September 2014, Part 2
Jim Miller on Politics
Belgium Restores The Death Penalty: For criminals, that is; they already had it for the innocent, including children.
Belgium has granted a serial rapist and murderer’s request that he be allowed to die, his lawyer said on Monday.I've been wondering when this would happen, since there have always been a few criminals who wanted to be put to death. With the passage of assisted suicide laws, there is now, in many places, a legal way for them to receive the death penalty they want.
By way of James Taranto.
(There is also the troubling phenomena of "suicide by cop".)
- 4:25 PM, 16 September 2014 [link]
Vaccines And Competition: While working through my stack of newspapers, I ran across a longish New York Times article, published on 3 July, describing problems in the markets for vaccines in the United States — and there are many problems in those markets, small monopolies, manipulation of regulatory agencies, shortages, high prices for some vaccines, and so on.
But it seemed to me that the reporter, Elizabeth Rosenthal, was leaving something out, or to be more precise, was leaving someone out, and so I did a quick search and found this Wall Street Journal editorial from 2003.
Everyone knows America's vaccine industry is in serious trouble, with an ever dwindling number of producers and recent severe vaccine shortages. What everyone also should know is that the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine has now pinned much of the blame on Hillary Rodham Clinton.Anyone who knows free market basics would have predicted that those price controls would result in some producers leaving the business, and would discourage others from entering the business. Anyone familiar with the way businesses and bureaucracies interact would have predicted that at least of few of the remaining producers would have found ways to exploit the new regulations. And a few did.
Example: According to Rosenthal, the Prevnar 13 vaccine, which prevents 13 pneumococcal diseases, is now required for schoolchildren, even though there are doubts about its cost effectiveness.
So, thanks in part to the leadership of Hillary Clinton, we are paying more for fewer vaccines. But we are doing it for the children, which makes everything all right. Even though actual children may have been harmed by her policies.
I don't know why Rosenthal chose not to mention Clinton's role in these problems, so I won't speculate on whether Rosenthal knew and decided not to tell readers, or whether her research somehow missed what should have been obvious. But I can say that neither alternative is attractive.
- 3:59 PM, 16 September 2014 [link]
This Brief Reuters Story is worth reading:
The life expectancy of east Germans has risen sharply since their communist state crumbled and they were reunified with the more prosperous west in 1990, a study shows.Although the Reuters article doesn't mention it, I suspect that the decline in air and water pollution is one of the reasons for those gains.
East Germany did provide "free" health care to its citizens, but it wasn't as good as the health care on the other side of the iron Curtain.
- 7:06 AM, 16 September 2014 [link]
Here's a little math puzzle for you, just for a change of pace.
I saw the answer in less than ten seconds, which will show you that it doesn't require any higher math — and, probably, that sometimes I get lucky.
(I'll post the answer some time tomorrow, just in case a few of you get stuck.)
- 4:00 PM, 15 September 2014
Answer: 87. Once you realize the numbers are upside down, it's trivial.
- 5:07 PM, 16 September 2014 [link]
Truman Declares We Are Not At War In Korea: As I mentioned in this post, the United States has not made a formal declaration of war since 1942.
If Amy Davidson's account is correct, Truman chose his euphemism rather casually.
"Mr. President, everybody is asking in this country, are we or are we not at war?” a reporter asked Harry Truman at a White House press conference on June 29, 1950. It was a reasonable question: two days earlier, in response to a swift, unexpected advance of North Korean troops, Truman had ordered American forces to South Korea. In keeping with the rules of the time, the reporters asked the President for permission to print his answer verbatim. “The Chief Executive responded that he would allow the news men to use in quotes: ‘We are not at war,’ ” the Times noted. One of the reporters then asked if “police action under the United Nations” would be a more appropriate phrase. Truman said that that sounded right. The “police action” lasted three years (or longer, by some measures; there are still American troops in South Korea), and the term was eventually retired as a label for what Presidents don’t want to call wars.(Correction: The Korean War is not over; it was suspended by an armistice, an armistice that was broken many times by the North Koreans. Americans, as well as South Koreans, were killed during several of those violations. In 2013, North Korea announced that they had ended the armistice and entered a "state of war" with South Korea.)
