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Saturday, December 15, 2001

Perhaps the scheme I broached to Dawson to win the Milton Friedman Prize For the Advancement of Liberty was not quite the thing. The inner moral compass, temporarily subdued by dreams of wealth, began to vibrate. And anyway, you blew it Dawson! These things are done with a wink and a nod, not bruited about on your blog for everyone to see.

BUT, look here Dawson, I've got a better plan. We'll both nominate Natalie Solent. The combination of her wit and talent plus our weight and influence in the smoke-filled rooms--you can consider it a done deal. As for our share, well, she's from San Francisco, she understands how these things work in the old neighborhood. A country boy like you, you don't even have to know. But keep this quiet! Strict QT.

Good article:
Stop Throwing Money at CDC
By Michelle Malkin (Yet another stunning capitalist oppressor gal! Some kinda' trend here)

The CDC's overall annual budget is nearly $4 billion -- and growing every year. Over the past decade, the agency has abandoned its primary focus on infectious diseases and instead splurged on kiddie condom ads, "anti-bullying" lessons, anti-smoking propaganda, gender inequity awareness, anti-gun junk science, public relations campaigns against politically incorrect "social" diseases (such as TV violence), and other Big Brother behavior modification programs that treat individual vices -- personal lifestyle choices -- as germs to be eradicated.

. . . Nevertheless, Satcher and public health officials continue to carp about the labs' crumbling infrastructure -- leaky roofs, termite-infested floors, broken air conditioners, overcrowded offices, and dilapidated refrigerators. Who's to blame? It's "the fault of the nation, not the fault of the CDC," Satcher complained.

Perhaps Satcher has been too busy teaching kindergarteners about birth control to read the government's own reviews of how the CDC squanders public funds. A report issued earlier this year by the U.S. General Accounting Office and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP concluded that the CDC's financial management staff was largely "incompetent" and that its managers had "little or no accounting experience. . ."
This article was in CAPITALISM MAGAZINE (via The Rallying Point)

Remember when AIDS first hit, every lefty in the universe (and especially here in SF) excoriated the heartless Reagan administration for not providing money to fight the disease. What no one mentioned was that the Center for Infectious Diseases (part of the CDC) already had a budget of $300M to deal with disease outbreaks. But their immediate cry was, "We can't do anything--we have no money."

I had overlooked Capitalism Magazine up to now. It looks very interesting (though I think Peter Drucker is a better guide to capitalism than Ayn Rand.) In particular, there are articles by Thomas Sowell, who I used to enjoy in Forbes.

I found this article, Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism? by Robert Nozick (via InstaPundit) very interesting.

. . .The schools, too, exhibited and thereby taught the principle of reward in accordance with (intellectual) merit. To the intellectually meritorious went the praise, the teacher's smiles, and the highest grades. In the currency the schools had to offer, the smartest constituted the upper class.

The wider market society, however, taught a different lesson. There the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest. . . Schooled in the lesson that they were most valuable, the most deserving of reward, the most entitled to reward, how could the intellectuals, by and large, fail to resent the capitalist society which deprived them of the just deserts to which their superiority "entitled" them? Is it surprising that what the schooled intellectuals felt for capitalist society was a deep and sullen animus that, although clothed with various publicly appropriate reasons, continued even when those particular reasons were shown to be inadequate?

. . .Why do the numbersmiths not develop the same attitudes as these wordsmiths? I conjecture that these quantitatively bright children, although they get good grades on the relevant examinations, do not receive the same face-to-face attention and approval from the teachers as do the verbally bright children. . .

Friday, December 14, 2001

Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.

John Adams, in a letter to Abigail Adams, April 26, 1777

Thursday, December 13, 2001

How about this: We find Osama, we drag him out from under the four-poster and shoot him, and then we let it be known that he has escaped!

Why? Because thereafter, whenever we're hankering to invade some other terrorist dung-heap, we can propagate rumors that Bing Ladder himself is hiding there! Sorry world, we just gotta go after him.

President Bush: I'm sorry to report that our invasion of Iraq has failed to capture Bin Laden.
And I'm afraid that we may bear some responsibility for the unfortunate defenestration suffered by Saddam Hussein. Well, war is like that; no matter how careful you are there's bound to be some collateral damage.

