Day By Day

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's Gettin Better All the Time

Stephen Moore, writing in the WSJ summarizes the recent UN report on the "State of the Future". You probably haven't hear of it -- the WSJ is the only MSM organ to feature the report. Why? Because it says that things are good and getting better.

People around the world are becoming healthier, wealthier, better educated, more peaceful, more connected, and they are living longer.

More? How about this?

World-wide illiteracy rates have fallen by half since 1970 and now stand at an all-time low of 18%. More people live in free countries than ever before. The average human being today will live 50% longer in 2025 than one born in 1955.

And here's why most of the MSM has ignored this hugely important study.

To what do we owe this improvement? Capitalism, according to the U.N. Free trade is rightly recognized as the engine of global prosperity in recent years. In 1981, 40% of the world's population lived on less than $1 a day. Now that percentage is only 25%, adjusted for inflation. And at current rates of growth, "world poverty will be cut in half between 2000 and 2015"--which is arguably one of the greatest triumphs in human history. Trade and technology are closing the global "digital divide," and the report notes hopefully that soon laptop computers will cost $100 and almost every schoolchild will be a mouse click away from the Internet (and, regrettably, those interminable computer games).

That's right -- it's that ol' debbil, capitalism, that is making the world better. Can't let the public know that, can we? Of course not, especially in an election year in which liberals are busily demonizing corporations.

Read the whole thing here.

First Baseball, Now This

Japanese have long been fascinated by and quick to adopt Western, particularly American, ways. Look at their enthusiasm for baseball, which is now more popular there than in the United States. Well, now they have gone overboard for another Western cultural phenomenon, Halloween. Go here for a photo gallery of Japanese revelers celebrating this ancient Celtic festival.

The Narrative is Changing

The Mudville Gazette notes that Democrats have figured out how to deal with the imminent threat of victory in Iraq. After several weeks in which they studiously ignored what was going on in Iraq they finally have a comeback. They will simply declare that the victory was not worth the cost.
The narrative on Iraq - the one you see in the media, that is - is changing. Claims that "we've lost" and that American soldiers have been beaten by opponents who are righteous heroes or nine-foot tall and bullet proof are being quite subtly shifted to arguments that no potential victory (if even grudgingly acknowledged) could be worth the price. This argument may prove irresistible to those who've invested heavily in defeat.
Indeed it will.

Read it here.

Bon Voyage to the Pride of Baltimore 2

As I promised I went down to check out the "Pride of Baltimore 2" today.

Not long after I arrived the crew began to act strangely; something was up. This guy seemed to be giving orders.

They unhitched ropes, pushed away from the dock and hauled in the bumpers.

Moved out into the center of the harbor.

Raised canvas, turned into the wind, and sailed away,

toward the Chesapeake and points beyond.

Winning In Iraq

Strategy Page comments on the recent statements by Osama Bin Laden and interprets them to be an admission that Al Qaeda has lost the struggle in Iraq.

On October 22nd, Osama bin Laden admitted that al Qaeda had lost its war in Iraq. In an audiotape speech titled "Message to the people of Iraq," bin Laden complains of disunity and poor use of resources. He admits that al Qaeda made mistakes, and that all Sunni Arabs must unite to defeat the foreigners and Shia Moslems. What bin Laden is most upset about is the large number of Sunni Arab terrorists who have switched sides in Iraq. This has actually been going on for a while. Tribal leaders and warlords in the west (Anbar province) have been turning on terrorist groups, especially al Qaeda, for several years. While bin Laden appeals for unity, he shows only a superficial appreciation of what is actually going on in Iraq.
The key factor in this victory, one mentioned in interviews on several occasions by military commanders in the field, but generally ignored by the MSM, was the systematic collection and analysis of operational intelligence by the military itself.
It was done with data. Years of collecting data on the bad guys paid off. Month by month, the picture of the enemy became clearer. This was literally the case, with some of the intelligence software that created visual representations of what was known of the enemy, and how reliable it was. The picture was clear enough to maneuver key enemy factions into positions that make them easier to run down.
Intelligence is the key to modern warfare, but it does not fit well with the romantic image of war generally held by the public and journalists. It consists of the slow, painstaking accumulation of information gained by a variety of means, some of them quite unsavory, and sophisticated analysis of it. This takes time. People and politicians prefer to see the daring strategic or tactical success, the clash of arms, the heroic confrontation. What they get is a slow but sure increase in efficacy as information begins to pay off over time on the battlefield, as resources are gradually attrited, and as the enemy's range of options narrows.

This was what happened in Iraq, and military specialists will understand the awesome effectiveness of our campaign there, but there will be no domestic political payoff because it does not conform to our romantic view of warfare.

One of the complaints against Rumsfeld was that under him the military was assuming more and more control over intelligence operations. Given the general ineptitude and near treasonous behavior of CIA operatives and the general effectiveness of military intelligence it would seem that Rummy understood the situation much better than did his critics.

There is more to the article than this. Our victory has not been over just Al Qaeda in Iraq. We have also defeated the old-line Saddamist thugs, reducing their numbers to a few thousand, and we are carrying the fight successfully to Al Qaeda on a global scale.
In addition to defeat in Iraq, the [Al Qaeda] organization is being battered in North Africa, South East Asia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bin Laden has not got any good news to talk about....
Indeed, and for us that is good news.

I blame Bush.

Read the whole article here.


To illustrate the importance of intelligence, note this passage from Michael Yon's latest report from Iraq.
Today, I'm staying at a small outpost called JSS (Joint Security Station) “Black Lions" with the 1-18th Infantry battalion. Al Qaeda are so diminished in this area, according to the commander here, LTC Patrick Frank, that they are maybe 3 percent of the problem. But JAM (the Madhi Army created by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) is the big problem around JSS Black Lion.