Davidson goes on from this to discuss Obama's euphemisms for the conflict with ISIS, but she does not discuss why a series of American presidents, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama, have not asked for declarations of war, even though we were at war when each man was president. (There were small wars conducted during both the Carter administration and the Reagan administration, but it has not been American practice to make formal declarations of war for those.)
Why have all those presidents preferred not to have declarations of war? They are very different men, so there is no reason to think they had identical motives, but I do think that they shared one motive, to some extent: They all wanted to end those wars with negotiations, not total victories. That's most obviously true for Lyndon B. Johnson. He believed, understandably but wrongly, that he could get a negotiated settlement with the North Vietnamese, if he put enough pressure on them, with bombing, to get them to agree to formal negotiations. (Understandably because Johnson had had such success negotiating with American politicians, first in the Senate, and then as president.) Other presidents shared Johnson's desire for negotiated settlements.
By not asking for declarations of the war, the presidents were signaling to our enemies — and to the American people — that we were not looking for the total victories, the unconditional surrenders, that had ended World War II.
(For the record: That exchange between Truman and the reporter may have been pre-arranged, with Truman using that way to deny being at war and introduce his euphemism.)
- 1:38 PM, 15 September 2014 [link]
Looking For Love in a very wrong place.
A married deputy prosecutor has resigned from her job after she allegedly had an improper relationship with a jail inmate.If you read the whole thing, you'll find out that she is in legal trouble for some of her actions, and that she and her husband have adopted a child, and are trying to adopt another.
All of which makes this even more extraordinary than most similar cases.
By way of Dori Monson.
(You may wonder why I am linking to a British newspaper. That's because I haven't seen any big stories on it in our local newspapers or on local TV stations. Spokane is on the other side of the state, but the story is so strange that I would have expected it to get more attention, here.
Perhaps it hasn't because our local journalists are uncomfortable with a story showing a woman behaving foolishly.)
- 7:49 AM, 15 September 2014 [link]
We Still Don't Know What President Obama Was Doing During The 2012 Benghazi Attack: Sharyl Attkisson thinks that's extraordinary.
And so do I.
Almost as extraordinary is the lack of interest that our "mainstream" journalists have shown in the Benghazi story.
They may have forgotten that Obama promised to run an exceptionally "transparent" administration.
(Here's Attkisson's site. I plan to check it regularly, and you may want to, as well.
Speculation: If Obama were a Bill Clinton or a Kennedy, there would an explanation for this silence that would occur to almost everyone. In Obama's case, I'm inclined to think that he spent the time working on his campaign, and relaxing.)
- 7:22 AM, 15 September 2014 [link]
We Don't Think Obama's Strategy Against ISIS Will Work: But we are backing him anyway, according to this NBC/WSJ poll.
Nearly 70 percent of Americans say they lack confidence that the U.S. will achieve its goals in fighting the terrorist group ISIS, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll. The findings come in the wake of President Barack Obama’s national address announcing new measures to combat the Sunni militants.At least a few of those in the two majorities may share my view that it is better to do something now, so that the next president will find it easier to adopt a more serious strategy.
That's about as optimistic as I can be about our current president, and our current problems with ISIS
- 12:48 PM, 14 September 2014 [link]
Before He Gave His ISIS/ISIL Speech, President Obama Consulted with the usual suspects.
President Barack Obama met with over a dozen prominent columnists and magazine writers Wednesday afternoon before calling for an escalation of the war against the Islamic State, or ISIS, in a primetime address that same night.As far as I know, Obama did not consult in a similar way with the congressional leadership, Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, or any of the committee chairmen. I would have wanted to talk to the chairmen and ranking members of the Armed Services committees, the Intelligence committees, and the diplomatic committees (Foreign Affairs in the House, Foreign Relations in the Senate) — and I would have wanted to consult with them at least a week before the speech was given.
Instead Obama spoke to the people he hopes will sell his new policy of war against ISIS. As far as I can tell, every single journalist in that list voted for Obama in 2008, so he had an obvious reason to choose that group.
- 9:26 AM, 14 September 2014 [link]
Two Bill Mauldin Cartoon Collections: On my last visit to Half Price Books, I found a cartoon collection, Bill Mauldin's Army, that overlaps and complements the one I one I already had, Up Front.
