"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, August 30, 2013

An Undisciplined White House

The New York Times has a story out today that opens this way:

WASHINGTON — With a few exceptions in the past half-century, there has been a simple rule of thumb when it comes to international conflict: America does not use force without Britain at its side.       
So when Prime Minister David Cameron was unable to muster the votes in Parliament for support for a strike in Syria — even one limited to stopping the future use of chemical weapons — shock could be heard in the voices of senior White House officials who never saw the British rejection coming.
“Bungled by Cameron,” said one.
“Embarrassing,” said another. “For Cameron, and for us.”

Put aside that Obama's ad lib about using chemical weapons being a "red line" in Syria got us into this mess.   And put aside whether Cameron really did bungle the vote in Parliament.   A disciplined White House does not have senior officials speaking off the record denigrating a long-time and necessary ally on the eve of starting a military conflict.

Sheesh!   Doesn't anyone in the Administration know what they're doing?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Through the Looking Glass With Obama

"Liberal" used to mean at least an opposition to arbitrary government power vested in a single man, whether king or dictator, and support for consensual government and the rule of law.  But today liberalism means unwavering obeisance to Obama.   Whatever the Prince says, liberals simply bow and scrape and applaud.   We're through the looking glass if the New York Times can publish an op-ed that starts like this:

Op-Ed Contributor

Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal


EVANSTON, Ill. — THE latest atrocities in the Syrian civil war, which has killed more than 100,000 people, demand an urgent response to deter further massacres and to punish President Bashar al-Assad. But there is widespread confusion over the legal basis for the use of force in these terrible circumstances. As a legal matter, the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons does not automatically justify armed intervention by the United States.       

There are moral reasons for disregarding the law, and I believe the Obama administration should intervene in Syria. But it should not pretend that there is a legal justification in existing law.
 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Of Course Bombing Always Works, Doesn't It?

The Onion nails it:

In light of increased pressure on President Obama to order a military strike on Syria, leading historians and military experts on Tuesday simply pointed to the United States’ longstanding and absolutely impeccable record of successful bombing campaigns over the past 60 years. “The record clearly shows that, in every instance since the Second World War in which the U.S. government has launched strategic missile attacks on foreign soil, our military forces easily targeted enemy assailants with total precision, leaving no civilian casualties, collateral damage, or any long-term negative consequences for the affected country or region, American foreign policy, or international relations as a whole,” said Harvard University historian Dr. Michael Carmona, adding that such past U.S. bombing operations have gone particularly well in Middle Eastern countries over the last century. “Just look at the 1954 bombings in Guatemala, the 1965-to-1973 bombings in Laos and Cambodia, the 1982 bombings in Beirut, the 1986 bombings in Libya, the 1987 bombings in Iran, the 1998 bombings in Iraq, the 1998 bombings in Sudan, the 1998 bombings in Afghanistan, routine airstrikes in Pakistan since 2005, the 2007 bombings in Somalia, the 2011 bombings in Somalia, and essentially the entire American military effort in Vietnam from 1960 to 1975. Those were all executed perfectly, and led, in the long run, to the most desirable possible outcome.” All experts on the subject then agreed unanimously that, if you want to create positive and lasting change in a troubled region, change that you will one day look back on with a deep sense of confidence, pride, and assurance that you did the right thing, then bombing campaigns are almost always the way to go.

Ace Aces Miley Cyrus

Smartest thing I've read on the horrific performance by Miley Cyrus at the equally horrific MTV video music awards show, by Ace of Ace of Spades:

So what now, when there are no lines to cross anymore? When there is no boundary across which it may be unsafe to step? When there are no dark and silent woods at all for Red Riding Hood to venture into, but only a carnival landscape of garish neon lights and the unending carnival-barking come-ons of brothel wranglers?
What must one do, then, to appear transgressive or just tastefully beyond the bounds of the conventional and proper?
Where does sexy go then? Dirty just isn't dirty when there's no such thing as clean.
And where does intelligence go then? Who can speak intelligently in a loud enough voice to carry over the hoots of apes and the growling of pigs?

***

Similar point from Camille Paglia:

Pop is suffering from the same malady as the art world, which is stuck on the tired old rubric that shock automatically confers value. But those once powerful avant-garde gestures have lost their relevance in our diffuse and technology-saturated era, when there is no longer an ossified high-culture establishment to rebel against. On the contrary, the fine arts are alarmingly distant or marginal to most young people today.


Avant-garde doesn't work unless there's traditional art to critique.

Rebellion doesn't work unless there's authority to rebel against.

Surrealism doesn't work unless there's realistic art to comment upon.

Shock doesn't shock without something to shock, i.e., actual values actually believed.

Etc.   This crap is boring even to try to talk about.

Loose Lips on Syria

The Regular Son noted to me this morning that every high school student with access to the Internet knows America's war plans with regard to Syria.   Now I just saw this WSJ article, which makes the same point:

An American military attack on Syria could begin as early as Thursday and will involve three days of missile strikes, according to "senior U.S. officials" talking to NBC News. The Washington Post has the bombing at "no more than two days," though long-range bombers could "possibly" join the missiles. "Factors weighing into the timing of any action include a desire to get it done before the president leaves for Russia next week," reports CNN, citing a "senior administration official."
The New York Times, quoting a Pentagon official, adds that "the initial target list has fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria's Russian-made attack helicopters are deployed." The Times adds that "like several other military officials contacted for this report, the official agreed to discuss planning options only on condition of anonymity."
Thus do the legal and moral requirements of secret military operations lose out in this Administration to the imperatives of in-the-know spin and political gestures.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney listens to questions about Syria and chemical weapons in Washington on Tuesday.
It's always possible that all of this leaking about when, how and for how long the U.S. will attack Syria is an elaborate head-fake, like Patton's ghost army on the eve of D-Day, poised for the assault on Calais. But based on this Administration's past behavior, such as the leaked bin Laden raid details, chances are most of this really is the war plan.
Which makes us wonder why the Administration even bothers to pursue the likes of Edward Snowden when it is giving away its plan of attack to anyone in Damascus with an Internet connection.

Remember when Scooter Libby just had to go to jail because he supposedly "leaked" the identity of a chair-warmer at the CIA?   Because national security.   Because lives in danger.  

Now we just send Google Maps showing our targets to our enemies so they know when to start aiming their surface-to-air missiles that, oh, by the way, might just be the ones that were stolen from Benghazi last year.

Sheesh!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Unspeakable Truths

Hugh Hewitt has made some news today, at least in the blogospheric sense of the word, with his interview of Karen Finney, an MSNBC host, who apparently would not answer a simple question from Hewitt about whether Alger Hiss had been a communist spy.

