Friday, June 29, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

America the beautiful!

People, not government and definitely not socialists, helping people.
NEW YORK (AP) — Americans gave nearly $300 billion to charitable causes last year, setting a record and besting the 2005 total that had been boosted by a surge in aid to victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the Asian tsunami.

Donors contributed an estimated $295.02 billion in 2006, a 1% increase when adjusted for inflation, up from $283.05 billion in 2005. Excluding donations for disaster relief, the total rose 3.2%, inflation-adjusted, according to an annual report released Monday by the Giving USA Foundation at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy.

Giving historically tracks the health of the overall economy, with the rise amounting to about one-third the rise in the stock market, according to Giving USA. Last year was right on target, with a 3.2% rise as stocks rose more than 10% on an inflation-adjusted basis.

"What people find especially interesting about this, and it's true year after year, that such a high percentage comes from individual donors," Giving USA Chairman Richard Jolly said.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Robert Putnam what are you afraid of?

Wouldn't it be ironic if the end game of multiculturalism, properly understood, creates more solipsism? Pushing for a more communitarian ethos actually creates a more atomized, alienated group of people. So says noted scholar Robert Putnam.
Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, is very nervous about releasing his new research, and understandably so. His five-year study shows that immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities. He fears that his work on the surprisingly negative effects of diversity will become part of the immigration debate, even though he finds that in the long run, people do forge new communities and new ties.

Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”

In the 41 sites Putnam studied in the U.S., he found that the more diverse the neighborhood, the less residents trust neighbors. This proved true in communities large and small, from big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Boston to tiny Yakima, Washington, rural South Dakota, and the mountains of West Virginia. In diverse San Francisco and Los Angeles, about 30 percent of people say that they trust neighbors a lot. In ethnically homogeneous communities in the Dakotas, the figure is 70 percent to 80 percent.

Diversity does not produce “bad race relations,” Putnam says. Rather, people in diverse communities tend “to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.” Putnam adds a crushing footnote: his findings “may underestimate the real effect of diversity on social withdrawal.”

Neither age nor disparities of wealth explain this result. “Americans raised in the 1970s,” he writes, “seem fully as unnerved by diversity as those raised in the 1920s.” And the “hunkering down” occurred no matter whether the communities were relatively egalitarian or showed great differences in personal income. Even when communities are equally poor or rich, equally safe or crime-ridden, diversity correlates with less trust of neighbors, lower confidence in local politicians and news media, less charitable giving and volunteering, fewer close friends, and less happiness.

Putnam has long been aware that his findings could have a big effect on the immigration debate. Last October, he told the Financial Times that “he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity.” He said it “would have been irresponsible to publish without that,” a quote that should raise eyebrows. Academics aren’t supposed to withhold negative data until they can suggest antidotes to their findings.
Political correctness is calling the shots again. Why am I not surprised?

Monday, June 25, 2007

A funny way to make a point about methodolgical individualism

Nicolai Foss over at Organizations and Markets proves that you shouldn't mess with libertarians when they take on socialists at the root and branch.
Sophisticated attacks by methodological holists on methodological individualism often take the form of admitting that while, strictly speaking, only individuals act, individuals are so strongly influenced and constrained by institutions (in a broad sense) that we might as well disregard those individuals and instead reason directly from institutions to social outcomes. Individuals are effectively malleable by social forces. “There is no such thing as a human nature independent of culture,” Clifford Geertz famously argued, tying the holist argument to cultural relativism.
Read the whole item for a chuckle.

Meanwhile, read what O&M has to say about one of the most under-rated public intellectuals of our time, Douglass North.

Here's my review of North's Understanding the Process of Economic Change.

Tearing the Islamic Rage Boy a new one

I'm still waiting to hear a drumbeat of support for Sir Salmon Rushdie from the usual suspects all in a lather about the Patriot Act and such. I didn't have to wait long to hear from a principled liberal, Christopher Hitchens.
The acceptance of an honor by a distinguished ex-Muslim writer, who exercised his freedom to abandon his faith and thus courts a death sentence for apostasy in any case, came shortly after the remaining minarets of the Askariya shrine in Samarra were brought down in shards. You will recall that the dome itself was devastated by an explosion more than a year ago—an outrage described in one leading newspaper as the work of "Sunni insurgents," the soft name for al-Qaida. But what does "Rage Boy" have to say about this appalling desecration of a Muslim holy place? What resolutions were introduced into the "parliament" of Pakistan, denouncing such shameful profanity? You already know the answer to those questions. The lives of Shiite Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Christians—to say nothing of atheists or secularists—are considered by Sunni militants to be of little or no account. And yet they accuse those who criticize them of bigotry! And many people are so anxious to pre-empt this accusation that they ventriloquize the reactions of Sunni mobs as if they were the vox populi, all the while muttering that we must take care not to offend such supersensitive people.