Briefly, if you are interested in the history of World War II, get Up Front, which has considerable explanatory text; if you are interested in Mauldin's development as a artist, get the other, which has only cartoons, but includes cartoons drawn while Mauldin was in training, while he was in Sicily but not in combat, and cartoons drawn after the end of the war.
Some of the early cartoons are so unlike those he is known for, that I would not have known who the artist was, just from looking at the cartoons.
(Bill Mauldin's Army also includes a few cartoons that he may have felt unsuitable for a family audience; there is, for example, a cartoon showing "tondues", French women who had their heads shaved for consorting with German soldiers. Here's a brief video showing what happened to thousands of French women, often unjustly.
And a few cartoons that may puzzle those who are less familiar with World War II history. For example, near the end, there is a cartoon showing a returned soldier greeting his child, and saying: "Come to Daddy, ya wonderful little 12-point rascal." The armed services used a point system to decide which soldiers got to go home first. I don't remember the details, but being married and having children did give you extra points.)
- 3:44 PM, 13 September 2014 [link]
Are NFL Players Especially Likely To Commit Crimes? Probably not, according to this analysis.
Although there seems to be an endless stream of stories about NFL player arrests and misconduct, this is largely because there are a lot of NFL players (and they’re famous). At the league’s peak (during training camps), there are about 2,560 players attached to NFL teams (limit 80 each). As I’ll show, arrest rates among NFL players are quite low compared to national averages for men in their age range — but there are some types of crimes that trail the pack significantly.So, like many other young men, they sometimes drink and drive, and occasionally get into fights.
This came as something of a surprise to me, since I had read many of those accounts of crimes by NFL players, and was vaguely aware of the claims in books like Pros and Cons.
Having made this general argument, Benjamin Morris then semi-qualifies it by noting that the NFL players' arrest rate for domestic violence is 55 percent of the national arrest rate, again for young men.
Having been surprised by this finding, I attempted to explain it, and the semi-qualification. (You may want to skip the speculation that follows since I was so wrong in my original opinion.)
NFL players have more to lose by crimes than average young men — and should know that. The players are also, especially during the season, under the control of extremely disciplined adults, their coaches. They may not have had fathers in their lives while they were growing up, but they certainly have father figures as players.
Finally, it is possible that NFL wives, girlfriends, and casual acquaintances are more likely to report domestic violence than women involved with other young men, especially poor young men. Because of their status, the women are more likely to get sympathetic treatment from police, and more likely to get substantial cash settlements.
(Here's another analysis that comes to similar conclusions about the lower overall crime rate among NFL players.)
- 2:47 PM, 13 September 2014 [link]
King County Says They Aren't "Trying To Criminalize Sexual Behavior" But, in fact, they are, and in this case they should be.
In a very unusual step, King County public-health officials have gone to court to try to stop a man with HIV who has infected eight partners in the past four years from infecting others.I can understand why a person might want to keep their sex life private; in fact, I would be happier if some celebrities did just that.
But I think that, given this man's reckless behavior, it would be appropriate to name him and to display his picture, prominently. It might even be appropriate to confine him, now,
(Some will be reminded of both Typhoid Mary and Gaëtan Dugas, who was dubbed "Patient Zero" in the AIDS epidemic. There is, however, a great difference between the two. Mary Mallon, in spite of the evidence, refused to believe that she was a carrier; Dugan knew he was a carrier and near the end of his life deliberately tried to infect others. Given the number of cases already traced to "AO", you have to wonder whether he is more like Dugan than Mallon.)
- 1:58 PM, 13 September 2014 [link]
Racist And Sexist: And possibly ageist, as well. A Conservative councillor in Birmingham, England, attacks a popular leftist scheme.
A £23 million scheme aiming to transform cycling in Birmingham has been blasted as discriminatory and a waste of money only catering for “white, young men”.If Birmingham is anything like this area, then the majority — though perhaps not the "vast majority" — of riders are young white men. I would go a little further and say that, most likely, the majority of bicycle riders are better off than the average person.
Those facts, by themselves, don't disqualify such schemes, since any transportation scheme will affect different groups differently. Commuter rail, for example, often subsidizes the housing choices of very well off people, most of them white. In contrast, buses often disproportionately serve poorer people, and, in some areas, minorities.