A soldier was blown up and killed about 400 meters away on Thursday evening. LTC Frank told me the other day that his best weapon system is his cell phone. Calls come to him (through his interpreter) every day and into the night, with information from locals about the whereabouts of wanted JAM members. Many local people are clearly fed up with the violence. Some even send e-mails with Google Earth maps showing exactly where suspects are, and they are doing it in real time.

We'll be sitting there in the TOC (tactical operations center or HQ) and an e-mail comes in and it's literally a map (or a photo of one) with detailed descriptions of wanted men and/or caches. And the information is turning out to be true. I have never seen anything like this before,

It's becoming almost bizarre how specific the informants are becoming. Informants have called up saying they are with bad guys right now and giving their location. Our guys show up and arrest everyone. Hours later, the U.S. soldiers let the informants go. JAM and AQI are getting slammed in many areas because local people are sick of the violence and local people trust Americans to help them end it.

Read the whole thing here.

Ooh, Pretty!

That's what "She Who Must Not Be Named" said this morning as she gazed out the window. "Come here, take a look."

There she was, the "Pride of Baltimore2" tied up right outside. "She" suggested I go out and take some pictures, but I settled for this and went swimming instead. Maybe if she is still docked there tomorrow I'll get up close and personal with this beautiful lady.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

How It Should Have Ended

Ever wondered how your favorite movie should have ended? Check out the appropriate endings on You Tube.

To get you started, here's my favorite -- "How Superman Should Have Ended".

And here is "How Lord of the Rings Should Have Ended".

Morlocks, Eloi and "Scientific Racism"

This article is getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere, and it should.

From the Daily News:
Human race will "split into two different species"

The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, according to a top scientist.

100,000 years into the future, sexual selection could mean that two distinct breeds of human will have developed.

The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics, who says that the human race will have reached its physical peak by the year 3000.

Read it here.

Most of the attention has been focused on the similarity of this argument to that advanced by H. G. Wells a century ago. At that time "scientific racism" a respectable doctrine. There are actually a few important points underlying that article.

An emerging study in anthropology and medicine is "human biodiversity" which refers to the continuing evolutionary pressures on human populations. The implications of this are disturbing because it repudiates the idea that all men are created equal or that we are all the same under the skin. Couple this with the idea of "sociobiology" or as it is now called, "evolutionary psychology", and the argument is being made by serious scientists that different groups of humans have different innate capabilities and psychological tendencies. This article reflects that new "scientific consensus" -- one that is directly at odds with some of our most cherished beliefs [brotherhood of man, egalitarianism, etc.] Moreover, it lends scientific credibility to racist doctrines. There are real moral and political implications to assertions like this.

As an historian I have long been aware of this phenomenon. The European aristocracy, for instance, increasingly over time looked very different from commoners. Their physical characteristics became quite distinctive. They always claimed that their mental and emotional characteristics were also distinctive -- in fact, that was the justification for their authority [they claimed to be better people than commoners]. Anti-aristocrats responded that the lords and ladies were inherently inferior. Either position recognizes that the aristocracy was a restricted breeding pool that was evolving in ways different from the general population.

The only journalist of whom I am aware who has written interestingly on this subject is David Brooks of the New York Times. He has worried in print that our current system of "meritocracy" is restricting interbreeding among different classes of the population. Rich people marry other rich people, the education system, the hiring and promotions system, and a host of other institutional arrangements ensure that young people increasingly interact with people of their own social standing or that of their parents. Bosses no longer marry their secretaries, doctors no longer marry their nurses, etc. In other words, we are segregating ourselves into distinctive, class-based breeding pools that will diverge evolutionarily. Meritocracy was supposed to produce an ever churning rule by the most talented people -- "the best and the brightest" [the Clintonians, like the Kennedy crowd, in their insufferable arrogance, used to use that term to describe themselves -- maybe they still do]. Instead meritocracy is producing a self-perpetuating professionalized upper class.

The great middle-class ideal was the idea that all men are created equal and that divergence is due either to fortune or commitment. The old aristocrats claimed that differences were inherent and inbred. Are we going back to that? Many "scientists" seem to be tending in that direction.

This is why I am sympathetic to the notion that "scientific" authority must be balanced against political, economic and moral concerns.


Thanks to the father of five for pointing me to this article.


John Hawks demonstrates that the Daily News article makes absolutely no sense in terms of population genetics. [here] The human race as a whole will never split into two species, one pretty the other ugly. However, my larger point -- that custom, social differentiation, and the like can produce restricted breeding populations that over can diverge from the general population physically and perhaps cognitively -- still holds.

Friday, October 26, 2007

On this day in 1881 the Earps and Doc Holliday fought the Clantons and McLaury's at the OK Corral. The fight lasted about thirty seconds. Three men died.

I blame Bush

Read about it here.

Another Liberal Myth Exploded

Democrats have consistently proclaimed that, while the economy as a whole has grown under Bush, the middle class has stagnated. Terry Fitzgerald, senior economist at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, explodes that falsehood, showing that middle class earnings are by no means stagnant. Read it here.

Hat Tip: Greg Mankiw

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Limits of Scientific Enquiry

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- those computer models that the Goreites rely on to predict looming disaster are crap. Jim Giles, writing in New Scientist, concurs.
Climate change models, no matter how powerful, can never give a precise prediction of how greenhouse gases will warm the Earth....
Read the whole thing here.

Or you can read Gerald Roe and Marcia Baker's critical review of the climate models in Science here [subscription required].

Or you can read James Lewis synopsis of the Science article here.
After hundreds of millions of dollars spent on climate modeling, and decades of screaming headlines, we have no more certainty today about Global Warming prediction than we did decades ago. What's more, that is a provable inherent limitation of the data and models.
That is a scientific scandal by any measure.


