Thursday, May 31, 2007
Sure seems that way to some. Rush, and Sean, and most particularly Laura Ingraham are going ballistic. Newt's knickers are in a twist. Movement conservatives are even screaming that Bush is questioning their "patriotism."
Lets make this clear -- restrictionists and exclusionists within the Republican Party have been conducting a smear campaign against the President and the Party leadership for many months now. They, more than any other factor, were responsible for the Republican defeat last Fall. Now they throw tantrums claiming to represent the "most loyal" supporters of the administration.
Bush is right -- this is, at least for many of the professional pols, just political posturing in an election season. Immigration restriction may play well with some groups and in some parts of the country, but Bush is President of all the country and must consider the general good. I applaud him for his courage and willingness to take the heat in the face of this outrageous display of partisan pique.
Read about the controversy here.
David Frum says the Party has "divorced" Bush here. This is, by my count, the third time that Frum has said something like this -- remember his denunciations of Bush over Dubai, over Harriet Mieirs [a particularly despicable position for him to take], even over the use of the term "compassion" in the campaign.
Listen to Laura Ingraham's rant here.
The "base" has never been comfortable with Bush and many conservative spokesmen have been outspoken in their criticism of anything that deviates from their relatively narrow set of prescriptions. Their position has always been that Bush is a shade less objectionable than the Democrats, and their support has always been grudging. It is absurd for them now to claim to be his "most loyal" supporters. There are lots and lots of us out here who have supported President Bush in large part because of his unwavering devotion to a compassionate, humane set of policies both at home and abroad. We, too, have some claim on the title "most loyal."
Once again President Bush is acting responsibly and humanely on an issue that affects all Americans, not just the Republican Right Wing. I applaud him for this. His courage in standing up to the extremists in his Party stands in sharp contrast to the craven posturing of the Democrat leadership and some of the Republican candidates.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Ah, yes..., the good ol' days, down by the fishin' hole.
Pittsburgh's potholes are legendary. Supposedly small imported cars have fallen into them and have never been seen again.
I remember from my youth, a KDKA disk jockey named Clark Race organizing a "pitch and pothole" golf tournament.
Ahhh! Them was the days!
Some of us are old enough to remember the seventies when Congress, in all its [snicker] wisdom, tried to regulate the price of gasoline. The result was a shortage of gasoline that produced long lines at the pump and a lot of frustration in the driving public. Congress backed off and soon gas flowed to the distributors and the lines disappeared.
Well, in Mad Bobby Mugabe's racist/socialist hell on earth, Zimbabwe, there are shortages of everything except bullets, and lines are longer than even Congressional Democrats could conjure. And things are going to get even worse.
The Telegraph reports:
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe plans to seize majority stakes in all the country's foreign-owned businesses in what economists warn could be a repeat of the regime's disastrous land reform policy.
Read the whole thing here.
Under legislation approved by the cabinet two weeks ago, all companies will be required to give up at least 51 per cent of their shares for allocation to economically disadvantaged, "indigenous" Zimbabweans.There are signs that the government intends to use the laws to attack the commercial interests of countries such as Britain, the former colonial ruler, which Mugabe accuses of plotting to remove him from power....
Mugabe had vowed that "imperialist companies" would be targeted as they had been operating with what the president described as a "sinister, regime-change agenda."
That's right -- the nasty old racist, having destroyed his country's agricultural economy, having rendered much of the population homeless, and having reduced the nation's finances to a shambles, is now going after the providers of energy -- and he justifies it as an anti-colonialist, imperative.
What a guy!
Hat tip to JB
Her name is Nadia Abu El Haj, she is Palestinian and she hates Israel. She asserts in a book, published by the University of Chicago Press that the ancient kingdom of Israel never existed, that Israeli archaeologists have created a founding myth out of whole cloth, and that they have systematically destroyed evidence of Palestinian occupation of the land in order to legitimize a "settler colonial society."
The archaeology of ancient Israel is hotly contested terrain, with pitched battles currently raging over such issues as whether a centralized Israelite kingdom emerges in the tenth century or the ninth, and whether or not Eilat Mazar has uncovered a tenth-century royal Judean building. I am not, however, aware of a single archaeologist or historian who would support Abu El Haj’s contention that the Israelite kingdoms are mere fiction constructs, the Jewish “nation’s origin myth,” comparable, that is, to the Aeneid, or the founding of Japan by the sun goddess.Read the whole thing here.
This sort of silliness would ordinarily be dismissed as mere crank writing – heaven knows no academic discipline is subject to a greater output of crank scholarship than archaeology – except for the fact that this book is published by the University of Chicago Press and based on a PhD dissertation accepted by Duke University. We are forced to conclude that theories historians and archaeologists regard as daft are actually seen as plausible by at least some anthropologists.
Daft is a good word to describe Abu El Haj’s use of evidence.
None of this is to deny that archaeology and national narratives are inextricably entwined. Nationalists like Abu El Haj will undoubtedly continue to appropriate and misappropriate facts that come out of the ground.
What we can hope for, however, is that Duke University, the University of Chicago Press, Barnard College, and Columbia University will rediscover a commitment to uphold responsible standards of scholarship with regard to the use of archaeological evidence, and, certainly, refuse in future to accept work in which the author makes wild allegations based on the informal remarks of unnamed “student volunteers.”
Well, we can hope, but don't hold your breaths. My own interactions with the bigoted radicals at Duke and Columbia [I can't speak for the University of Chicago Press] have convinced me that they are so committed to their ideological insanities that they are impenetrable to reason and fact. All they care about is the narrative.
Wow! Read the whole thing here.
I was stopped by someone the other week who said it was not surprising there was so much terrorism in the world when we invaded their countries (meaning Afghanistan and Iraq). No wonder Muslims felt angry.
I said to him: tell me exactly what they feel angry about. We remove two utterly brutal and dictatorial regimes; we replace them with a UN-supervised democratic process.
