June 2007, Part 2
Jim Miller on Politics
For Father's Day, you may want to read this essay by Tony Woodlief, who is learning to be a father from his three sons. Here's a sample:
But I can't shake the sense that boys are supposed to become manly. Rather than neutering their aggression, confidence and desire for danger, we should channel these instincts into honor, gentlemanliness and courage. Instead of inculcating timidity in our sons, it seems wiser to train them to face down bullies, which by necessity means teaching them how to throw a good uppercut. In his book "Manliness," Harvey Mansfield writes that a person manifesting this quality "not only knows what justice requires, but he acts on his knowledge, making and executing the decision that the rest of us trembled even to define." You can't build a civilization and defend it against barbarians, fascists and playground bullies, in other words, with a nation of Phil Donahues.
- 6:56 PM, 17 June 2007 [link]
Sure You Are, Reverend Redding: This delusion is funny, at first glance.
And this being Seattle, we shouldn't be surprised that the reporter, Janet Tu, found "experts" to say this is possible.
Similarly, you can believe that the earth is flat, and at the same time that it is round.
(For those who know zilch about theology, I will add this brief explanation. Some religions, especially pagan religions, do not exclude belief in other religions. But the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, do. You can believe in one of them, or none of them, but you can't believe in two or more of them at the same time.)
But after you think about the delusion for a while, you begin to worry about Redding. The article says that Redding has friends. If they are true friends, I hope they will do their best to dissuade her from acting on her new beliefs.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.(There's not much mystery about her mix-up. If you read the article, you will see that she does not think that she believes in both religions, she feels that she believes in both. Our feelings are often filled with contradictions, but our thinking should not be.)
- 3:53 PM, 17 June 2007 [link]
Congratulations To Tony Parker, the NBA championship MVP, or as they say in his home country, le sacré meilleur joueur.
Just another immigrant (though legal, I am sure), doing one of those jobs that Americans won't do.
The Spurs, one of the most successful NBA teams ever, are built around immigrants; besides Parker, there are Tim Duncan of the American Virgin Islands and Manu Ginobli of Argentina, and probably some others.
That should not surprise us. When there is a free market for talent, the best are going to move to the countries that offer the highest rewards. And NBA teams smart enough to recognize that the world has caught up with the United States in basketball can benefit by signing more players from outside the United States.
The internationalization of the NBA has some good side effects. As the NBA searches for players in Africa, especially very tall players, many in the NBA can't help but notice that Africa has one or two problems. And some in the NBA are doing something to help.
(If you are like me, you are probably wondering whether "sacré" means "sacred". According to Le Petit Larousse, that's its first meaning, but it has also acquired a second meaning of valuable. So, in French, you use the same word for the College of Cardinals (Sacré College) as you do for the most valuable player.
Long time readers may recall that I thought the French gave Parker far too much credit in the Spurs' 2003 victory. I didn't watch much of this series, since it seemed so one-sided, but from what I did watch, I think he may well deserve this award.
Parker is the son of an American basketball player and a Dutch woman, who was born in Belgium, and grew up in France. He first played as a professional, according to this Wikipedia biography, for the "Paris Basket Racing" team.)
- 7:57 AM, 17 June 2007 [link]
Catamaran On Lake Washington: Last Sunday afternoon was breezy here and I spotted this catamaran taking advantage of the wind.
As most photographers will already have guessed, this is a telephoto shot, which compresses distance. The catamaran was not as close to Seattle as it appears to be in the picture. The colors are fairly accurate, except that Lake Washington was not that silver. (Though I must admit I rather like the effect.)
- 2:59 PM, 15 June 2007 [link]
Cargo Cults And Light Rail: You have probably heard of these strange religions, which sprang up, mostly in the Pacific, after primitive groups encountered Europeans. If not, here's a brief description.
Many have noted similar thinking in other places, and other fields. Physicist Richard Feynman famously used "cargo cult" to describe some kinds of scientific investigations. And others have applied it to programming, and many other fields.
And so "cargo cult" has become a more general term, used whenever we see people going through the motions, in the hope that something magical will happen. We use it when we see people hoping that airplanes will appear, that an experiment will succeed, that a program module will not have fatal bugs, and so on — if they just go through the right motions.