[A]n entire Global Warming fraud industry has grown up, based on years of pseudo-scientific false alarms, and feeding scare headlines without end around the world. But the science is finally clear: Any reasonable evidence is not only missing, but can in principle not be obtained in a system as complex as the earth climate.

Happy St. Crispin's Day!

On this day in 1415 the Battle of Agincourt was fought. Read about it here.

The battle, of course, provides the subject matter for one of Shakespeare's most famous passages, the "Band of Brothers" speech delivered by Henry V to his troops before battle.

Here is Kenneth Branagh, performing the speech:

Here is the text in case you want to recite it yourself:

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


Crows demonstrate intelligence and cooperative behavior, gulls just swarm. Here's a pack of ring-billed gulls in the midst of a feeding frenzy at the harbor. I just feel sorry for the one lone duck who got caught in the middle of the mess.

Battle Stations

The other day I took my camera out to snap some pictures of the foliage. As I emerged at the bottom of my driveway I heard the local colony of crows raising a ruckus. Something was stirring them up, so naturally I checked it out.

There they were, lined up on the high branches peering intently toward the west. Must be a hawk up there somewhere, I figured.

Sure enough, as I watched a red tailed hawk circled briefly above the treeline, hunting in the next field down. The crows made a fuss, flapping their wings and cawing to make sure it knew they knew it was there and to warn it away from their turf. Apparently it worked because the hawk never reappeared. A few minutes later the crows settled down, then took wing and flew back to the trees above my place where they usually hang out.

It was a nice display of cooperative behavior in the face of a common threat. Necessary, I suppose, if you choose to live at a chokepoint on the main migration route of the eastern raptors.
One of these days it will be an eagle overhead. A lot of them come through but they seldom stop to hunt. I wonder how the corvid clan will react then.

Lies of the Left -- The Hollywood Ten

Ronald Radosh explains the truth about one of Hollywood's most cherished myths, the martyrdom of the "Hollywood Ten."

Read about it here.

People Follow the Strong Horse

George W. Bush is the strong horse.

He has demonstrated it in Iraq, holding firm when things turned bad, adapting creatively to changing circumstances, and finding a military strategy that is winning the war. Most important, he did not cut and run when everyone expected him to do so. At home he has beaten back a determined assault by anti-war forces and inconstant allies, and now stands triumphant over his political foes. Congress will complain, but it will do as he wants.

Bush's strength has inspired confidence abroad and has changed the international political landscape. In Europe many of his former foes are now out of public life and have been replaced by pro-American leaders. In Iraq, former insurgents are now aligning themselves with the American military. In Afghanistan the Taliban, despite bold words and ruthless action, has not been able to make significant inroads against the pro-American regime and a recent public opinion poll shows that Afghanis overwhelmingly want the coalition troops to stay and crush the Taliban [here]. Now USA Today reports that in Pakistan the public is turning against the Islamist extremists [here].

Slowly but surely the tide is turning in Bush's favor, and the world is better for it.

What is interesting is the extent to which Bush's behavior in the current crisis shows significant similarities to that of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. Lincoln's contribution to the war effort consisted for the most part of three things: 1) He held together a political coalition that sustained the war effort in the face of determined opposition from Democrats and public dissatisfaction with the conduct of the war, 2) he redefined American war aims to include an expansion of freedom and compassionate treatment of foes, and 3) rather than despairing in the face of military reverses he responded creatively to changing circumstances and eventually put together a team of leaders who designed and pursued a winning strategy.

Bush, who has read extensively on the subject of Lincoln's leadership, has performed in comparable ways and has suffered abuse not unlike that heaped upon his great predecessor. In the end Lincoln's greatness was recognized. I suspect that at sometime in the future George W. Bush too will be seen as a great liberator.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The MSM Fumbles the Jena 6 Story

From the Christian Science Monitor:

By now, almost everyone in America has heard of Jena, La., because they've all heard the story of the "Jena 6." White students hanging nooses barely punished, a schoolyard fight, excessive punishment for the six black attackers, racist local officials, public outrage and protests – the outside media made sure everyone knew the basics.

There's just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.

Read the whole thing here.

Disgraces in professional journalism? Heck, they're the norm. Think about how the MSM blundered on Iraq, on Katrina, on the economy, on just about every major story to come out during the Bush administration.

The question is why has the MSM become so corrupt and incompetent so fast?

Possible answers:

Bush derangement syndrome.

The inordinate influence of the New York Times, an organization that has lost its bearings.

The persistence of obsolete narratives forged in the Sixties and Seventies.

Now there are alternative sources of information in blogs and talk radio to expose MSM bias. [this assumes that the MSM was always as incompetent and biased as it seems to be now]

Pervasive liberal media bias.

The skill of Democrat operatives in manipulating MSM organs. [eeeeew!]

All of the above.


Here's the headline:

French Intellectuals Accuse Dutch of “Unacceptable Cowardice”


Actually, there's a serious point being made here. The Dutch government has behaved very badly in their treatment of anti-Islamist heroine Ayaan Hirsi Ali and it is interesting that French intellectuals have pointed it out.

Their statement includes this revealing passage:

“[T]he Netherlands closes its eyes for a world in which terrorism, intolerance and totalitarianism don’t care about borders.” “Ayaan Hirsi Ali symbolizes the choice facing us: to stay true to ourselves and to the traditions that define us, or to adapt cowardly."
Read the whole thing here.

You don't get much more anti-multiculti than that. This is not just French chauvinism [hey, they invented the word] asserting itself, increasingly European intellectuals are awakening to the fact that Bush was right about the GWOT and the threat of radical islamism. Too bad the Democrats haven't caught on yet.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chuck Endorses Huck

This just in:

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) may have just gone from a dark horse candidate to the lone frontrunner with the announcement that Chuck Norris — who is known for slamming revolving doors, counting to infinity twice, and driving an ice cream truck covered in human skulls, among other things — is backing his bid to serve as the next president.

