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Monthly Archives: April 2010

The N Commandments

April 30th, 2010 - 7:59 am

An academic from the University of East Anglia argues that animals have privacy rights. “What does it say about our assumptions about animals” when people film them he asked.  In Britain a Muslim who spray painted a war memorial with a slogan calling for Islamic world domination, the assassination of Gordon Brown and the exaltation of Osama bin Laden is not prosecuted, after authorities concluded that his graffiti was “not racially motivated”. A teacher is acquitted for beating a student with a 7 pound dumb bell after he snaps from repeated taunting.

Each incident exemplifies in its bizarre way the new morality. Things are now ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ for reasons which only 20 years ago would have been regarded as completely crazy. Take Peter Harvey, the teacher at a school in Britain. He knew the rules, the only problem was, he couldn’t take them any more.


As American as Apple Pie

April 29th, 2010 - 4:13 pm

Victor Davis Hanson says that both “showing your papers” and discrimination are as American as apple pie. With respect to the “papers please issue”, Hanson writes in the National Review that: “I have done that numerous times this year — boarding airplanes, purchasing things on a credit card, checking into a hotel, showing a doorman an I.D. when locked out, going to the DMV”.  But Professor Hanson’s most interesting point is that certain kinds of discrimination are viewed as instruments of “fairness”. For example, take life at the University.

we already profile constantly. When I had top classics students, I quite bluntly explained to graduating seniors that those who were Mexican American and African American had very good chances of entering Ivy League or other top graduate schools from Fresno, those who were women and Asians so-so chances, and those who were white males with CSUF BAs very little chance, despite straight A’s and top GRE scores. The students themselves knew all that better than I — and, except the latter category, had packaged and self-profiled themselves for years in applying for grants, admissions, fellowships, and awards. I can remember being told by a dean in 1989 exactly the gender and racial profile of the person I was to hire before the search had even started, and not even to “waste my time” by interviewing a white male candidate. Again, the modern university works on the principle that faculty, staff, and students are constantly identified by racial and gender status …


The Bar of Cadiz

April 28th, 2010 - 4:23 pm

Two dramatic events unfolded in Europe yesterday. The first was when Gordon Brown drove a stake through his own political heart on the campaign stump. Brown was pressing flesh among supporters when an old lady asked about “all these Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?” Brown answered with what the Online Times called his “fixed smile” with ill but feigned grace; moments later he savaged the lady as a “bigot” in the imagined privacy of his limousine. He forgot to turn his radio mike off. It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance, Brown’s own gun and Bible-clinging fiasco, and will probably be fatal to his campaign.

The second event was the spread of the Greek contagion through the Eurozone as Spain’s credit rating was downgraded. Although some leaders blamed the ratings companies.

Ratings agencies have been strongly criticized for their role in the U.S. financial crisis, in particular over conflicts of interest and their failure to recognize the high risks inherent in complex structured products. They have also been panned for throwing fuel onto the fire of crises by belatedly ratcheting down ratings, stirring many investors to scramble to sell securities.

But unless the ratings companies are completely off, the problem facing European authorities now is how to stop the cascade. The Southern European economies are weak and are being punished by higher rates of interest.


Now You See It, Now You Don’t

April 27th, 2010 - 6:56 pm

That was then.

YouTube Preview Image

This is now. As it turns out, decisions are now going to be made by a government appointed board whose rulings can’t be overturned unless both Congress and the President agree. Listen to the Orszag at the video at the link.


Global Zero

April 27th, 2010 - 5:26 pm

Popular Mechanics describes the marketing of treachery. Now why would there be buyers for treachery?

When Robert Hewson, of Jane’s Defence Weekly, saw the promotional video for a new missile system called Club-K, he must have known it was special. A Russian company called Morinformsistema-Agat is marketing a cruise missile that can hide inside and launch from inside a shipping container. The six-minute video depicts an invasion from a neighboring country, and the afflicted nation hiding the missile in a port setting, inside an innocuous grey shipping container. The container’s top flips open, the missile extends vertically and launches. In the video (embedded below), music blares—what sounds like the soundtrack to the Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean—as the Club-K’s four missiles careen into the sky. The missiles take separate paths, aimed at warships, a concentration of tanks and an airfield.


