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Friday, September 13, 2002

Some mild good sense from IMAO

Search Engines are the Opiate of the People
Now China has blocked AltaVista in addition to Google just to make it clear to everyone they're still evil Commies. They can't have information going unfiltered to their populace making them realize how much better life would be if they just lynched all the Reds in charge. There doesn't seem to be any official statement on either AltaVista's or Google's webpage, but hopefully they'll do the proper American thing by responding, "Screw you, you stupid Commie bastards!" and then make one result of every search something embarrassing to the Chinese government.
I think any country without Google or Altavista is headed for the ash-heap of history... What are they going to use? Lucky Gold Coin Search Engine? [That's a wisecrack that will be understood in places like SF, with a large Chinese population. We have businesses with names like Gold Coin Savings Bank, or Fortune Wok. Some friends recently mentioned that they had lived on a street named Devil's Drop Court. They were pleased when a neighbor circulated a petition to have the name changed. Unfortunately, the neighbor was Chinese, and the proposed new name was: Happy Court.]
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thoughts on bias ...

There's a fascinating WSJ article, (Via Reynolds and volokh) disecting some leftmedia bias, comparing two recent profiles of Clarence Thomas and that arch-buffoon Cornell West.
...I get it: Mr. West, whose response to a tough session with his boss was to turn tail, is a Strong Black Man. Justice Thomas, who has withstood years of withering profiles like this one, is a weak sister...
The endless scurrility and abuse heaped on a great man named Clarence Thomas is one of the disgraces of our country and our time.

Leftizoids derive much of their supposed legitimacy from the Civil Rights Movement, and much of their bullying power from leftist judges. For a black person to not only be a conservative, but also a Supreme Court Justice, hits them in their tenderest spots. I suspect that most leftists think there is nothing wrong with slandering Thomas; that they are capable of inventing some ugly lie or distortion, and then with a clear "conscience" saying, "I define 'liberal' as someone interested in justice."

Here's a snippit from a speech by Justice Thomes:
... With respect to my following, or, more accurately, being led by other members of the Court, that is silly, but expected since I couldn't possibly think for myself. And what else could possibly be the explanation when I fail to follow the jurisprudential, ideological and intellectual, if not anti-intellectual, prescription assigned to blacks? Since thinking beyond this prescription is presumptively beyond my abilities, obviously someone must be putting these strange ideas into my mind and my opinions.

Though being underestimated has its advantages, the stench of racial inferiority still confounds my olfactory nerves.

As Ralph Ellison wrote more than 35 years ago, "Why is it so often true that when critics confront the American as Negro, they suddenly drop their advanced critical armament and revert with an air of confident superiority to quite primitive modes of analysis?"...
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gratitude ...

"No one who was old enough to take it in will ever forget September 11, 2001. We see passenger jets flying out of a clear September morning, the flashes of flame, the destruction, the death, and the valiant acts of heroism. It is well to remember and to mourn the victims this day. But let me raise the question of why we memorialize those who have sacrificed for us. What's our object in doing so? ... The answer is gratitude. As we mourn and remember the sacrifices of those who went before us, we ourselves, out of gratitude for what they did, commit ourselves to defend those values for which they died -- principles we hold so dear: freedom and human dignity. ... On this anniversary of the attacks, we ought to be looking at the sacrifices people made for us and asking ourselves whether we are living lives worthy of their sacrifices." --Charles Colson

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P. Krugman
#41: Antiwar Coming-Out Column?

"Stocks and Bombs" (09/13/02) is apparently Paul Krugman's antiwar coming out column. We say apparently because the level of obfuscation is unusually high. His entire bag of tricks–straw men, innuendos, third party references, etc.–is on display.

Krugman begins by citing two columnists who he says have claimed a war with Iraq would be good for the economy. He then proceeds to demolish the idea as if it were official administration policy. This is pure Krugman. The only thing that puzzled us were the excessive lengths he went to explain WWII and the depression. He says, "World War II is a very poor model for the economic effects of a new war in the Persian Gulf." Well, no kidding!

He then moves on to the prospects for oil prices and their impact on the economy in the event of war. He thinks prices could rise (how much do they pay this guy for stating the obvious) and give us his much longed for double-dip recession. Most commentators on this subject also mention the other possibility–that a regime change in Iraq could give much lower oil prices. But not Krugman!

After this, the pointless column sputters to a merciful end.