Read it here.

Well that settles it. The Chuck has spoken, and when Chuck Norris speaks, the world says, "Yes SIR!" then drops and gives him twenty.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Amsterdam is Burning -- Nobody Seems to Notice

Riots by Islamic youths continue into their second week in Amsterdam. Klein Verzet is reporting here. Gateway Pundit has more here. Pajamas Media has a roundup by Michael van der Gailen here.

This whole thing was initiated by a jihadi suicide attack at a police station. What stands out in the accounts is that the police were initially paralyzed by PC considerations and did not respond firmly to the first provocations. Maybe that was a wise choice. The rioters are clearly trying to instigate a series of violent confrontations that will rouse Amsterdam's large Muslim population to mass protest. Dutch government sources have strenuously downplayed the importance of the riots and burnings. Maybe that's why the American MSM has ignored what is happening. Or maybe it's just that these don't help Hillary.

Louisiana Has A Good Governor

"One day Louisiana is gonna get good government. And, they ain't gonna like it. " - Earl K. Long

Now the question is, will they like it?

Congratulations to Bobby Jindal who was elected governor last night.

Read about it here. The WaPo reports it here.

The tee shirt says it all. Not the catchiest message, but great presentation!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hollywood Loses Big

This year Hollywood bet big on the anti-war movement. A whole slew of films ranging from mildly to violently anti-administration and anti-war were produced. Of the lot, only the mindless Bourne video game has made money. All the rest have been big losers at the box office.

The latest anti-Bush bomb is Rendition, which opened Friday. It barely cracked the top ten. Libertas has the figures here.

Rush Wins

It doesn't matter what you think of Rush Limbaugh (personally, I don't listen to him much but find him entertaining when I do) but you gotta admire the way he embarrassed the Democrat leadership when they tried to use the power of Congress to shut him down. Harry Reid and his gang of political thugs learned a valuable lesson. When somebody has spent forty years in the public relations game, don't mess with him.

Really, the behavior of the Democrat leadership has moved beyond despicable -- they are becoming dangerous.


Don Surber points out that the MSM's reporting of this whole thing has been more than a little duplicitous and, dare I say, despicable.

Why do people absolutely detest the media? Is it the laziness? Is it the incompetence? Is it the bias?

This report from the ABC News blog shows all 3 elements. The headline: ”Bidding Over $2M for Dems Anti-Rush Letter”

It is not until Paragraph 7 that ABC bothers to mention that Rush put the letter on eBay.

As Matt Drudge correctly pointed ABC was crediting the perpetrators instead of the victim, Rush. That letter was not written to raise money — it was written to get a man fired for broadcasting opinions that 41 Democratic Senators wanted censured. He dares to support a war that a Democratic Senate authorized in 2002.

No one in the liberal media defended Rush. The same liberal editorialists who cry free speech when someone tries to keep kids from seeing bestiality online at the local library — the same liberal editorialists who defend public financing of “Piss Christ” — abandoned a very real attack on the First Amendment by these 41 senators, who include Jay Rockefeller and Robert C. Byrd.

Now ABC credits these anti-constitutional senators with the $4.2 million Rush raised — half of it from his own pocket.

Not one of those 41 senators — all of whom enjoy salaries that place them in the top 3% of the country — has matched that gift with 21 cents, let alone the $2.1 million Rush will give.

Read it here.

Economists on Display

For anyone interested in listening the opinions of top economists on a variety of issues check out Bloomberg's podcasts here. Some really interesting information and personalities are on display.

What emerges from the viewing is a sense of just how very subjective economic judgments are.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Huckabee Ascendent

Several weeks ago "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I were driving along the interstate early in the evening. We had the radio on and were listening to some talk show host interviewing Gov. Mike Huckabee. After a while "She" said, "I like him, too bad he's not going to be the nominee." I agreed that he was likable and smart and had executive experience and would probably make a good President. I was, however, worried about his statements on free trade and would reserve judgment.

Then followed a blitz in which Huckabee appeared on several shows. I came to like him a bit more, but remained pretty happy with Giuliani and saw no reason to pay a lot of attention to Huckabee. Now I note that James Dobson has declared all of the top-tier Republican candidates unacceptable and is openly hungering for a Huckabee nomination. Today David Brooks jumps on the Huckabee express and gives the Governor a tongue bath in the NYT. Brooks and Dobson -- that's a pretty wide stance.

Read Brooks' piece here.

Brooks has a point. The Republicans are in trouble because they are divided, and each of the top-tier candidates, good men all, alienates at least one of the major factions within the party. Huckabee is the only candidate who is acceptable across a broad spectrum and therefore the only one who stands a chance of uniting the party.

It's an interesting thought. I'm going to have to start paying more attention to the Gov.


Byron York says Huckabee hit a home run at the Values Voters summit. [here]

UPDATE: In the straw poll taken at the end of the summit Huckabee essentially tied Romney as the values voters' first choice (each got about 1500 votes). Giuliani barely registered with about 100 votes. Read about it here.

UPDATE: Apparently Huckabee blew away the opposition among people physically attending the summit. Nearly all of Romney's votes came from online sources. Rich Lowry listened to Huckabee's speech. Here's his reaction:
Wow. Let me repeat: Wow. What an incredible communicator. His message has gotten stronger with the accent on Buchanesque nationalist/protectionist notes, and he speaks the language of these kind of voters better than anyone. I found myself getting goose-bumps near the end of his speech when he invoked a long series of Biblical underdogs, beginning with David and his five smooth stones.
Can't get any stronger than that.


"She Who Must Not Be Named" and I spent a few days on the mountain. Here's some of what I saw.