And the only reason it is difficult still is because other Muslims are using terrorism to try to destroy the fledgling democracy and, in doing so, are killing fellow Muslims.
Why aren't they angry about the people doing the killing? The odd thing about the conversation is I could tell it was the first time he'd heard this argument.
Tony poses a good question -- one that leads to many others.
Why aren't people angry at the extremists, and instead turn their anger against those who are seeking to expand and protect freedom?
Why do intelligent and educated people believe and confidently assert the insane notion that Bush and Cheney "were behind" the terrorist attacks of 9/11?
Why do human rights advocates dogmatically assert, against all evidence to the contrary, that the US and its allies are killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims when in fact the killings are being carried out by Muslim extremists.
Why do so many people dogmatically and irrationally assert that the current war of liberation is nothing more than an imperialist oil grab?
Why do advocates of universal "human rights", who have called time and again for Western interference in the domestic affairs of Sudan, Rwanda, Bosnia, and other rogue states, assert the right to absolute sovereignty of some of the most brutal and repressive regimes in modern history, ones that have systematically denied basic human rights to their peoples, even to the point of carrying out genocidal policies directed against ethnic minorities.
Why are reasonable actions taken by the Bush and Blair regimes to protect the lives and liberties of the British and American people greeted with hysterical denunciations and charges that they are destroying fundamental freedoms?
This is not just "odd". This is madness.
Everywhere it seems otherwise reasonable and humane people are choosing to engage in willful and perverse ignorance and to embrace paranoid delusional narratives regarding the current conflicts. Why are so many people absolutely resistant to reason and information that contradicts these insane beliefs?
And they are insane, make no mistake about that.
And it's not just the editorial judgment, however despicable and dodgy, of the mainstream media, nor is it the apparently bottomless cynicism and depravity of the political Left. A significant number of good, decent, and normally well-informed people are actively choosing to enlist on the side of madness.
Clearly the current conflict has touched some deep, irrational, unreasoning chords in the collective psyche of many people and, as recent polls have shown, these constitute a substantial and influential segment of the public. What is more assertion of these beliefs is interfering (as Blair notes in his article) with the legitimate functions of government. And beyond this, even the entire enlightenment enterprise is being called into question by the dilemma of how to respond to Islamic radicalism. We are facing a situation in which our habitual modes of discourse and conceptual frameworks are not just inadequate; they are dysfunctional.
And it's not just in the US and Britain. Similar issues are troubling the political and intellectual elites of Europe.
In normal times it is possible to ignore, or at least to mute, the disagreements over fundamental principles that characterize our culture. But these are not normal times and troubling issues are being forced upon us unwillingly.
I think that much of the public revulsion for the current conflict stems from a heartfelt desire to return to "normalcy" and to put these troubling things away. But that, I fear, is not going to be possible. The threat from Islamic extremism has exposed deep and abiding contradictions in our culture and is forcing us to seriously reconsider just what we stand for and why. This is not a comfortable and attractive enterprise, but it is not one that we can avoid.
How the West respond to a persistent and ruthless challenge to its fundamental assumptions and values is the great moral issue of our times? It is one that I find endlessly fascinating, because it gets to basic questions about who and what we are as a society and culture.
These are interesting times -- and promise to get much more interesting in coming years.
I can hardly wait!
Monday, May 28, 2007
Yo, Paisan..., Check it out!
Baltimore's Little Italy has in recent years developed a wonderful summertime tradition -- the "Open Air Film Festival".
Each summer people from the neighborhood (and occasional interlopers from other places) gather on Friday evenings [weather permitting] at the intersection of High and Stiles streets to sit outside under the stars, on curbs and in a parking lot to watch Italian-themed films projected on the wall of a building. "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I have wandered over in the past, and it's really cool.
This year the showings begin on July 6th and continue through August 31st. The first film will be "Moonstruck", starring Cher and filmed locally. The last film in the series is "Rocky Balboa" starring Sly and filmed elsewhere. Check out the full schedule here or here and follow the links for more information on Little Italy.
Films start at 9:00 pm, but go early and dine at one of the many local restaurants. "She" and I like to stop by Vaccaro's bakery, located one short block away from the filmsite, for a heaping pile of gelato [yum!]. You might even want to book a room at one of the hotels at the Inner Harbor, just a few blocks away and enjoy a weekend stay in Charm City, take in a game, visit museums, the National Aquarium, hang out in bars, restaurants, etc. The point is to have a good time.
Here's a description of the festival from the Washington Post, back in 2002:
[P]arts of High, Stiles, and Albemarle Streets are closed to vehicular traffic and the parking lot becomes the site of a party. People bring chairs, blankets, and coolers. Some people set up their stuff early to reserve their spot, then have dinner in one of Little Italy's restaurants, returning in time for the show. Others buy carryout and eat al fresco. A musician plays keyboard; some people dance. Soon, the parking lot, the sidewalks and surrounding streets are jammed with as many as 5,000 people....
Folding chairs are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, but attendees are advised to bring their own. So, grab a couple of lawn chairs and your favorite "significant other", round up the kids if you have them, and drive down to Charm City. Bring your appetite and enthusiasm for all things Italian, and have a wonderful time.
Today we who are still breathing honor those who gave their lives that this nation might live.
All we can say is "Thank You!"
And for those who are still in action...
Check out Michael Yon's Memorial Day Message from Iraq here.
And Mario Loyola's tribute here.
And this by Peter Collier.
Blonde Sagacity has a tribute to Pennsylvania's heroes here.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Just three weeks after forming an historic coalition with Ian Paisley in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein has suffered a demoralising electoral setback in the Irish Republic.Read the whole thing here.
Sinn Fein wanted to double its representation in Ireland's parliament, the Dail, putting it in government on both sides of the Irish border. Some polls had predicted that the party could win up to 15 seats, but it only managed to cling on to four of the five seats it held before polling day. The party narrowly escaped losing its only remaining seat....
