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Friday, February 21, 2003

A good man attacked by microbes...

Appellate Blog has published a great letter, a response to some pygmy law professor who doesn't think Justice Thomas should speak at his school's graduation.
... But I digress. Professor Wilkes’ repeated argument that Justice Thomas does not “deserve the honor” of speaking at UGA Graduation is laughable. The fact that the man is a sitting Supreme Court Justice in and of itself rebuts this ridiculous notion. And this reason does not even take into consideration the fact that Justice Thomas is one of Georgia’s own sons and great success stories, rising from a segregated and impoverished childhood to be the second African American on the Supreme Court. Indeed, it is Justice Thomas who is honoring the law students by graciously agreeing to speak at graduation despite his important and demanding schedule. To suggest that Justice Thomas is somehow the one being honored is the height of arrogance.

Professor Wilkes devotes much of his piece attacking various positions taken by Justice Thomas while on the Supreme Court. I suppose it should go without saying, but Justice Thomas was nominated by the President and confirmed by the bipartisan Senate to serve on the Supreme Court. And, the decisions Professor Wilkes criticizes are only as contemptible as he suggests if you begin from his well-known ideological viewpoint (i.e., left-wing pro-criminal). To those inclined toward a less radical judicial philosophy, the fact that Justice Thomas is dedicated to enforcing the Constitution as written and that he refuses to disregard the rule of law to make policy is not nearly so outrageous or offensive. Indeed, some have even gone so far as to suggest that such an approach should be lauded, not criticized...
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I'm always fascinated by behind-the-scenes stories. This one is about the packing and shipping behind moving a division to the Gulf...
...Hundreds of soldiers from the Army's fabled 101st Airborne Division -- the Screaming Eagles -- wait on the ground at the vast, paved staging area of the Jacksonville port to coddle these killing machines that are sure to play a central role in any attack against Iraq. Mechanics gingerly remove rotors, or smooth them back like rabbit's ears, to make sure they are not damaged in transit.

Others lay great sheets of shrink-wrap plastic over the copters, sealing them into oversized white cocoons with 3,000-degree heat guns. It is hard, mostly unsung work, played out 24 hours a day against wind, chilling rain and a building sense of urgency.

"Trying to do shrink-wrap in the wind and the rain is crazy," said Lt. Col. Joe Dunaway, a former rodeo cowboy who oversees the day-to-day packing operation for the 101st. "But we're doing it."

This is the backstage of war, one step of many in a sprawling, highly synchronized dance that takes place any time the United States sends troops overseas. The art of military logistics seldom captures the public imagination. But just ask the generals and they'll say the side that does the best job moving troops, trucks, helicopters, ammunition and food usually wins.

"It's almost like a guy directing a great orchestra, a great symphony," said retired Lt. Gen. William G. "Gus" Pagonis, who oversaw logistics during Operation Desert Storm and wrote a book about the experience called "Moving Mountains." ...
I've got that book coming; I'll let you know how it is...
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You scratch my back ...

My Mom forwarded a joke by e-mail, and it made me think
Joe Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock
( MADE IN JAPAN ) for 6 a.m.
While his coffeepot ( MADE IN CHINA ) was perking,
he shaved with his electric razor ( MADE IN HONG KONG ).
He put on a dress shirt ( MADE IN SRI LANKA ),
designer jeans ( MADE IN SINGAPORE )
and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA ).
After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet ( MADE IN INDIA )
he sat down with his calculator ( MADE IN MEXICO )
to see how much he could spend today.
After setting his watch ( MADE IN TAIWAN )
to the radio ( MADE IN INDIA )
he got in his car ( MADE IN GERMANY )
and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB .
It goes on like this for a while longer. You get the idea.

What's fascinating to me is the world-view of the joke, which is totally Rip van Winkle.( I'm not referring to my Mother herself, she had a website before I did, and is not unacquainted with international commerce. Here's the website of Weidner's Gardens, run by her and my sister Mary) The author is stuck somewhere aroung 1970.

