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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Thursday, December 30, 2004

POST-TSUNAMI ANALYSIS

The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article today about government management of the risk of tsunamis. Apparently, Pacific Ocean Rim nations because of frequent catastrophes are well organized in both developing and sustaining forecasting systems, warning systems and citizenship awareness programs. However, the Indian Ocean Rim nations have neither developed their own association or joined in the Pacific Ocean Rim programs. One possible reason is that there has not been a major tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean Rim since the 1880's.

One consequence given was that in some places with the recent tsunami, citizens were unaware when the earthquake hit that the thing to do was to run to the hills and stay there for hours. Thousands of fatalities occurred because the citizens were not aware of what to do. However, in one town, over 500 were saved because Japanese tourists understood that the proper emergency response was to head to the hills as they watched the village below destroyed by the tsunami.

The tsunami raises important questions about the proper role of government and risk management. We should be discussing and debating these issues for a long time. Government is probably in the best situation to evaluate long-term risks and make appropriate investments.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Beggars can't be choosers

My wife has been looking for a non-UN agency that she can donation to to help the tsunami victims. Hugh Hewitt came through today with WorldVision.org, a Christian relief organization. If you're inclined to help, you're better off calling 888-562-4453, since their web site is slow. It's probably a good sign - charities that spend loads of dough on their web presence might not be deploying their resources most efficiently.

But after reading this ("Sri Lanka rejects Israel rescuers") it makes me wonder what in the world these people are thinking. Countries that can so easily reject help might not deserve mine.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Treason?

What is the proper term when an American business knowingly helps our enemy, in wartime, implement a tactic designed to defeat us? Specifically, suppose this tactic is basically useless without the cooperation of this or some other similar American business.

In a series of excellent posts (just keep scrolling down), Wretchard at the Belmont Club has catalogued the episode on the front page of every American newspaper of the Iraqi terrorists executing three election workers in broad daylight on a busy Baghdad street. At first Wretchard wrote “It may have been pure luck, but it was surely the longest of odds that would have brought an Associated Press cameraman to the site of a surprise attack on two Iraqi electoral workers.”

It turns out, of course, that it was not pure luck. The AP has admitted that its Iraqi photographer was tipped off by the terrorists. He was not, of course, told “come to Haifa street at 10 AM to witness us execute some election workers.” Instead, according to Salon, he was simply told something like “come to see a `demonstration’ on Haifa street at 10 AM.”

Killing three election workers has no military value. It hardly makes it directly harder to run an election. The point of the entire episode was to 1) make Iraqis afraid, and 2) make Americans disheartened, which, if this causes America to pull out of Iraq, is the terrorists best shot at victory. Each of these goals requires the publicity that the AP willingly gave them.

When receiving the tip, the AP had three choices. 1) Alert the Americans. 2) Simply ignore it, or 3) Show up, camera ready. I don’t know if option three is legally treason, but if it isn’t then we need a new word in English to describe it, because it’s damn close.

Talk of Iraqi Election Delay Irresponsible

If you still have any doubts that the buildup of violence in Iraq is a desperate plan to thwart the elections, then you need to read this.

The Arabic-language satellite television channel al-Jazeera said Monday it had received a new audiotape in which Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden appeared to call on Iraqis to boycott the upcoming elections. .... bin Laden declared any Iraqis who voted in the Jan. 30 elections would be regarded as infidels.

That's why I'm so disgusted by the calls from certainly high-profile Americans to postpone the election. Such action would play right into the hands of the insurgents terrorists and merely continue the violence over there. The same can be said for those chicken-littles who are using every tactic to undermine the validity of the elections before they are even held. No election is perfect - every US election held included - but to invalidate it before it even takes place is irresponsible and reprehensible.

A more cynical individual might even think that the talks of postponement and election validity are merely an not-so-covert attempt to influence a negative outcome in Iraq, leading to US 'defeat', withdrawal and a mightly political gain for those who opposed the war in the first place. To the extent that this talk perpetuates the cycle of violence, it shows either a clear lack of understanding of the situation or is an example of indirect treason. This writer hopes it's the former, but is not so sure.


Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

The level of outright undermining of our efforts in Iraq by the left has been appalling. Recall Kerry's spokesman saying "when Allawi talks, you can see Bush's hand moving under his shirt"? At the time, Allawi was our strategy for victory. Undermining him undermined our efforts in Iraq, period. In my more pessimistic moments, my greatest worry focuses on the fact that a big percentage of this nation has simply lost all sense and when looking at a picture of Bush and a picture of Bin Laden sees an enemy, and it ain't Bin Laden.
How a country can defend itself in such a situation is beyond me.

11:05 PM, December 27, 2004  

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Senate Showdown: Bush to renominate judges

“I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it” President George W. Bush.

Indeed! (with apologies to Instapundit)

This news is most excellent, and I will look forward to him renominating those people who never got a chance for a vote in the Senate due to soon-to-be-former Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle's obstructionism. I had hoped that he would take such action, but expected him only to renominate a token few. Looks like I was wrong.

Let the battle be joined.

Oh come now come now

Dear SSC,

To quote Dr. Suess (Fox in Sox) "Oh come now, come now. You don't have to be so dumb now."

What standard says Arab societies are failures? How about ANY standard? If it weren't for oil they would be starving. They haven't invented or advanced any significant idea for centuries. Unless your standard somehow puts a premium on illiteracy, desperation and misery, Arab societies are failing.