Stubble and trees just a bit north of Cabelas. Leaves aren't peaking yet, but soon....

Stopped by a roadside stand to see some friends of ours. They had their mums out.

Mums up close and personal

Indian corn

"She" was looking for the perfect squash.

And while "She" stalked the wily squash I hung around inside, checking out the apples and chatting with the owner, an old friend of mine. Her sister just published her first book. Congratulations, Mary, welcome to the club.

Eventually "She" found some squash and other produce that suited her, other customers were swarming in, so we loaded up the rover and headed home.

We'll be back.


The WSJ has an excellent piece on the incident at Haditha and the way in which the political left built it into yet another phony issue.
The incident at Haditha--or the massacre, as it is often called--is due for a wholesale rethinking. The allegations are that in 2005 U.S. Marines went on a killing spree and deliberately executed 24 Iraqi civilians. The casualties have drawn an extraordinary amount of political attention, becoming an emblem for everything critics say is wrong with the Iraq war--in the common telling, another My Lai.

Thus Congressman Jack Murtha, a decorated combat veteran, made accusations of war crimes and said the Marines had killed "in cold blood." These are serious charges; and military justice continues to deal with them seriously, though thankfully at a slower pace than politics. Now the prosecutions have mostly unraveled. It seems Haditha, though tragic, was exploited politically, and the allegations were exaggerated, if not unfounded.


At Haditha, did the Marines act reasonably and appropriately based on their training? They were in a hostile combat situation where deadly force was authorized against suspected triggermen for the IED, and were ordered to assault a suspected insurgent hideout. In retrospect, the men in the car had no weapons or explosives; in retrospect, the people in the house were not insurgents. No one knew at the time.

Innocents were killed at Haditha, as they inevitably are in all wars--though that does not excuse or justify wrongdoing. Yet neither was Haditha the atrocity or "massacre" that many assumed--though errors in judgment may well have been committed. And while some violent crimes have been visited on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, overall the highly disciplined U.S. military has conducted itself in an exemplary fashion. When there have been aberrations, the services have typically held themselves accountable.

The same cannot be said of the political and media classes. Many, including Members of Congress, were looking for another moral bonfire to discredit the cause in Iraq, and they found a pretext in Haditha. The critics rushed to judgment; facts and evidence were discarded to fit the antiwar template.

Most despicably, they created and stoked a political atmosphere that exposes American soldiers in the line of duty, risking and often losing their lives, to criminal liability for the chaos of war. This is the deepest shame of Haditha, and the one for which apologies ought to be made.

Read it here.

"Despicable" is perhaps a much too kind way of characterizing the behavior of the Democat leadership over the past few years. Murtha, to his everlasting shame, has been one of the worst.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stars in the Hollywood Firmament

David Denby, writing in the New Yorker [not available online] opines that we are running out of movie stars -- that the new movie production system is not today capable of throwing up onto the screen mythic figures like Coop and the Duke and Valentino and Monroe.

Isaac Chotiner over a the New Republic disagrees. He points out that today there is a plethora of genuine A-list stars. Moreover as a group they are far better actors than the mythic stars of the studio years.

Interesting. I tend to side with Chotiner -- even the least able of today's pantheon of stars -- I'm talking 'bout you, Brad -- is a better actor than Cooper or Wayne or Gable.

I seem to remember Robert Duvall saying that he doesn't watch old movies because the acting is so bad. He has a point. What drives me nuts is that, despite the amazing technological advances in film, and the indisputable skill and sheer craftsmanship of the workers in the field (even a mid-level director knows every trick Orson Welles employed at his peak and much, much more), the finished products are so damn mediocre so much of the time.

Inconvenient "Science"

Liberals like to portray themselves as defenders of science and religion against the irrational superstition of conservatives, especially religious conservatives. But, as James Taranto points out in the WSJ, their support of science is highly conditional. When scientific evidence contradicts their naive faith, liberals can be as anti-science as any bible-thumper.

Take for example the recent study published in the Stanford Law Review showing that affirmative action policies have resulted in a disproportionately high failure rate among Blacks admitted to law school. This study has instigated a major debate, involving the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the State Bar of California, over whether such research can be supported.

Read about it here.

Read Taranto's commentary here.

So, a substantial number of liberals think it is OK to obstruct scientific research into areas that threaten to contradict their cherished beliefs. Oh my!

Actually, this is nothing new. The major challenge to the thriving field of "sociobiology" [now re-conceived as "evolutionary psychology"] and the brand-new scientific field of study titled "human biodiversity" comes from the left. Their attitude has always been that the conclusions of evolutionary studies represent hard scientific truth except when they are applied to today's human populations. Then they must be repudiated.

Deborah Kerr Passes

Classy -- she practically defined the term. Deborah Kerr has passed away. The news saddens me and brings back so many memories -- the clinch with Burt Lancaster in the surf in "From Here to Eternity"; the missed meeting at the top of the Empire State Building in "An Affair to Remember"; the meeting with Yul Brynner's King of Siam in "The King and I" and so many more.

Say goodbye to a lady.

The Continuing Threat from Al-Qaeda

David Ignatius of the WaPo is a liberal, but an intelligent and often sensible one who fully appreciates the magnitude of the challenge facing the United States today. He warns us that the threat of a WMD, even a nuclear, attack on Americans is still a very real possibility.

Read his article here.

Hitch on the Future of the Anglosphere

Well, I finally got back to internet service, sort of. More, better, posting later when I get back to a high speed hookup.

For now, I note that Chistopher Hitchens has an interesting piece on the "Anglosphere" and its importance to the world.

First, he favors an expansive understanding of the scope of the Anglosphere, consisting essentially of all nations with English-speaking traditions and long experience with the Anglo-American civil traditions. This would include, for instance, India, the Philippines and South Africa as well as Canada, the US, Australia and other areas actually settled by the British.