The implication is that having our coffeepots made in China cost "good American jobs." But the person making that coffeepot probably earns $2 a day. That's not a good job! (Or rather, it's good for the guy in China, who escaped from some paddy-field where he was making $.50 a day) The industrial designers who designed that coffeepot, they have good American jobs. The ad agency has lots of good jobs. And the ad budget itself supports magazines and TV shows--that means good jobs. And there are bankers and lawyers and insurance brokers involved; they have good jobs.

Whoever wrote the joke thinks that most of the price of the coffeepot pays for its manufacture. In reality that's probably less than 5% of the price. You know, I'll bet Pat Buchannan wrote the joke! I can just see him lamenting the sturdy American workers laid off from the coffeepot factory, where their families had worked loyally for generations. Or maybe Ross Perot. And in the joke, Joe's coffee is perking! Somebody's in a time-warp. Do they even make percolators anymore?? I remember them from my youth, the bloopity-bloop sound of the hot water shooting up into the glass top, and down onto the grounds.

I would guess Buchannon has no objection to us exporting to China. (Or maybe he does, his views are peculiar.) But you can't export for long unless you also import. And what does China have to sell us? Cheap labor, mostly. They are not going to buy Intel chips with green tea. A lot of our good jobs depend on people in places like China also having jobs.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Dealing with the worst case ...

This Lileks column Talking Points for the Anti-war Movement in Case the Invasion Goes Well, imagines a "progressive group" group facing the possibility of utter catastrophe...
...Final note: If the interviewer asks you to comment on tape of people toppling a statue of Saddam, or an interview with a legless journalist held in jail while his children were tortured and his wife raped, or scenes of American technicians attempting to cap oil-well fires, or scenes from an Israeli hospital, don't lose focus. Remember your key issues: Palestine. Mumia. Kyoto. SUV mileage. This could be our worst-case scenario -- a war that not only kills few and liberates a nation, but distracts people from our goals.

Let's hope it doesn't turn out to be that bad.

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Former Presidents used to be dignified...

In fact, Republican former Presidents still are. Here's a nice little article, Clinton, the revisionist, on Bill's efforts to lie, spin and bullshit his way around the still-smoldering rubble left by his abdication from responsible foreign-policy.

Still, in the contest for most disgraced former president, Carter is way in the lead. His attempts to convert himself into an NGO, affiliated with the UN, are truly puke-worthy. Who was it who said Carter was the first anti-American President? I think that hits it exactly.
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London, 1802

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forefeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfsh men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

William Wordsworth, September, 1802

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The essence of a teacher...

I added a comment to an interesting post by Bill Quick. He concludes: ...For me, Codevilla puts a finger on the problem that has bothered me the most. It is my fear that at the heart of the Bush strategy is a vacuum, and that his "victories" have been as much a matter of luck as anything else. My response was:
Maybe it's just luck; they say God watches over lost children and unilateralist cowboys.

But, when you see how Bush's enemies are faring, with the left marching for a fascist dictator, French-led-European-Unity dissolving, and the Democrats using their strongest weapon against a decent guy like Estrada...well, there's a vacuum SOMEWHERE, but I'm not sure it's the White House.

Me, I tend to distrust the geniuses with 'clear strategies.' Give me the leader with a clear long-term-goal, and a willingness to experiment and improvise.
And I would add, a willingness to let people learn. It may be just accident, or an incoherent strategy, but what Bush is doing is educating.. A good teacher doesn't solve the problems for the students, he or she encourages them to find solutions on their own, even to the extant of letting them struggle on paths that are dead-ends. And is glad if the student ends up surpassing the teacher.

Look what's happening in Eastern Europe. It's wake-up time. Various countries are being forced to think seriously about what they value, and deciding it may not be Chiracisme. We could probably have taken out Saddam in a matter of weeks on our own. If you read about the battle of Medina Ridge, it's hard not to suspect that one good armored brigade could conquer Iraq...
...At the Battle of Medina Ridge, the U.S 1st Armored Division defeated the 2nd Republican Guard Brigade in a 2 hour massive tank battle. 186 Iraqi tanks and 127 armored vehicles were destroyed. 38 of the tanks were eliminated by 6 U.S. Apache helicopters from 3 miles away at night and in the rain. The Americans suffered only one KIA...
But if we just went in and cleaned their clocks, that would be like the teacher solving the problem. And in 4th generation warfare, your enemies (and your friends) can be almost anywhere. What's cooking in Bulgaria, or Lithuania, might turn out to be vital.