Cultural Analysis

I am skeptical of Chris' cultural analysis as I am with his economic analysis. Again, there is a difference between positive analysis (describing the way things are) and normative analysis (describing the way things should be).

Of course, positive analysis is always welcome. It is the normative analysis that concerns me. By conflating positive and normative analysis, the academic elites feed us their opinions disguised as a mixture of "facts" and what they view as more "facts" -- when they are actually opinions.

In my opinion, there are few established world paradigms to judge a culture by. I will suggest that there are at least three paradigms -- Chrisitianity, Judaism and Islam -- and are probably more. I agree with normative cultural analysis being conducted as long as it uses one of these three paradigms. Are there any other paradigms to judge a culture by that I have missed?

Racism vs. Culturalism

Like Festivus below I don't agree that Arabs are incapable of democracy. But I don't want to pull out the racism card either. It isn't outside the pale to wonder if some cultures are incapable of some things that other cultures are capable of. Arab society is simply screwed up. Not because of their genes (there is no "treat women like slaves" gene that I know of) but because of their culture and that culture's expression of their religion.

Racists believe some groups of humans are simply morally inferior (or less than fully human). I don't believe that. But I do believe that some cultures are inferior and I want to be able to argue this without being called a racist.

Now all of this should not confuse that fact that Biden is an idiot.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A foreign student's perspective on America

Over the past months, I have regularly looked for updated posts from Orson Scott Card, the famous sci-fi writer. Although I've read little of his fictional work with the notable exception of "Ender's Game", I find his opinion columns fascinating.

The latest is no exception, but is unique in that it's not written by Card himself. He simply reprints an essay/letter from a foreign-born student at an American college on "a non-American's perspective on the American founding and its fulfillment." We who have lived all our lives here too often take what we have for granted, and this letter helps put it back in needed perspective.

We have much to be thankful for in this great country.

Biden: Iraqi Democracy 'Not in my lifetime'

On last Sunday's "Meet the Press", Sen. Joseph Biden had this gem:

There's not going to be a democracy like the president has talked about, nor was there ever going be one in my lifetime, in my view there. - MSNBC Transcript

Now, I'll grant that Biden's concept of President Bush's view of democracy in Iraq might be different than mine, and might perhaps explain his comment. However, this statement is quite similar to others coming from the left that discount the possibility that democracy can emerge in a country such as Iraq. They seem to believe that Arabs are incapable of democratic government. Why they are allowed to get away with this type of racism and bigotry astonishes me.



Tuesday, December 21, 2004

SSC's incorrect take on MN Smoking Regulations

I think SSC has gotten it wrong in his most recent post entitled 'Minnesota GOP Upping Ante on Smoking Bans'. He's right on regarding Pawlenty's tacit support of the proposed statewide smoking ban by not wholeheartedly opposing this government intrusion on individual rights. However, one might reasonably believe that he was smoking something other than tobacco when he chose to put this in the same league as Rep. Marty Seifert's proposal to pull welfare benefits from those who smoke.

There's a clear difference between the state banning an activity for all and putting criteria on receiving welfare benefits. There are already numerous criteria that determine a person's eligibility for benefits of many kinds. The common saying "What government funds, government controls" is apopos [another reason for getting the federal government out of local school funding, but that's a topic for another post - ed.] If someone wants to take advantage of a handout, they need to deal with the consequences, even if, as in this case, the penalty (not smoking) is seemingly unrelated to the benefit (welfare checks). In fact, I'd be in favor of more restrictions that would serve to reduce the welfare rolls.

The proposed statewide smoking ban is of an entirely different nature. Here, we have government intrusion into the rights of the individual. Those who choose to smoke do so at their own risk and are not asking for a government handout to support their habit, tax subsidies for tobacco farmers and the impact of smokers on future healthcare costs being peripheral and thus separate issues. Those who don't like their smoking in public can vote with the most powerful influence they have - their dollar.

I hope that SSC will rethink his position and come to a different conclusion.


Minnesota GOP Upping Ante on Smoking Bans

Many Republicans were surprised when Governor Tim Pawlenty suggested he would not veto a state legislative bill banning smoking in restaurants and bars. Now, apparently Representative Marty Seiftert wants to go one step further. Representative Seifert has proposed pulling welfare benefits from those who continue smoking. If either bill passes, it will be another example of Minnesota being Big Brother -- years ahead of her sister states.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Vikings Fans Will Be Rewarded On Christmas Eve

Due to a muffed snap on a point after touchdown, the Minnesota Vikings won 28-27 over the Detroit Lions. This victory sets up a showdown on Christmas Eve between the Minnesota Vikings and Wisconsin's Green Bay Packers (I like saying it that way). Vikings fans have suffered for about 40 years without an NFL title including four Super Bowl losses (distant memories now). But, they will not suffer on Friday.

I predict the Vikings will beat the Pack and reign as NFC North Champions. I have two reasons. First, Coach Tice is an excellent motivator of players -- really a playoff coach. Second, i think the Vikings' offense is due for a huge game -- 40+ points. Does anyone else agree with me?

Blogger festivus said...

Being a long-time resident of Chicago and a current resident of Minnesota, I've got two good reasons to hope that our Vikings soundly trounce the Pack.

However, seeing that the Vikings lost to (my pathetic) Bears and probably 'should' have lost to the Lions yesterday, I don't have high hopes. True, the Vikings should get up for this game in a big way, and playing here rather than Lambeau (or is that Lambert?) will help a lot, but I don't see a 40+ point game out of them.