Now this is not debatable.   The historical record revealed from Soviet archives after the fall of the Soviet Union shows conclusively that Hiss, Harvard Law grad, high official in the State Department, key advisor at Yalta, was, in fact, a Soviet spy, just as Whittaker Chambers claimed.  

But it's also an "unspeakable truth" that no one on the Left can admit, because it would cause a wing of their ideological house of cards to tumble down.   To wit:

  • If Alger Hiss was not a spy.
  • Liberals can keep believing that there were no spies in the U.S. government in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Which allows them to keep believing that the McCarthy Era was a great evil involving Republicans lying about good-hearted liberals by calling them communist spies.  
  • Which allows them to keep using words like "censorship" and "blacklist" and "McCarthyism."

In short, an entire mythology depends on the initial premise that Alger Hiss was not a spy.

But...

  • If Alger Hiss was a spy.
  • Then there were spies high up in the U.S. government.
  • Then Joe McCarthy was at least in part right.
  • Which means that much of the Manichaen ideological system of the left is based on a lie.

Which got me to thinking... what other unspeakable truths would cause the edifice of leftism to crumble if revealed?   Things that the Left conveniently forgets or elides?   Facts that are monkey wrenches in the ideology of the Left?   Facts, which, if publicized, would make people laugh at aspects of liberalism.

Here are a few ideas of "unspeakable truths":

1. Scientists in the 1970s believed we were entering a new ice age.
2. The black family in 1960, before the Civil Rights Movement and the Great Society, was more intact and functional than white families are today, and the destruction of the black family has come after the Civil Rights Movement and the Great Society.
3. The availability of abortion causes more unwanted pregnancies, not fewer.
4. Detroit and Chicago, one bankrupt, the other the murder capital of the country, are also the two most Democratic cities in America.   Can't blame Republicans for those fiascos!
5. Conservatives, and particularly conservative Christians, are much more generous with charity than liberals, and particularly liberal atheists.
6. Spending more money on public school education has not demonstrable longitudinal positive effect on educational outcomes.

I may do some more thinking along these lines.   Hmmmm....




Decline and Fall of the American Empire

Gibbon, writing just as America was beginning as a nation, about the decline and fall of an earlier empire:

If it can be affirmed, with any degree of truth, that the luxury of the Romans was more shameless and dissolute in the reign of Theodosius than in the age of Constantine, perhaps, or of Augustus, the alteration cannot be ascribed to any beneficial improvements which had gradually increased the stock of national riches. A long period of calamity or decay must have checked the industry and diminished the wealth of the people; and their profuse luxury must have been the result of than indolent despair which enjoys the present hour and declines the thoughts of futurity. The uncertain condition of their property discouraged the subjects of Theodosius from engaging in those useful and laborious undertakings which require an immediate expense, and promise a slow and distant advantage. The frequent examples of ruin and desolation tempted them not to spare the remains of a patrimony which might, every hour, become the prey of the rapacious Goth. And the mad prodigality which prevails in the confusion of a shipwreck or a siege may serve to explain the progress of luxury amidst the misfortunes and terrors of a sinking nation.

The "mad prodigality which prevails in the confusion of a shipwreck... may serve to explain the progress of luxury amidst the misfortunes and terrors of a sinking nation."

And maybe it explains this sort of thing too:

Girl of the Day - Tuesday Weld

This will make you feel old.   Tuesday Weld, a child star of the 1950s who transitioned into "adult" roles in the 1960s, turns 70 today.   She turned out to be a pretty good actress, but if you read her biography on Wikipedia, it sure does make it seem as though stardom at a young age is a ticket to unhappiness.

Here she is on the cover of Life magazine in the summer of 1963:

Why?

According to the Washington Post, apparently the U.S. is preparing to conduct a "limited" military strike -- two days of cruise missiles -- against Syrian military installations in "punishment" for the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons during the ongoing civil war:

President Obama is weighing a military strike against Syria that would be of limited scope and duration, designed to serve as punishment for Syria’s use of chemical weapons and as a deterrent, while keeping the United States out of deeper involvement in that country’s civil war, according to senior administration officials. 
The timing of such an attack, which would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles — or, possibly, long-range bombers — striking military targets not directly related to Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, would be dependent on three factors: completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability in last week’s alleged chemical attack; ongoing consultation with allies and Congress; and determination of a justification under international law.

So much of this is so wrongheaded that it's hard to even know where to start.  

First, if we want to deter the use of chemical warfare by anyone ever as being so far beyond the pale of civilization, doesn't our response have to be overwhelming rather than "of limited scope and duration"?   Won't this just send a message that you can use chemical weapons against civilian populations, so long as you don't mind risking a couple of days of slap-on-the-risk cruise missile attacks that will be calibrated delicately and deliberately to permit you to survive, i.e., "while keeping the U.S. out of deeper involvement in that country's civil war"?   Use your sarin, take your rap on the knuckles, and a week from now it will all be over and you'll still be in charge.   Isn't that what a "limited scope and duration" response says?

Second, why are we contemplating this before we get the "completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability"?   I don't want to sound too conspiracy-minded, but is it really beyond the pale that al Qaeda-affiliated "rebels" might martyr some civilians using chemical weapons in order to generate sympathy (and confusion) in the West and provoke a response against the Assad regime?   Could this have been staged as propaganda?   I don't know.   And, what's worse, Obama doesn't know... hence the need to wait for "completion of an intelligence report."

Third, what is this I hear about "consultation" with Congress?   Under the Constitution, Congress and only Congress has the authority to declare war.   We have slid away from that in the past half-century, to be sure.    But just ten years ago George W. Bush went to Congress and made his case for invading Iraq and got an Authorization to Use Military Force.   Why is Obama somehow above having to undertake such steps, above having to actually make his case?

Finally, if we are really looking for a "justification under international law," we're screwed.   Either the use of war's violence is justified because a national interest is at stake, or else justified morally because one side is evil (Nazis) and the other side is innocent (Jews), or both.   America should go to war when American interests are at stake, or when the morality of the intervention is so obvious that inaction would be immoral.   Here, which side is the "moral" side?   The tyrant Assad, a Ba'athist Alawite Shiite allied with Hezbollah?   Or the "rebels," who largely represent the oppressed majority Sunni population, and are allied with al Qaeda?  

If Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and Egypt have taught us anything, it's that once the blood-dimmed tides are loosed, we don't know what rough beast will emerge to slouch towards Bethlehem.