Good news for Bertie, though:
[T]he Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, was the clear winner. His Fianna Fail party gained 78 seats, just six short of 84 - the figure needed to form a government in the 166-strong Dail.In other words, Sinn Fein is completely irrelevant to the Republic's political process. Not really surprising. Most of the Irish don't care that much about what goes on in Ulster and that's Sinn Fein's defining issue.
The evening we got back there was a fireworks display right across the street.
And the following day I took my camera for a walk around the Inner Harbor.
There was even a tall ship to explore. Neat
Still miss the mountain, though.
Spent some time this week up on the mountain. The rhododendrons are starting to show, and boy are they beautiful. First the white, then the pink, and finally the deep reds will be coming into full flower -- the same sequence as the azaleas. Funny that!
Looking out across the peaceful valley.
And look at what my neighbor has got this year.
For some reason "She Who Must Not Be Named" insisted that we leave all this beauty and return to the city -- something about fulfilling social commitments. We will be back though, soon..., hopefully in time to catch the dark red blooms. They're the spectacular ones.
But what about this?
"We are... experiencing the greatest wave of extinctions since the disappearance of the dinosaurs"....
"Extinction rates are rising by a factor of up to 1,000 above natural rates. Every hour, three species disappear. Every day, up to 150 species are lost. Every year, between 18,000 and 55,000 species become extinct"....
"The cause: human activities."
A "Red List" of endangered species, however, lists only 784 species driven to extinction since 1500 -- ranging from the dodo bird of Mauritius to the golden toad of Costa Rica.My, my, my! What a discrepancy! Empirical research in no way supports the UN [snicker] hoo ha, but guess what gets featured in the MSM -- the scare story, of course.
Read it here.
The WSJ notes the same biased story here.
Why does anyone take anything the UN says seriously? Oh, yeah..., political agendas.
Der Spiegel reports [here]:
Soil samples from the Grande Playa lagoon in Puerto Rico have given US scientists insight into the last 5,000 years of Atlantic hurricanes. The samples suggest that recent devastating storms may not necessarily be linked to global warming.
The frequency of fierce storms that sweep into the Caribbean and onto the Puerto Rican island of Vieques varies considerably. There are stormy periods and more placid epochs -- and they alternate back and forth.
The seeming up-tick in violent hurricanes, one has heard over and over again in recent years, can be blamed on global warming. According to this hypothesis, climate change increases ocean surface temperatures, which fuels the transformation of weak winds to mighty hurricanes. Researchers reported last summer that humans -- by virtue of carbon emissions leading to global warming -- share at least some of the responsibility for the record hurricane year of 2005.
But, the new study shows that this is not the case. According to the lead researcher:
"We happen to be living in an active hurricane phase…. Hurricanes are natural”.
How 'bout that! Another scare story down the tubes. Guess capitalism didn't cause Katrina after all.
How 'bout that! Another scare story down the tubes. Guess capitalism didn't cause Katrina after all.
Oh well, back to the drawing boards.
Oh well, back to the drawing boards.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
"She Who Must Not Be Named" and I went to the movies yesterday. She just wanted to get out of the house — I was sort of intrigued by the new zombie pic out of Britain, so we tooled down to Reading to see “28 Weeks Later,” the sequel to Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” . It was a fun action/horror flick — reminded me a lot of “Aliens”, James Cameron’s action sequel to Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” Lots of action, lots of gore, a few good scares. I liked it.
Some of the critics have tried to see the film as a commentary on or indictment of US involvement in Iraq. I’m not buying it. There is a “green zone” and US troops are prominently featured, trying to keep things under control and failing, but those seem to have been thrown in as critics chum, just to give them something to speculate about. If we took that line of thinking seriously we would have to see the Islamists as mindless, savage killer zombies and a plague infecting the world. I doubt that most left-leaning critics [and there are few who are not] would accept that.
Whereas the first film in the series dealt interestingly with a number of levels of human interaction, this one is much simpler. It has one big idea — the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Throughout the film catastrophe results from good people reacting in a sympathetic, compassionate manner to real human needs. The director, Juan Fresnadillo, exploits this trope time and again and in doing so gives the viewer a lot to think about. It is possible to see the whole thing as a right-wing realist critique of both liberal pieties and “compassionate conservatism.”
The film has a lot to recommend it. Excellent pacing, interesting camera work, and marvelously evocative use of London locales. There are excellent performances by Robert Carlyle [the guy from the “Full Monty”], Catherine McCormack [the babe from “Braveheart”], and Rose Byrne [the hot babe from “Troy”], but the real revelation is a young kid named Imogen Poot [no, I didn’t make it up]. She is going to be a world-class beauty one of these days, and this film shows her off to full advantage, then twists the knife when the survivors descend into hell [the Chunnel] by showing her in some of the most grotesque, spooky and haunting sequences ever filmed.
I had a good time. "She" endured all the carnage in good spirits with only occasional cringes and tried to say some nice things about the movie afterwards. Now I suppose she figures that I owe her a trip to the next chick flick.
By the way, the previews for the upcoming “Silver Surfer”flick do not look good. Once again they’ve made Jessica Alba look bad. I know you think that's beyond the realm of possibility, but they managed it, damn them.
A friend of mine just sent me a copy of the tall ships schedule for Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Right now the Libertad [Argentina, pictured] and the Gloria [Colombia] are berthed there, and there are lots more to come in the next few months. Daytrippers take note.
Check out the whole schedule here.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
A few nuggets:
Regarding progress in human rights and freedoms -- America... is the most radical, revolutionary, and destabilizing nation of all—and thereby disliked for precisely the opposite reasons that the Left proclaims.