I'll predict and hope for a win, but that's about all.

2:54 PM, December 20, 2004  

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

100th Debate Was A Great Success

Last night's debate on "Resolved. Wal*Mart is good for America" was a great debate. The speakers did a great job of keeping the debate alive. I was disappointed by the affirmative's lack of effort to go beyond the point that Wal*Mart is good (even great) because it produces what we want. If you listened to their reasoning, the speakers would also be in the affirmative on "Resolved: Penthouse is Great for America."

In my opinion, Wal*Mart is susceptible to the charge that it has accepted corporate welfare - TIF financing, employment subsidies, etc. Wouldn't a better example for conservatives be a company that has overcome government obstacles (think of clients of the Institute for Justice found at ij.org) -- rather than one that occasionally feeds at the public trough? This more Randian view expressed in Atlas Shrugged and elsewhere would have led to a more interesting affirmative.

As it was, Mr. Grzybek and Mr. Belfour at the end of the debate caucuse, tore apart the straw man that the affirmatives created by simply reminding us, in essence (not literally), that Wal*mart would sell us bad meat if it could.

I would also add that the Missionaries of Charity are good because they don't need the government to control their excesses (prayer, self-less service to others) while Wal*mart does (for example, government regulations against selling us bad meat). After all, how can something be described as good when left without Big Brother's oversight, it would be bad?

And One More Thing!

One of the potential uses of this blog is it allows for the ability to get those late coming sharp rejoinders in. You know, those insightful points that didn't occur to you until way too late, since the debate had moved on? Well now it's not too late! The debate never ends! (Note to self: explain in a revision why this is a good thing.)

So here's mine.

A great thing about America and Wal*Mart is epitomized by the Wal*Mart greeters -- America mainstreams into the workforce its retarded and disabled. I've been to Europe many times. I can't recall ever seeing a retarded person or even a person in a wheelchair or other obvious sign of physical disability. And I have asked my European colleagues about this, and they respond that my experience rings true. The retarded and disabled in Europe are simply "tucked away" out of sight much more there than here. They are still there of course, just tucked away.

But not at Wal*Mart (or that other evil corporation, McDonald's). I don't go to Wal*Mart much, but several times I've been there I've been greeted by an adult with Down's syndrome or a quadrapeligic. I genuinely like being greeted. It makes me happier. Thus that greeter is being truly productive. And that makes me happier. A corporation or a country that finds a way to make people whom most would simply assume can't be productive into authentically productive workers deserves our applause.

The Pope and Capitalism

In my speech last night, I asserted that a free economy (like the kind that produces Wal-marts) respects the individual in a way consistent with Catholic doctrine. How can this be when the Pope is so clearly left wing. But is he? Here is a quote from 1991
Can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society?

...The answer is obviously complex. If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy." (emphasis mine)


He follows this with

But if by "capitalism" is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality and sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative...


That is, a free economy should be our goal, but we should we remember what this freedom is for. This is not the statement of a socialist. He's seen that firsthand.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

John Adams Society Debate - 12/15/2004

David A. Thompson - Chairman
Jeffrey A. Sloan - Secretary
Marianne S. Beck - Chief Whip
Kenneth Ferguson - Chancellor

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. - Adam Smith

FOR GENERATIONS, Americans were often at the mercy of the local general store, and the general stores were often at the mercy of the wholesalers. What choice did Americans have other than to pay top dollar for everyday items such as toilet paper and toothpaste? Today, however, large retailers such as Wal*Mart have brought competition and cheap prices to the American consumer. These cheap prices translate into higher standards of living for all Americans.

Although Wal*Mart may temporarily disrupt local culture and job bases, the efficiency it brings creates new jobs and brings new goods to middle-class America. For example, the explosion of cozy coffee shops around America and the affordability of luxuries such as cell phones are largely attributable to the additional disposable income Americans save from shopping at places like Wal*Mart.

ON THE OTHER HAND, Wal*Mart represents the drudgery of commercialism. Although Wal*Mart may offer some initial monetary savings, it offsets such savings with the corruption of America by imposing its will across the country, and destroying the small town culture that symbolizes American tradition and democracy. Further, Wal*Mart has become the conduit of destruction of American jobs by stocking its stores with the cheapest goods on the planet, which are mostly produced in third world nations by near slave labor. In the end, Wal*Mart is nothing more then the retail outlet of Communist China. How can America hope to survive as a nation, as a culture, and as a democracy when the economy is dominated by Wal*Mart?

THE CHAIRMAN, who prefers boutiques to Wal*Mart, has called for a debate to settle the question:

RESOLVED: WAL*MART IS GOOD FOR AMERICA

The Debate will be held on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, in Saint Paul. The Chancellor will preside over drinks beginning at seven o'clock p.m. The debate will begin at half past seven. While there is no dress code for attendance, gentlemen who wish to speak must wear a tie; ladies should adhere to a similar sartorial standard. For those gentlemen who arrive tieless yet wish to speak, fret not: the Purveyor of Ties will keep on hand at least one of his quite remarkable ties for just such an eventuality. Questions about debate caucus procedures or about the John Adams Society itself may be directed to the Chairman at 952-937-7630 or the Secretary at (952) 937-7630.

www.johnadamssociety.org

Monday, December 13, 2004

How hard can it be?