My eldest son is taking flying lessons, and lately, when he is flying and he asks his teacher what to do next, she just looks away and smiles and says nothing...

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

In their younger days, as seen in old photos...

LGF has a picture of Saddam visiting a French nuclear reactor in 1975. Tour guide: Jacques Chirac. We already knew this, but seeing it in black-and-white makes it so real. Makes me think kindly thoughts of Menachem Begin, who ordered the destruction of the Osirak Reactor that those two jolly pals put together. You leftists out there are are welcome to them. I'm just glad I'm on the side of the good guys.
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Why did the chicken cross the road?

My sharp-eyed son William found this...

George Bush's answer: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or it is against us. There is no middle ground here.
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Eat your curry, Ramesh. Remember, children in Kabul are starving...

An interesting story from, about a donation of some sort of nutritious biscuits (perhaps what we would call cookies?) by India, for Afghan schoolchildren...
...When Pakistan made it clear that it was not willing to allow any goods from India meant for Afghanistan transit through its territory. Then, India and UN-sponsored World Food Programme (WFP) came up with the idea of converting the wheat into biscuits and ship them through Iran.

As a result, three Indian bakeries cooked 40,000 tonnes of wheat into biscuits packed with protein and vitamins. The biscuits travelled by sea from Kandla port in Gujarat to Bandar Abbas in Iran, and then by rail and road to four Afghan cities - Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad.

Earlier, India, Iran and Afghanistan have decided to develop the transit and transport infrastructure facilities in Iran and Afghanistan.

The biscuits are part of the massive one million tonne wheat donation announced by India last year. The Indian biscuit donation programme is expected to run for eight months...

...Since the Taliban were routed in December 2001, India has played a key role in rebuilding the war-torn Afghanistan.

India has helped to develop infrastructure, civil aviation, transport, industry, health facilities, educational institutions and agriculture in Afghanistan.
It's a kick for me to read about countries that used to be thought of as recipients of aid, now giving it to others. And to think of India having spare food to give away! I love it. It's an age of wonders we are living in.

And when leftizoids argue that the US has abandoned Afghanistan (which is a stupid and malicious lie) perhaps the best answer is that this is a multilateral effort...
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Can we IMPEACH an Ex-President??
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From an op-ed by By Ruben Navarrette Jr., Hispanic nominee terrifies Democrats:
...In threatening to filibuster the nomination, Democrats accuse Estrada of being an inexperienced ''stealth nominee'' whose views on hot-button issues are still unknown despite their best attempts to drag them out. And yet, at the same time, they seem confident that his views -- if they were known -- would be too extreme for most Americans.

Huh? You can't fault Democrats for the doubletalk. If they told you the truth, you'd lose what little respect you have left for them.

The truth is that Democrats want to make an example of Miguel Estrada, whose appointment to the bench could make Hispanic voters look more favorably on the Bush administration. They also want to send a message to the White House that when it comes to confirming federal judges, there are some things they simply will not tolerate. Apparently at the top of the list: Independent-minded Hispanic hotshots who don't go around thanking liberals for everything that the nominees have accomplished on their own...
The country's at war, and what's the Democrat's top priority? Keeping minorities from escaping their plantation. What a contemptible crew--they deserve to have this backfire on them big. There's not one shred of evidence that Estrada is any kind of extremist.

And if they win, I'm guessing Bush has another "Independent-minded Hispanic hotshot" up his sleeve! And then another! And then he'll nominate Estrada again! Will we see the Dems become known as the anti-Hispanic party? In fact, that's exactly what they are. Because the conservative, religious, family-oriented values of most Hispanics are viewed with contempt by the leaders and ideologues of the Democratic Party.