He also notes that this broad coalition has stood together successfully against tyrannies in the past.

He also sees no realistic alternative for effective international cooperation.
In considering the future of the broader Anglosphere tradition, especially in the context of anti-jihadism, it may help to contrast it with the available alternatives. As a supranational body, the United Nations has obviously passed the point of diminishing returns. Inaugurated as an Anglo-American “coalition of the willing” against Hitler and his allies, the UN—in its failure to confront the genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur and in its abject refusal to enforce its own resolutions in the case of Iraq—is a prisoner of the “unilateralism” of France, Russia, and, to a lesser extent, China. NATO may have been somewhat serviceable in Kosovo (the first engagement in which it ever actually fought as an alliance), but it has performed raggedly in Afghanistan. The European Union has worked as an economic solvent on redundant dictatorships in Spain, Portugal, and Greece, and also on old irredentist squabbles in Ireland, Cyprus, and Eastern Europe. But it is about to reach, if it has not already, a membership saturation point that will disable any effective decision-making capacity. A glaring example of this disability is the EU’s utter failure to compose a viable constitution.
All in all, Hitchens sees the informal, and even contentious, familial relationship among the various nations of the Anglosphere as the best vehicle for combating the global challenge posed by Jihadism.

I am broadly sympathetic to this perspective, but would argue that President Bush's approach (forming ad-hoc coalitions of countries with similar interests -- sort of a voluntary association of interested countries -- to deal with specific situations like Iraq or North Korea) is superior. But I recognize that Hitch has a point in that such associations will necessarily have at their core, participation by Anglospheric nations.

Read the piece here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Perry Crushes Clooney, Wahlberg, Blanchett

Once again the media moguls and the critical community are shocked to find that a faith-based film has buried the competition at the box office. This time it is Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married" which took in more than 21 million dollars this weekend, beating out the Rock's inane comedy "The Game Plan" and doubling the take of George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg's heavily hyped "quality" productions that tied for third with about 11 million each.

Read it here.

Libertas notes that the people who make movies and those who review them are culturally and politically out of touch with the American public, and argues Perry's box 0ffice wins are an indication of that fact. [here] I'm not so sure of that. Films really don't tell us very much about American culture at all -- they are merely suggestive. The box office simply tells us that the market for rabid anti-capitalist, anti-American screeds is small and diminishing and the market for faith-based entertainment is not.

I blame Bush

More Good News From Iraq

Tom Ricks and Karen DeYoung report in the WaPo:

The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

But as the White House and its military commanders plan the next phase of the war, other officials have cautioned against taking what they see as a premature step that could create strategic and political difficulties for the United States. Such a declaration could fuel criticism that the Iraq conflict has become a civil war in which U.S. combat forces should not be involved. At the same time, the intelligence community, and some in the military itself, worry about underestimating an enemy that has shown great resilience in the past.

"I think it would be premature at this point," a senior intelligence official said of a victory declaration over AQI, as the group is known. Despite recent U.S. gains, he said, AQI retains "the ability for surprise and for catastrophic attacks." Earlier periods of optimism, such as immediately following the June 2006 death of AQI founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. air raid, not only proved unfounded but were followed by expanded operations by the militant organization.

There is widespread agreement that AQI has suffered major blows over the past three months. Among the indicators cited is a sharp drop in suicide bombings, the group's signature attack, from more than 60 in January to around 30 a month since July. Captures and interrogations of AQI leaders over the summer had what a senior military intelligence official called a "cascade effect," leading to other killings and captures. The flow of foreign fighters through Syria into Iraq has also diminished, although officials are unsure of the reason and are concerned that the broader al-Qaeda network may be diverting new recruits to Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The deployment of more U.S. and Iraqi forces into AQI strongholds in Anbar province and the Baghdad area, as well as the recruitment of Sunni tribal fighters to combat AQI operatives in those locations, has helped to deprive the militants of a secure base of operations, U.S. military officials said. "They are less and less coordinated, more and more fragmented," Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, said recently. Describing frayed support structures and supply lines, Odierno estimated that the group's capabilities have been "degraded" by 60 to 70 percent since the beginning of the year.

Read it here.

I blame Bush.

Of course the Democrats, rehearsing their lines on MSNBC right now, are saying -- "So what? Where's Bin Laden?"They claim that they were right all along, that we are caught in a civil war, not a war against al Qaeda, and that the administration is really in a bind because there is no longer any reason to stay in Iraq.

More Good News -- Cancer Deaths Decline

USA Today reports:

Deaths from cancer continue to drop, and the decline appears to be accelerating, federal health officials detail in a report out Monday.

The rate of cancer started falling in 1992 with improved treatment and Americans taking to heart the message that not smoking, eating better and seeking early detection would reduce their risks. But the new report shows cancer deaths declined on average 2.1% each year from 2002 to 2004, the most recent year for which detailed data are available. That rate was nearly twice the annual decrease from 1993 to 2002.

The decline was more pronounced in men, 2.6% a year, than women, 1.8% a year, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and others.

Read it here.

I blame Bush.

City Sights

It was a glorious day at the harbor. I took my camera and a good book [Walter Isaacson's biography of Benjamin Franklin] and wandered around for a while taking pictures.

I finally settled on Federal Hill where I had a great view of the harbor.

Don't ask!

Ol' Sam still stands guard.

I sat on a bench for a while, reading and enjoying the sun and a cool breeze, then wended my way back home along Montgomery Street.

And on the way I discovered that some of my neighbors are stranger than I thought.