But it is fun to see someone call attention to these contradictions, as leftists would see them.
- 8:26 AM, 13 September 2014 [link]
When Did The United States Last Declare War? In 1942, against three satellites of Nazi Germany.
In the United States, Congress, which makes the rules for the military, has the power under the constitution to "declare war". However neither the U.S. Constitution nor the law stipulate what format a declaration of war must take. War declarations have the force of law and are intended to be executed by the President as "commander in chief" of the armed forces. The last time Congress passed joint resolutions saying that a "state of war" existed was on 5 June 1942, when the U.S. declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Rumania. Since then, the U.S. has used the term "authorization to use military force", as in the case against Iraq in 2003.(Possibly interesting bit of trivia: Bulgaria had hoped to stay neutral during World War II, but was unable to. For what it is worth, they declared war on us months before we declared war on them, and they stayed neutral toward the Soviet Union until they switched sides, though there were some military clashes between the two nations.)
As you have probably noticed, we have had a few conflicts that most of us woud call wars since 1942, despite the absence of declarations.
For what it is worth, al Qaeda in effect declared war on the United States, in 1996. We didn't pay very much attention to them then, but perhaps we should have.
- 2:48 PM, 12 September 2014 [link]
This "Gay" Marriage Made Gay Spokesmen Unhappy: Very unhappy.
Two men got married in New Zealand this morning and people aren't happy about it.Actually, the reasons seem similar to me. Both groups thought the two men weren't taking marriage seriously.
(I suppose the contest must have been open only to married couples, or something like that.)
- 9:57 AM, 12 September 2014 [link]
"Allahpundit" Was Right To Draw Our Attention to this reply from the New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief, Tim Arango.
But, in his post, Allahpundit doesn't get it quite right.
If you read what Arango said, carefully, you'll see that the Obama administration was believing what it wanted to believe, and doing that by ignoring any facts that didn't fit the story they had been telling.
They were more deluded than dishonest.
And, as I have said many times, it is usually worse for us if our leaders are deluded, than if they are dishonest, worse if they don't understand what's happening than if they lie to us about it.
And I really wish I didn't have to say that, so often, about the Obama administration.
(There is much worth reading in the rest of Allahpundit's post.)
- 9:17 AM, 12 September 2014 [link]
9/11 Jumper: The New York Times will not show you this picture today, so I will.
This man jumped from one of the World Trade Center towers, rather than burn to death. From the picture we can see that he was a young black man, probably American though he might have been an immigrant, and that he worked in a kitchen.
We can not know whether he knew why he was about to die, though I think it unlikely. Few Americans then understood how much the fanatics who planned the 9/11 attack hated us, and how little they cared for innocent life. Whether this victim knew or not, I hope that he rests in peace.
He, and nearly three thousand others, died in order to create a propaganda poster for Al Qaeda.
(I scanned the picture from a New York Times book, Nation Challenged. I believe this to be fair use because I am criticizing the Times, and most other "mainstream" news organizations, for suppressing this picture, and similar pictures, in the years since 9/11.)
Reposted from 2008.)
Although I think it appropriate to remember the victims of 9/11, including this man, I have come to believe that we make a mistake when we call this a "tragedy", as so many now do. It was an attack, like Pearl Harbor in 1941, and that's what we should call it.
- 7:19 AM, 11 September 2014 [link]
Reminder: If you are interested in the content of Obama's speech tonight, don't watch him give it; instead, read the transcript, later.
Of course, if you are interested in his presentation, then you will want to watch it, and may skip reading the transcript.
(Incidentally, I think it is a good idea to read speech transcripts before you read or listen to any commentary on the speeches, especially commentary coming from people you usually agree with. It's more work that way, but you get more out of it, usually.)
- 5:52 PM, 10 September 2014 [link]
One Last Thought On Putting Women First: (Unless something comes up that almost forces me to comment on it.)
I said that the idea that women come first is a Western idea, and is not found in most other societies. Here's one of my favorite examples: In Indonesia, before World War II, husbands, being superior, walked ahead of their wives. In some places, where there were land mines, this was reversed during the war, for very practical reasons.