So.... why?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Awwwww!

The new panda bear cub at the Washington zoo:




To Ask the Question Is To Answer It

Hugh Hewitt asks the obvious question in the title of his article today:

Is Obama the worst president ever?

Hewitt goes on to go full "dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria" disaster-of-Biblical proportions on Obama:

Obama's tenure is a vast desert of anti-achievement, a landscape of waste and ruin on every front at home and abroad, save on the ability to mobilize voters who don't know or don't care about the state of the country or the world. 
The president rolled to re-election on the strength of technologies that enabled his minions to tap and turn out folks who simply are clueless that that nice fellow in the White House hasn't the foggiest idea of how to run the country... 
The prospect of 39 more months of the anti-president at the helm is daunting. No plans for anything except bus tours and college campus speeches, no idea how to invigorate a sputtering economy or trim a bloated budget. 
Just miles and miles to go before we can can all sleep without the prospect of seeing him the next day, yet again, making another meaningless speech or filibustering another softball question from a kept White House press.

Imagine if he'd actually run on a platform of high unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, rising racial tension, bankrupted cities, green energy graft, defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, chaos in Libya, Syria and Egypt, disdain from world leaders, gay marriage, open borders and socialized medicine!   The low information voters would have still voted for him probably, but maybe enough people would have seen the light.   Pity.

Nice little country you had there.   Sorry it had to end this way.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Empty Chair

It's amazing how accurate Clint Eastwood's "empty chair" speech at the Republican convention now seems, not just with regard to Obama, but also with regard to Hillary Clinton.   John Hinderaker at Powerline makes the connection here:

Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State was a disaster by any rational evaluation. It started with the mis-translated “reset” button and went downhill from there. The current fiasco that stretches from Iraq to Tunisia is, at least in part, the result of the stunningly incompetent Obama/Clinton foreign policy from 2009 to 2013. It is probably true that most Americans don’t pay enough attention to understand how poorly served we have been in foreign affairs by Obama and Clinton. But Benghazi: that is something that just about anyone can grasp. When the State Department needed a leader–the one time in Hillary Clinton’s life when she wasn’t holding on to her husband’s coattails, when she was actually supposed to be in charge of something–there was no leader to be found.
Hinderaker also linked to Michael Ramirez on the same topic.   So I might as well steal that too:


























Note the small bottle of white-out on the desk and the plaque... "The Buck Stops."   But not here, apparently.

Shamelessness is now a prerequisite for higher office in the Democratic Party.   Consider:   Bill Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Joe Biden... the list goes on and on.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Girl of the Day - Elizabeth Taylor Week Finale!


Last one, I promise.

Tipping Point? Not Yet, Apparently.

James Taranto in the WSJ here uses the power of the Internet to retrieve wild global warming predictions from the past.   This sort of thing is brilliant, and powerfully demonstrates the nuttiness of the climate change hysterics:

  • "Global Warming Tipping Point Close?"--headline, ClimateArk.com, Jan. 27, 2004
  • "Warming Hits 'Tipping Point' "--headline, Guardian, Aug. 11, 2005
  • "Earth at the Tipping Point: Global Warming Heats Up"--headline, Time, March 26, 2006
  • "Global Warming 'Tipping Points' Reached, Scientist Says"--headline, NationalGeographic.com, Dec. 14, 2007
  • "Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming"--headline, Puffington Host, June 23, 2008
  • "Global Warming: Those Tipping Points Are Closer Than You Think"--headline, WSJ.com, April 29, 2009
  • "Have We Reached the Tipping Point for Planet Earth?"--video title, StudioTalk.tv, May 11, 2010
  • "Must-Read Hansen and Sato Paper: We Are at a Climate Tipping Point That, Once Crossed, Enables Multi-Meter Sea Level Rise This Century"--headline, ThinkProgress.org, Jan. 20, 2011
  • "Earth: Have We Reached an Environmental Tipping Point?"--headline, BBC website, June 15, 2012
  • "In spite of the continued released [sic] of 90 million tons of global warming pollution every day into the atmosphere, as if it's an open sewer, we are now seeing the approach of a global political tipping point."--Al Gore, interview with Washington Post, Aug. 21, 2013
Just how different is this sort of hysteria from the millenial hysteria that the world is coming to an end preached by fringe religious cranks?   Not much, I'd say.  In fact, it seems more and more apparent that global warming is a kind of religion... a version of Druidism perhaps.*

















* "The main elements of druidic belief are...

  1. Sacredness of all life: A philosophy which deals with the sacredness and divinity of all life in which all life is equal in value. Therefore, humanity is on the same level of importance as plants and animals.
  2. The Otherworld: A place of existence beyond our physical senses. It is a place we are supposed to go to when we die but can be visited with the help of meditation, altered states of consciousness, visualizations, chanting, hypnosis, and shamanic trances.
  3. Reincarnation: Ancient Druidic practices taught a type of reincarnation in which the soul went to "The Otherworld" between incarnations, which could be in human or animal forms. Most modern Druids hold to this as well.
  4. Nature: It reconnects us with nature, our ancestors, and ourselves, by "working with plants, trees, animals, stones, and ancestral stories."
  5. Healing: It brings healing using holistic means for both body and spirit.
  6. Journey: Life is a journey from one stage to another; birth, marriage, children, death, etc.
  7. Potential: Developing one's potential for the development of our creative, psychic, intellectual, and intuitive abilities.
  8. Magic: Where ideas are brought into manifestation and divination is used to predict the future."

Yep, that sounds like the climate change alarmists.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mom, I Want One!

Apropos of nothing whatsoever, here's the best-selling boys' toy in 1964, the "Johnny Seven, O.M.A." (One Man Army).   



 

















Several weapons in one: machine gun, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, tripod-mounted rifle and detachable pistol.    Wow!   I never had one of these when I was five years old.   Is it too late?

P.S.  For added fun, take it to school for show-and-tell and watch the ninnies freak!