On the positive side, we have new evidence that the evil one is hiding in Syria. We are in hot pursuit, and I am confident we will soon smoke him out.

I liked this, by Tim Blair

Back around 1996 an editor of mine of mine delivered his verdict on the Internet. It would be a good thing for publishing, he said, because it would hive off all the fringe thinkers and unreadable, ego-driven columnists into little computer ghettoes where they could be safely ignored, leaving the mainstream wide open for sensible folk.

Hasn't happened, has it? We've instead seen the opposite occur; newspapers and mainstream media have become more dominated by illogical, cranky, feeble thinkers, ideologically-barren editorialists, and people whose views would be echoed by perhaps five per cent of the reading public. Hello, Robert Fisk. Pleased to meet you, Margo Kingston. Glenn Sacks, lookin' good!

And the Net? Sure, there are nutcases aplenty, but what about all these blogger people? Does ever a day go by without a Layne, a Welch, a Reynolds, a Solent or another blogster providing something cutting, logical, well-researched, informative, and sweetly written?

Not in all the time I've been reading them. Not one single day.

...We sail in leaky bottoms and on great and perilous waters; and to take a cue from the dolorous old naval ballad, we have heard the mermaidens singing, and know that we shall never see dry land any more. Old and young, we are all on our last cruise. If there is a fill of tobacco among the crew, for God's sake pass it round, and let us have a pipe before we go.
-- Robert Louis Stvenson, from the essay Crabbed Age and Youth.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Rand Simberg did a far far better job than I did slicing up Schumer's "new New Deal." A cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block! Thank you, O Transterrestrial One!

New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani stakes out a moderate position on Walker: via Best of the Web:

I asked if he thought John Walker, the American Taliban fighter, was a "poor fellow," as the president put it, or if he wanted him strung up.

"I could feel sorry for someone and still string 'em up," said the former prosecutor.
Our best course of action is obvious: CLONE GIULIANI !


My reader in Urduland has just sent me an eyewitness report of this clash between Taliban soldiers and American forces.

A Taliban Army Platoon was on patrol when the commander noticed a single Marine standing on a hilltop in their area. The commander told two of his men to go take out the American, so they dropped their packs and promptly ran as fast as they could toward him. Just before they got to the top, the Marine ran over the other side of the hill. The two Afghans followed. For the next few minutes there were bloody screams and dust flying in the air. Then as quick as it had started, it stopped and the Marine came up on the hilltop. He brushed off his cammies. straightened his cap, crossed his arms and stood there looking at the Taliban soldiers.

The infuriated commander called for a squad to go get the American. They promptly ran as fast as they could toward him. Just before they got to the top, the Marine ran over the other side of the hill. The squad followed, and for the next few minutes there were bloody screams and dust flying in the air. Then as quick as it had started, it stopped and the Marine came up on the hilltop, straightened his cap, crossed his arms and stood there looking at the Taliban soldiers once again.

The commander was really hot now. He ordered the rest of his platoon to attack the American. Determined that Taliban soldiers were far superior to one Marine, they had blood in their eyes as they ran up the hill. Just before they got to the top, the Marine ran over the other side of the hill. The blood-thirsty soldiers followed. For many minutes there were horrific screams and dust flying in the air. It continued and continued. Finally, one lone soldier came crawling back to the Afghan commander, all bloody and beat about the head and shoulders. His uniform was torn, cuts were all over his body. The commander asked for a report. The lone soldier, trying to catch his breath, replied in a forceful and trembling voice: "Sir,,'s a trick. There are TWO of them!!"

Intrepid reporter Dawson Jackson, wearing a designer flak jacket, has parachuted into Kandahar, looking for civilian casualties:

On Srajama Street, U.S. jets flattened three houses in a row. Residents said the houses had been rented by members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. The houses are no longer there. But two 15-foot-high burlap tents belonging to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, which abutted the compound, appeared unharmed

Isn't it nice to have the ability to take out a house, but leave a tent next to it standing? And
Ali Ahmed, a 16-year-old thrill-seeker proficient in English, said that for kicks he would go to every bomb site in the city minutes after the blasts occurred. "They rarely killed normal people," Ali said. "I went to many sites. I never saw a dead normal person. I know they killed some. But really I went to all the sites."
Keep looking Jackson, Prof. Chomsky assures me that genocide is there somewhere -- there's a Pulitzer for whoever finds it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

My son Robert, who almost never reads books not connected with aviation, is on book three of Harry Potter. He's hooked. May blessings fall upon you, Jo Rowling! (Now get busy and write more.)

