighboring populations by Saddam's military and police actions. [here]
In other words, horrific as they are, the current level of excess deaths is a decided improvement over what went before. This in no way excuses them, but it does serve to put things into context, especially regarding Colin Powell's "china shop" metaphor.
The point is that Iraq was broken long before Dubya's invasion, and we are now on the long hard path toward fixing it.
A new poll examines the views of likely voters nationally and in 14 contested Senate and House races. The findings show strong majorities of Americans want immigration laws enforced and illegal immigrants to go home. One of the strongest findings is that the public overwhelmingly opposes increases in legal immigration of the kind found in the bill passed earlier this year by the Senate.
The results are surprisingly consistent across the country, both in terms of how voters see the problem, and what they want done about it. Unlike many other polls, the survey uses neutral language and avoids terms like “amnesty” and “illegal alien.” The survey was done by the polling company inc. for the Center for Immigration Studies.
Read it here.This conforms with what I've noticed in a number of races. Republican candidates who are running behind their opponents or are in close contests have been emphasizing their support for immigration restriction.
I personally am in favor of open borders with registration and feel that restriction is a bad deal all around, but the public does seem to be speaking clearly and persistently on the issue and in a democracy the government ignores public opinion at its own peril.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The Financial Times reports:
A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by
’s Robert Putnam, one of the world’s most influential political scientists. Harvard University
His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor.....
The core message of the research was that, “in the presence of diversity, we hunker down”, he said. “We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.”
Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in
Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in human history”, but his findings also held for rural , where “diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians’ picnic”. South Dakota
When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. “They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,” said Prof Putnam. “The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching.”
Read it here.
This account is tantalizing, but maddingly frustrating. Just what was meant by "class, income and other factors"? What measures of "trust" are they using? Is this just a simple regression analysis or what? I want to see the original study. Damn journalists.
Putnam makes the reasonable observation that, while immigration and the free flow of labor and capital has material benefits to both importing and exporting societies, there are social costs involved. This is commonsensical and each of us must decide whether or not the economic benefits outweigh the social costs. I happen to think they do. Obviously this puts me in a minority. Putnam seems to imply the opposite.
I really want to know how he calculates social costs.
Putham delayed publishing his results until he could come up with recommendations on how to correct for the social costs of immigration. I am interested in seeing what he thinks, although I am not encouraged by his past work, especially "Bowling Alone" (the book that made him famous). "Bowling" was deeply flawed in its original form (although I understand he has corrected some of its deficiencies in later editions), and its recommendations just plain silly.
Putnam takes the traditional sociological position that everything is a social construct. He argues that current conditions and trends “have been socially constructed, and can be socially reconstructed”. That is not encouraging. I, for one, don't want to be socially reconstructed, and I suspect that would be true for most people. Here Putnam betrays the social scientists' lust for power, based in the assumption that human nature is infinitely malleable and therefore societies can and should be engineered to conform to their recommendations.
At the end of the article Putnam does more than imply a goal of re-engineering society:
“What we shouldn’t do is to say that they [immigrants] should be more like us. We should construct a new us.”As Count Floyd used to say, "That, kids, is really scary."
At least Putnam has the sense to criticize the mindless cult of diversity that has overtaken our public institutions. This is why so many on the right have rushed to embrace his statements. I suspect, though, that as his larger agenda becomes clear they will find him less attractive. I should note, parenthetically, that Putnam's study is just the latest in a sudden barrage of high-level social science research that has directly contested many of the assumptions governing public policy across a whole range of institutions and issues. I sense a sea change a'coming.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The Field Museum in Chicago issues its verdict on the Flores Hobbit.
CHICAGO -- What may well turn out to be the definitive work in a debate that has been raging in palaeoanthropology for two years will be published in the November 2006 issue of Anatomical Record.
The new research comprehensively and convincingly makes the case that the small skull discovered in Flores, Indonesia, in 2003 does not represent a new species of hominid, as was claimed in a study published in Nature in 2004. Instead, the skull is most likely that of a small-bodied modern human who suffered from a genetic condition known as microcephaly, which is characterized by a small head.
This is just one of four separate research teams that have recently published evidence indicating concluding that the Flores hominid is far more likely to be a small-bodied modern human suffering from a microcephaly than a new species derived from Homo erectus, as was claimed in the original Nature paper.
Read the whole thing here.
Monday, October 09, 2006
The Washington Times reports:
On the heels of signing a bill to boost border security funding, President Bush yesterday said immigration reform requires granting citizenship to current illegal aliens.Read it here.