On the moral posturing of the Left, he asks "what is the radical Left good for?" and answers --
Mostly psychological cover. It is our version of the Athenian elite demagogue’s dung on his boots or Medieval indulgences or the Bible in the hand of the philandering fundamentalist. Its rhetoric alone allows Edwards to enjoy his mansion, Gore his jet, the Kennedys’ their drink and drugs, Bill Clinton his sex, and Soros his billions—and China its cutthroat acquisitions abroad and its suppression at home. Proclaiming to be a man of the people these days can cover almost anything from living like 18th-century royalty to making the foreign policy of the United States look downright saintly.And regarding the Friedmanesque flatteners who proclaim the dawning of a new world he writes --
when they pontificate.... that the “nation state is through”, one wonders which nation state protects their entire system of global security, freedom of trade, and the rights of ships and planes to navigate without fear of piracy or attack. Or is it the UN? World Court? EU?Nice piece -- read it here.
Monday, May 21, 2007
As Lebanon once again descends into the horror of civil conflict it is important to remember its role in modernizing Arab culture. Beirut has become the center of a thriving Arab music industry that is challenging the traditional standards of Islamic culture and is creating a generational gap all across the Middle East by providing to Arab youth highly sexualized images based in Western pop culture. Needless to say, Hiz'bullah is not amused.
The BBC reports on the phenomenon here.
Alan Bacchus at Daily Film Dose has put together a collection of the greatest long tracking shots in film history. Most of my favorites are there.
By all means -- check it out here, you'll find some of the most technically impressive shots ever taken [no Spielberg, though].
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Scientists will outline dramatic evidence this week that suggests a comet exploded over the Earth nearly 13,000 years ago, creating a hail of fireballs that set fire to most of the northern hemisphere.
Primitive Stone Age cultures were destroyed and populations of mammoths and other large land animals, such as the mastodon, were wiped out. The blast also caused a major bout of climatic cooling that lasted 1,000 years and seriously disrupted the development of the early human civilisations that were emerging in Europe and Asia.
Read it here.
That won't matter to the journalists and TV production crews, though. Expect them to plough full ahead with dramatic re-enactments.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
But there is another perspective to consider. Rootless Cosmopolitan reprints a comment by Bernard Chazelle that takes issue with Steyn's argument. He writes:
With the highest birth rate in Europe after Ireland, France contributes 70% of Europe’s natural population growth. GDP per head in France, Germany, Japan, and the UK are nearly identical. Growth over the last 10 years has averaged 2% in france, 2.1% in the U.S., and 2.3% in the UK. In the last quarter, France actually raced ahead of Britain and the U.S. Productivity is higher in France than in both countries (and 50% more so than in Japan). But pity the French: with their 35-hour work week, 5-week paid vacations, and 16-week paid maternity leaves, they work 30% fewer hours than Americans. Maybe that’s why they live longer (81 years vs 78) and infant mortality is lower (4.3 vs 7 per 1000). Unless the reason is France’s health care system: the best in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Or perhaps it’s the narrower inequality gap: child poverty in France is half the British rate and one third the American.
“French decline” experts like to contrast France’s catastrophic unemployment rate of 8.3% (lower than the U.S. rate during the Reagan years) with Britain’s marvellous 5.5%. In the process they miss two points: First,
France created more jobs than the UK in the last 10 years. (The discrepancy comes from the fact that France is younger and has experienced higher labor force growth). Second, virtually all of the job growth in the UK since 2000 has been the result of public spending. The neoliberals who so admire Britain’s recent growth
conveniently forget that it was built on a Keynesian binge through tax increases and a huge public sector expansion: from 37% to 46% of GDP in a mere 6 years. Gordon Brown at the Exchequer has, indeed, looked much the part of a French finance minister with a London office.
José Bové, the Astérix of French politics, has burnished France’s antiglobalisation
image by ransacking McDonald’s outlets wherever he can find enough TV cameras to capture his exploits.
But while France has been noisily scoffing at globalization for decades, it has quietly become one of the most globalized nations on earth. (Reform by stealth is a French disease.)
Some of the evidence:
France has more companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 than
Britain and Germany;
for the last 10 years, France’s net foreign investments (FDI) have ranked in the top 5,
and its net FDI outflows have been the world’s largest;
foreign investors own 45% of all French stocks. The comparable
figure is 33% for Britain’s and only 10% for the US.
These are interesting, if not dispositive, statistics. Certainly there is a lot of cherry-picking going on here on both sides of the argument, and not all of the comparisons are legitimate, but they do show that there is, at least, an argument to be made. Funeral observances for France and Europe may be premature.
In his latest effort [here] Dionne argues that the unpopularity of George Bush is causing a crisis within modern conservatism -- one that will bring about the long anticipated [by liberals] collapse of the movement.
You can get away with that sort of silliness if your audience consists only of like-minded liberals, but any competent observer of current politics knows that Dionne has things precisely reversed. It was not Bush's unpopularity that caused a conservative crack-up -- it was division within the conservative movement that caused large numbers of people within the movement to repudiate the President and drive his polls into the basement. The Democrat win last fall did not represent the judgment of the American people at large -- it reflected the fact that many conservatives stayed away from the polls in order to administer a "thumping" to the Party's leadership. And, despite liberal campaign rhetoric to the contrary, movement conservatives never embraced Bush as completely as Dionne assumes, they were alway suspicious of his "compassionate conservatism" and have been railing for years against many of Bush's policies and appointments. Their support for this administration was always partial and conditional. It is only liberals like Dionne who would identify Bush as a champion of movement conservatism.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
[T]he hatred Falwell inspires on the left is quite something to behold. Here's a sampling (quoting verbatim except the redacted vulgarity):
- "tzs," on Marcotte's blog: "If Mr. Falwell had not used his life to spew hatred at anyone who did not fit his narrow-minded, bigoted idea of who was a True God-fearing American™, one might feel more willing to refrain from stating what an absolutely putrid little excrescence of vomit he was. But I'm being polite, so I won't say that. R.I.P., and after watching Falwell I know know why the Romans threw the Christians to the lions."