Rich Lowry on Ted Cruz





















Rich Lowry has a very interesting piece up at NRO on why the Left really really really hates Ted Cruz, the Republican Senator from Texas, former Solicitor General of Texas, Harvard Law high honors grad, former Supreme Court clerk, Princeton grad, etc.    Here's the gist:

Democrats and liberal pundits would surely dislike Cruz no matter where he went to school, but his pedigree adds an extra element of shocked disbelief to the disdain. “Princeton and Harvard should be disgraced,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell exclaimed on MSNBC, as if graduating a constitutionalist conservative who rises to national prominence is a violation of the schools’ mission statements. 
It almost is. Princeton and Harvard aren’t quite the École Nationale d’Administration, the French school that trains that country’s political class, but they are close. 
In a Washington Post column a year ago, Dana Milbank noted Cruz’s schooling and concluded almost entirely on that basis that his tea party politics must be a put-on, that he is, underneath it all, an “intellectually curious, liberal-arts conservative.” Note the insulting assumption that an interest in books and ideas automatically immunizes someone from a certain kind of conservative politics. 
One of the left’s deepest prejudices is that its opponents are stupid, and Cruz tramples on it. Chris Hayes of MSNBC actually says he fears Cruz’s brilliance. So should congressional witnesses. At hearings, Cruz has the prosecutorial instincts of a … Harvard-trained lawyer. Watching Attorney General Eric Holder try to fend off Cruz’s questioning on the administration’s drone policy a few months ago was like seeing a mouse cornered by a very large cat.

Exactly so.   The Left is very scared of Ted Cruz.   He disrupts the shape of their universe, challenges the structure of reality they've come to accept as given.   He's a really really really smart, intellectual conservative.   So they can't follow their usual game plan -- Eisenhower is stupid, Ford is stupid, Reagan is stupid, Bush I was stupid, Bush II was really stupid, etc.   So they have to switch to the alternate strategy... Nixon was evil.   Expect the vilification of Cruz to continue.

Oh, and he's also Hispanic.   Can't have that.   Hispanics have to get back on the liberal plantation, er... hacienda.

***

By the way, the assumption that "an interest in books... immunizes someone from a certain kind of conservative politics" attributed via paraphrase to Dana Milbank at the Washington Post and, by implication, to liberals generally, is truly part of the mindset of liberalism, but also truly bizarre.   You'd have to try really hard to ignore how much books, big thick hard-to-read books, have impacted conservatism over the past forty years.   If you ask nearly any conservative why they are conservative, they'd be very likely to rattle off the titles of a series of heavyweight books:   Wealth and Poverty by George Gilder, Free to Choose by Milton Friedman, Losing Ground and Coming Apart by Charles Murray, Evangelical Catholicism by George Weigel, not to mention the giants, Russell Kirk (The Conservative Mind), Friedrich Hayek (The Road to Serfdom), George Orwell (1984 and Animal Farm), etc., etc., etc.    I'm sure I'm leaving some out... but ask yourself this:

If you went up to a young liberal at a "Occupy Wall Street" rally, do you really think he could rattle off a list of liberal books that affected his development as a liberal as easily as young conservatives could?  

Girl of the Day - I Hereby Declare This Elizabeth Taylor Week!

Because it's my blog and I can do what I want.

The Ford Foundation on Steroids

Brilliant stuff from Dan Henninger in today's WSJ:

It has become difficult to escape the conclusion that at bottom Mr. Obama is a familiar figure in American public life: an upper-middle-class political Brahmin bent on forcing the masses to participate in his understanding of what is good. The Obama administration is the Ford Foundation on steroids.

Just so.   This is the true conflict in 21st Century America -- between the elites who run the administrative state and who claim to know what's best by virtue of their pedigrees (Ivy League, silk-stocking law firms, non-profits, think tanks, foundations) and the rest of us who work in the real economy.   It ought to be no contest, since the productivity of the private sector continues to rise, and examples of the incompetence of government continue to proliferate.   But it isn't.   Why?   Because the administrative state continues to have the support system of Big Media, Big Education, Big Entertainment defining the ideological terms of debate to favor Big Government and liberalism.  

The Emperor has no clothes, but we are told so often that he's clothed in righteousness that we stop believing our own eyes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

So How Can a Blogger Who Styles Himself an Ewok Be So Smart?

Ace from Ace of Spades nails the problem of Syria here in a way that's about a hundred times smarter and more readable than any of the crap you'd read in the New York Times:

Bombing things and killing people is an act of extremely serious moral dimension. We should not even consider such things unless we are satisfied that one of the two is true: 
1) That such action is so manifestly in our own selfish interests that we can be forgiven for taking the violent action.  
2) That the action is so manifestly in the interests of general altruistic good we would scarcely forgive ourselves if we didn't take the violent action. 
And ideally I'd like a good mix of 1 and 2. 
So let's say we start bombing in Syria. 
First question: Who do we bomb? 
We could make a case either way. 
And that means we probably shouldn't do it. 
There should be no such thing as an Obligatory Bombing. A Thoughtless Bombing, a Rote Bombing. There should be no Muscle Memory Bombings, no Just To Keep Our Hand in the Game Bombings, no Well We've Got To Do Something and a Bombing is Something Bombings. 
We need a pretty damn good reason for that.
What's our reason in Syria?

People like Times writers -- I'm looking at you, David Brooks -- who look down their arch noses at bloggers, don't read good bloggers like Ace, Allahpundit, the boys at Powerline, Gateway Pundit, Instapundit, or any of the other actual working writers and journalists that populate the blogosphere.   If they did, they'd know where the action is.  

Lou Brock





































Bernie Miklasz on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's website is doing his list of the five greatest living Cardinals.   Today's entry is Lou Brock, and Miklasz gives him a pretty full hagiography (yesterday's was on Red Schoendienst, which was even more in the style of the Lives of the Saints).   It's worth watching.

Anyway, it got me to remembering.   True story.   In 1967 my Dad was running the PTA fall dinner for our grade school and had arranged six months in advance for the Cardinals to send a player to give a talk and show a movie of the team's highlights for the year.    The team said they would send Lou Brock.  

Months later, Brock led the Cardinals to the 1967 World Series championship and was the World Series MVP.   The date for the annual PTA dinner was 2-3 days after the World Series ended, and Brock had been on Johnny Carson, the Today show, etc.   My dad frantically called the team office to see if Brock would still be able to make the dinner.   He was told not to worry.    Lou would be there.


Now, we lived in South St. Louis County (Lindbergh High area), and our grade school was basically all white.    My dad told the story for decades afterwards... Brock showed up, not just on time, but early, gave a terrific talk, mostly on the value of education, then stayed to sign every autograph and take every picture that anyone asked him to.   My dad said he finally had to tell everyone to go home so he could let Brock leave, because otherwise Lou would still be there, signing autographs and talking with young kids.   The only black man in a sea of white faces.  

And, remember, this was 1967... the fall after the summer of the Detroit riots, etc.   I think America has made tremendous strides in race relations since then (although sometimes the media won't admit it) and I can't help thinking that men like Brock who were role models to generations of kids like me had a big hand in that, albeit a quiet hand.   If you were 8 years old in 1967 like me, it would have been pretty hard not to be in favor of civil rights when you had posters of Lou Brock and Bob Gibson on your wall, and when the first book you ever read all the way through was From Ghetto to Glory.