"You can't kick 12 million people out of your country," Mr. Bush said at the White House celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. "We must figure out a way to say to those that if you're lawful and if you've contributed to the United States of America, there is a way for you to eventually earn citizenship."
It is the first time the president has used the phrase "earn citizenship," a description popular among groups that lobby for granting rights to illegal aliens. But many critics, including Republican leaders, equate that concept with amnesty.
What Bush is proposing is the only humane solution to the immigration crisis. As he points out, you cant simply kick twelve million people out of the company and blocking them from any hopes for citizenship would be cruel. Immigration restriction is not only is economically destructive, it is inhumane, but don't expect the Tancredos in his party to understand that.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Patience Wheatcroft writes:
Read it here.
The tyranny of political correctness has for years suppressed the qualms that many Britons have had about what was happening to their country. Radical imams were allowed to preach hatred while being funded with state benefits, but few dared to question such madness, let alone act against it. The doctrine of multiculturalism dictated that all beliefs should be allowed to flourish, and to challenge that view was as politically incorrect as pinning up a Pirelli calendar inGradually, however, people are gaining the courage to defy the diktats of political correctness and to question the assumptions of what should be acceptable in
or suggesting that two married parents usually provide the best start in life for a child. Islington Town Hall Britain
What is most impressive is that the Church of England, that most mealymouthed of institutions, has begun to speak out against multiculturalism.
Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports:
The Church of England has launched an astonishing attack on the Government's drive to turn
into a multi-faith society. Britain
In a wide-ranging condemnation of policy, it says that the attempt to make minority "faith" communities more integrated has backfired, leaving society "more separated than ever before". The criticisms are made in a confidential Church document, leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, that challenges the "widespread description" of
as a multi-faith society and even calls for the term "multi-faith" to be reconsidered. Britain
It claims that divisions between communities have been deepened by the Government's "schizophrenic" approach to tackling multiculturalism. While trying to encourage interfaith relations, it has actually given "privileged attention" to the Islamic faith and Muslim communities.
As a liberal friend of mine remarked with regard to recent anti-immigrant resolutions and laws adopted by various municipalities "multiculturalism depends on mutual respect and a basic agreement on the part of all as to the minimal standards of civilized behavior." Without those, multiculturalism cannot be sustained. Read it here.
Read it here.
Britain, indeed much of Europe, is slowly waking to this basic fact of life. Unfortunately, this realization all to often is manifested in demands for immigration restriction. That is not only a prescription for economic catastrophe but it denies millions of people access to economic opportunity. What is needed, instead, is a welcoming society characterized by a vigorous assertion and maintenance of native cultural standards.
In our time, religion makes the front pages usually in the ghastliest ways. In the name of God, the faithful fly planes into buildings, blow themselves up to murder the innocent, burn down rival houses of worship, insult and condemn and cry out to heaven for vengeance….
But sometimes, faith helps ordinary men and women do the humanly impossible: to forgive, to love, to heal and to redeem. It makes no sense. It is the most sensible thing in the world. The Amish have turned this occasion of spectacular evil into a bright witness to hope. Despite everything, a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Read the whole thing here.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Peter Beinart, in the New Republic, writes:
Last week, I went searching the liberal Web for discussions of Idomeneo. The Deutsche Oper, a
opera house, had recently canceled the Mozart classic because it feared Muslims would react violently to a scene featuring Mohammed's severed head. Germans declared that free speech was under siege. The New York Times covered every wrinkle. Right-wing websites buzzed. And, on the big liberal blogs, virtual silence. Berlin
If pressed, most liberal bloggers would probably have condemned the opera house's decision. But they didn't feel pressed. Blogging thrives on outrage (see, for instance, my colleague Martin Peretz's outraged blogging on the affair at tnr.com/blog/spine), and the Idomeneo closure just didn't get liberal blood flowing. And why is that? Perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with George W. Bush.
Read it here.
He has a point. The hypocrisy of the left knows no bounds. And Beinart rightly points out the self-defeating aspects of Bush hatred.
Having adapted themselves so fully to a hyper-partisan environment, many liberals seem unable to conceive of a struggle in which the Republican right is not an enemy but an ally. But there are such struggles, and, without today's activist liberals, they will be harder to win. Free speech is under threat, and Idomeneo should be the last straw. It is time, once again, to close ranks.But this, I think, is the wrong place to draw the line. Consider the picture above, from der Spiegel. This is not a restrained, balanced, classical presentation of Mozart's work. It is a calculated affront to religious sensibilities -- thoroughly modern in its references. By updating Mozart in such a way as to be as offensive as possible the opera company is inviting protest and the publicity that accompanies it. This whole affair stinks of complicity by ideologues on all sides who are seeking attention and the only reasonable response to such provocations and the protests they engender is to ignore them. In this case the liberal response that Beinart denounces is appropriate, and the hysterical reaction of the right is not, although I think Beinart errs in his estimation of how much the right's response is motivated by political expediency.