- "Blue_In_AK on DemocraticUnderground.com: "he was such an unctuous, smug, obnoxious blowhard that it's really difficult not to celebrate his death. I'm trying, but it's .... so .... HARD."
- "andyesmysoulwillrotinhell," on TMZ.com: "First class a--h---..now worm food...the world finally makes sense."
- "roewert," on WashingtonPost.com: "Good ridence. Jerry al Falwell was imbicile who thought that the whole world should think and believe just like him. Too bad there were so many gullible people in this country who fell for his nonsense and sent so much money to him. So does this mean that Pat bin Robertson moves up to the slot of chief idiot? The Christian taliban marches on...."
More high-mindedly, Alan Wolfe begins a Salon.com dyslogy, "One never wants to speak ill of the dead, but in the case of Jerry Falwell, how can one not?"
Read it here.
Taranto is right when he notes that Falwell's foes portrayed him as a hater, in large part because of the hatred he inspired in them.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Read the whole thing here.
Bemoaning human fecundity has been in vogue at least since 1798, when Thomas Malthus wrote his famous essay arguing that since people multiply faster than the food supply, more babies eventually mean more starvation and misery.
Malthus was wrong (as he later acknowledged), but two centuries later neo-Malthusian misanthropy is as fashionable as ever....
Malthus wrote just before the turn of the 19th century, when the Earth was home to some 980 million human beings. The global population today is about 6.5 billion, a sevenfold increase. If the alarmists are right, our lives should be far more impoverished, degraded, and pitiful than those of our ancestors. But they aren't. By and large, human beings today are healthier, wealthier, safer, cleaner, better fed, and more productive than those who lived in 1800....
Far from being a disaster for our species and the planet... economic growth and technological change have been a boon for both, making it possible for ever more people to live ever-improving lives in an ever-cleaner environment. And while the developed countries may outstrip the developing world in wealth, it is in the world's poorest societies that some of the greatest strides are being made.
Take food. Since 1950, the world's population has soared by more than 150 percent. Yet food has become so abundant that global food prices (in real terms) have plunged 75 percent. Over the past generation, chronic undernourishment in poor countries has been slashed from 37 percent to 17 percent, while in the United States, staples such as potatoes and flour have dropped in price (relative to income) by more than 80 percent.
Or take infant mortality. Before industrialization, children died before reaching their first birthday at a rate exceeding 200 per 1,000 live births, or more than one in five. "In the United States as late as 1900... infant mortality was about 160; but by 2004 it had declined to 6.6." In developing countries, the fall in mortality rates began later, but is occurring more quickly. In China, infant mortality has plunged from 195 to below 30 in the past 50 years.
Life expectancy? From 31 years in 1900, it was up to 66.8 worldwide in 2003.
Health? We are more likely to be disease-free today than our forebears were a century ago. And the onset of chronic illness has been significantly delayed -- by nearly eight years for cancer, nine years for heart diseases, and 11 years for respiratory diseases.
Education, child labor, clean air, freedom, famine, leisure time, global poverty..., by almost any yardstick you choose, humanity thrives as never before. Living standards do not fall as population rises. On the contrary: Where there are free markets and free minds -- economic growth and technology -- human progress and hope are all but guaranteed.
The NYT notes that "scientists" are backing away from some of their most cherished apocalyptic visions, specifically the supposed results of the collapse of the climate conveyor belt.
OSLO — Mainstream climatologists who have feared that global warming could have the paradoxical effect of cooling northwestern Europe or even plunging it into a small ice age have stopped worrying about that particular disaster, although it retains a vivid hold on the public imagination.
The idea, which held climate theorists in its icy grip for years, was that the North Atlantic Current, an extension of the Gulf Stream that cuts northeast across the Atlantic Ocean to bathe the high latitudes of Europe with warmish equatorial water, could shut down in a greenhouse world.
Without that warm-water current, Americans on the Eastern Seaboard would most likely feel a chill, but the suffering would be greater in Europe, where major cities lie far to the north. Britain, northern France, the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway could in theory take on Arctic aspects that only a Greenlander could love, even as the rest of the world sweltered.
All that has now been removed from the forecast. Not only is northern Europe warming, but every major climate model produced by scientists worldwide in recent years has also shown that the warming will almost certainly continue.
“The concern had previously been that we were close to a threshold where the Atlantic circulation system would stop,” said Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We now believe we are much farther from that threshold, thanks to improved modeling and ocean measurements. The Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current are more stable than previously thought.”
Read it here.
This is the problem with basing your view of the future on computer models. As the parameters change and as new information becomes available the predictions can be significantly modified. Despite their much-vaunted sophistication the principle of GIGO still applies. The result is that anyone who uses the evidence of computer models [snicker] on which to base social or economic policy is building his house on shifting sands.
It might be argued that in a global sense this is a mere detail, but it's a pretty damn big detail and, as the article observes, it has caught hold in the imaginations of the European public [and the Hollywood loons] and will be hard to displace.
Tom Sowell notes that the default position of all too many people on the left is outrage -- blind, unreasoning hatred of their opponents.
That people on the political left have a certain set of opinions, just as people do in other parts of the ideological spectrum, is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is how often the opinions of those on the left are accompanied by hostility and even hatred.
Particular issues can arouse passions here and there for anyone with any political views. But, for many on the left, indignation is not a sometime thing. It is a way of life.....
The source of the anger of liberals, "progressives" or radicals is by no means readily apparent. The targets of their anger have included people who are non-confrontational or even genial, such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
There doesn't even have to be any identifiable individual to arouse the ire of the left. "Tax cuts for the rich" is more than a political slogan. It is incitement to anger.
He goes on to show how selective and irrational liberal outrage is and observes :
If it is hard to find a principle behind what angers the left, it is not equally hard to find an attitude.
Their greatest anger seems to be directed at people and things that thwart or undermine the social vision of the left, the political melodrama starring the left as saviors of the poor, the environment, and other busybody tasks that they have taken on.