A very gracious man.   And, interestingly enough, a math major in college.   You don't see that much among anymore among major leaguers, because they don't necessarily need a fall-back career plan since they're making millions.


Righteous Anger from Bill Whittle

Bill Whittle hits another home run with this episode of After Burner.   Just watch, and try not to throw something:


Girl of the Day - Still More Liz T!

Why not?

Serious Times Call for Serious Men

image






















Serious times call for serious men, not the dilettantes of Washington posturing for their sycophants in the media.   Here is Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal laying out the position of serious people on Egypt:

On the subject of Egypt: Is it the U.S. government's purpose merely to cop an attitude? Or does it also intend to have a policy? 
An attitude "deplores the violence" and postpones a military exercise, as President Obama did from Martha's Vineyard the other day....
An attitude is a gorgeous thing. It is a vanity accountable to a conscience. But an attitude has no answer for what the U.S. does with or about Egypt once the finger has been wagged and the aid withdrawn....
Or we could have a policy, which is never gorgeous. It is a set of pragmatic choices between unpalatable alternatives designed to achieve the most desirable realistic result. What is realistic and desirable?...  
Politics in Egypt today is a zero-sum game: Either the military wins, or the Brotherhood does. If the U.S. wants influence, it needs to hold its nose and take a side. 
As it is, the people who now are most convinced that Mr. Obama is a secret Muslim aren't tea party mama grizzlies. They're Egyptian secularists. To persuade them otherwise, the president might consider taking steps to help a government the secularists rightly consider an instrument of their salvation. Gen. Sisi may not need shiny new F-16s, but riot gear, tear gas, rubber bullets and Taser guns could help, especially to prevent the kind of bloodbaths the world witnessed last week. 
It would be nice to live in a world in which we could conduct a foreign policy that aims at the realization of our dreams—peace in the Holy Land, a world without nuclear weapons, liberal democracy in the Arab world. A better foreign policy would be conducted to keep our nightmares at bay: stopping Iran's nuclear bid, preventing Syria's chemical weapons from falling into terrorist hands, and keeping the Brotherhood out of power in Egypt. But that would require an administration that knew the difference between an attitude and a policy.

Meanwhile, Hugh Hewitt is correctly hammering Senator Lindsey Graham for calling for a cutoff of aid to the Egyptian regime because they have cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, in light of the Muslim Brotherhood's attacks on Coptic Christians.    As I've said previously, if America won't stand against a group committed to a genocide against Christians -- and there are more than 10 million Copts in Egypt -- what exactly will we stand against?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pogrom in Egypt



























This needs to be the lead story on every network news program, or else what is a media for:

For the first time in 1,600 years, they didn’t pray this past Sunday at the Virgin Mary and Anba Abraam monastery in a village in southern Egypt. 
Islamists firebombed and looted the monastery, which dates back to the fifth century. For good measure, they destroyed a church inside. They then announced that they would be converting the monastery into a mosque. 
Egypt is in the midst of an anti-Christian pogrom. Supporters of ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi are lashing out at the country’s Copts for the offense of being Christian in Egypt. The militants have the same nihilistic spirit as the Taliban destroyers of the ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001, the same poisonous arguments as anti-Semitic propagandists in every time and every place, and the same sectarian intent as Slobodan Milosevic on the cusp of his ethnic-cleansing campaigns of the 1990s. 
If there was any doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood couldn’t be trusted with power, the wanton hate of its rampaging backers in the wake of its ouster should remove it.

Sixteen hundred years!    Since before there was a Prophet Mohammed.   The monastery survived everything that history had to throw at it... but it won't survive the fecklessness of the Obama presidency.  

Birthday Today - Robert Plant

The lead singer of Led Zeppelin turns 65 today.   Strangely, it seems like he would be older, but he's only a year older than Bruce Springsteen.   Zeppelin's not quite my cup of tea, but it's hard to underestimate what a sound like this did to the music scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s:




VDH on a Foreign Policy in Tatters

Victor Davis Hanson brings a lot of perspective to the question of just how bad Obama's foreign policy is.  

It's really really bad:

Survey the Middle East, and there is nothing about which to be optimistic.
Iran is either fueling violence in Syria or racing toward a bomb, or both.
Syria is past imploding. Take your pick in a now-Manichean standoff between an authoritarian, thuggish Bashar Assad and al-Qaeda franchises that envision a Taliban-like state. There is increasingly not much in between, other than the chaos of something like another Sudan.
Our Libyan “leading from behind” led to Mogadishu-like chaos and Benghazi. Do we even remember the moral urgency of bombing Tripoli as articulated by the ethical triad of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power?
A day late and a dollar short, we piggybacked on the Arab Spring in Egypt, damning the damnable Mubarak without much thought of who or what would take his place. The result is that a kleptocratic dictatorship gave way to a one-vote/one-time Muslim Brotherhood theocracy — and then full circle back to the familiar strongmen with epaulets and sunglasses. Even in the Middle East, it is hard to get yourself hated all at once by Islamists, the military, the Arab Street, Christian minorities, and secular reformists. In Egypt, the Obama administration has somehow managed all that and more. I wonder about all those supposedly pro-Western Google-using types who toppled Mubarak: Are they still there? Were they ever there? For now, the military is engaged in an existential struggle against the Islamists, who retaliate by going after Christians — a crime of enormous proportions going on throughout the Middle East, which is completely ignored by Western governments
In Iraq, would it have been that hard to leave 5,000 U.S. troops at a fortified air base so that they could monitor Iraq’s air space, hunt down remnants of al-Qaeda, and keep the Maliki government somewhat constitutional — given the toll up to that point in American blood and treasure? In terms of strategic policy and U.S. self-interest, the answer is no; in terms of Obama’s 2012 reelection talking points, certainly it would have been problematic. 
What is left to be said about our twelve years in Afghanistan? Obama’s 2008 “good war” that he was going to “put our eye back on” descended into surges, deadlines, withdrawals, musical-chair commanders, drone proxy wars, and finally inattention. The only remaining mystery is how many Afghan refugees and asylum seekers do we let in once the Taliban replays the North Vietnamese scenario and Kabul becomes a sort of Saigon 1975.

Ask yourself this question... if the truly wing-nutty conspiracy hawks on the right had somehow been correct and Obama really was a mole raised to the Presidency by foreign forces so he could surreptitiously destroy American power and authority and secretly help radical Islam grow around the world... what would be different?   If someone were to write a book about Obama's foreign policy, it might be titled, Accidental Treason or the Treason of Good Intentions or the Treasonous Naivete.  