Oh, and the light rail part of the argument? That, as the math texts say, is left as an exercise* for the reader.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.(*And not a very difficult exercise. Using computer scientist Donald Knuth's (logarithmic) scale, which you can find in The Art of Computer Programming, I would rate this exercise at 10, at the highest, which means that you should be able to solve it in a minute, or less.)
- 1:21 PM, 15 June 2007 [link]
Another Reason to blame Bush.
The economy is heading into the summer with better momentum, propelled by a manufacturing rebound and consumers who eagerly went shopping and sightseeing despite high gas prices.(I have no idea how factory production can be up, since, as everyone knows, we don't make anything any more.)
- 5:50 AM, 15 June 2007 [link]
Why Are We Fighting The War On Terror? Congressman John Murtha knows. We are fighting the war on terror in order to provide pork projects for his district.
To secure congressional funding for a pet project, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., made a surprising claim: The little-known National Drug Intelligence Center was about to take charge of the "vitally important" terrorist no-fly list.I can't understand why they say the NDIC performs poorly. After all, the people who work there help Congressman Murtha get re-elected, which is, from his point of view, fine performance.
I almost hate to mention this, but I have to add that some cynics will suggest that this is more evidence that the Democrats are not serious about national security.
- 8:23 AM, 14 June 2007 [link]
Why Do We Have A Defense Department? Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows. We have a Defense Department in order to provide free airplane rides for her kids, and for the kids of other congresscritters.
Pentagon officials are bracing for a fight with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over her desire to allow lawmakers' adult children to tag along on taxpayer-funded travel for free.This may be hard to believe, but there are people, misguided people, I am sure, who think that the Democrats are not serious about national security. Such people will, I fear, see this Pelosi demand as evidence supporting that conclusion. We live, I am sorry to say, in a cynical age.
(Incidentally, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld often took his wife with him when he took trips on department airplanes — but he always paid for her fare.)
- 7:14 AM, 14 June 2007 [link]
A Blast From The Past: What was Al Gore saying about Saddam back in 1992? You can see here.
Wouldn't it be fun if some reporter asked him about that speech now? Or asked one of the Democratic candidates to comment on the arguments that Gore made in 1992?
By way of the Instapundit, who got it from Don Surber, who got it from "Sistah Toldjah".
(It might also be interesting to dig up some of Clinton's comments on China during the 1992 campaign. He was, as you may recall, quite hard on George H. W. Bush for being too soft on a Communist dictatorship. And some people believed what Clinton said then.)
- 3:45 PM, 13 June 2007 [link]
Is Service Getting Worse Where You Live? It has been, during the last few years, in this area.
For instance, a week or so ago, I filled up with gas at a service station I have used many times. Since I pay cash, I gave them forty dollars which, even now, is enough to fill my tank. I began pumping and got just four dollars worth of gas before the pump stopped. The clerk had entered the wrong amount. Mildly annoying, but quickly fixed with another trip inside the station and an explanation.
But then when it came time to get my change, I had to argue for several minutes before I got the right amount — and this was not a complex transaction.
I've noticed similar slips at other stores, and have also noticed that I am waiting longer in line at cash registers.
Though this decline in service is mildly annoying, I am not bothered as much by it as I might be, because I understand that it is an inevitable consequence of the Bush boom. When the job market gets tight, employers who have entry level jobs find it harder to hire workers, especially better workers. So they go short, or they hire people they would not have hired during a recession.
And, on the whole, I think that's a good thing. If putting up with slow service from time to time is the price I have to pay so that those who want work can find it, well, that's fine with me, however annoying it may be at the time. (Though, since I am not very good at waiting, I do find myself bringing reading material when I expect to be in a line — even more often than I did before.) And thinking about these facts does cheer me up, when I am waiting in those lines.
- 1:22 PM, 13 June 2007 [link]
The Party Hack mentioned in this post. Was a substitute for another party hack.
Or perhaps I should say, former party hack. Now, it is harder to find the right term to describe Al Gore, though "unscrupulous televangelist" comes close.
Incidentally, neither Al Gore nor, judging by his own biography, Norm Dicks, has any claim to scholastic excellence. Gore had mediocre grades in college and dropped out of both divinity school and law school. Dicks did complete a law degree, but does not mention any scholastic honors.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.(Why "unscrupulous televangelist"? Because Gore is acting more like a religious figure than a scientific thinker, and because he has been so — shall we say, careless — with data and logic. For an example of that carelessness, see this press release.)