It seems to be the threat to their egos that they hate. And nothing is more of a threat to their desire to run other people's lives than the free market and its defenders.
Read it here.
Sometimes it seems so.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Country walks can help reduce depression and raise self-esteem according to research published today, leading to calls for "ecotherapy" to become a recognised treatment for people with mental health problems.
Ecotherapy: the green agenda for mental health is the first study looking at how "green" exercise specifically affects those suffering from depression.
According to Mind, England and Wales's leading mental health charity, it produced "startling" results proving the need for ecotherapy to be considered a proper treatment option.
Mind describes ecotherapy as "getting outdoors and getting active in a green environment as a way of boosting mental well-being".
Read it here.
As I said, the study is probably bogus, and the greens who are publicizing it are loons, but walking in the woods sure makes me feel good.
The purple azaleas are just about all, but the reds are in full bloom.
And the trees are spectacular.
And so are the lilacs.
Even the weeds are looking good.
So why are we at the harbor? Beats me!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Bizzyblog reports on systematic misreporting of economic news in the MSM. Specifically, he points out attempts to obscure the fact that federal tax revenues have risen much faster than
predicted and that the budget deficit has declined significantly as a result. Some economists are predicting that the budget will be in balance by Spring of 2008. [here]
The problem is that when major media outlets like the NYT and the AP blatantly misreport information so as to make President Bush look bad and to obscure good news this misinformation is picked up and rebroadcast throughout the nation with the result that the public gets a miserably incorrect view of the economy and of the effectiveness of the administration's policies. Bush's record on economic matters, as I have pointed out time and again, is as good as that of any president in the nation's history, yet he is seldom given credit for it.
Hat tip, Instapundit.
IBD ticks off Bush's accomplishments. He inherited an economy spiraling into depression and, for the first time in the nation's history, an administration had the foresight and administrative acumen to take appropriate and timely action, cutting taxes on the investing class. The result:
Read the whole thing here.
Since the last round of cuts in 2003, we've had the quietest, and most significant, boom in wealth, income and profits in our history. This explains why the economy, to the surpise of economists and the chagrin of liberal pundits, keeps humming. We've gone over the numbers before, but they bear repeating. Since 2002:
• Real gross domestic product has soared $1.64 trillion, or 16.5%, during a five-year stretch that has yet to see a downturn and that has witnessed average annual growth of 3%.
• Disposable personal income — what's left after taxes — has jumped $2.16 trillion, or 29%, to $9.68 trillion.
• Productivity, the fuel for future standards of living, has improved 14.3%.
• Overall employee compensation has expanded 4% a year.
• Net wealth, the amount people would have after paying off their debts, has swelled $15.2 trillion, or 38%, to $55.6 trillion. That gain in just five years is more than the total wealth amassed in the first 210 years of America's existence — an unprecedented surge.
• About 69% of Americans now own their homes, an all-time high.
• The jobless rate, now at 4.4%, remains below its 40-year average. Since August 2003, 7.8 million new jobs have been created.
• Tax receipts have surged 43%, or $757.6 billion, again thanks to economic growth.
But will Dubya get credit? Don't hold your breath.
George W. Bush's economic miracle is both real and sustainable. Too bad he won't get credit for it until the current generation of biased journalists and academics has retired.
And, let us not forget for six years and counting President Bush has kept this country safe from those who are attempting to destroy us.
On this day in 1846 the United States of America declared war on Mexico. This war established American dominion from "sea to shining sea" and precipitated the crisis that brought about the Civil War. For more information go here and here.
Another in the ongoing series, "The Lies of the Left"
Four years ago President Bush made a memorable speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. It was a splendid photo op at a time when things were going well in Iraq. Bush appeared heroic in his flight suit. Democrats felt they had to nullify the impact of the occasion, and with the help of a compliant MSM, succeeded in turning it into a joke. Don Surber revisits the moment and notes just how dishonestly it has been reported.
Instead of just saying, "mission accomplished," I wish the commander-in-chief had been more realistic.
I wish Bush had said, "We have difficult work to do in Iraq."
I wish Bush had said, "We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous."
I wish Bush said, "Our mission continues. Al-Qaida is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people."
Of course, that is exactly what President Bush said on May 1, 2003. He did not just say "mission accomplished" and go home. He said one battle had been won.
In fact -- and journalists should try to deal with facts -- Bush did not even say, "mission accomplished," at all. That was on a banner behind him.
What he did say was, "The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq."
Quite different from what people think he said, and the disparity is deliberate. Bush has always had a realistic sense of what was needed and what could be accomplished with regard to the war on terror. He never tried to sell people on the idea that the journey would be quick and easy or that it would not require sacrifice. But his opponents, both cynics and wild-eyed ideologues, have insisted that he lied.
He didn't lie -- his critics did and are still doing so. Surber's right: journalists should stick to the facts, but in today's politicized media environment that is probably too much to ask.
Read Surber's piece here.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Zimbabwe has been elected to head the UN's commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) despite strong objections from Western diplomats.
They had said Zimbabwe was unsuitable because of its human rights record and economic problems. It is suffering food shortages and rampant inflation.
But Zimbabwe has dismissed such criticism, calling it an insult.
The country was chosen by other African nations....
That's right, Mad Bobby Mugabe and his ZANU-PF goons, who have destroyed Zimbabwe, will be heading up a commission on development. And, this monstrosity was brought about by the votes of other African states.
Sheer insanity! It is things like this that make it impossible to take seriously anything that the UN does these days.
Read about it here.