Girl of the Day - More Liz Taylor

The miracle of Google is that there is an almost infinite supply of terrific photographs of famous people, so if you happen to get a hankering for some Elizabeth Taylor, well, there she is.  

Anyway, here she is.    Not sure what's going on with the leaves in her hair, but who really cares?

I'm Waiting for the Obama Press Conference

I'm waiting for the Obama press conference to discuss the heinous murder of an 22 year-old Australian baseball player named Chris Lane who was visiting this country in Oklahoma.   He was killed by three teenagers.   Here is a picture of the Australian:
























And here is a picture of the three boys who are accused of gunning him down in cold blood:














Hmmmm... I'm just going to hazard a wild guess and say that there is a very good chance that this crime was at least in part racially-motivated.   And I'm going to venture the decidely politically-incorrect view that this crime is much more obviously racially-motivated than the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case, and much more obviously heinous.   Three black boys gunned down a young white man because they were bored.   Shot him in the back.   For no reason.   Picked him out for execution... why?   I think it's pretty obvious.  

In any event, this situation is obviously much different -- dare I say it, more "black-and-white" -- than the gray area of whether George Zimmerman had sufficient reason to defend himself with deadly force against an attack by Trayvon Martin (a jury determined that he did).

So will we get a Presidential news conference decrying this crime?

I'm waiting.

***

P.S.  It will also be interesting if the mainstream media chooses to make a cause celebre out of this case the way they did out of the Zimmerman case.   It has a lot of attraction as a news story, not least being the handsomeness of the victim.   It "plays" on TV, in other words.   I hate to sound cynical, but I just want to make the point that the MSM will have to work really hard to ignore this story.   I suspect that they are up to the task.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hillary Clinton?

The Democrats are about to make the same mistake the Republicans made in 1996, 2008 and 2012.   They are about to have a preemptive coronation as their Presidential candidate of the person who is "next in line," the person who people say has "earned" the nod through long service, the candidate with the most "name recognition," the candidate with the most big money donors, the Establishment candidate, the candidate who finished second the prior primary season, etc., etc.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Hillary Clinton!



























Republicans should be salivating at the idea of running against Hillary Clinton.   Consider:
  • Hillary had no record of accomplishments as a lawyer.
  • The only big initiative she has as First Lady (health care) was a flop and will look like even more of a flop once Obamacare has kicked in.
  • Her record as a Senator was... well, can you name anything she's known for? Any piece of legislation? Any important policy initiative?
  • She lost her last Presidential bid to an unproven nobody named Barack Obama.
  • She was a terrible Secretary of State and her tenure will look even worse as the Obama Administration's foreign policy implodes.
  • She'll be 73 on election day... four years older than Reagan was when he was first elected.
  • She's not charismatic and, in fact, is humorless and shrewish.
  • She has incredible baggage from the Clinton Era.
  • I suspect that the Clinton Global Initiative story in the NYT is just the first in many about the shady financial deals the Clintons have been into since 2000, things that will give Republicans the opportunity to say "Whitewater" a few thousand times.
Etc., etc., etc.
 
Oh, and did I mention her abject lying about the murders of four Americans, including the Ambassador to Libya, in Benghazi?    "What difference does it make?"    Hard to imagine that the GOP can't make a lot of commercials out of that sound bite... even if they are generally politically tone-deaf.
 
In short, where Jeb Bush would be a great candidate if he weren't named Bush, Hillary Clinton would be a rotten candidate if she weren't named Clinton.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Best Girl of the Day Ever!

It's a holy day of obligation, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.   The greatest painting to commemorate the Assumption is undoubtedly this one by Titian:

 


It hangs over the altar in Venice's Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari:


"The Wheels Are Coming Off of Health Care Reform" II

Yesterday I commented on a blog piece about Obamacare that individuals are rational actors who, when given a choice between a small penalty for not having insurance and a large bill for buying insurance, will choose the least costly alternative, especially when the entire premise of Obamacare is that you can't be turned down for coverage if you get sick or injured.   They'd be stupid not to opt for paying the penalty because there is no downside risk.  

Put differently, think of it this way:

1. If you buy health insurance under Obamacare, you're insured against the risk you'll get sick.

2. If you don't buy health insurance under Obamacare, you're still insured against the risk you'll get sick, because you can always buy insurance when you do get sick.

3. Q.E.D.  Why buy health insurance now?

Hard to imagine that the Obama Administration didn't realize this simple logic and actually plan for it, i.e., plan for the scheme to crash when younger, healthier individuals refuse to buy in.

Anyway, here's a piece that makes essentially the same point:

Nearly 4 million young people will be much better off financially if they refuse to buy an ObamaCare insurance policy and instead pay the fine for going without coverage next year, according to a study released Thursday by the National Center for Public Policy Research.
The study found that 3.7 million childless single people age 18-34 would save at least $500 if they didn't buy insurance and instead paid the tax penalty next year. Of those, more than 3 million would save at least $1,000. 
That's despite the heavy taxpayer subsidies many of these young people would be eligible to get. The ObamaCare insurance exchanges provide tax credits to offset the cost of insurance to those with incomes up to 400% of the poverty rate. The NCPPR study used Census data on income and insurance coverage in this age group, along with the Kaiser Family Foundation's subsidy calculator to arrive at its results. 
These findings are troubling because they point to what could be a fatal flaw of ObamaCare if the administration can't convince enough of these "young invincibles" to buy coverage. 
"This age group must buy insurance in the exchanges to cross-subsidize people who are older and sicker," explained David Hogberg, a policy analyst at the conservative National Center. "Without them, the exchange will enter a 'death spiral' where only the older and sicker participate and the price of premiums increases precipitously." 
Most of those who stand to gain by not buying ObamaCare insurance are currently uninsured today, said Hogberg, who used to work for Investor's Business Daily. "Getting these people to shell out $500 or $1,000 of their own after-tax income is going to be a difficult task, to say the least," he noted.

Ya think?