This mental and moral capitulation has a bearing on the argument about Iraq, as well. We are incessantly told that the removal of the Saddam Hussein despotism has inflamed the world's Muslims against us and made Iraq hospitable to terrorism, for all the world as if Baathism had not been pumping out jihadist rhetoric for the past decade (as it still does from Damascus, allied to Tehran). But how are we to know what will incite such rage? A caricature published in Copenhagen appears to do it. A crass remark from Josef Ratzinger (leader of an anti-war church) seems to have the same effect. A rumor from Guantanamo will convulse Peshawar, the Muslim press preaches that the Jews brought down the Twin Towers, and a single citation in a British honors list will cause the Iranian state-run press to repeat its claim that the British government—along with the Israelis, of course—paid Salman Rushdie to write The Satanic Verses to begin with. Exactly how is such a mentality to be placated?
This mentality can never be appeased or satiated. The Muslim "street" (and by no means all of Islam) will always find a way to lash out at the West. They'll blame the "Joos", they'll blame Bush and they'll blame bikinis. There's no sense arguing with them except at the end of the barrel of a gun, which is what they seem to respect.

You have to love Hitchens' description for Sunni insurgents: "soft name for Al-Q."

Currently listening to...

Ah yes, Tony Levin, one of my favorite bassists mellows out splendidly.


Here are a couple of reviews from Prog Archives.

How to respond to a global warming fundamentalist

This response is a tad harsh but you get an idea on how to deal with Al Gore types and their consensus on global warming.
You do know that in order to get that "broad international consensus" they had to have delegates from all UN member states regardless of whether these folk knew the first goddamn thing about climatology, ecology or solar-system or fluid mechanics. Jesus Horatio Christ on a sodding hybrid-powered unicycle some of those people were probably only in it for a beany to New York in an aeroplane.

D'ya ever wonder why fuckwits in Islington or Berkeley seem to agitate more about the melting ice-caps than the Inuit? Do you ever wonder why these people are against nuclear power and think that not leaving the telly on stand-by will solve the whole mess?

I leave you with a final sobering thought. The USA consumes aproximately a quarter of the world's power. Completely co-incidently the USA also generates about a quarter of the globe's GDP. That's money to spend, money to lend and schools, hospitals and not dying of those terribly amusing tropical diseases in your twenties. Wealth is good. Wealth requires energy because energy enables you to provide goods and services.

So tell ya what. You can either live in my world or you can fuck off to Somalia and make a living excising the external genitals of pre-teen girls with a broken Coke bottle. Cos ya know, that's a deeply traditional and remarkably carbon-neutral existance. Hell, reusing that bottle is even better than recycling it. Or you could bunk-up with the Gorefice in his TN mansion though I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Even you.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another one about to bite the dust

Chemical Ali is heading for the gallows. It's about time.

No brains at the border

There are more people who live in their little cocoons as we wage the war on terror. They think the rest of us are paranoid or shils for the neocon movement. They are mistaken. If this kind of stuff goes on unabated up in North Country, we're doomed.
DERBY LINE, Vt. -- Residents of this town and neighboring Stanstead, Quebec, are proud of the elegant granite hall that straddles the border between them. It is their rarest jewel: The Haskell Free Library and Opera House, built a century ago as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Canada and shared ever since by citizens of the two countries.

Canadians and Americans borrow books and watch plays side by side at the library, which was deliberately built half in one country and half in the other. No guards are stationed on the quiet, shady streets around the building, and Canadians who cross into Vermont to enter the library do not need to show their passports at a border station, as they do when crossing for any other purpose. Inside the library, where a strip of black tape on the floor marks the international boundary, patrons wander unchecked between the two countries on their way from the stacks to the birch-paneled reading room.

But smugglers of illegal immigrants have begun to notice the unique features of the neighborhood, say agents from both countries who enforce the border in the area, located less than a minute's drive from Interstate 91.