Great Prophet

April 27th, 2010 - 1:16 am

Iran recently concluded the Great Prophet 5 naval exercise which feature swarms of speedboats attacking a corvette sized vessels with 107 mm rockets and machine gun fire.  The pictures released showed swarms of small boats battering a hapless and burning target.  The message is that this could be a tanker — or a US destroyer — in the Straits of Hormuz. According to Defense Tech “Iranian small boats will operate near shores using geography to mask their presence, use hit and run attacks, will operate in groups and attack ships with limited mobility in congested sea lanes, straits or entering or leaving port.” The tactics are reminiscent of World War 2 PT or “E” boat attacks.

One of the USN’s answers to this problem is the Littoral Combat Ship concept. These ships are very fast multi-modal carriers which carry small boats, helicopters, surveillance packages and whatever else the mission calls for. The payload can be tailored for a specific mission. But presumably one its missions will be to operate in the Persian Gulf, enforcing a blockade and keeping the sea lanes open. Presumably an LCS will be able to surveil, stop and search a great deal of shipping in crowded waters yet be able to defend itself against swarms of speedboats like those showcased in Great Prophet 5, missiles from shore or submarine and mine threats.



April 26th, 2010 - 5:20 am

Two Democratic state representatives asked the Governor of Illinois to use the National Guard against Chicago’s criminals. John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford “said they want Quinn, Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis to allow guardsmen to patrol streets and help quell violence”. But Weis disagreed, saying it was unlikely the governor would act against Mayor Daley’s wishes; besides using the National Guard would lead to another Kent State incident.

What he envisions, Fritchey said, is a “heightened presence on the streets,” particularly on the roughly 9 percent of city blocks where most of the city’s violent crimes occur. … So far this year, 113 people have been killed across Chicago, the same number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined in the same period, Fritchey said.

“As we speak, National Guard members are working side-by-side with our troops to fight a war halfway around the world,” Fritchey said. “The unfortunate reality is that we have another war that is just as deadly taking place right in our backyard.”


Cold Turkey

April 25th, 2010 - 4:36 am

The fundamental problem with any government attempt to the fix financial industry is how to stabilize it without getting involved in it. The New York Times summarized the opening arguments of both the President and his critics on the proposed financial “reform” bill. Obama depicted his proposals as a step toward reducing government liability for finance industry losses.

Mr. Obama argued that he was advocating “a common-sense, reasonable, nonideological approach” that would strengthen consumer protection, limit the size of banks and the risks they can take, enforce greater transparency for derivatives and other complex securities, and impose more scrutiny of executive compensation.

Republicans says it will accomplish the opposite: by multiplying the hooks which bind the government and the industry, it will institutionalize the bailout of failing financial institutions.


Engagement Queue

April 23rd, 2010 - 6:47 pm

The Tea Parties have until recently received scant coverage from the media. But flying even lower under the radar have been the post Tea Party summits. Although the Tea Party events themselves draw the most attention, it is how the leaders who emerge from these efforts consolidate themselves that will make the biggest difference. It’s the leadership development that comes after the rallies that is strategically important. The Post Party Summit has this precise goal in mind.

The Post-Party Summits represent the beginning of the new American Revolution, one in which we organize for liberty and take back our communities from the political class. Each event is designed to maximize your time and provide you with real-world strategies and tactics that you can apply immediately. We have brought together some of the country’s best in messaging, political organizing, leadership training, new media, etc. to offer each of you the opportunity to move beyond protest to implementing freedom. Now is your time, what will you do with it?

But despite those efforts the summits and similar efforts are probably always going to be playing catch-up. Events are moving not only with great rapidity, but at an accelerating pace. For both the left and the conservatives the problem will be keeping up.


Fire and Ice

April 22nd, 2010 - 3:28 am

Der Spiegel examines the chain of events that led to the cancellation of 17,000 flights over Europe, including the diversion of medevacs from Afghanistan and rerouting of the German Chancellor’s flight home.  Ash clouds from an Icelandic volcano disrupted flights all over Europe. The question is whether the policy makers over-reacted to the thread.  As volcanoes go Eyjafjallajökull  was accounted by Icelandic volcanologists as “a weary old man”. It’s recent eruption was unremarkable.

Ash from the volcano’s plume has reached an altitude of only about 10 kilometers (six miles), not high enough to reach the stratosphere … images taken by the Eumetsat satellite … concluded that Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull has spewed 2,000 tons of sulphur dioxide into the air. Pinatubo spouted 10,000 times that amount.

These facts are clear in hindsight. But when the eruption was first reported it triggered a series of remarkable precautionary events driven by predictions from the British meteorology office’s supercomputer. The Telegraph explains how that prediction cascaded through the European bureaucracy.