I agree with Beinart that left and right should join forces in defending fundamental principles and that hyper-partisanship is destructive of our political heritage, but here there is a real reason for outrage. Irresponsible "artists" operating in the Berlin opera and in Islamic mosques have collaborated to manufacture a situation that is a travesty of legitimate free speech controversies. There are plenty of occasions where drawing the line is appropriate, but this is not one of them.
BAGHDAD— As tribal leaders from 's troubled Al Anbar province met last week with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, pledging their support to clean out Al Qaeda insurgents, it soon became clear that they were as good as their word. Iraq
That day, at a mosque in the town of
, armed tribesmen seized four men — two Iraqis and two non-Iraqi Arabs — whom the tribesmen believed to be Al Qaeda fighters. The men pleaded for their lives, "for the sake of Islam, and for the sake of the prophet," according to a man who witnessed the incident during group prayers. Ramadi
Their bodies were found a few hours later in a dumpster.
Abdul Jabber Hakkam, spokesman for a coalition of 11 tribes that have pledged to fight insurgents in Al Anbar, said that despite what apparently happened in Ramadi, the tribes' plan was not to dispatch suspects on the spot. Instead, he hopes his fighters will arrest suspects and take them to court or shun them until they leave.
"People have done this with their own personal weapons," he said. "Now each house that hosts a terrorist, they will force all the residents of the house outside, so they're on the streets," he said. When that is done, he predicted, the insurgents will "have no one to keep them, and they will withdraw."
"We are not just targeting Al Qaeda, but terrorists in general, because people miss real stability and freedom," Hakkam said.
There's still a long way to go -- a few executions are not the same as clearing the province. The insurgents had a lot of time to dig in and they still control some villages, but this is an important step forward. Read it here.
Read it here.
Captain Ed opines that this shows the fundamental weakness of the al Qaeda strategy in Iraq:
The tribal backlash shows why the Zarqawi strategy was always a loser. Al-Qaeda needed to win over the Iraqi people to its radical Wahhabist vision, a tough sell in a majority Shi'ite nation. Instead, Zarqawi tried to start a civil war with the short-term goal of getting America to run away from it. That would separate the Sunni areas of Iraq from the oil-producing areas of the nation, locking them into poverty and granting their sectarian opponents the riches of the nation. That's especially true in western Iraq, where Anbar lies, and the tribes have begun to realize the long-term dangers of such a split.
He also sees hope for the future:
Maliki has managed to make a deal in everyone's best interests in Anbar. Hopefully the tribal leaders can maintain the enthusiasm when they create a formal fighting force for the region under the auspices of the Iraqi government. The al-Qaeda insurgency appears ready to fall in Anbar.Read it here.
I think he may be right. I certainly hope so. One encouraging sign..., American politicians and officials are now scrambling to get in front of cameras to make statements to the effect that they are at long last putting pressure on the Maliki government to quell the insurgency. That looks as if they are trying to position themselves to take some of the credit when the insurgency finally collapses.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Just watched the C-Span coverage of tonight's debate between Lynn Swann and Ed Rendell. Neither man sparkled, but Swanny held his own. He got some serious points across regarding medical care, education, and the State gambling initiatives. Rendell was short on specifics, instead mouthing a lot of platitudes about making Pennsylvania prosperous and building for the future, etc. Rendell, like Casey, is running out the clock and not seriously engaging the issues before us in Pennsylvania. It's probably a winning strategy, but Swanny looked good. He was serious, informed, and articulate, and for many people who still see him in a Steeler's uniform, this first look at the prospective governor will be revealing. He's a serious guy with a serious message. He did himself some good tonight. Will it be enough? Probably not, but it's a good start at closing the gap.