Smugglers are taking advantage of three unguarded side streets near the library to ferry human cargo in both directions, border officials say. The streets must be closed to traffic, officials insist, to help them stem a rising tide of illegal immigration.

The plan has provoked an emotional outcry in these two small border towns, where people pride themselves on their easy coexistence. Their countries may be preoccupied with terrorism and the need for tighter borders, but here, many residents say the change would break down their most valued traditions.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Please let this happen, please

The Kossacks want Joe Lieberman stripped of his Homeland Security chairmanship. I can't wait for them to pull the trigger on this one. The moonbats may win the battle but lose the war proving once again liberal Democrats have no credibility on national security.
Joe Lieberman chairs the Homeland Security committee. We effectively cannot strip him of his chairmanship right now. The only way that we could do that would be if we changed the senate organizing resolution. Republicans could filibuster. And if we tried, Lieberman could switch parties. If this happened, a change in the organizing resolution could hand majority control of the senate to republicans. So there is little we can do about this SOB right now. But if we have a Lieberman proof senate majority after the 2008 elections, there is nothing Lieberman could do to get back at us.

Thought for the day

"Aristotle said that happiness is found in applying and developing your capabilities, in fulfilling your function. We should strive to create real value by using our capabilities and fulfilling our function," - Charles Koch, industrialist.

Required reading

Mary Eberstadt files the brief in defense of God against the postmoderns. An excellent essay.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A SICKO headache...for Democrats

Interesting...
Instead of greeting the film with hosannas or challenging it head-on, however, the leading Democratic presidential candidates have sidestepped direct comment on Moore's proposals.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Surprise, surprise, liberal media exposed again.

Someone call Eric Alterman. What liberal media? Do you have to ask? Journalists are only happy to provide the liberal narrative that's been helping drive down Bush's popularity among other things.
MSNBC.com identified 144 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign, according to the public records of the Federal Election Commission. Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes. Only 17 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pelosi and Reid do no better than Bush

How can this be? Are people just too intolerant? Or do they have high expectations?
PRINCETON, NJ -- The honeymoon phase is over for the new Congress, as the public's ratings of Congress are down again this month. The latest congressional job approval rating (24%) is the lowest for the institution since Democrats took control of both houses in January, and is far below the 37% registered in February. The decline has been most evident among Democrats, whose ratings of Congress now match those of Republicans. Congressional job approval ratings are typically not positive, but ratings as low as the current one are uncommon. The poll also finds that only about one in four Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in this country, little changed since last month but still at its lowest point in over a decade.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Mexican Government: Hypocritical All Around

Victor Davis Hansen has it right. The Mexicans want it both ways: an easy escape valve to the North and a great resistance to the south where Central Americans seek to earn a better life. Why don't we read more of Mexican double-standards in the mainstream press? The answer is self-evident. It doesn't fit the narrative.
To facilitate such massive illegal immigration, Mexican officials hector their American counterparts about our supposed illiberality in not letting millions more stream in unchecked. They have even gone so far as to publish a government comic book instructing their own citizens how to cross the American border safely--and in flagrant violation of our laws.

But Mexico has nearly the same problem with its own 600-mile southern border with Guatemala as we do with our own 1,800-mile common boundary with Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of Central and Southern Americans try to cross into Mexico, either to work as cheap laborers or to make their way eventually into the United States as competitors to illegal aliens from Mexico.

In response, Mexico's policy toward illegal immigrants on its southern border is as brutal as America's is humane. Violators are often summarily deported--if they are not first robbed by Mexican officials or beaten and killed by criminal gangs. Mexicans may lecture Americans about our purported sins in trying to secure our border, but they don't seem to care what their own government does to Guatemalans. Again, the irony arises that a government that has abandoned the rule of international law suddenly is worried that another country may be doing to it what it does to others.

What lies behind this abject hypocrisy of first undermining civilization and then demanding that it reappear in the hour of need?

Double standards depend on demanding from United States and Europe a sort of impossible perfection. When such utopianism is not--and never can be--met, cheap accusations of racism, colonialism, and imperialism follow. Such posturing is intended to con the West into feeling guilty, and, with such self-loathing, granting political concessions, relaxing immigration, or handing over more foreign aid. Left unsaid is that such critics of the West will always ignore their own hypocrisy, and, when convenient, destroy civilized norms while expecting someone else to restore them when needed.