Recently, Hillary! has attempted to move to the right of the president by being "you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants." This is a good move, because it is also good policy. Regardless of how many immigrants you want, it simply makes no economic or national security sense to leave everything unmonitored.

So are we going to kick 6 million people out? Of course not. That would clog the courts. What we need to do is get them to leave (and perhaps come back legally).

How? I have a passport. It has a number on it. Why not require that anyone who wants a job have to present either his passport, his green card or other documentation which would allow a non-US citizen to work, or some cheaper version of a passport for US citizens who don't want to travel internationally. Further, employers (and yes, even people hiring gardeners or nannies) would be required to log in to a federal website and type in the number on the passport (or equivalent document) and the name. If they match, the website says so. If not, it says they don't. For those without computers, there would be an 800 number to call for the same information. The basic idea is that verification of this sort is done by American Express every day. Why can't it be done by the American government?

Add to this $10,000 fines for hiring someone without verified documentation and jail terms for those forging documents, and the lure to coming to the US illegally is greatly reduced.

If we want foreigners to come and do certain jobs, that is an argument for legal immigration. There is no reason to continue the contempt for the law we see now.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Common Sense and Kerik's nannygate problem

I'm saddened by the fact that former NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik has withdrawn his name from consideration for the head of the Homeland Security department. Apparently, Mr. Kerik got caught up in the same kind of 'nannygate' that caused Linda Chavez to withdraw her name for Labor Secretary a few years ago. He either didn't want to endure the questions on the matter from the Congress or did not want to have his personal issues detract from the job at hand. I suspect it's partly both issues.

I don't advocate breaking the law, but I'm left to wonder what has happened to common sense when a seemingly perfect man for the DHS job has to withdraw his name to avoid the kind of bad press that might be expected to follow disclosure of such information. A purist might postulate that a person that willingly disregards the law on minor matters might have that same attitude when it comes to more important statutes, and to place such a person in a position of authority is only looking for trouble. Yet at the same time, how many otherwise qualified people have been kept from consideration of public service by some incident in their past. Given the state of government today, I wonder if we might have been better served by inclusion of more of those who have committed 'vile crimes' in the category of Mr. Kerik. I doubt they could do worse.

UPDATE:
Sounds like there might be more to this story than a simple nannygate problem. More and more has come out, or more accurately, rumors of potential issues that might have caused both Kerik and the President embarassment. None of this detracts from my desire for someone to fill this post who embody the toughness and good parts of Bernard Kerik. I think the safety of the nation depends upon it.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

CBS vs. Blogs

Excellent discussion at Captains Quarters regarding the MSM's war against bloggers. Captain Ed reports that CBS believes that regulation may be needed to keep blogs from misinforming the public:

Under any other circumstances, that would prompt screams of outrage at Black Rock, but now CBS wants the government to protect them from the big, bad blogosphere. 'Free speech for me but not for thee' must have become the new mission statement at Viacom.

At some point we will see the MSM start to fling nasty dirt at the bloggers. Since the bloggers generally post for free, their economic interests in the blogging world is not really at risk. Thus, I imagine that within a year or two, we will know through some source or another what porn sites various political bloggers have visited or any other relevant gossip to encourage the bloggers to "tone down their criticism." Or worse yet, the MSM may stop by various employers of amature bloggers wondering what their policy is regarding those who may blog from work (they will be just researching a story of course....)

I have a feeling that the fallout of the MSM vs. the internet is still in its infancy.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Nation Shows its Typical Colors

The Nation Magazine, a fine publication of the left, shows that its color is still Red socialism with the latest article accusing and slamming the U.S. for standing with the forces of freedom in Ukraine.

Their position is summed up "brilliantly:"

Yet after none of those polls did the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the main international observer body, or the US and other Western governments, make the furious noise they are producing today. The decision to protest appears to depend mainly on realpolitik and whether the challengers or the incumbent are considered more "pro-Western" or "pro-market." Or, as in Azerbaijan, Washington is happy with the antidemocratic policies maintained by the Aliyev dynasty because it is friendly to US oil companies.

In Ukraine, Yushchenko got the Western nod, and floods of money poured in to groups supporting him. This one-sided intervention is playing with fire. Not only is the country geographically and culturally divided--a recipe for partition or even civil war--it is also an important neighbor to Russia. Putin has been clumsy, but to accuse Russia of imperialism because it shows close interest in adjoining states and the Russian-speaking minorities who live there is a wild exaggeration.


There you have it. In a few strokes of the pen, the U.S. is the great Satan (caring only about economic interests and not freedom), and the former KGB officers in Russia are really just expressing a friendly interest in their neighbors and should be given the benefit of the doubt.

How pathetic. Who is surprised, however, that the Left is not a supporter of democracy or freedom....but a supporter of Putin? Come on!

Optimistic about Arab Elections

Bill Kristol is optimistic about elections in Iraq because of some of the latest commentary coming from the Arab press. Kristol reporduces this commentary from the Arab Press:

Some of the [Arab League] members . . .maintain that the Baghdad government is not legitimate. Why? They argue that it is not elected and was appointed by the American occupation. This widespread view has some basis. . . . However, the talk of the illegitimacy of the [Iraqi] government. . . . allows us to raise questions regarding most of the regimes in the region . . . some of which emerged as a result of coups or internal conspiracies, when no one asked the people what it thought.

To most people this seems to be an obvious observation. However, perhaps it is not so obvious to the conspiracy loving Arab world. Another Arab press source states:

It is outrageous, and amazing, that the first free and general elections in the history of the Arab nation are to take place in January: in Iraq, under the auspices of American occupation, and in Palestine, under the auspices of the Israeli occupation. . . .