Maybe not such a good day--just read this in OpinionJournal. We are losing a giant, Rep. Dick Armey.

Armey's retirement would mark the end of one of the more improbable careers of congressional consequence. In his mid-40s he was a political nobody running the economics department at the University of North Texas (in world-famous Denton). Then in 1984 he ran against the odds and beat an incumbent, 51% to 49%. When he first arrived on Capitol Hill, the elite media lampooned him as a wacky professor who slept in his office.

But he quickly emerged as a leader of the conservative insurgents who toppled the complacent GOP minority in the early 1990s and then took control of the entire House in 1994. Newt Gingrich was always the main political operative, but Mr. Armey cared more about ideas.

Even as a backbencher, he forged right-left coalitions to trim farm subsidies. His idea for a military base-closing commission remains the only way anyone has found to reduce Pentagon waste. He was the main writer of the Contract with America, which included the welfare reform that will go down as Congress's signature achievement of the 1990s.

Above all, Mr. Armey's passion has been free-market economics. He made the flat-tax a hot prospect before Steve Forbes did, at least in GOP ranks. He's had some success pushing the International Monetary Fund to reform its anti-growth advice to poor countries. And he pushed, almost single-handedly, for a school-voucher experiment for the District of Columbia's trapped poor children. More recently, he has privately urged his colleagues to reject a fiscal "stimulus" bill that lacks marginal-rate tax cuts.

It's no stretch to say that without Mr. Armey's ideas Republicans in the later Clinton years would have had no ideas at all. His critics will say many of these causes have now crested short of success. But it's just as accurate to say that many of them, especially tax-cutting, have become staples of GOP policy. Mr. Armey rose in House ranks by opposing George H. W. Bush's tax increase in 1990, but now George W. Bush mimics Mr. Armey on tax policy.

Mr Dawson Jackson straight from heart to fingers to keyboard:

. . .Three months ago today, some 4000 fellow citizens, fellow humans of 100 nationalities, locked their doors, kissed their kids, choose a tie, won a hand, put sugar in their coffee...for the very last time. . .

The sun was glinting off the silver planes as they lifted off into a cloudless sky. Women and men rode into the cities on the subway's, or walked, or called cabs. Another day at the office. .

Natalie Solent is back. The day is looking good. The sun is shining and large checks will surely arrive in the mail. ". . . but the guy is just such a swamp-thing of moral relativism that any part of him you want to grab on to liquefies as soon as you reach out." Do read.

Senator Schumer calls for a "new" New Deal. (via Drudge)

... the notion of letting a thousand different ideas compete and flourish -- which works so well to create goods and services --

there's some hope, at least you aren't talking about rationalizing the "inefficient private sector."

does not work at all in the face of a national security emergency.

would work in more places than you'd like to admit. But thereare things only the Feds can do. And YOU are the one who is" anti-government," YOU have turned government into a beached whale.

" . . . But our new situation has dramatically reversed that trend. Within a few years, those like Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, who believe that any time the federal government moves, its fingers should be chopped off, will be fighting an increasingly desperate rear guard action"

Fingers forsooth!. How about being truthful and saying, "carve off a few of those tons of blubber, so the government can move at all."
[ By the way, Jonah just wrote a great column on this, titled: Is Chuck Schumer on Crack?

Monday, December 10, 2001

We've both been reading (fighting over) the book J.R.R. Tolkien : Author of the Century by T. A. Shippey.

It's not a biography, but a study of Tolkien's writings and ideas. The title refers to the fact, embarassing to the annointed leaders of literature, that when readers are polled for the best books of the 20th Century, Lord of the Rings always ends at the top of the list. Read Shippey, and you may see why.

Shippey places Tolkien among a number of other authors, who, having survived the World Wars and other modern calamities, found tradional literary forms could not encompass what they had seen and suffered, and turned to fantasy or Science Fiction. Orwell, TH White, Vonnegut, Golding are some of them.