What, then, to do? Stop feeling guilty, apologizing, and trying to rationalize barbarity. Instead insist on the same uniform standards of humane behavior from our critics that they now demand from us.

Finally, remember that there is a reason why millions flood into Europe from the Middle East and to America from Mexico--and not vice versa. There is a reason why Democrats and Republicans don't shoot each other in the streets of Washington, or why blue-state America does not mine red-state highways. And there is a reason why a Shiite mosque in Detroit is safer in the land of the Great Satan than it would be in Muslim Saudi Arabia. It's called civilization--a precious and fragile commodity that is missed even by its destroyers the minute they've done away with it.
There's good reason why the hyper-asymmetrical amnesty bill is going nowhere.

This great economy can't catch a break with the public

As Donald Luskin notes:
The unemployment rate is an ultra-low 4.5%, and an all-time record 137 million Americans have jobs, producing an all-time record $13.6 trillion in annual gross domestic product, which includes all-time records for both manufacturing and exports.
Yet the American people aren't feeling so good about the good economy. They must have high expectations. Is it related to gas prices? I think so; gas prices have a psychological effect that are more entrenched that employment. It's not an entirely rational view but people read into high prices as a negative.
NEW YORK A new Gallup Poll will only reinforce those who claim that while the rich get richer most Americans don't feel they are sharing in the growth in our economy. The stock market may be climbing and the unemployment remains relatively low, but 7 in 10 Americans believe the economy is getting worse -- the most negative reading in nearly six years.

Only one in three Americans rate the economy today as either excellent or good, while the percentage saying the economy is getting better fell from 28% to 23% in one month.

Gallup adds: "For the first time this year, a majority of Americans are negative about the employment market, saying it is a bad time to find a quality job."

The 70% negative rating is up 10 points since April. Also, just in the past month, there has been a significant five-point drop, from 28% to 23%, in the percentage saying conditions are getting better.

"When asked about the most pressing financial problems their family faces today, Americans mention healthcare costs, lack of money or low wages, and oil and gas prices," Gallup reports. "Healthcare costs are mentioned by 16% of Americans while 13% say low wages and 11% say oil and gas prices. These percentages are virtually unchanged from last month."
Stephen Rose at Huffington Post, of all places, has an interesting and surprisingly refreshing take.
This dichotomy between a negative view of the state of the overall economy and the conditions of people in general, versus the positive view of one's personal evaluation of risk and living standards on the other, is repeated regularly across polls and within the same poll.

What should one make of these various answers?

After reviewing various polls with their optimistic and pessimistic answers, Kusnet, Michel, and Teixeira of the Economic Policy Institute in their 2006 book, Talking Past Each Other, articulate the typical left position: "With most people, the intensity, the insecurity, and the arduousness of their economic struggles are woven into the fabric of their lives--and are central to their identity." In essence, they throw out the positive evaluation of about one's own condition as people making up answers because they don't want to face reality.

This seems very wrong to me. Although the polling answers are contradictory, it would appear that people at all but the lowest income levels are mostly satisfied with their current life and the opportunities that their own children have. This is not to say that they don't want more or they don't face a difficult juggling act to determine what to buy and how much to save. But blanket appeals to their insecurities and economic plight have not worked in the past and aren't likely to work in future.

Say a prayer for John Bish

John Bish who has done a lot for the safety of children in our state now needs our prayers.
WARREN, Mass. - The father of Molly Bish, the Warren lifeguard who disappeared in 2000 before her remains were found in the Palmer woods three years later, was in critical condition Monday after suffering a stroke, according to a published report.

John Bish was being treated at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, The Republican reported on its Web site.

Relatives of Bish could not be reached for comment, and employees of the Molly Bish Center at Anna Maria College in Paxton did not immediately return telephone calls to The Associated Press.

John Bish and his wife, Magdalen, have been advocates for missing and exploited children since Molly vanished from her lifeguard post at Comins Pond on June 27, 2000.

The Bishes have been frequent fixtures at schools, police stations and community events where they photograph and fingerprint children so their parents have up-to-date records in case they need to be tracked down.

Molly’s remains were found in 2003 after a hunter reported spotting a bathing suit in the woods of Palmer like the one she was last seen wearing.

Nobody was ever charged in Molly’s disappearance or death, and a grand jury investigating the case was dismissed in December 2006 by former Worcester District Attorney John Conte.
Scotto has more

Saturday, June 16, 2007

California has gone mad!