John Bolton on Egypt

This is how adults who are realists talk about foreign policy.   Any comparison to the present POTUS is entirely intentional:

The Muslim Brotherhood has acted as if it is a power unto itself and Egypt. It is not a normal political party as we understand that term in the United States. It’s more like an armed militia and even though Mohammed Morsi the ousted President won narrowly an election last year, in office he acted in ways that would have entrenched the brotherhood in power and the saying is that as the wags have it one person one time,–one person, one vote, one time, so I don’t have any doubt here that the brotherhood wanted this confrontation. They were not going to acknowledge the interim government. And, although it’s bloody and it’s undoubtedly going to get worse, this reflects a fundamental divide in Egyptian society. You could paper it over with negotiations day after day but the divide wasn’t going to go away. It’s much to be regretted, but the idea that this is all one sides fault or the others is a bad way to look it at. So, what should the United States do? The United States should look to its fundamental national interests which are in this situation, I think two. Interest number one, we want an Egyptian government that will abide by its commitments under the Camp David Peace Accord with Israel. That is the foundation stone of American foreign policy in the region since 1979. It’s perfectly clear the Muslim brotherhood would abrogate that treaty as soon as it could. Let’s not forget, it was the Muslim Brotherhood that killed Anwar Sadat in 1981 for negotiating the treaty in the first place, so there’s no doubt that our interests seems to me lie with the forces that control the interim government here. And, number two, we have a clear interest in keeping the Suez Canal open and that requires a government that has the ability to restore order and to recognize its international obligations with respect to the Canal, and that doesn’t seem to me to be the Brotherhood either. Is this a happy choice? Of course not, but that’s what America ought to focus on. We’re not going to effect politics inside Egypt. They are obviously already out of the control even of the Egyptian people, but we can focus on our interests and that’s what we should do.

I would add a third interest.   We must side with the party that will protect Coptic Christians from becoming the victims of an Islamist pogrom.   That means siding with the military against the Muslim Brotherhood.  






















If Obama won't lay down a "red line" telling the Muslim Brotherhood that the killing of Christians and the burning of churches won't be tolerated, then what the hell good is he?  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"The Wheels Are Coming Off of Health Care Reform"

A pretty good summary by a fellow blogger of where we stand with Obamacare:

The Administration pushed hard for passage of health care reform, asserting that everyone who disagreed with any provision of the law was a liar for pointing out flaws. Now, nearly every critic has been proven right. Premiums are higher when the government mandates that insurance policies cannot limit their downside risk. Duh. Employers are less likely to offer coverage when they are required to pay higher costs for more coverage. Duh. Employers are likely to drop coverage when the government is offering a subsidy to individuals, but not employers, and when the penalty for dropping coverage is much lower than the cost of continuing it. Duh. Employers are going to cut employee hours to avoid triggering the threshold at which they are required to absorb tens of thousands of per-employee health care costs. Duh. 
The bottom line is that the wheels are coming off of health care reform.

I would add that all of these problems with Obamacare all stem from the same fundamental ideological flaw.   People (liberals in government) who have not run businesses and ideologically do not approve of the concept of business (profit maximization through rational control of inputs, including labor costs/employee benefits), do not understand that employers are rational actors, insurance companies are rational actors, employees are rational actors, individual people facing choices in the markeplace are rational actors (do I spend my marginal income on health insurance if I am a young healthy person or do I bet that I won't get sick and/or that, if I do get sick, under Obamacare they can't turn me down for coverage?), etc.   Anyone with rudimentary understanding of economics would have told you (a) premiums will go way up when insurance companies can't turn down people with pre-existing conditions; (b) businesses will cut employees and/or hours and/or not hire additional people if doing so means they will have to incur the costs in both cash outlays and bureaucratic transaction costs of providing health insurance benefits; (c) where penalties are relatively low for not having coverage (both IRS tax penalties and the penalty for not having coverage, which is now negligible since people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied) and the costs of coverage are much higher, people will opt out rather than opt in.  

On the other hand, the cynic in me might think that the libs intended this train wreck from the outset, so that single-payer government health care would be the only thing left standing after the crash.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Girl of the Day - Laura Fraser (Lydia on Breaking Bad)

Walter White's scary weird contact for moving meth to the Czech Republic (the source of his newfound mega-wealth), Lydia, is played by the delightful Scottish actress Laura Fraser.   It's always amazing to me how actors and actresses are able to change their accents... in the show she sounds like any American actress would sound playing an uptight American businesswoman.   Here's how she looks in the show:

























And here she is being interviewed, looking much different and sounding much cuter (Scottish accent, don't you know).  

Global Warming? Not in Milwaukee.





























Today is just another low 70s beautiful day in August here in Milwaukee.   Maybe it's hot elsewhere, but this has been a remarkably mild summer for us.   So my conclusion is that there's no such thing as global warming.

Of course that's just anecdotal.   Sort of like whenever there's a hurricane or tornado or week of heat elsewhere the Left automatically says that phenomena X is the effect and global warming is the cause.   Because odd stretches of weather that occur fairly randomly aren't actually the norm for existence in the physical world.   Because you're anti-science if you disagree.   Because (probably) racism (somehow).

For the Left, whenever something happens it's caused by global warming and, ultimately, by evil corporations and evil Westerners using too much fossil fuel.   Because their worldview requires reducing every phenomena to a Manichaen agon of good and evil.   Environmentalism is a faith, replete with saints and sinners, angels and demons.  

For conservatives, we know that sometimes it's just the weather.  

L'Etat, C'est Moi!

Laws are for little people.   That's the mantra of the Obama Administration, especially regarding its supposedly grandest accomplishment, Obamacare.   Here's the story:

First, there was the delay of Obamacare’s Medicare cuts until after the election. Then there was the delay of the law’s employer mandate. Then there was the announcement, buried in the Federal Register, that the administration would delay enforcement of a number of key eligibility requirements for the law’s health insurance subsidies, relying on the “honor system” instead. Now comes word that another costly provision of the health law—its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs—will be delayed for one more year. 
According to the Congressional Research Service, as of November 2011, the Obama administration had missed as many as one-third of the deadlines, specified by law, under the Affordable Care Act.
Now the key thing to remember here is not that Obamacare is a clusterf***.    We knew that already, basically a priori.   You can't take an enormous, complicated economy the size of France's or Canada's and remake it on paper in a bill drafted by Washington lawyer-lobbyists and have it be anything else.   See Von Mises.   See Hayek.    No one should be surprised.

No, the key thing is that we now have a dictator, if by dictator we mean someone who is above the law, who does not think that the laws written by Congress pertain to him.   Obamacare, for better and for worse, was enacted by Congress.   It had certain dates in it, deadlines by which times the Executive Branch had to do X or had to do Y.   Those dates were part of the law just like filing your income taxes by April 15th every year is part of the law.   But the Obama Administration thinks they can just ignore those parts of the law that are inconvenient... that would expose the "train wreck" of Obamacare in advance of the 2014 mid-term elections.