The problem with this statement is that a good portion of conspiracy lovers will note this as a reason to reject any election results and not as simple irony.

The hope is that any election that takes place in this part of the world will not be the last election. It makes one realize how lucky we were to have founders of the likes of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who believed in democracy more than their own political ambitions and political fears. Persons of similar stature have not arisen in Russia. Perhaps some will rise in Iraq.

IS SSC A MONARCHIST?

SSC defended his most recent post strongly asserting that he was not defending monarchy. However, SSC does not deny that he is a monarchist. There are reports of whispers in the gallery regarding SSC and monarchism. Discussions of SSC's unwaivering commitment to the rightousness of the Restoration, and the yearning for philosopher kings have heightend the senses of some in the society. Thus, the question must be asked...is SSC a monarchist? To find answers, the minutes were searched for past statements made by the accused and his name was searched for in places such as The Monarchist Society of America.

Other than the frequent citations by monarchists and SSC of Edmund Burke, no definitave evidence could be found linking SSC to monarchy. Nevertheless, I urge members to continue their observation of SSC and take note of any evidence of monarchism.

Immortal American Politicians

In light of evidence that one of the candidates in the Ukrainian campaign may have been poisoned, it is a good time to consider the seeming immortality of U.S. politicians. The article about the apparent poisoning can be found here.

It is ironic that American politicians generally act as if they are immortal -- while European monarchs did not. In America, politicians are elected for two, four or six year terms. You think under these conditions, Congressmen would be humble servants of the people. Yet, they do as they please because the only penalty the people impose upon them for bad behavior is not being elected -- and even in that case there is a guaranteed pension as well as other privileges.

Historically, European monarchs faced a different set of consequences for arrogance and overreaching. Because they served for life, when the people got upset, there was no middle ground. Either you live with the King or you kill him. This situation led to a certain humility or shall we say commitment to service on the part of the King -- that is completely lacking among American politicians today.

Consider European populist literature on the subject. While the monarchs were commissioning official portraits of themselves, the people were far more interested in plays and plots about the killing of monarchs. For example, the populist appeal of Shakespearean plots based on the killing of monarchs could hardly have gone unnoticed by any ruling King or Queen.

Nothing like that exists here in the States. But, we can be frightened by it. There is a Chestertonian saying, "It is frightening to think how few politicians have been hung." I agree.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

SSC attempts to make a case for monarchy. Unfortunately, there are more than a few examples of monarchs not being so humble or not being so committed to servicing the people. More often, the people suffer in their service to the monarchs. In simple theory, the monarch is the state and the people serve the monarch. In our system, the people are the state and the elected leader serves the people. Yes, in SSC's cynicism, our elected leaders may arrogently ignore this principle and lose ony their next election. But, isn't the loss of the election all that really matters.

8:19 AM, December 08, 2004  
Blogger ssc said...

Publius tries to make a case that I'm making a case for monarchy. No, I am making a case against political elitism. Politicians are no better than the rest of us. Therefore, they shouldn't be encouraged or emboldened -- even by the latest election results.

9:19 AM, December 08, 2004  

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Impact on the Iraqi Economy

There is one thig most of us are certain of regarding Iraq, that is we really do not know what is really going on in Iraq other than specific reporting of specific events. Further, we no nothing of what the average Iraqi is thinking. Perhaps, however, we can gleam something from Iraqi's economic activity. Consider this blurb from the Washington Post today:

A sign of how this [America's] resolve to stay the course is playing out in the minds of some Iraqis comes from the local real estate market. An Iraqi businessman was negotiating several months ago to sell a prime piece of commercial real estate in central Baghdad. He had tentatively agreed on a price with a Kuwaiti investor, who planned someday to build an electronics superstore on the 9,850-square-foot property. But after President Bush was reelected in November, the Iraqi jacked up the price 25 percent. The prospect that a reelected Bush administration would stay and fight -- and ultimately stabilize Iraq -- had instantly made his property more valuable.

From this story and others we hear that many Iraqi's are waiting to see who wins. Nevertheless, In the mind of the Iraqi above, an insurgent defeat is at least worth an additional 25% in profits to him. Such basic economics can be a powerful predictor as to where the minds of Iraqi's truly lie.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Insurgencies?

The Society's Economist has posted to his Blog Not Economics a discussion of a recent article by Alistair Horne, in National Reivew, which compares the Algerian war to Iraq. Like Chris the Economist, I also thought article was very very depressing and seemed on point, at least in the way the article was written. Anyways, I decided to do a little more research on the subject.

The economist writes:

...the Algerian insurgents were not attacking Algerian civilians, but French civilians, who were against them anyway. In Iraq, the insurgents are slaughtering Iraqi civilians (as well as policemen and Iraqi national guard) for a simple reason not analogous to Algeria: the insurgents have popular support only among a geographically distinct minority, the 20% Sunnis. Further, it was pretty clear that French wanted to stay while the Americans want to leave.

I generally agree with the Economist's assesment and would add that there were not just a few Europeans living in Algeria, but over one million. Some European families had been living in Algeria since the mid 1800s! Also, in Algeria, the "Rebels" offered an alternative - independence from France. In fact an election was held in 1962 where approximately 6 million Algerians voted for independence. Furthermore, the Rebels had a government in exile in Tunisia that was recognized as the legitimate government of Algeria by many Arab, Asian, and the Soviet Union.