Here's what "free-thinking" California is becoming.
Back in 2005, San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell tried to pass a bill which would have required bloggers engaged in “electioneering communications,” i.e. political advocacy, to register their blogs with the city’s Ethics Commission and report all financial activities related to their sites.

There was also the famous bill that would have banned spanking of children in California, introduced by Mountain View (Silicon Valley) Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, and shot down in flames.

Many business and products in California have Proposition 65 warning labels affixed to them, warning the ever-unsuspecting public of the dangers of grocery produce, nail polish, solvents, oil, gasoline, you name it. Businesses which fail to post the proper signage can face fines of $2500 per day. Freelance journalist Donald Melanson noted the following label on his computer’s mouse:

“The cord on this product contains lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.”

And finally, there’s a few nanny-state laws lately considered by the State Legislature, as related by San Diegan Adam Summers an economist and policy analyst for the Reason Foundation:

• AB 722—Would “phase out” the sale of incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs (despite the fact that harmful levels of mercury from fluorescent bulbs can add up in landfills, contaminating the soil and making their way into the food supply). This bill has been amended so that now, instead of banning bulbs outright, it would have the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission set a minimum energy efficiency for bulbs. A nice P.R. move that would, in practice, essentially ban incandescent bulbs.
• SB 7—Would ban smoking in a vehicle--moving or stationary--in which there is a minor.
• AB 86/AB 90/AB 97/SB 490—Would restrict the use of trans fats in restaurants and school cafeterias.
• SB 120/SB 180—Would require caloric, trans fat, saturated fat, and sodium content information to be printed on restaurant menus.
• AB 1634—Would require dog and cat owners to spay or neuter their animals by four months of age.

Is this the same state that legalized medical marijuana? What happened to California?

“Nothing,” says Ron Getty, “Other than year-round politicians who feel that to look good they have to show how tough they are on (fill in the blank) or show how caring they are on behalf of (fill in the blank). The majority of (the nanny laws were) introduced in basic essence by legislators who are at heart control freaks.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Regarding Norman Finkelstein indeed

That Norman Finkelstein was even considered for tenure is a disgrace.
Finkelstein has been in the field for twenty years and apparently has never published a single peer-reviewed article.

About the New Deal

What would Paul Krugman make of Amity Shlaes's new book on the New Deal? Who cares when Ed Glaeser weighs in.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tearing down walls 20 years ago today

The amicable dunce spoke truth to power and tyranny. The elites laughed as they always do. The elites have a poor record. "Simpletons" sometimes have a broader view of freedom.

A William Weld flip flop

When he was running for governor of New York, Bill Weld said he hoped gay marriage shouldn't extend beyond Massachusetts where he was the most pro-gay rights governor. Now he says he's opposed to a ban on gay marriage. Whether you support gay marriage or not, one must conclude that the former Governor is just another pol who'll say anything to get what he wants. Wisely, the New Yorkers never really warmed up to the former Massachusetts governor and Weld opted out before the Republican primary showing again that discretion (or preservation) is the better part of valor. New Yorkers do not suffer lazy, disappointing fools well. Nor do I.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

We've been had!

The Sopranos goes out with a whimper -- throwing away a lot of possibilities. I say it is a master letdown. Apparently David Chase can't close down the franchise. He's laughing at us and all the way to the bank. I'm not alone.

Proceed carefully

Is Sen. Lieberman saying what others are thinking?
"We've said so publicly that the Iranians have a base in Iran at which they are training Iraqis who are coming in and killing Americans. By some estimates, they have killed as many as 200 American soldiers," Lieberman said. "Well, we can tell them we want them to stop that. But if there's any hope of the Iranians living according to the international rule of law and stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can't just talk to them."He added, "If they don't play by the rules, we've got to use our force, and to me, that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they're doing."
A third front is, at this point, problematic, in part, because opponents of the War on Terror are more intent on demoralizing the United States than offering a solution.

How a myth perpetuates

AgitProp and Art make for great myth-making like this sidewalk art in Boston attempting to draw attention to reports of missing bees. What's happened to all the bees? Is this a classic case of colony collapse disorder?

Answer: It has nothing to do with cellphones.

Quote for the day

"Everything must end; meanwhile we must amuse ourselves." - Voltaire

Fitting for the day on which The Sopranos saga will end. And amuse ourselves with endless predictions we have.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Why don't we see more of this?