Nor is it universal in our society. Here, from Jimmy Breslin's book on a war between Mafia factions, is another of my favorite examples. The head of one of the five Mafia "families" in New York, Anthony Pastrumo, Sr. (known to all his "associates" as "Baccala"), had a very practical approach to beginning his daily commute:
At eight a. m. Baccala was out of bed and ready to leave for the day. He was standing just inside the kitchen door while his wife, Mrs. Baccala, went out into the driveway in her housecoat. Mrs. Baccala slid behind the wheel of a black Cadillac. Baccala sat down on the kitchen floor and closed his eyes and folded his arms over his face. Mrs. Baccala started the car. When the car did not blow up from a bomb, Baccala got up from the kitchen floor and walked out into the driveway, patted Mrs. Baccala on the head as she came out of the car, got in, and backed down the driveway and went off to start another day. (p. 29)Whatever you may think of this precaution, I think you will agree it is not chivalrous. Although it is only fair to add that no women are harmed in the book.
(If you are interested in how this code of chivalry developed, there's a longish discussion in this Wikipedia article. The article seems reasonable to me, but the usual caveats apply.
By the way, I found the Breslin book immensely entertaining, and — though perhaps I shouldn't mention this — instructive about some parts of New York a half century ago.)
- 5:30 PM, 10 September 2014 [link]
Has President Obama Been A Prophet? New York Times reporter Peter Baker — who has not been the president's toughest critic — doesn't think so.
When President Obama addresses the nation on Wednesday to explain his plan to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, it is a fair bet he will not call them the “JV team.”There's much more in the article, and more in Tom Maguire's sarcastic commentary.
We have seen enough of President Obama's decision making so that I am willing to make a tentative prediction — I wouldn't call it a prophecy — about his speech tonight: I don't think that the forces and tactics he plans to use against ISIS will match his goal or goals, though he may be clearer — one certainly hopes so — about the goals.
- 8:52 AM, 10 September 2014 [link]
George W. Bush, Prophet: Marc Thiessen gives Bush credit.
At a White House news conference on July 12, 2007, Bush declared: “I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we’re ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”From what we know about Bush, we can be reasonably certain that he wishes he had been wrong. But that is often true of prophets. They are seldom happy when the disasters they warned about come to pass.
(The commenters on this Post column aren't, for the most part, pleased by Thiessen's argument. It's a big country, so there must be, somewhere, a few Democratic partisans who are willing to admit they were wrong, and Bush right — but I haven't seen any, so far.)
- 8:23 AM, 10 September 2014 [link]
The Lady's Slap And The Girl's Shoulder Punch: We are so accustomed to chivalrous rules between men and women that we don't see some attacks by women against men as battery, even though that is what they are, legally. For centuries a lady who felt she was insulted by a man was entitled, almost everyone agreed, to slap him — and he was not to respond, physically, if he wanted to be considered a gentleman.
Similarly, you sometimes see a girl, or a young woman, offended by her boyfriend (or pretending to be offended), punch him in the shoulder, hard. She smiles when she does it, and he is expected to smile after being hit.
These informal rules about what women can do to men — but not vice versa — do not bother me. They seem, within limits, often to be better than the law-based alternatives.
But then I believe, and there is a fair amount of evidence to support me, that men and women are different, and that we all, men and women alike, will be better off if we recognize that in our informal rules, and even our laws, to some extent.
(I should add that most societies do not have chivalrous rules, do not automatically make women socially superior to men. It is easy to forget that, living in the West.)
- 8:32 AM, 9 September 2014 [link]
Ray Rice's Fiancée Attacked Him First? That's what those who have watched the videos are saying. (I haven't since it isn't the kind of story that interests me, much.)
But that isn't what I have been hearing in news stories. And it does seem relevant — if you want to understand what happened between the two.
But not if you want to make a feminist argument.
(For the record: I put the question mark on the title because, as far as I know, there is no video of the start of the quarrel. But it does seem likely that she struck him first, and that she was relying on him to be chivalrous, and not respond in kind.
Also for the record: I have no good short-run advice for any man in that situation, since, no matter what he does, he will lose. Retreating, when possible, is probably the least bad alternative in most cases. In the long run, I would say he should, of course, think hard about ending the relationship.)
- 8:01 AM, 9 September 2014 [link]