- 10:48 AM, 13 June 2007 [link]
What Kind Of Enemies Do We Face? This kind.
Two gunmen on a motorbike have killed two school girls and wounded six others as they left their school south of the Afghan capital, Kabul, officials say.The Taliban are denying any involvement, but even the BBC is skeptical about their denial:
The Taleban has in the past warned women and children to stay away from schools and remain at home.Accused correctly, though the BBC doesn't say that.
- 6:56 AM, 13 June 2007 [link]
Are The Iranians Taking Hostages? Sure looks as if they are.
Iran's confirmation Sunday that it has detained a fourth Iranian-American -- this one a peace activist from California -- seems certain to further rile relations between the two countries, already tense over Iran's nuclear program.Even though these four are also American citizens.
Gabriel Schoenfeld mentions another possibility; the Iranians might suspect that these four are spies. A 2002 Los Angeles Times article tipped off the Iranians that the CIA was recruiting in Southern California, something that angers Schoenfeld, and should anger anyone who cares about the security of the United States.
What public interest was served by the publication of such a sensitive story in the Los Angeles Times, and whatever that interest was conceived to be, was it weighed against the damage that would be done, including to particular individuals? At the time, the CIA would not comment, other than to note that "disclosure of such a program 'is not helpful to U.S. national security.'" And the revelation was promptly—and conveniently—forgotten by the rest of American press, and today it is not discussed at all.(By way of the American Thinker.)
And, of course it could be a combination, since spies make fine hostages.
- 11:43 AM, 12 June 2007 [link]
David Ignatius Buries The Most Interesting Part in the middle of this column.
The insurgents who kill our young soldiers are ruthless, but we have sometimes been cautious in our response. Take the question of targeting bomb makers: There may be an unlimited supply of explosives in Iraq, but there is not an unlimited supply of people who know how to wire the detonators. In 2004, CIA operatives in Iraq believed that they had identified the signatures of 11 bomb makers. They proposed a diabolical -- but potentially effective -- sabotage program that would have flooded Iraq with booby-trapped detonators designed to explode in the bomb makers' hands. But the CIA general counsel's office said no. The lawyers claimed that the agency lacked authority for such an operation, one source recalled.Could we fire those lawyers now, please?
Probably not; they are most likely protected by civil service regulations. But the next president should figure out some way to get rid of them.
By way of the Instapundit, who remarks that the war on terror is "overlawyered, but not well lawyered".
- 9:00 AM, 12 June 2007 [link]
So Far, The Congressional Democrats have accomplished nothing.
The new Democratic majority certainly started strong. In its first 100 hours the House passed six popular bills to show that this was no "do-nothing Congress", as its Republican-controlled predecessor had been labelled. The Iraq debate heated up with congressional calls to pull the troops home. The Senate has held public, sometimes riveting, hearings with the attorney-general and other administration officials, holding their feet to the fire as Congress is meant to do. And recently, the Senate unblocked the debate on immigration by considering a vast compromise bill that would overhaul America's system for welcoming foreigners.(Or almost nothing; the Democrats did pass an increase in the minimum wage, an increase they could have had before the November election.)
One reason they have accomplished nothing is that they have put so much effort into "show trials", which may please elements of their base (and "mainstream" journalists), but accomplish almost nothing. Or into stunts such as the "no confidence" vote on Attorney General Gonzalez, which was defeated by a Republican filibuster. (As anyone who passed high school civics should know, the United States does not have a parliamentary system, so there is no such thing as a no confidence vote in our system. New York Senator Charles Schumer (or Schemer, as my spell checker thinks he should be named) certainly knows that, but went ahead with the stunt anyway.)
Now then, is this lack of accomplishments a bad thing? Perhaps, but it is preferable to the only possible alternative. If the Democrats were passing significant legislation, most of their bills would harm the nation. So, everything considered, it is better for the country that the Democrats are spending their time in political stunts than in crafting destructive legislation. Granted, some of those stunts are harmful, too, but not nearly as harmful as much of the legislation might be.
(Could the Democrats pass significant legislation, given the many ways it can be blocked, especially with a Republican president? Yes, and there are historical precedents that could inspire them. But, to do so, they would have to either win enough Republicans to their side to override a Bush veto — or work with President Bush. The first would require more moderate leaders in the House, and the second would require the Democrats to work with a president many in their base regard as evil.