Rich Lowry writes:
The fundamental problem congressional Republicans are experiencing now is that they have almost no moral capital left after the last two years. Again and again, when given the choice to reform their practices or do little or nothing, they always picked the latter. On travel, on Abramoff, on earmarking—you name it. The impression they always gave was that the integrity of the institution and the public interest had to take a back-seat to their own convenience. They wanted to squeak by this year on gerrymandering, negative ads, and money, and just might have succeeded—had nothing more gone wrong. Well, now it has and people feel confirmed in what they always suspected about this Congress—that it is unable to police its own practices and is full of people who don't follow the same rules as the rest of us. This is deadly. So, in one sense, the best way to have coped with the fall-out of the Foley scandal would have been long before the Foley scandal ever broke, when all the other scandals were breaking. Then, congressional Republicans would have had some reserve of credibility to fall back on. Now they have very little.
Read it here.
Rich is as mainstream a conservative as you can find, and his opinion is well worth reading. He is in touch with serious Republicans and moderates, and he is articulating a sense, not just in conservative circles but within the electorate at large, that the current congressional leadership is corrupt, insensitive, and radically out of touch with their constituency. His comment about squeaking by pretty much sums it up. These men and women are not concerned with responsible governance – simply with manipulating the system for their own aggrandizement.
I will be voting Republican this fall, simply because I thoroughly despise the Democratic Left and think that Democrat control of either house of Congress would be disastrous for the nation and the world; but with one exception I will be holding my nose when I mark my ballot. That exception is Senator Rick Santorum who is genuinely serious and thoroughly responsible regarding his duties, and whom I consider to be a good man and an excellent Senator.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Eric Posner has a remarkably ill-conceived article in todays WaPo, arguing against the idea that wars can have beneficial humanitarian consequences.
His essential argument:
The idea that war can have a humanitarian as well as a national security justification has a long pedigree and surface plausibility.... If nations can intervene at little cost to themselves because the target nations are weak and by doing so they prevent massive human suffering, then surely they should do so. The logic seems compelling.
But logic is no substitute for experience, and experience shows that humanitarian war is an oxymoron.... The problem with humanitarian intervention is not only that the costs are usually too high, but it turns out that the benefits usually are low. There are just too many risks and imponderables when war is used to prevent atrocities rather than to defeat an enemy.
[H]umanitarian wars will rarely yield humanitarian results.
Read the whole thing here.
But even this amoral utilitarian argument fails when placed in any but the most limited context. If Professor Posner is depending on experience rather than logic or emotion, he's not doing a very good job of it. As Tom Barnett points out, with regard to Posner's prime example of humanitarianism gone wrong, the current
A gloriously one-sided analysis that says in effect, "the only killing that matters is that which occurs after we intervene."
The UN (and no one disputes this) said the sanctions killed 50,000 a year in
Iraqin the 1990s, more than the cumulative total of this "disastrous" humanitarian adventure in . Iraq
Then there are all those Saddam killed at home over his long reign, especially in the aftermath of our "limited" campaign (Powell Doctrine in action) back in 1991.
Then there are those who died in his war with
Iran(cynically supported by us) and his invasion of . Kuwait
But none of those deaths matter, because they do not occur on our watch--so to speak.
Only a lawyer could argue anything so amazingly one-sided.
The argument being floated here is, in essence,
better we "do no harm" and let
Darfurburn, let Saddam kill..., etc. This is realism and the Powell Doctrine and international legal BS at its best.
Exactly! "Realism" and the "Powell Doctrine", indeed the entire liberal internationalist construct, has become nothing less than an excuse for inaction,
The moral obtuseness of the administrations' critics is astounding. Their recommendations add up to
Limited regret, limited morals, limited courage, limited caring.
And the weak be damned. Maybe they'll hold a rock concert to honor the dead.
As Barnett points out,
We live in an era of great circumspection, where the ass-covering careerist is worshipped and men of any firm action are vilified.
There was a time when liberals and the Left cared about, or at least affected some interest in, the suffering that took place throughout the world, and were willing to do something about it. But today they will sieze on any argument, however twisted, as an excuse to do nothing and viciously attack anyone who does deign to act.
I'm with Barnett when he writes:
I give it to Bush: he tries. You can disagree with the calls and the execution, but he tries. The Do-Nothings of our age are the foreign policy equivalents of the Know-Nothings that once plagued our political system. They always have an answer to the question, "why not do nothing?" They want from the world but they owe the world nothing. The selfishness and self-delusion know no bounds.
Selfishness and self-delusion indeed!
Read him here.
The moral imbecility of his critics only elevates my appreciation of President Bush. He is a man of compassion and of action, and in taking a strong stand against terrorism he punctures the smug complacency that characterizes today's liberal culture. It is not surprising that Bush is so viciously hated in the precincts of the Left. Every day, through his actions and strength, he is exposing the corruption and the moral rot that they have come to embrace.