A Remarkable Admission

The term "empire" is bandied about loosely, especially by leftist critics of the US, but does it really mean anything? Writing in the Times Literary Supplement Felipe Fernandez-Armesto makes a rather startling admission. Even the top experts on the subject don't know what they are talking about.
At a recent dinner in Cambridge, Massachusetts, four of the world’s leading historians of empire agreed on only one thing: that none of them knew what an empire is. It is a loose-fitting name, applied to states or political agglomerations of such diverse kinds that we should probably admit that entities we call empires have no more in common than girls we call Jane or garments we call coats.
The best that these experts could come up with was that empires tend to be larger than other contemporary states, they consist of more than one historically distinct community, there is one central focus of allegiance, and scholars have "more or less agreed" to designate the United States as an "empire." That's it and that's all, which leads me to wonder if the concept is all that useful. Fernandez-Armesto claims that it is, but the question must be asked, especially since use of the term allows critics of the US to mindlessly plug into all sorts of Marxist and anti-colonialist analytic categories and rhetoric, whether or not such associations are appropriate.

Read his review here.


In the latest Le Nouvel Observateur, Bernard-Henri Levy asks whether it is still possible to be on the political Left and confesses his loathing for what he calls the "chauvinist Left".

Of course the Left doesn't take this deviationism sitting down.

Read about the debate here.

News from Iraq

MSM coverage of the encouraging news out of Iraq has for many months been so blatantly biased against the administration and the war effort that even the WaPo has finally noticed.

NEWS COVERAGE and debate about Iraq during the past couple of weeks have centered on the alleged abuses of private security firms like Blackwater USA. Getting such firms into a legal regime is vital, as we've said. But meanwhile, some seemingly important facts about the main subject of discussion last month -- whether there has been a decrease in violence in Iraq -- have gotten relatively little attention. A congressional study and several news stories in September questioned reports by the U.S. military that casualties were down. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), challenging the testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus, asserted that "civilian deaths have risen" during this year's surge of American forces.

A month later, there isn't much room for such debate, at least about the latest figures. In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004.

During the first 12 days of October the death rates of Iraqis and Americans fell still further.
And here's the key quote:
Al-Qaeda tried to step up attacks this year, U.S. commanders say -- so far, with stunningly little success.
Read it here.

And then there's this [complete with charts for the reading impaired]

And this.

And this.

And [lest we forget Afghanistan] this.

And on the subject of political reconciliation in Iraq there's this. Those ten-foot tall Mahdi's just don't seem to be what the MSM and the Democrats claimed they were.

And this.

And this.

Suddenly, and without warning, the MSM has decided that things are looking up in Iraq. Is it because they were shamed by Robin Wright's startling admission to Howard Kurtz that she and other leading journalists felt that good news on the war should be buried while negative news is routinely played up? [here]

Is it Gen. Sanchez' blistering condemnation of MSM bias, which they did not report, but could not have helped but notice? [here]

Is it that they just got tired of the old story-line?

Is it that Hillary has been moving away from an anti-war position?

What is notable is that, like a flock of birds or school of fish, they all turned on a dime to emphasize the new conventional wisdom.


This raises the vital questions -- have things really changed that much in Iraq, or is this just a change in how the story is reported? It is clear that things were never as bad as the MSM reported, but are they now improving as much as the new stories seem to indicate? Time will tell.

News You Can Use

Several friends of ours have decided to vacation in New Zealand in recent years. In a few cases people have actually moved there. I wondered why and vaguely attributed it to the popularity and grandeur of the Lord of the Rings films. Now I realize how naive I was.

The Times of India reports:

LONDON: A new survey has shown that Kiwi women are the most promiscuous in the world, with an average of 20.4 sexual partners.

The survey, by condom-maker Durex, questioned 26 thousand people in 26 countries, and found that New Zealand women’s promiscuity average was way above the global average of 7.3.

The poll showed that Kiwi women are up there with Austrian men, who have 29.3 sexual partners. New Zealand emerged as the only country where women have more sexual partners than their men.

Read it here.

And here I thought it was the sheep.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Painting from the Dawn of Civilization

An 11,000 year old wall painting found in Syria.

So cool! It looks very modern, not representational. The archaeologist who found it says it looks like the work of Paul Klee. He's right. It's a remarkable find.

The culture that produced it was pre-agricultural, hunters and gatherers who were already building permanent dwelling places and artwork. More and more we are beginning to appreciate the sophistication of pre-agricultural peoples and the complex communities they created.

Read about it here.

VDH on the Tragedy of War

Victor Davis Hansen writes
Almost no one senses that the tragedy of war is always error and costly error at that, the side winning who makes the fewest and learns the most from them—and then doesn't give up.
Read it here.

Failure to come to terms with the reality of warfare has poisoned the political debate in this country. We have come to expect the impossible -- war without error -- and cynical politicians have tried to capitalize on those unrealistic expectations. As both Prof. Hansen and I have pointed out on a number of occasions the current conflict, in comparison with those of the past, has been remarkably well conducted. Yes, there have been errors and casualties, but they pale in comparison with those incurred in other major military conflicts. Yes, Iraq is a costly mess, but all wars are messy and costly and this one is a lot less so than most.

There is a reason that SNAFU, TARFU and FUBAR are all military acronyms.


The Military Dad writes to note that I left out:


OK, for you civilians out there, these stand for:

Situation Normal All F***ed Up
Things Are Really F***ed Up
F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition
F***ed Up Beyond Belief
Same Day, Different S**t [We used DDSS, Different Day, Same S**t]
It Don't Mean Nothing (pronounded "IDum") [In my unit we said "Max Nix" (from the German, "es macht nichts" -- literally, "it does not make anything"]

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Novel Approach to Government

Mark Steyn points to a refreshing approach to the problem of big and intrusive government.

the Tigwe of Vwuip, a northern Nigerian tribal chief who [ate] the local tax collector. The Tigwe had apparently been so impressed by the man's ability to acquire money on demand that he had — understandably — decided to try to assimilate his powers.
Now why didn't I think of that?