In Iraq, the "insurgents" offer no alternative other than a return to Saddam, which the people of Iraq have clearly rejected. Further, there is no government in exile for the insurgents. Finally, any election in Iraq is not a vote for independence from anyone, rather it is a vote to legitimize a government that is in opposition to the "insurgents." More facts on the Algerian war can be found here...

It has been a favorite subject for media elites and academics from all sides of the spectrum to find some historical example that could provide us with a road map to Iraq. The comparison to the Algerian war is just another attempt at a comparison. Most often we hear comparisons to Vietnam, which are ludicrous. The only arguable comparison between Iraq and Vietnam are the demographics of the political opposition to the war in America (notably the mainstream media and liberals). All other comparisons fail. A major problem with finding comparisons is that Iraq is simply not a very big war in relative terms to other American wars. It is not big in any relative aspect, not in casualties, men served or resources spent. However, it is big in media coverage, thus it sometimes appears to be a big war for those who consume a lot of news.

The Emergency Room and Health Care Costs

I had the great joy of spending a few hours in a local emergency room with my soon-to-be five year old son last evening after he crashed into the mantle 'practicing football' in the house in opposition to every admonition his mother and I have given him about this activity. After about 2.5 hours and 6 stitches in his forehead, we were on our way home again, mostly 'as good as new'. The experience was excellent given the circumstances.

We arrived at the ER at almost the perfect time. There were two kids ahead of us, and shortly after we registered, more people started showing up, and I had a few minutes to observe most of them. Within about 20 minutes, we were moved on it to our room, where we began the whole treatment process.

When it came time to do the actual sutures, I had some time to speak with the nurses as they prepared both their equipment and my son for the coming procedure. I commented to them that I was struck by how many people in the ER waiting room appeared to have absolutely nothing wrong with them, in contrast to my son, who had a 3/4" bleeding gash on his forehead. The two nurses looked at each other and laughed. One said "You'd be amazed. Most of them probably don't have much wrong other than a headache, fever or sniffles." When I asked if this was normal, she said "Yes, it's really common. Monday is especially bad. Most of the free clinics are closed over the weekend, and because of that, Monday appointments at them are tough to get, so they end up coming here".

I then asked "Are these my tax dollars hard at work?", to which she replied, "Just try not to spend too much time thinking about it. It'll drive you absolutely crazy when you realize how much money is being poured into ER care of things that can easily be taken care of at home. I've stopped telling my husband about it, because it just infuriates him."

My question about what could/should be done about this was met with a strange indifference until one of the nurses left the room. The remaining nurse said "Sure there's something that can be done, but no one wants to talk about it. Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to pay SOMETHING. We need to get rid of totally free care and increase co-pays. When someone who has a kid with a headache realizes that they might have to pay $25 for an ER visit, they're very likely to go down to the drugstore and get an $8 bottle of children's Tylenol and treat that headache at home. Right now, there's no cost incurred for coming in here but their time, so why not save the $8?" At that point, the other nurse returned, and our conversation about the "thing that must remain unspoken" ended.

I know that when I began working on my own and took out a high deductible major medical policy, my wife and I, who were never 'arbitrary' users of the health care system, were even more conscious of our decisions to seek medical care for our family. Given this, I've always thought that increased co-pays would make a huge difference, but I've never had it confirmed in such a direct way.

I know it's but one experience, but such common-sense policies, while politically difficult, will likely make a huge dent in our out-of-control health care costs.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I'm not sure I want to be arguing for socialized medicine or against copays (I am against the first and for the second) but I'm not sure the present situation is as inefficient as Larry thinks. The problem is that our accounting for emergency room costs is extremely screwy. By our flawed accounting system, each time that kid with a headache comes in, it "costs" probably $1000. But does it really? If triage is done right (and I think it is) Larry's wait is pretty much unaffected. That is, if Larry and his son had come in after all the headaches, I think they would have simply been seen first anyway. So I don't see waste on that avenue. What about the size of emergency room operations? If we have twice as many highly trained emergency room doctors and nurses as we really need because of the headache people, then this is a real cost. But do we? I think this depends on how the hospital is reimbursed for the headache people. If the hospital is given a big dollar amount each time, then they have an incentive to increase the size of the emergency room to make money off the headache people. If they are given only a small amount, it makes sense for the hospital to keep the emergency room big enough only for real emergencies and handle the headache people only when they otherwise would be sitting around waiting for car accident victims. I'm not sure this is that wasteful. My guess is that don't get much for the uninsured.

2:32 PM, December 07, 2004  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

It is hard to be more agreeable about something than Larry's post. Perhaps you should talk a little about the public schools.

12:46 AM, December 08, 2004  

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Monday, December 06, 2004

Fertility and Voting

Steve Sailer at The American Conservative notes a remarkable fact: A state's fertility rate among whites is an astoundingly good predictor of Bush's vote share for that state. The fertility rate is a snapshot meant to measure, roughly, the average number of children per woman. The actual formula is the number of births divided by the number of women between the ages of 15 and 45, multiplied by 30 (the number years between 15 and 45). Got that? Sailer writes

Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility (just as he did in 2000), and 25 out of the top 26, with highly unionized Michigan being the one blue exception to the rule. (The least prolific red states are West Virginia, North Dakota, and Florida.)