Monday, February 17, 2003

P. Krugman
A change in the series...

We have decided to change our approach to commenting on Paul Krugman’s NYT columns. Squad readers are probably getting as bored as we are with the formulamatic, repetitive columns that have been the recent trend.

Henceforth, we will write two, maybe three, comments a month on some key issues raised in Krugman columns, but go more deeply into the underlying economics. This will require great restraint and patience on our part, but we think it will lead to a stronger product.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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What's he up to?

Orrin Judd just linked to one of his posts from last year, STUPID LIKE A CEO. It made me think about things happening now...
...But suppose it matters? [Bush's getting an MBA] Suppose the point in his life where he most clearly broke with his father's career path and was most clearly his own man (supposedly he didn't even tell anyone he was applying) truly mattered, at least to him. And, God forbid, suppose he learned something, not something factual or some complex theory, but a culture and a way of getting things done. Suppose that, in much the way that LBJ's senate career taught him how to work legislative levers once he was president, George W. Bush's business training and career taught him how to get things done in a modern bureaucratic corporation, which, at the end of the day, is what government resembles.

As governor of Texas and now as President, George W. Bush has pursued a strategy that has been quite consistent : he proposes ideas; he lets the legislature shape them into bills, intervening only at the end of the process to make sure the final product becomes law; and then, as executive, he's administered the programs, to the greatest extent possible, along the lines he originally envisioned. And when he hasn't gotten everything he's wanted, he's not hesitated to go right back and start the process all over again. Thus, he got as much of his tax proposal passed as possible, then turned right around and asked for more...
Well, that's what he's doing now, with Iraq! Conservatives are upset with all the UN fol-de-rol, and the diplomatic politicking; it all seems so useless. But, once the war starts, who's in charge? And when we occupy Iraq, who will be in charge? Effectively, GWB, with input from Tony Blair...

Even if the French join in, Chirac will be in the position of Teddy Kennedy, who sponsored that education bill, and then realized that that teensy little provision allowing children in failing schools to transfer--well, who gets to define "failing school?" Effectively, George W. Bush.

Or, to switch metaphors, Chirac is like someone negotiating to merge his brake-pad company with General Motors. He's weaseling at the last moment because he's realized it doesn't matter what the contract says! Once the merger is done, he's a small component of a very big company. In his case, it doesn't matter what the UN Resolutions say--once the balloon goes up, things are in the hands of the Executive Branch, not the Legislative.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Rand Simberg made a suggestion for a protest sign...this is my rendition.

Paix Pour petrole--NON!


Richard Bennett just blogged THIS, from Dann Gillmore's Journal:
Google, which runs the Web's premier search site, has purchased Pyra Labs, a San Francisco company that created some of the earliest technology for writing weblogs, the increasingly popular personal and opinion journals... [Pyra, if your don't know, is the company that created Blogger, using which I am now posting this]

..."I couldn't be more excited about this," said Evan Williams, founder of Pyra, a company that has had its share of struggles. He wouldn't discuss terms of the deal, which he said was signed on Thursday, when we spoke Saturday. But he did say it gives Pyra the "resources to build on the vision I've been working on for years."...
Now you suckers who jumped on the MT bandwagon will be left in the dust! (Just teasin', I don't expect anything of the sort)

I don't know what his situation has been lately, but when I started blogging, Ev, who lives here in SF, was developing Blogger and running Blogspot all alone! Apparently by doing without frills and extras, like sleep. I'm very pleased that things seem to be going well for him...
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Composed in the Valley Near Dover, On the Day of Landing

Here, on our native soil, we breathe once more.
The cock that crows, the smoke that curls, that sound
Of bells—those boys who in yon meadow ground
In white-sleeved shirts are playing; and the roar
Of the waves breaking on the chalky shore—
All, all are English. Oft have I looked round
With joy in Kent's green vales; but never found
Myself so satisfied in heart before.
Europe is yet in bonds; but let that pass,
Thought for another moment. Thou art free,
My Country! and 'tis joy enough and pride
For one hour's perfect bliss, to tread the grass
Of England once again, and hear and see,
With such a dear Companion at my side.

-- William Wordsworth August 30, 1802