Maybe the reason why the Left hates Sarkozy and that renegade "woman of color" Hirsi Ali so much is not because of what they stand for as much as because both remind them of the principles they have betrayed. This secret guilt may stand at the center of the inexplicable hysteria with which the Left regard the neocons and President Bush in particular. Recently a Ramussen poll showed that "only four in ten Democrats will commit to the idea that George Bush did not know of the 9/11 attack in advance. Sixty-one percent of them either believe he did or are unsure." What could account for such a widespread belief in a bizarre conspiracy theory? Why do otherwise intelligent people insist, in the face of incontrovertible evidence that "fire does not melt steel" and embrace all kinds of ridiculous fantasies? I think the extreme demonization of George W. Bush and the neocons is psychologically necessary in order to restore a feeling of moral superiority to the Leftist universe. They would be guilt stricken without it. The more intelligent Leftists must be subconsciously aware of how monstrous the enemy is and secretly cognizant of how great is the betrayal of their own ideals. They can't confront this fact; cannot accept that they are delivering children, as Caroline Glick's example above shows, to cruel murderers. And in order to obtain some kind of solace and to have the effrontery to march in support of "freedom fighters" who are nothing but sadistic thugs, it is necessary for them to invent something worse; to make a caricature devil of GWB to place them once again, if not upon the side of angels, at least in the camp of the lesser evil. George Bush must be made nothing less than the moral equivalent of Hitler or else their ethical universe would collapse.
But George Bush is not Hitler. And one day the better men among the Left will face up to the fact that they have failed a huge moral and historical test. And from that memory, there will be no redemption.
So true, so true...
Read it here.
FIRE reports on Tyranny at Tufts here.
Read the offending document here.
And commentary by Eugene Volokh here and here.
The hot new zombie flick this week is "28 Weeks After". We haven't seen it yet ("She Who Must Not Be Named" isn't into horror films, but when she finds out that Robert Carlyle is in it you won't be able to keep her away) but the guys over at Libertas have an excellent review that does not follow the simplistic allegorical thinking of liberal critics. It appears to be a much more complex film than most critics realize. I can't wait to see it.
Read the review here.
Friday, May 11, 2007
A healthy dose of skepticism is a good idea, especially when scientists become all too confident and make themselves out to be oracles. But there can be a wide gap between their predictions and the end result -- a fundamental weakness of all computer simulations that present only incomplete pictures of reality.This is only a portion of his indictment of the climate change hysterics. Read the whole thing here. Then go here and read another skeptical argument from climate scientist, Hans Von Storch.
In the early years, for example, computer modelers underestimated the influence of aerosols, especially the sulfur particles that are released into the atmosphere during the combustion of oil and coal or during volcanic eruptions. These pollution particles block sunlight and thus cause significant cooling. The failure to adequately take aerosols into account explains why earlier models predicted a more drastic rise in temperatures than those in use today. One major unknown in the predictions depends on how quickly countries like China will filter out the pollutants from their power plant emissions -- if the air becomes cleaner it will also heat up more rapidly.
Other factors that can either weaken or strengthen the greenhouse effect are still not fully understood today. For example, will the carbon dioxide trapped in the world's oceans be released as the water heats up, thereby accelerating global warming? And how much faster do land plants and sea algae grow in a milder climate? Plant proliferation could bind more carbon dioxide -- and serve to slow down the greenhouse effect.
But the main problem lies in correctly calculating the effects of clouds. The tops of clouds act as mirrors in the sky, reflecting sunlight back into space -- thus cooling the planet. But the bottom sides keep the heat radiated by the earth from escaping into the atmosphere -- causing temperatures to rise.
Which of the two effects predominates depends primarily on the altitude at which clouds form. Simply put, low clouds tend to promote cooling while high clouds increase warming. So far scientists agree on only one thing, namely that more clouds will form in a greenhouse climate. They just don't know at which altitude.
Even the most powerful computer models are still too imprecise to simulate the details. However, the clouds alone will determine whether temperatures will increase by one degree more or less than the average predicted by the models. This is a significant element of uncertainty. "Clouds are still our biggest headache," concedes Erich Roeckner of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.
My favorite quote from Von Storch:
"Unfortunately many scientists see themselves too much as priests whose job it is to preach moralistic sermons to people."
And that's a big part of the problem.
Read about it here.
On Tuesday Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), took office as Northern Ireland's first minister, forming an administration with his former foe, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, who now takes over as deputy leader. They will head a new 12-member administration which will take back control of government departments that had been run from London for the past five years. Allegations of intelligence gathering within Belfast's government buildings led to the collapse of the first attempt at devolved government back in 2002. Power-sharing had been the central goal of the Good Friday agreement of 1998, which had been brokered by the United States, Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
The two hard-line parties that formed the government on Tuesday were made the dominant political forces in Northern Irish politics in elections in 2003, pushing aside the more moderate Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) as the main representatives of the Protestant and Catholic communities. While that was greeted with dismay by many at the time, commentators now agree that the fact that it is the less moderate parties who have agreed to share power augers well for the future. Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, a member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet, said on Tuesday:"These are the two most polarized forces in Northern Ireland's politics, they have done the deal and that's why I believe it's here to stay for good."
Gee, I wonder if this has anything to do with the Bush-Blair global war on terror.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
So there I am standing out in a field on a hillside. Beautiful, bright sunny afternoon. Temps in the mid seventies. Nice gentle breeze. Sky clear except for a couple of dissolving contrails. Perfect! Aaaaah.
I start looking around for something to photograph.
One of my neighbors’ crabapple trees is in full bloom and looks pretty good. I decide to take a pic…, wha?
Damn…, left the battery in the charger. Oh, well…, at least I noticed before I went too far.
Turn around, trudge back up the hill to get the battery.
Snap, click. Ready to roll. Head back down the hill, muttering.
We have resident crows on the hillside. As I approached the bottom of my driveway they started to make a ruckus.
Aha! Something’s in the sky. Start scanning.
There…, it flashes by. A sparrow hawk?
No! Much too big. It’s a Merlin! First of the season. It disappears behind a stand of trees.
Grab my camera, do my best Grandpa McCoy imitation as I hustle past the trees.
Damn…, too far away to get a good shot. I watch as it disappears beyond the tree line at the far side of the field with two very angry crows in hot pursuit. [Like they really had a chance to catch a Merlin, and just what do they think they’ll do with it if they do catch up?]