Read it here.


The mighty Quaker warriors defeated the multi-culti wimps of Columbia 59 to 28. Our congratulations to the Penn men. As for the Columbia lions, that's what you get when you invite homicidal madmen to speak at your campus.

Go Quakes!

Lessing Said the Better

Doris Lessing's reaction to being informed that she had just won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Hat Tip "papercuts" at the NYT.

Fall Comes To the Mountain

Just a few pictures from before the rains came and drove me inside.


Argentina and the United States are holding presidential elections soon. In both countries the front-runner is a woman, a former first lady. In the US, the Clinton dynasty is represented by Hillary, in Argentina the Kirchner dynasty features Cristina.

Can we swap?

Books: Garry Wills' Head and Heart

I always look forward to reading what Garry Wills has to say. He is a smart guy who has the makings of a fine historian. Some of his early work was quite good. Unfortunately, after years as a "public intellectual" he has accumulated a lot of axes to grind and has become little more than a shrill polemicist.

His latest book, Head and Heart: American Christianities [read a review here] is a major disappointment. It mixes shrewd observation [he is quite good, for instance, on Madison and Jefferson] with political cant. He develops a simplistic dichotomy -- an opposition between "enlightenment" and "evangelism" -- into which he tries to shoehorn the immensely complex development of America's religious culture. In so doing he grotesquely exaggerates the influence of both religious and secular extremists, obscures important differences among major figures, and simply ignores the religious experience and faith of the vast majority of American Christians.

Why should a subtle and sophisticated thinker like Wills produce such a silly document? The answer is simple. He hates President Bush and he really, really hates Carl Rove, and he really, really, really loathes and despises the religious right and all those who would restrict a woman's right to choose death for her unborn children. His simplistic account of American religious history is little more than a prelude to his real concern, a sometimes hysterical screed against religious conservatives and their purported dominance in the current administration.

This is bad history and even worse political analysis. Wills has produced a grotesquely cartoonish vision of America, past and present, and in so doing illuminates the way in which the hyperbolic political disputation of our times has corrupted and distorted our intellectual enterprise in nearly all its aspects.

If you wish to learn about America's religious history, don't bother with Will's screed, but if you want to comprehend the disdain and alarm animating radical secularists today, this is a good example.

To purchase Wills' book click on the Amazon logos at the top of the page.

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize

Jesse Walker, managing editor at Reason magazine, takes a witty look at the roster of Nobel Prize winners and notes that very few of them had accomplishments that had much to do with "peace". The most important factor seems to be association with or serving as a front for a vast international agency [like the IPCC, with whom Al Gore shared this year's prize].

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Steyn on Health Insurance

Mark Steyn gets it exactly right. He writes:
In most cases, "insurance" insures against unlikely events. Your house is highly unlikely to burn down, but, if it happens, it's life-changing, so you insure against it. Health care is all but certain, especially in a western world where longevity and falling birth rates are producing a society where a big chunk of the population will be nonagenarians requiring long-term Alzheimer's or other care for the last fifth of their life. I would prefer a system in which we distinguish between routine ailments and catastrophic medical needs. For the former, it would be cheaper (and healthier) to restore a direct doctor/patient financial relationship. For the latter, a more limited insurance system would be better.
Read it here.

This is precisely what President Bush tried to do with the prescription drug add-on to Medicare -- make the program voluntary and restrict it to compensation for catastrophic emergencies. Such a program would be far more affordable than blanket coverage and would provide citizens with some protection against the economic consequences of catastrophic illness.

It's an eminently sensible approach to the problem, but Washington's movers and shakers respond to reasonable and sensible ideas like vampires to crosses.

Lies of the Left -- Another Phony Whistleblower

The Democrats seem to have no trouble finding people who are willing to dish the dirt on Republican sins. The trouble is that a disturbing number of these are phonies. The political calculation behind it is obvious. These people come out, get headlines and lucrative book and speaking fees telling stories about how terrible the generals, the Bush administration, corporate leaders, etc. are. Then months later they are exposed as being liars. But by that time the damage has been done and nobody cares anymore.

The latest phony to get rich lying is Lynn Brewer who wrote Confessions of an Enron Executive. She's been piling up big loot in speaking fees ever since trotting the globe talking about the evils of corporate capitalism. She has even been hailed as a heroine of free speech by the Nobel Peace Prize Selection Committee -- the ones who just awarded Al Gore the prize for his pack of lies. The trouble is that she never was an "Enron executive." Rather she was a "back-office investigator" who has padded her resume.

She's a politically useful con artist funded by left-wing Bush haters and anti-capitalist ideologues.

Read about her here.

He Ain't Comin' Back Folks

Jonah Goldberg points out the obvious:

Ronald Reagan has left the building and he ain't comin' back. What is more, Reagan himself was not the Gipper of memory. He signed a liberal abortion bill, he raised taxes nearly as much as he cut them, he met with dictators, etc. His advice, quit chasing a mirage.

Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and the rest of the pack all want to claim the Gipper-slipper fits them best. But the trick to being the Reagan of today is to be the Reagan of today. Reagan was the needed solution to the problems of a generation ago. The Reagan of today will do the same for today. He will likely agree with the Gipper on a lot of issues, but that agreement shouldn’t stem from play-acting.

Read the whole thing here.

Consoler In Chief

Bloomberg reports:

Bush, 61, has so far met with more than 1,500 relatives of the 4,255 American troops who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to White House officials. As he travels around the country, the president often makes the time to console them -- one family at a time, often including children -- in sessions that he calls ``one of the hardest things'' about his job.

In most of the meetings, the aides say, he hears support for his policies, hardening his resolve to stay the course in Afghanistan and Iraq. Little is otherwise known about the meetings, and the White House doesn't disclose the names of participants.

Read it here.