But returning to one of the columnists that Krugman used as a straw man, we suspect that Larry Kudlow will have something to say on this subject. We tried to find the June Washington Times column to which Krugman referred in which Kudlow supposedly argued for an invasion of Iraq to raise the Dow. We couldn't find it. Perhaps a Random Jottings reader with better search skills can run it down. In the meantime, here is what Kudlow had to say the other day on NRO about financing the Iraqi war.

"But what if the U.S. has to finance the Iraqi war on its own? What if another $50-$100 billion of war-related funds becomes necessary? Easy. The Treasury should sell war bonds. Liberty bonds were sold in World War I and were actively traded on the open market. During World War II, war bonds were big business, raising huge sums of money and generating a cottage industry for their sale.

War bonds sold today would act just like U.S. savings bonds. They would be government-insured savings accounts with competitive interest rates; the interest would not be taxed on the state or local levels; and federal taxes would be deferred until the bonds are redeemed in 20 or 30 years. These bonds, which should be indexed to offset inflation, will yield more money after tax than ordinary bank savings accounts (for most states). With stock-market confidence still at low ebb, a good portion of the roughly 80 million shareholding Americans will undoubtedly invest in war bonds for patriotic and economic rate-of-return reasons.

Doomsayers may try to use oil and budget deficits as reasons not to go to war. But the economic facts speak otherwise. And anyway, American economic potential is so vast that these antiwar arguments quickly become meaningless.

The U.S. economy is strong, resilient, and free. The post-September 11 recession predicted by many never came to pass. In fact, the 2001 recession ended last September, and key measures such as growth, profits, production, and living standards are all recovering. This improving economic backdrop provides a solid foundation for the war effort."
Sounds pretty level headed to us. Note that a strong economy helps with the war, not the other way around.
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If you were a fly on the wall ...

Frank Vannerson writes:
 I also watched CBS News tonight just to see how they would cover the Bush speech. It was worse than I thought possible. How could that address be summarized without ever mentioning Bush's central point that Saddam had spurned (violated) 16 UN resolutions? They never mentioned it! This could not be a simple matter of oversight. It had to be a conscious decision of redaction.
I wonder what might a fly on the wall have heard?

"Skip the resolution stuff. It puts the UN in a bad light. "

"The resolution stuff doesn't really matter; emphasize the US wants to go it alone."

"Bush really didn't want to do this, so why should he get a PR bonanza?
[Readers are invited to make up their own "fly-droppings."

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Simon fraud verdict dismissed

From the Sacramento Bee
Judge dismisses fraud verdict against Simon investment firm
A judge Thursday threw out a politically damaging $78 million civil fraud verdict against GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon's family investment firm. Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant, in a written ruling, dismissed the huge compensatory and punitive damages verdict against William E. Simon & Sons and a nearly $20 million verdict also levied by a jury against another investor group.
I said the verdict was Bolshoi, and so it is. Another jury run amok; makes me think better of the Code Napoleon.
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Kofi & Co on the spot...

I caught part of the President's speech at the U.N. this morning, and I thought it was great. It tickles me to think of those legions of appeasers and Archbishops who have been demanding "Inaction, any kind of inaction, and the more the better..." and who have relied on the U.N. to shield them from the need to choose between the cowboys and the terrorists. Hee hee, the ball's in your court, folks... (Or, a better phrase from Dean Esmay, it's time to fish or cut bait.

And that mention of economic liberty... I wish I could have seen the faces of the audience right then; I bet swallowing live tadpoles ain't in it.
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* Word Note: I mentioned a Georgia twenty-dollar note below, but where does the word dollar come from? In the 15th Century, rich lodes of silver were discovered in the Joachimsthal (thal means valley) in Bohemia. Coins were minted there, called Joachimsthalers, soon shortened to Thalers (pronounced TALL'-ers), and the name became common slang for various silver coins of about 1 oz.

In the American colonies, Spanish Pesos were the most common coin, because the system was rigged to pull all the British coins back to Britain. (This was one of the grievances of the colonists). The pesos were called dollars, a variant on thalers, and the name stuck.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

9/11/02 ... Pentagon

Pentagon burning, 9/11/02

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9/11/02 ... "None Shall Provoke Me With Impunity"

Nemo Me Impune Lacessae"Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, 'What should be the reward of such sacrifices?' Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"
--Samuel Adams

* Update: Mike Jackmin sent a link to the original of the rattlesnake image, from a twenty-dollar note of 1778.