They can have some marginal effects on policy through appropriations, and I expect that will be where the big fights are during the next year or so. But, even there, many congressional Democrats are so greedy for pork that they will have trouble defending their appropriations against a determined president. And, of course, since the appropriations bills will be coming from a Democratic congress, Bush will be able to veto them without losing Republican support.)
- 7:32 AM, 12 June 2007
More: Even Dana Milbank, who is no great friend to Republicans, thinks Senator Schumer is being silly.
- 6:38 AM, 13 June 2007 [link]
Here's a cheering rumor.
Kim Jong Il, North Korea's reclusive leader, has been so unwell that he could not walk more than 30 yards without a rest, western governments have been told.If even half of the stories about him are true, he has not led a healthful life.
(Who would take over if he died? I have no idea, and doubt that anyone outside North Korea (and perhaps China) does, though he does seem to be trying to pick one of his sons to promote.)
- 4:39 PM, 11 June 2007 [link]
Worth Reading: Linda Chavez begins by apologizing for going too far in a previous column on immigration:
On May 25, I wrote a column entitled "Latino Fear and Loathing" that has provoked considerable anger and recriminations among my fellow conservatives. In the column I asserted that, "Some people just don't like Mexicans — or anyone else from south of the border," and described some of the fears shaping these sentiments: "They think Latinos are freeloaders and welfare cheats who are too lazy to learn English. They think Latinos have too many babies, and that Latino kids will dumb down our schools. They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent, and more prone to criminal behavior. They think Latinos are just too different from us ever to become real Americans." I said that those holding these views constituted less than ten percent of the population — an extrapolation of attitudes on race from several studies done over the years.But then restates her original argument, more gently:
In summary, let me reiterate: There are good and decent people who oppose the current immigration bill for reasons that have nothing to do with disliking Mexicans. The legislation was put together in a short time frame and marks a dramatic change in U.S. immigration policy, some of which I'm not entirely comfortable with. And there are plenty of reasons to worry about illegal immigration and the burdens it imposes on communities. If people break the law, they should pay a price — the debate is over what that price should be. And there is no question that border security must be tightened — again the debate is, or should be, over how best to do that. Nor is there anything wrong with wanting to preserve American culture. I've been engaged in the fight against multiculturalism since it first reared its ugly head. But there is something wrong with assuming, based on selective use of statistics and faulty data, that Hispanics are incapable of fully embracing American culture. And there is nothing honorable or decent about winning a debate over a piece of legislation if it requires slandering Hispanics or other immigrants or demonizing them by playing fast and loose with social science.Read the whole thing, especially if you have been listening to some of the shouters on the radio.
(Incidentally, the mistakes that Heather MacDonald made on this subject make me wonder about all the rest of her work. I have been something of a fan of hers, even bought a copy of her book, The Burden of Bad Ideas, but these mistakes on immigration make me wonder if I can trust her other work.)
- 1:32 PM, 11 June 2007 [link]
Party Hack Gives Campaign Speech: Instead of a commencement address. Students and parents jeer and heckle.
This should not have surprised the UW. Norm Dicks started out well, but has slipped, as so many do, into the easiest role in Washington, D. C., Democratic party hack. There was no reason to expect anything other than a campaign speech from him.
And this is hardly the first time that a Democratic official or activist has abused the commencement ceremony this way. For years I have been seeing similar complaints about similar speakers.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.
(For more, see this review from an attendee.Curiously, the Seattle PI made no mention of the crowd reaction in its story.)
- 11:15 AM, 11 June 2007 [link]
Hillary And Alcee: Sitting in a tree. Not kissing, but making a political alliance. Here's the press release:
The Clinton Campaign today announced that Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Congressman Alcee Hastings have been named national Campaign Co-Chairs.The campaign is modest about the accomplishments of these two "Co-Chairs", saying only:
Both Reps. Wasserman Schultz and Hastings serve in the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, and Hastings is the Vice Chair of Florida's congressional delegation.The press release leaves out the most interesting part of Congressman Hastings' career. President Carter nominated him to be a federal judge, and he was confirmed by the Senate in 1979. In 1981, he and a friend were indicted for accepting a bribe to throw a case. The friend was convicted, but Hastings convinced a jury that he was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, there was so much evidence against Hastings that the matter did not end there. In 1988, the House of Representatives held hearings and impeached him. In 1989, Hastings was tried by the Senate and removed from office. (Unfortunately, the Senate did not require that he never run for elected federal office, as they could have.) At that time both the House and the Senate were controlled by the Democrats.