Tough crows! Well, they have to be. When you build your nest right smack in the middle of the main migration route of the Eastern raptors, you toughen up fast, or you die!
Last spring I watched one of our resident blue-jays take down a kestrel…, hard!
It ain’t easy being a predator in this neck of the woods. The food keeps fighting back.
Trudge, trudge, trudge.
Well, I’m back in the field again, watching and listening. Dum de dum de dum….
A couple of crows fly by on perimeter patrol.
Dum de dum de dum…
Ah…, squawking. There’s a predator in the air again. This time it’s a red-tail, circling over the hill, heading my way.
Once again the crows rise to intercept the threat. They are trying to harass him into leaving, but him, he just keep circlin’.
I’m gonna get a great shot. I raise the camera, adjust the lens, point and click…, wha?
Shut it off, on, try again.
Take the battery out, reinsert it. Quick, get the shot!
Check the controls on the camera.
Aha! I had accidentally moved the auto-focus switch on the lens into a position that was neither auto or manual. The poor thing doesn’t know what to do unless I tell it. Set it back on auto.
Now…, where’s that damn hawk?
Gone, that’s where.
Oh, well. I can always take pictures of flowers. They don’t fly away. And one thing is sure. Here on
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Read about them here. They're aiming to take down the BBC and might very well do so.
The farewell speech Bush should give:
Normally, I start these things out by saying "My Fellow Americans", not doing it this time. If the polls are any indication, I don't know who more than half of you are anymore. I do know something terrible has happened, and that you're really not fellow Americans any longer.
I'll cut right to the chase here: I quit. Now before anyone gets all in a lather about me quitting to avoid impeachment, or to avoid prosecution or something, let me assure you, there's been no breaking of laws or impeachable offenses in this office. The reason I'm quitting is simple. I'm fed up with you people. I'm fed up because you have no understanding of what's really going on in the world. Or of what's going on in this once-great nation of ours. And the majority of you are too damned lazy to do your homework and figure it out.
Let's start local. You've been sold a bill of goods by politicians and the news media. Polls show that the majority of you think the economy is in the tank. And that's despite record numbers of homeowners including record numbers of MINORITY homeowners. And while we're mentioning minorities, I'll point out that minority business ownership is at an all-time high.
Our unemployment rate is as low as it ever was during the Clinton Administration. I've mentioned all those things before, but it doesn't seem to have sunk in. Despite the shock to our economy of 9/11, the stock market has rebounded to record levels and more Americans than ever are participating in these markets. Meanwhile, all you can do is whine about gas prices, and most of you are too damn stupid to realize that gas prices are high because there's increased demand in other parts of the world, and because a small handful of noisy idiots are more worried about polar bears and beachfront property than your economic security.
We face real threats in the world. Don't give me this "blood for oil" thing. If I was trading blood for oil I would've already seized Iraq's oil fields and let the rest of the country go to hell. And don't give me this 'Bush Lied People Died' crap either. If I was the liar you morons take me for, I could've easily had chemical weapons planted in Iraq so they could be 'discovered.' Instead, I owned up to the fact that the intelligence was faulty. Let me remind you that the rest of the world thought Saddam had the goods, same as me. Let me also remind you that regime change in Iraq was official US policy before I came into office. Some guy named 'Clinton' established that policy. Bet you didn't know that, did you? You idiots need to understand that we face a unique enemy. Back during the cold war, there were two major competing political and economic models squaring off. We won that war, but we did so because fundamentally, the Communists wanted to survive, just as we do. We were simply able to outspend and out-tech them.
That's not the case this time. The soldiers of our new enemy don't care if they survive. In fact, they want to die. That'd be fine, as long as they weren't also committed to taking as many of you with them as they can. But they are. They want to kill you. And the bastards are all over the globe.
You should be grateful that they haven't gotten any more of us here in the United States since September 11. But you're not. That's because you've got no idea how hard a small number of intelligence, military, law enforcement and homeland security people have worked to make sure of that. When this whole mess started, I warned you that this would be a long and difficult fight. I'm disappointed how many of you people think a long and difficult fight amounts to a single season of 'Survivor'. Instead, you've grown impatient. You're incapable of seeing things through the long lens of history, the way our enemies do. You think that wars should last a few months, a few years, tops.
Making matters worse, you actively support those who help the enemy. Every time you buy the New York Times, every time you send a donation to a cut-and-run Democrat's political campaign, well, dammit, you might just as well Fedex a grenade launcher to a Jihadist. It amounts to the same thing.
In this day and age, it's easy enough to find the truth. It's all over the Internet. It just isn't on the pages of the New York Times or on NBC News. But even if it were, I doubt you'd be any smarter. Most of you would rather watch American Idol.
I could say more about your expectations that the government will always be there to bail you out, even if you're too stupid to leave a city that's below sea level and has a hurricane approaching. I could say more about your insane belief that government, not your own wallet, is where the money comes from. But I've come to the conclusion that were I to do so, it would sail right over your heads.
So I quit. I'm going back to Crawford. I've got an energy-efficient house down there (Al Gore could only dream) and the capability to be fully self-sufficient. No one ever heard of Crawford before I got elected, and as soon as I'm done here pretty much no one will ever hear of it again. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to die of old age before the last pillars of America fall.
Oh, and by the way, Cheney's quitting too. That means Pelosi is your new President . You asked for it. Watch what she does carefully, because I still have a glimmer of hope that there are just enough of you remaining who are smart enough to turn this thing around in 2008.
So that's it. God bless what's left of America. Some of you know what I mean.
The rest of you, **** off.
I'm not sure why Marty, a big-name Democrat posted this, but it sure has his liberal buddies in a tizzy. They think he's lost his mind. Of course this thing is over the top, but it embodies a great truth. There is a radical disconnect between the way things have been going in this country and in the world since Bush took office and the way things are being perceived.