Well one reason is that it doesn't fit the MediaCrat narrative. Nothing good can come out of Iraq - a meme that encourages even more of the jihadists, of course.

As you are loose with other people's money, Mr. Governor, please take heed of the professor's advice

Deval Patrick chasing the flavor of the month, biotech, is going where no venture capitalist goes easily. In effect, he's placing an "economic bet." Ed Glaeser, one of his generation's best and most prolific economists thinks the BioTech Democrats ought to conduct a little due diligence.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Another episode of "say it ain't so"!

Che was homophobic. How can this be? They are wailing in Cambridge. Another idol busted. Can say I'm surprised.
Che detested rock and roll and railed against “long hairs,” “lazy youths,” and homosexuals. At one point, he wrote that the young must always “listen carefully - and with the utmost respect – to the advice of their elders who held governmental authority.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The law of unintended consequences

Idealism faces reality. Try to fight oppressive regimes and the trolls take over.

Read the whole piece.

The telling Falklands War

Revisiting the Falklands War of 1982 with a eye toward what Hugo might do when it comes to reclaiming islands, Austin Bay makes keen observations.
Britain countered the Argentine invasion with a remarkable naval and amphibious task force that sailed some 8,000 miles to the war zone. The Royal Navy faced sustained and deadly air attacks, as Argentine aircraft struck with bombs and anti-ship missiles. A British brigade finally landed and defeated the Argentine occupiers. It was no Gilbert and Sullivan affair or splendid little war: 255 British and 649 Argentine servicemen died in battle.

Argentina's Falklands-Malvinas quest isn't quite over. In 2006, it began a new diplomatic drive to gain control of the islands. Argentina still bases its claim to the islands on geographic proximity and historical ties, but this time it has enlisted the support of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Argentina emphasizes that its current efforts to "reclaim" the islands are political, not military.

Not so for Chavez. Never one to shy from inflammatory rhetoric and violent risks, Chavez has added land claims to his list of grievances with neighboring states -- and he rattles sabers.

Though domestic rancor is increasing in Venezuela -- a vague echo of Argentina in 1982 -- an expansionary ideology and explosive ego propel Chavez. He styles himself as the new Simon Bolivar, who will reunite the South American continent while cowing the United States and other imperialists. He also bills himself as the 21st century's Fidel Castro.

Chavez is buying a modern air force and expanding his navy. Venezuela may purchase up to nine Russian submarines.

Why? Chavez says he needs the hardware to defeat a U.S. invasion. The military might also gives Venezuela the ability to enforce land claims against Colombia, Guyana, and Holland -- yes, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, still sovereign on the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, located just off the Venezuelan mainland.

Chavez isn't stupid -- he knows Argentina lost its Falklands gamble. But he also knows that Britain's Falkland victory was more of a "near thing" than many think. Argentine combat aircraft could just reach the Falklands, while Venezuelan fighters could easily strike the Antilles.

With the Falklands in mind, Holland has garrisoned the islands with a small naval force and an infantry battalion supported by a half-dozen F-16 fighter jets and helicopters.
Are the Dutch up to the task?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Rant: The I-Pod generation sucks!

It is roughly 8:30 in the morning. I am on a Green Line train headed for work. The trolley is full. All the seats are taken. I am standing which is always my preference. It stops at Park Street. A visually impaired elderly man steps onto the train. He has his seeing stick with him. He ambles on trying to make his way.

Would you believe that no one, not one person -- offered the blind man a seat? What's wrong with this picture? Most of the riders were oblivious to the world. They were all wearing IPods. And the one without them were as deaf to the world.

I asked the gentlemen if he wanted a seat and I was ready to start making trouble about it. Politely he declined. I told him I in a stern tone that This isn't the world I was brought up in." I said it loud. No one moved probably cause they didn't hear.

What kind of society do we live in where a blind man isn't offered a seat on a subway? Are people that tuned out. What about all the talk about civility?

This is Massachusetts after all a big swathe of the reality-based community. There's no shortage of people imploring others to show compassion. But I'm sure there are a lot of hypocrites out there. They love humanity they just ignore any opportunity to show common courtesy.

I'm miffed. I know this is a free society. Feel free to ignore me an able-bodied individual. But please give a blind man your seat!

Libby has literate friends

Libby's getting 30 months for his role in outing superSpy Valerie Plame.