I don't know what you call those widgets at the bottom of an e-mail, but Mike's reads:
I ain't givin' to any charity that calls it a "tragedy".
I'm only givin' to charities that call it an "attack".

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

P. Krugman
#40: waxing philosophical

Today’s op-ed page in the New York Times (09/10/02) is a monument to liberal hand wringing over the state of our civil liberties in the aftermath of 09/11/01. What amazes us is how these "lovers of liberty" can, on the one hand, turn a blind eye to campus speech codes, condone sexual harassment charges as de facto guilty verdicts and blame users of a perfectly good English word, "niggardly", of latent racism, and then, on the other hand, have panic attacks over the legal status of some thugs being held indefinitely on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist network trying to kill us. By the way, indefinitely does not mean forever. It just means indefinitely!

Paul Krugman's contribution to the hand wringing is a column entitled "The Long Haul" and it is a very strained piece of writing. We suspect he is both over his head and out of his league when it comes to waxing philosophical. However, Krugman never forgets his agenda! He complains twice about the absence of a government call for "sacrifice" by Americans in the war on terrorism and frets about the budget balance. Regular readers will immediately recognize this as a call for higher taxes on middle and upper incomes.

He also gives Abraham Lincoln a civil liberties "pass" for suspending habeas corpus during the civil war. He argues that the situation was extreme, the lapse was temporary and, had Lincoln not done so, there would have been no United States today. True enough, but Krugman misses the larger point. Wilson did far more questionable things during WWI, likewise Roosevelt in WWII and then there was McCarthyism early in the cold war. As egregious and shallowly based as many of these "security measures" were, we SURVIVED them all with our civil liberties reasonably intact. We will certainly survive the current curtailments since, by the historical comparisons noted above, they are little more than blips. Liberty has deep roots in this country.

There's one howler: Krugman devotes considerable space to a comparison of 9/11 with a natural disaster (as distinct from an act of war). He uses the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan as an example of an "eerie parallel(s)" to the attacks on the World Trade Center. At first we thought he was going to blame the earthquake for Japan's 12-year recession (he's tried almost everything else) and then launch into the familiar refrain about how the same economic stagnation can happen here. But he suddenly veered off and acknowledged "of course, there is a difference between an act of God and a deliberate atrocity."

What a guy!

Monday, September 09, 2002

From today's Best of the Web

In a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, one April Falcon Doss explains why she chose to send her daughter to a private school:
For a card-carrying liberal, I was surprisingly unapologetic about our decision. Why should I sacrifice our daughter's future to an abstract principle? I wasn't up to battling the school system about class size, curriculum and extracurricular activities. And by the time any changes could be made, our daughter would have already missed out on a vibrant education
Here in a nutshell is the definition of an American liberal: one who is willing to sacrifice the future of other people's children to an abstract principle.

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that time-devouring nightingale..

...It is said that a poet has died young in the breast of the most stolid. It may be contended, rather, that this (somewhat minor) bard in almost every case survives, and is the spice of life to his possessor. Justice is not done to the versatility and the unplumbed childishness of man's imagination. His life from without may seem but a rude mound of mud; there will be some golden chamber at the heart of it, in which he dwells delighted; and for as dark as his pathway seems to the observer, he will have some kind of a bull's-eye at his belt... 

... There is one fable that touches very near the quick of life: the fable of the monk who passed into the woods, heard a bird break into song, hearkened for a trill or two, and found himself on his return a stranger at his convent gates; for he had been absent fifty years, and of all his comrades there survived but one to recognise him. It is not only in the woods that this enchanter carols, though perhaps he is native there. He sings in the most doleful places. The miser hears him and chuckles, and the days are moments. With no more apparatus than an ill-smelling lantern I have evoked him on the naked links. All life that is not merely mechanical is spun out of two strands: seeking for that bird and hearing him. And it is just this that makes life so hard to value, and the delight of each so incommunicable.

And just a knowledge of this, and a remembrance of those fortunate hours in which the bird has sung to us, that fills us with such wonder when we turn the pages of the realist. There, to be sure, we find a picture of life in so far as it consists of mud and of old iron, cheap desires and cheap fears, that which we are ashamed to remember and that which we are careless whether we forget; but of the note of that time-devouring nightingale we hear no news...

Robert Louis Stevenson, from his essay The Lantern-bearers