Shippey, like Tolkien, is a Philologist. In fact he held Tolkien's old Chair at Leeds, and then followed him to Oxford. He leads us on fascinating trails through Norse and Old English myth and language, teasing out the origins of Tolkien's ideas and words. Often Tolkien was 'reconstructing' things barely hinted at in the surviving fragments of Old English--there are Ents mentioned, for instance--something like giants, but otherwise obscure. Fascinating Stuff, we highly recommend it.

However, one of the other things that make him distinctive is his professional authority. On some subjects Tolkien simple knew more, and had thought more deeply, than anyone else in the world. Some have felt (and said) that he should have written his results up in academic treatises instead of fantasy fiction. He might then have been taken more seriously by a limited academic audience. On the other hand, that audience was shrinking, and has now all but vanished. There is an Old English proverb (In Old English, and with the usual provocative Old English obscurity), Ciggendra gehwelc wile thaet man gehere, 'Everyone who cries out wants to be heard!'
By the way, the only good biography (and it's very good) of Tolkien is The letters of JRR Tolkien, edited by H. Carpenter

Note for your information: Old English, that is English before the Norman Conquest, had several letters that are no longer used. One of them was Thorn. Thorn looks sort of like a capital "Y," and in lower-case like a "p" with the riser extended up. Thorn represented (to oversimplify) the initial "th" sound. It mostly died out in the Middle Ages, but lingered here and there, often written as "Y."
SO, if you read an 18th Century manuscript and see someting like, "Ye Yng Yt I found," it means "The thing that I found." And if you see a sign for 'Ye Olde Tea Shoppe," You should pronounce it "THE (not yee) Old Tea Shop." (I'll explain the exta "e's" another day. Also, in the post above I had to substitute 'th' for Thorn in the word thaet [ Disclaimer: I'm no expert on these matters, I've just picked up a few scraps of useless knowlege.]

Sunday, December 09, 2001

Dale Amon at SAMIZATA writes about the end-the-State-Income-Tax ballot initiative in Massachusetts:

"The implications are beginning to sink in. Howls of anguish and even fear that voters might actually vote for $3000 a year back into their own pockets are rising from the snouts of the public trough class. You can be sure the next phase will be neither quiet nor behind the scenes. The porkers will be out in force from here on out, inventing tax cut horror stories, trundling out their pet talking head victims, putting career bureaucrats on TV to tell how they will cut their most important services first... Oh it is going to be glorious to watch.

It has already begun. Michael Widmer, Director of Communications and Deputy Chief Secretary of former Governor Michael Dukakis(D) and currently the President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation is one of the first to voice his fears:

"It would decimate state government."

Awww.... I'm soooo sad about that Mr Widmer. In fact, ending the income tax would leave a state budget of $14 Billion. That's 40% higher than Michael Dukakis' last bloated budget.

Mr. Widmer also noted that ending the income tax would cause "the lay-off of tens of thousands of government workers." He neglects to add it would put $9 Billion back into the Massachusetts economy. That's enough to create 400,000 new jobs in the private sector. More than enough to put those government employees to work doing something productive, Mr. Widmer. Next Question?"

You can donate HERE It sounds like a good cause.

I talked to Ann Coulter recently, ostensibly just to chitchat, but in truth I wanted to put in a good word for my friend Dawson. I tried, I really did, but somehow the conversation went awry :

Oh, I like Dawson, He's brilliant of course, and handsome, but, well, he's so overbearing and impetuous. Women today go for men who are sensitive and thoughtful and . . .
C'mon Ann, he's sensitive! He really is. Loves all living things; puppies, newts, salamanders. . .
Ooooh, just like a boy. Ughh! I so hate it when they collect all those creepy-crawlies and try to scare me.
Forget the bugs, that was just figure of speech. But really, he likes to cook and . . .
Cooking! Cooking! I'm supposed to stay in the kitchen and cook while he has all the fun? Maybe I should wear a burqua?
Wait! I didn't mean that. He likes you for your ideas, your famous writing style, your . . .
Famous? I knew it, I knew it! he wants a TROPHY WIFE! You can't imagine all the CEO's who say" we'd make a great team!" Just because he's rich and powerful, he wants me to be a Barbie Doll and . . .
At this point I realized my rhetorical skills were not equal to the situation, and changed the subject. The right gal is out there somewhere, DJ, and she's missin' the boat. Probably spending all her time with fast-talking lounge lizards, and complaining that men today don't want to make committments . . .