He has friends in places of high culture. Leon Wieseltier uber-liberal rings the bell for Scooter.

Am I impressed? No.

I would be more impressed if he were pardoned. If Marc Rich can get one why not Scooter?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A knockout review of a fat man's movie

Why see the movie, a pack of lies, when you can read Michael Tanner's review?

I guess I'll be missing "Moore" of the same.

Even more devastating is this column by the son of a Cuban exile.

Quote for the day

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." C.S. Lewis

Brother v. Brother

Two very literate brothers. One writes book on atheism; the other defends admirably and cogently faith in God. Atheist (on non-theist) very well known; Believer, less known but should be in wider circulation. Sibling rivalry doesn't get better than this intellectually. The Great Unknown Peter Hitchens:
Christopher describes how at the age of nine he concluded that his teacher’s claim that the world must be designed was wrong. "I simply knew, almost as if I had privileged access to a higher authority, that my teacher had managed to get everything wrong."

At the time of this revelation, he knew nothing of the vast, unending argument between those who maintain that the shape of the world is evidence of design, and those who say the same world is evidence of random, undirected natural selection.

It’s my view that he still doesn’t know all that much about this interesting dispute. Yet at the age of nine, he "simply knew" who had won one of the oldest debates in the history of mankind.

It is astonishing, in one so set against the idea of design or authority in the universe, how often he appeals to mysterious intuitions and "innate" knowledge of this kind, and uses religious language such as "awesome" – in awe of whom or what?

Or "mysterious". What is the mystery, if all is explained by science, the telescope and the microscope? He even refers to "conscience" and makes frequent thunderous denunciations of various evil actions.

Where is his certain knowledge of what is right and wrong supposed to have come from?

How can the idea of a conscience have any meaning in a world of random chance, where in the end we are all just collections of molecules swirling in a purposeless confusion?

If you are getting inner promptings, why should you pay any attention to them? It is as absurd as the idea of a compass with no magnetic North. You might as well take moral instruction from your bile duct.
Read the whole article. It's a prime example of an apologia for faith and one that would make C.S. Lewis proud. And what better day than Sunday to read it!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A recurring theme

Liberals like to call conservative complaints resounding with the public as the "right wing echo chamber." This suggests, of course that the concerns are heard but are empty of content. It's all a conspiracy they say. When it comes to the clash of civilizations, no light terms here, Caroline Glick keeps stresses the unavoidable theme that Europe has its collective head in the sand. Meanwhile, British academia finds the time to boycott Israel.
BRITAIN is not alone in its self-destruction. Britain's rush to oblivion is part of a wider trend overtaking all of Western Europe. Take Sweden for example.

Sweden is upheld by leaders of the Israeli left like former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami (who now devotes himself to attacking the US and Israel from his academic perch in Toledo, Spain), Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Meretz chief Yossi Beilin and former Labor chairman Avrum Burg. They extol Sweden as a social democratic wonderland which Israel must emulate.

Some 12.5 percent of Swedes are immigrants and around half of Sweden's immigrants are Muslims. Muslims will soon comprise the majority in many of Sweden's cities.

The intrepid Scandinavian blogger 'Fjordman' recently penned an essay, "Jihad and the collapse of the Swedish model" in the on-line Brussels Journal. In it he relates the significance of Sweden's Integration Act of 1997 to Sweden's national self-destruction. The act officially proclaimed Sweden "a multicultural society."

Notes to the act stated, "Since a large group of people have their origins in another country, the Swedish population lacks a common history. The relationship to Sweden and the support given to the fundamental values of society thus carry greater significance for integration than a common historical origin."

As 'Fjordman' explains, the act was nothing less than national suicide. "Native Swedes have... been reduced to just another ethnic group in Sweden, with no more claim to the country than the Kurds or the Somalis who arrived there last Thursday. The political authorities of the country have erased their own people's history and culture."

Poem for the day

Desolate and lone
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly,
Like some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor's breast
And the harbor's eyes.
LOST -Carl Sandburg

The War on Terror, it's real

Someone ring John Edwards. Terror attempt thwarted at JFK airport.
According to NewsChannel4's Jonathan Dienst, sources said federal investigators have made arrests in an alleged terror plot on Kennedy Airport.

Law enforcement officials said the plot may involved a former airport worker.

Officials said the plot may involve four people plotting to set off explosive devices on airport grounds.

A press conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. this afternoon.