Judging by his record, Congressman Hastings is well qualified to be "Vice Chair" of the Florida Democratic congressional delegation — or almost any other group that needs a chair in charge of vice.
This choice — like the attempt by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make Hasting chairman of the intelligence committee, says something about the woman who made it — something unpleasant.
(This is, I am nearly certain, an honorary position. Since these two are both from Florida, I assume the campaign intends to name two co-chairs for every state.
You can find out more about Hastings here.
The choice of Hastings made me wonder if Congresswoman Schultz had an equally interesting record, so I took a quick look at the 2006 Almanac of American Politics and her official web site, but found nothing very exciting. She appears to be a conventional liberal feminist (though she does have three children), who has been running for office forever, and was able to "inherit" a heavily Democratic congressional district when the incumbent, Peter Deutsch, ran for the Senate (unsuccessfully). She had no significant accomplishments as a Florida legislator — but she is very good at raising money for her campaigns.)
- 5:50 AM, 11 June 2007 [link]
Good News For Ford: Which the New York Times buries in a graphic accompanying this review of the Honda CR-V.
Read the review if you like, but I think you will find the graphic more interesting — and far more important.
The top ten car brands in J. D. Power's initial quality survey this year are, in order: Porsche (91), Lexus (94), Lincoln (100), Honda (108), Mercedes-Benz (111), Jaguar (112), Toyota (112), Mercury (113), Infiniti (117), and Ford (120). (The numbers in parentheses are reported problems per hundred vehicles.)
So, in this preliminary measure of quality, Ford was beaten by its own luxury brand, its own mid-price brand, Honda, Toyota, and five other luxury cars. (And, for what it is worth, one of those five, Jaguar, is owned by Ford.) Sometimes these preliminary measures do not catch long-term problems, but they are, as I understand it, decent indicators of long-term quality.
Did Ford's new boss, Alan Mullaly, have anything to do with this rise in initial quality? If he did, it was awfully quick work, since he has had the job less than a year.
(My experience with my Ford Focus has been mostly positive. I have had it for three years, and so far have zero problems to report, though I must add that I have driven it less than 15,000 miles in those three years.)
- 3:25 PM, 10 June 2007 [link]
The Bush Economic Record: When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, the economy was well into recovery from a recession. The recovery stuttered until after the Republicans took control of Congress in the 1994 election. When Bill Clinton left office in 2001, the economy was about to slip into a recession. (Or had already slipped into one by some measures.)
Bill Clinton is given great credit for the boom of the late 1990s.
When George W. Bush took office in 2001, the economy was, as I said, slipping into a recession. He proposed tax cuts, the Republican Congress passed them, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, and the economy recovered.
Early in George W. Bush's presidency, liberal critics said: The economy is not growing. Which was true. He inherited the debris of the 1990s' irrational exuberances. A brief (eight months) and mild (the mildest since World War II) recession began in March 2001, before any of his policies were implemented. It ended in November 2001.(Those same critics generally worried less about the distribution of wealth while Clinton was in office.)
And, though George Will does not mention it, the economy suffered a tremendous external shock on 9/11.
George W. Bush is given almost no credit for our current prosperity.
As it happens, I generally agree with those economists who say that presidents usually get too much credit when the economy goes well, and too much blame when it does not. But I also think that we should judge presidents by the same standard.
And if we do judge Clinton and Bush by the same standard, we have to conclude that Bush did a better job in "managing the economy" than Clinton. And perhaps should get just a little more credit for that.
(I don't think any president can "manage the economy", except, perhaps, during a time of total war, and I don't think any president should "manage the economy", though I hope presidents will pursue policies that will allow most of us to prosper. That is best done, generally, by leaving those who create private sector jobs alone.)
- 8:09 AM, 10 June 2007
Much to the surprise of New York Times, the states are benefitting from this prosperity and most have unexpected surpluses. The reporter, Jennifer Steinhauer, doesn't credit anyone for the surpluses. Would she give credit to Bush if he were a Democrat? Probably.
- 6:38 AM, 11 June 2007 [link]