In sharp contrast, Kerry won the 16 states at the bottom of the list, with the Democrats’ anchor states of California (1.65) and New York (1.72) having quite infertile whites.


If the cultural divide really is connected this strongly to fertility, and child's political opinions are positively correlated with the parent's (it doesn't need to be perfectly correlated) then this is very good news for the future of conservatism.

The future belongs to the fertile.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Yes, but it could also be true that the fertility of Muslims in western europe could cause the next great wave of European immigration to America. Hmmmm.... on the other hand, I do not recall Europe ever having a tradition of religious tolerance. Thus, perhaps, Islam will ever only get so far in Europe before the hammer falls....(if anyone can name an example of such a tradition let me know.)

11:13 PM, December 06, 2004  
Blogger festivus said...

A collorary to this point is one that James Taranto of Opinion Journal calls 'The Roe Effect'. In summary, he makes the point that blue-staters will, on average, have more abortions, thus leading to fewer children that will take on the pro-abortion views of the mother, and ultimately increases the consevativism of the resultant population.

1:50 PM, December 07, 2004  

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Immigration and Benefits

I was reminded this weekend after reading about the never ending immigration issue confronting America (and Europe) of the position argued by the wife of a Sometime Chairman of the John Adams Society. During theJohn Adams Society debate last year on immigration, after ten plus speakers had argued for and against Mexican immigration, the SC's wife argued that immigration is a problem because the state provides benefits to immigrants. In turn, she said that we can solve the immgration problem by ending benefits....ending benefits may not reduce the amount of immigrants, but it will guarantee assimilation as immigrants will be forced to work harder and therefore forced to assimilate to survive and succeed.

Whether or not you agree with the merits of SC's wife's argument, perhaps it can be used to explain the failure of European societies to assimilate Muslim immigrants. Rather than assimilation, Muslim immigrants are changing European culture to accomodate Muslims to the detriment of the existing culture. Consider this nugget from David Pryce Jones:

Commercial society has likewise rushed to accommodate real or imagined Muslim sensibilities: a British bank boasts that it will comply with shari’a prohibitions on the uses of money, and the German state of Saxony-Anhalt has become the first European body to issue a sukuk, or Islamic bond. Religious society is not far behind: even as bin Laden speaks of wresting Spain (“al-Andalus”) from the infidels by violence, the cathedral of Santiago has considered removing a statue of St. James Matamoros (“the Moor slayer”), lest it give offense to Muslims. For the same reason, the municipality of Seville has removed King Ferdinand III, hitherto the city’s patron saint, from fiesta celebrations because he fought the Moors for 27 years. In Italy, where Islamists have threatened to destroy the cathedral of Bologna because of a fresco illustrating the Prophet Muhammad in the inferno (where Dante placed him), thought has been given to deleting the art-work from the walls. Even the Pope has apologized for the Crusades. In secular Denmark, the Qur’an (but not the Bible) is now required reading for high-school students.

Has assimilation failed because Muslim immigrants have been guaranteed success through the welfare state. Without the welfare state, such immigrants may have been forced to abandon the culture of their homeland to be able to succeed in the culture of their new country.

Blogger King Oliver said...

The proposal to exert control on immigration by removing the incentive of government handouts, material and cultural, has much merit. If newcomers can't make it on their own they should not be here. The social contract may make us our neighbor's keeper out of necessity, but it does not make us the keeper of people in other countries. They have their own neighbors to appeal to if need be, they do not need to come here and become ours. We do a poor enough job of making responsible citizens of our own people; the challenge of doing it for aliens is beyond our reach. A rule barring immigrants from government benefits, say for 10 years, would at least weed out the obvious misfits.

I would be extremely distrustful of an analysis limited to economics, however. Assimilation is a cultural issue, and the ability and willingness to assimilate depend on the degree to which the residents prize their own culture. Americans are weirdly possessed with the idea that they have no culture of their own and that they must approve of and assist in the preservation of the cultures of strangers. The way that Americans have distorted Christianity to make it destructive of their own nation and culture is brilliantly developed in this essay by Lawrence Auster, posted last week at Frontpagemag.com. Here is the address:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16157

We and Europeans don't fail to assimilate foreigners by subsidizing them, but by devaluing our own culture and nationality and exalting theirs. The self-destructiveness of that attitude is visible in the ease with the 9/11 conspirators entered the country, and in the difficulty in passing moderate security related border controls in connection with the intelligence reform bill.

What we have is a bipartisan liberal consensus that is below the radar of most Republicans and Democrats, though it is visible to conscious nationalist rightists and universalist leftists.

6:28 PM, December 06, 2004  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Another factor that inhibits assimilation is sheer numbers. Having many other fellow immigrants from the same place simply makes it easier not to learn the language and customs, and, most likely, reduces the most forceful assimilation factor: intermarriage.

11:03 PM, December 06, 2004  

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Academic Diversity

I found it interesting that the Economist recently discussed academic diversity (or the lack of). In the article they cite George Will who wrote a more thoughtful column on the same subject earlier last week. Will, however, provides an example of blowback that has been caused by the domination of leftism at American Universities:

Academics such as the next secretary of state still decorate Washington, but academia is less listened to than it was. It has marginalized itself, partly by political shrillness and silliness that have something to do with the parochialism produced by what George Orwell called "smelly little orthodoxies."

The John Adams Society recently debated this subject. Although all members of the Society agree that academia is wholly left, the Society disagreed as to what damage this has or will cause to our civilization. I agree with Will, but with an added thought.... There are just as many instances of college students bucking authority as there are of students going along with their professors. I imagine that eventually the leftist domination will lead students down a different path, one that leads far away from the shoddy liberalism being forced down their throats in the lecture hall. After all, it's just not natural for students to accept the party line.

Blogger King Oliver said...

Publius is more optimistic than I am on this point. Most people, including students, do not spend much time thinking about the assumptions behind the myriad representations that surround them. Even when the destructiveness of leftism is evident to them, they will only reject its most obviously destructive manifestations, and will accept the underlying assumptions that are not directly tied to poisonous fruits. The liberal domination of the media and the academy will preserve this condition for the foreseeable future. Lawrence Auster correctly, I think, speaks of Republican and Democrat leadership as consisting predominantly of Right-liberals and Left-liberals. The mission of the JAS is to reveal the truth beyond liberalism, which is why there should be a chapter in every county in America. It is not an easy task to uncover the illusions of liberalism; I recommend seeking help from Jom Kalb's blog Turnabout and Lawrence Auster's View From The Right, as well as emulating ssc's rejection of ideology.

6:44 PM, December 06, 2004  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I would agree that every city in the land should have a JAS. Also important, in my opinion, is that history has proven that the pendulum is constantly swinging. If Western Civilization is at its root a culture of moderation, perhaps we would be advised to keep the pendulum from swinging to wildly to avoid those nasty periods of violent extremism.

11:22 PM, December 06, 2004  

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Opposition Insanity

Yesterday's silly editorial in the Star Tribune claiming that Norm Coleman is an embarrassment for digging into the Oil-for-Palaces Program has been covered extensively by Powerline and Captains Quarters. This story however, is a fine example of what should be described as "Opposition Insanity"

Opposition Insanity is a position taken by someone solely for the reason of being in opposition regardless of the party being given support even to the point where the supported position results an an equal if not worse outcome - such a position is insanity. In this instance, the Star Tribune once again wants to oppose the Bush Administration. Therefore, they go ahead continue to oppose by supporting Kofi Annan and the corrupt UN. The Trib believes that the fall of Kofi Annan will be seen generally as a vindication of the Administration's tactic for not trusting the UN, thus the Trib will Support the UN despite the obvious corruption and despite the harm that a corrupt UN has and will do to innocent people around the world.

Opposition Insanity has also reared its ugly head in the Ukraine crisis. Consider this quote from last week's liberal British newspaper the Guardian:

...it's incredible that so many west Europeans, including Chancellor Schröder of Germany, seem to prefer as their partner an ex-KGB officer currently reimposing authoritarian rule in Russia over a man who, for all his faults, has just been re-elected in a free and fair election in one of the world's great democracies.

The whole article slams the European left for their lack lustre support of democracy in Ukraine. Read it here.

The unfortunate reality of Opposition Insanity is that there is nothing we can do about it other than manage its existence. To ignore perception or mistakenly assume that a reasonable person will choose justice over sticking it to their perceived enemy, would be an enormous mistake. Thucydides had it right, writing in the 5th century BC:

In this contest the blunter wits were most successful. Apprehensive of their own deficiencies and of the cleverness of their antagonists, they feared to be worsted in debate and to be surprised by the combinations of their more versatile opponents, and so at once boldly had recourse to action: while their adversaries, arrogantly thinking that they should know in time, and that it was unnecessary to secure by action what policy afforded, often fell victims to their want of precaution.

To combat Opposition Insanity we should adhere to the wisdom of Thucydides and realize that simple adherence to principal may fail. Instead, we should fight such insanity according to the laws of the jungle. In otherwords, we should be aggressive in embarassing those who practice Opposition Insanity and we should have a goal of destroying such movements politically (while watching our own backs of course!)

UPDATE:

It was pointed out to me that Anne Applebaum recently wrote a good column on the same subject.


Blogger King Oliver said...

Opposition Insanity, aka "partisan fury," is what happens when resentment of the rival trumps independent thought. The exhortation to "turn the other cheek" was possibly addressed to this universal resentful susceptibiity to provocation. Turn the other cheek while you are thinking over the demands of divine justice. When your cheek cools down, execute.

6:33 PM, December 06, 2004  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Perhaps a more simple way to look at it would be to count to 100 before speaking when angry.

However, I think Opposition Insanity is something beyond partisanship. Opposition Insanity is more similar to suicide bombing.

11:10 PM, December 06, 2004  

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Kerry Takes Massive Lead in Ohio Recount

Kerry has moved out in front of George W. Bush in the Ohio Recount. The current talley of uncounted provisional and absentee ballots shows Kerry leading 74,078 to 57,203 with nearly all of the provisional ballots counted. Of course Kerry's 17,000 vote gain doesn't do much to dent the 136,000 lead currently held by Bush in the State. Also on deck is an additional recount of the entire state paid for by third parties. Perhaps the Left still believes it can win the election. They are trying very hard in Washington State at the moment.

Update:

All counties in Ohio have now officially reported according to this site. Kerry now leads 79,482 to 61,505, or a total of 18,000 votes. Kerry did much better than I ever expected. Bush now only leads by 118,000 votes.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Kerry Takes Big Lead in Ohio Recount?

Change that title man! Do you want to give people heart attacks? It sounds like he's winning the overall count, not just the count among provisional and absentee votes (as the post makes clear).

4:33 PM, December 02, 2004  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I changed the title.

12:25 AM, December 04, 2004  

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