If I were writing thrillers, I'd write a political thriller where the people around the President are conspiring to win the mid-terms, retake the House, then crash the economy in 2015 with the implementation of Obamacare, and then cancel the 2016 election and have Obama keep power because of an "emergency."   I don't really think that's what's happening, but if I were writing a paranoid thriller, that's how the facts so far would fit.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Return to Authority?

Psychologists call this "projection."   The rest of us call it wishful thinking.   Here's David Brooks of The New York Times predicting that consumers of news and punditry will return to the very mainstream media they've been leaving in droves over the past ten years or so:

DAVID BROOKS: Yeah, I think the audience has changed online. I think there's been a return to authority. You know, I used to read blogs, and you'd kind of be reading something interesting, and then the blogger would write, "Well, I've got to quit now. I'm going off to junior high." I realized I'd been reading a 12 year old.

But I think there has been a return away from some of that toward, whether it's online or in print, a return to quality. People who actually make the calls, who are not speculating, who are reporting. And I think there's been a return to that sort of stuff.

And so I'm a little more of the belief that the old media is going to continue. Look at e-books; they've hit a plateau. Look at online; it's hitting a plateau, I think. And so I think we're going to be stunned by how much of the old media, whether it's delivered online or not, is going to be around, as the audience returns to authority.

It's hard to even respond to something so muddleheaded.    Why, of course, people are "returning to authority" of papers like the Washington Post or the Boston Globe (just sold for less than 10 cents on the dollar of what they were worth 10 years go), or to CNN or network news (ratings plummeting), or to Newsweek (defunct) or Time (soon to be defunct) or The New Yorker (who cares anymore?).  

And the casual put down of bloggers... "I realized I'd been reading a 12 year old."   First of all... I don't believe that story.   I think it's a lie, made up so that Brooks can dine out on it at the toney cocktail parties in Manhattan he goes to.   Because he just happened on that 12 year-old blogger rather than looking at blogs like Powerline (all high-powered lawyers), Instapundit (a law professor), Legal Insurrection (a law professor), Hugh Hewitt (a law professor), or moi for that matter (Ph.D/lawyer).   Really.   This is the sort of statement that you could discredit on cross-examination in about thirty seconds, but it gets tossed off as a bon mot among the chi-chi crowd at the New York Times.

David Brooks' paean to "authority" is about as crystalline a version of why newspapers are dying as you could imagine.   Superior without actual accomplishment, pretentious without actual learning, ultimately it's just sophomoric.   Didn't Brooks ever take freshman comp, where they ought to have taught him that an argument from authority was a logical fallacy?

A Start, But Not Far Enough

Eric Holder, whom I do not like, has managed to do something that may turn out to be a good thing, or may just be more of the same.   He's saying that the Department of Justice will start pulling back on prosecution of non-violent drug crimes:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Monday that low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or large-scale drug organizations will no longer be charged with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences. 
The new Justice Department policy is part of a comprehensive prison reform package that Holder unveiled in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco. He also introduced a policy to reduce sentences for elderly, nonviolent inmates and find alternatives to prison for nonviolent criminals..... 
It is clear that “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” Holder said. “We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation,” he added later in the speech. 
Holder is calling for a change in Justice Department policies to reserve the most severe penalties for drug offenses for serious, high-level or violent drug traffickers.

To me this doesn't go far enough.   The problem with criminalizing drugs is that it incentivizes "gangs or large-scale drug organizations" to enter the business and to protect their turf with violence.   Sure, it would be a good thing if a mere consumer of drugs isn't incarcerated, but is diverted into treatment or some other non-prison punishment.   But a lot of that is happening anyway.   What we need is to end the incentives for some of the best and the brightest and most motivated and aggressive young men in inner cities to enter the drug trade as a means of getting ahead economically, and to divert those guys -- precisely the guys who are with-it enough to organize "gangs or large-scale drug organizations" -- into the real economy.   The way to do that is to remove the thing that makes drug trafficking profitable, because it drives drug prices up so far, namely, the illegality of the enterprise and the risk involved.  

That's a really radical proposal, and I'm afraid it's one that the Eric Holders of the world wouldn't embrace.  

Caravaggio!

A miracle of parenthood that seems to be happening with great frequency in our house occurs when your son or daughter surpasses you in knowledge of particular areas, and then surprises you with what he or she has learned.   As Regular Guy readers, you may recall that the Regular Son is a painter.   Over the weekend he mentioned that his favorite painting of all time is Caravaggio's Deposition of Christ.   Here it is:








































If your 16 year-old son even has a favorite painting, you're doing pretty well.   If it's this one, I'd say your parenting has been a roaring success.   So far anyway, so good.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Meanwhile, Back In the Real World

While President Obama takes yet another golf vacation, it's worth revisiting where we stand now with the economy.   Remember the economy?   Remember how the stimulus was supposed to fix it?   That was back in 2009.  

So, how is Obama doing?

Not so good:


























Now, to be fair, is Obama responsible for all of the stagnation of the American economy over the past five years?   No... there is some very hard deleveraging going on in businesses and households, coupled with a painful weeding out of unproductive workers and industries.   Many jobs simply aren't coming back.  

But Obama's policies, as the apotheosis of a century of liberalism and the growth of the bureaucratic state, have certainly exacerbated the slowness of the recovery, and will limit the possibility for the kind of explosive growth the economy really needs.   Think of the effects of just the following policies on creating and growing small businesses, the engine of American employment growth:

  • Increasing the minimum wage.
  • Increasing the cost of energy by limiting the ability of American companies to explore and drill for petroleum, including the idiotic rejection of the Keystone pipeline, drilling in ANWR, offshore drilling, fracking, etc., all of which is exacerbated by the idiotic subsidies poured into "green energy" technologies that don't and won't work.
  • Increasing taxes on the "wealthy," many of whom are small business owners whose companies are flow-through entities that pay the individual income tax rate.
  • Larding more and more regulation on companies, particularly environmental regulations that hamstring American manufacturing and, for some industries have simply driven them south of the border or overseas to China.
  • Obamacare and its mandates.
Couple all of this bad economic policy with a constant drumbeat of anti-business propaganda from the media, and it's no wonder that the best and the brightest of our young people seem to be gravitating more and more toward rent-seeking as professions (law, government, academia, non-profits, media) and less and less toward starting and owning businesses.

But, not to worry, everything's under control on Martha's Vineyard.


Girl of the Day - Karlie Kloss





































She's a super-model, a Victoria's Secret model, she went to Webster Groves High, and she's a Cardinals fan.   I meanwhile am apparently a dirty old man, but the Cardinals fan thing put me over the top: