Saturday, March 29, 2003
Nat Hentoff tells us "why he didn't march this time": Good for him. He's a liberal atheist who confounds categorization because he is anti-abortion, and who clearly puts it to the Left *why* we are in Iraq right now. Attention, Canterbury and Rome: this is your wake-up call.
Anne 8:54 AM
The little pipsqueaks at Asbury Theological Seminary in KY who removed the flags from the cafeteria tables because they were "un-Christian" might also benefit from reading it. Hentoff sounds like a better Christian than they.
Anne 8:53 AM
Maine students object to Muslim indoctrination in public high school: Some students in the Madison Area Memorial High School in Maine have put together a petition asking that they be given alternative work to a project involving Muslim culture and religion. The students object on religious grounds and because they feel it is inappropriate in a time of war.
One teacher tore up the first petition because it was written on a school computer. The students assembled another one, but claim they don't know whom to give it to.
The class is an English class taken by seniors. Students are being threatened with loss of points and grades, with the spectre of college admission denials being held over their heads.
I have some organizational tips, boys and girls. This is what you do. First, you put your petition on nice paper, not a torn-off piece of notebook paper. Even if it's handwritten, it should be presentable. You write a nice cover letter, three short paragraphs at most, explaining what the petition is. Then you make a mess of copies and send one to the teacher in question, the principal, the district superintendent, and most importantly, to each member of your district's board of education. You send copies to the state agency that oversees elementary and secondary ed in Maine.
You enlist the parents. At least some of those students who signed the petition have parents who support them. Have *those parents* contact the school, again focusing on school board members.
Get a blog and use it.
You do some googling on the Internet and discover if your state has any specific statutes or conditions for students to be exempted from other academic work (like sex ed) if they object. Learn more about your constitutional rights as students, especially your first amendment rights not to have Islam shoved down your throat.
You dig into the pizza money and take out an advertisement in the local newspaper, running a copy of the petition.
Then you get ahold of one of the conservative civil liberties groups like the Rutherford Institute, the American Center for Law and Justice, or the Pacific Justice Institute, and explain what's happening, with emphasis on the *punishment* aspect. I suppose the ACLU could also be consulted, although they can be unpredictable when it comes to conservative issues.
In other words, you mobilize your allies; use public exposure, and lawyer up.
Yes, all these things should be taught in civics classes, but they're not. Someone needs to write a conservative version of commie organizer Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals for young activists on the Right.
Anne 8:29 AM
Friday, March 28, 2003
This is just so ... wrong. Not only naming a school after him, but including a bust, too. Only for the really strong of stomach.
Anne 11:26 PM
"A Million Mogadishus:" That's what Professor Nicholas de Genova wants to see, or so he told a group of 3,000 at a Columbia University "teach-in" yesterday. The largely anti-war, anti-American crowd was apparently stunned into silence by his remarks. The university is "preparing a statement," but their adminstrators probably need longer arms in order to reach up and reverse their deep rectal-cranial inversion of the past 35 years or so.
It's time to take the gloves off with these private universities. In actuality, there's really no such thing as a "private" university any more. Institutions like Columbia have tax-exempt status. Perhaps it's time to reverse it. After all, Bob Jones University for a time lost its tax-exempt status when accused of blatant racial discrimination, and that was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1983.
Private universities receive federal grants for research. Perhaps it's time for Congress to ban federal research money and grants to those institutions sponsoring professors like this.
Private universities also have many students who receive federal Pell grants and federal student loans. Perhaps it's time to forbid any federal student financial aid from going to students who attend rampantly anti-American universities.
Let them scream "censorship" and "interference with academic freedom." The Constitution guarantees you your *right* to speak. It does not mean the taxpayer should be forced to pay for the soapbox and the microphone. Let them protest on their own dime, not ours.
Anne 11:13 PM
Another one for the Nothing to See Here, Folks File: A Turkish 20-year old claiming to have explosives hijacked a Turkish jet with 200 aboard late Friday (Turkish time.) Fortunately the plane landed safely in Greece and no one was harmed. "Family problems" were blamed.
Anne 10:38 PM
The never-ending whinefest goes on as French officials complain that lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq "when this cruel war is over" will go largely to US firms.
Tough. You don't get any party favors if you don't go to the party. Note that the funding for Iraqi reconstruction is coming from USAID. The French can spend their own tax money, set up their own relief program, and take (and reject if they choose) bids from US contractors. But they'd rather *we* put up the money while they spend it.
Such last-century thinking isn't limited to the French. Back in April of 2002, European Union foreign policy czar Chris Patten had the unmitigated gall to ask the US
to help the EU strengthen its defence and security systems so as to "be taken seriously as international actor" and act as "a counterpart – if not a counterweight – to the US" itself ...
Well, if the US is going to be eclipsed as a superpower by the European Union, then I guess they really don't need our tax dollars after all, do they? Even if they still do feel entitled to them.
Commissioner Patten said "it may be that the US can maintain her political, military and economic superiority in perpetuity, but history suggests that this is unlikely." He thus suggested a model in which the US could be the leading participant in a system of co-operative global governance. "I believe we should work together," he said.
Anne 8:38 AM
Thursday, March 27, 2003
The family that preys together stays together: But of course it's just another one of those move along, nothing to see here scenarios. William Mohammed Bilal is the father of Sgt. Asan Akbar, accused of throwing grenades into tents full of his fellow 101st Airborne soldiers. He's just been arrested on federal weapons charges. The US Attorney spokesman says there is "no connection."
Anne 10:40 PM
Check out Kamil Zogby's blog here. Thanks for the blogroll link!
Anne 4:34 PM
Marseilles on the Bay: France isn't the only place with a high rate of ugly anti-Semitic attacks. The Bay Area has had its share too. What is it about that Mediterranean climate that turns people into fascists?
Anne 4:16 PM
Bad hackers! Bad! (Sound of hand-slap...)
Anne 4:05 PM
Tommy's no fool:
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
British soldiers are finding their boots and uniforms are disintegrating in the Iraqi climate as supply lines struggle to catch up. Some UK soldiers raided an abandoned barracks for Iraqi boots, deemed "lighter and more comfortable." Sigh. You simply cannot fight half-assed wars. As Rudyard Kipling said:
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
Anne 3:59 PM
Sung by out-of-work engineers whose companies have outsourced the work to Bangalore:
Out of nowhere you just wanna be free
Cut me loose forget all about me
Baby, tell me, have you ever heard
About this little five letter word
So go on, go on, go have your day in the sun
Have a blast honey
Have you some fun
But don't forget about that golden rule
What you do to others is gonna get done to you
What comes around goes around
I'm telling you baby, it's called karma
What goes up comes down
Hits the ground
You're gonna find out
All about, all about
- Karma, by Jessica Andrews
The US Department of Labor tells us that 500,000 engineering jobs were lost in the past two years. Telecom alone lost almost 10% of all jobs in the "dot boom."
Many of those lost jobs went overseas, as employers outsourced work to companies like Wipro in Bangalore, India. Wipro employed Indian engineers to do software development at a fraction of the cost of American ones.
Now, like the singer said, what goes around comes around. Wipro has found that engineers in the growing Indian middle class have become too expensive. If only scientific and technical progress could occur without engineers, we'd all make so much more money. If only.
So Wipro's solution? Lay off the "expensive" Indian engineers and outsource the work to Beijing and the Philippines. In the case of China, who says programming and other intellectual work can't be done by slaves? After the Romans conquered Greece, Greek slaves made up the bulk of their teachers, scientists, and technicians.
Needless to say, I don't agree with the thrust of the Computer World article that details Wipro's "outsourcing angst."
All of which is good news for U.S. IT department budgets. And it's actually not such bad news for U.S. programmers, either.
No, if that many middle-class people lose their jobs, what are they going to buy these wonderful new products *with?* How this can be considered "not such bad news" for American programmers is beyond me.
It's good news for IT budgets because competition will drive down the price of offshore software development. Right now, a typical big project costs 30% less in India than it would using U.S. outsourcers. That's largely because a typical Indian software engineer makes 88% less than a U.S. programmer. (Long-distance development adds other costs that reduce the potential savings.)
If programming shops in the Far East can mimic the Indian approach -- which they're busy trying to do right now -- the number of alternatives for an IT shop that's offshoring a big project will go way up. Competitive bidding will cut offshoring prices to the bone. Lean-and-hungry newcomers will keep the old-guard offshorers honest and on their toes.
That means we'll spend less and get more for the money we do spend. And who knows, maybe we'll even get to plow the savings into interesting new technologies.
My husband tells me that it's not unusual for recent college grads to go 6-8 months after graduation without a job. This is in the profession that was supposed to "save" Americans - you know, the manufacturing jobs were all going to go overseas or down to Mexico, and we would train everyone to be a code monkey or network analyst. Well, the manufacturing jobs left Mexico for China, because Mexico became "too expensive."
Then the computer programming jobs went to Bangalore, but now they're winding up in China, too. How long will the industrialized world depend upon the slave labor of a fifth of the world's population? And what new specialty to save the day will "come out of these hypothetical "interesting new technologies," and who is going to be able to pay for it?
Anne 3:09 PM
"Muslim councils" - the first step to sha'ria: Business Week gushes over France's installation of a "Muslim council." The French Council for the Muslim Cult (FCMC) was set up to provide an "official" government voice speaking for "all Muslims" within France. England has a similar Muslim Council.
The article blames the Netherlands' lack of such a council for "tensions" between Muslims and everyone else in that country:
Whatever problems the council carries with it, having no Muslim organization at all could be worse in these times of high tension, supporters argue. In the Netherlands, where the Muslim community has a strong presence, conflicts have erupted in the absence of such a group. Many Dutch Muslims were outraged last October, for instance, when the government of The Netherlands said the country's 800,000 Muslims should speak only Dutch in mosques. This is an outrageous statement; to blame the constant assaults and disruptions by Muslim youth (resulting, for instance, in the closing of the Rotterdam public swimming pools last summer because the poor boys couldn't take the sight of women in bathing suits) on the lack of a council. The conflict is there because a subset of European society has beliefs fundamentally incompatible with the West.
The article concludes:
The government hopes the FCMC will be able to resolve similar disputes behind closed doors. The idea is to avoid public outcry and mounting religious divisions, or at least that's what the government hopes. And for a country with a growing Muslim population, establishing clear lines of communication is well worth a try. I don't know what this writer is thinking - solving disputes like this "behind closed doors" is directly antithetical to representative government. Further, any government attempt to set up an "official" Muslim body is going to result in that body being hijacked by fundamentalists. The next step is then to use the fundamentalist council as a sort of "governing board" for Muslims, giving them a special status within the government. The entire principle of "equal justice under law" is undermined. But that's the consequence of government establishment of religion.
Anne 9:40 AM
Islamists hate feminists, gays, and commies: So why are they marching with them in anti-war protests? Talk about strange bedfellows, as Erick Stakelbeck points out in his Front Page article, "The Insane Rubbish of Hussein Ibish."
Anne 9:23 AM
"Causing a bit of a stir:" This describes a mural in Nasiriya, Iraq, discovered by Marines and shown here.
Anne 9:18 AM
Another potential Prisoner of Love: The rehabilitation and diagnostic enterprise Health South is on the verge of bankruptcy, and the New York Post points out that a rock and roll lifestyle probably helped its Alabama-born founder over the edge into alleged fraud and book-cooking. Apparently he funded several bands and wanted to find "the next Britney Spears."
Ulla work now, yes?
Anne 7:20 AM
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Apologies to Henry Clay Work, to the tune of "Marching Through Georgia."
The direction of advancing troops is catawumpus too, but you get the point.
Bring the good ol' Bugle boys! We'll sing another song,
Sing it with a spirit that will start the world along,
Sing it like we used to sing it fifty thousand strong,
While we were marching through Iraq.
Hurrah! Hurrah! We bring the Jubilee.
Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that makes you free,
So we sang the chorus from Baghdad to the sea,
While we were marching through Iraq.
"Tommy's dashing Yankee boys will never make the coast!"
So the saucy rebels said and 'twas a handsome boast
Had they not forgot, alas! to reckon with the Host
While we were marching through Iraq.
So we made a thoroughfare for freedom and her train,
Sixty miles of latitude, three hundred to the main;
Terror fled before us, for resistance was in vain
While we were marching through Iraq.
Anne 4:37 PM
Moron alert in Oregon: A man was arrested for a "hate crime" for making a shooting gesture at a Sikh woman. Because she was wearing a turban, he apparently confused her with a Muslim.
While there are only about 500,000 Sikhs in the US, they have disproportionately been victims of anti-Muslim backlash violence because of their distinctive appearance. But I wish the yahoos would figure out that Sikhs are *not* Muslims and have in fact been persecuted in their native India by Muslims.
That said, hate crimes as a criminal offense are ridiculous. Gestures and names are not the same as the threat of physical assault or direct verbal threats, and don't deserve special treatment or penalties under law.
Anne 4:09 PM
Interesting "clash of civilizations" analysis and war commentary on Presence of Mind's blog.
Anne 10:53 AM
Muslims in CA complain of "hate crimes" since the Iraqi war started. Would these be assaults, lynchings, murders?
There are too many of these facial reactions, minor insults, somebody spits when they see you or raise a finger,” said Imam Sayed Rashed of the Islamic Center of San Joaquin ... But the comments and the dirty looks are so widespread, Saira Iqbal says some people have changed their daily routines. I suppose only in the People's Republic of California is it a crime to give someone a dirty look.
Anne 10:44 AM
Fifth Column Update: Daniel Pipes in the National Post helpfully provides us with a list of Islamist fifth columnists whose deeds were smoothed over by the US government as individual aberrations instead of fifth column efforts.
- "A prescription drug for or consistent with depression" to explain why El Sayyid A. Nosair in 1990 shot Rabbi Meir Kahane.
Let's not forget that Muslim teenager who had an affinity for Osama Bin Laden & crashed his small light plane into the building in Tampa, FL - that was blamed on Accutane, even though he apparently had no Accutane in his system at the time.
- "Road rage" to explain why Rashid Baz in 1994 shot a Hassidic boy on the Brooklyn Bridge.
- "Many, many enemies in his mind" to explain why Ali Hasan Abu Kamal in 1997 shot a tourist on the Empire State Building's observation deck.
- "A work dispute" to explain why Hesham Mohamed Ali Hadayet in 2002 shot two people at the El Al counter of Los Angeles International Airport.
And Akbar in 2003? U.S. Army spokespersons talk variously about an "attitude problem," a desire for "retribution" and "resentment." The chief chaplain at Akbar's home base, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, announces (completely without evidence) that the incident is "not an expression of faith."
Also there was the Egypt Air pilot in 1999 whose actions were "never explained" as he downed Flight 990, loaded with 217 passengers (many of them high-ranking Egyptian military officers) outside of Massachusetts. Ironically, the Guardian quoted an Egyptian government newspaper at the time as saying:
But there was outrage in Cairo at the claim that the Islamic el shahada prayer - believed to have been uttered by the relief pilot before the autopilot was disengaged, was a prelude to suicide and the deaths of all 217 on board ...
How naive we were then, to purchase this wholesale.
The pro-government newspaper al-Akhbar said a Muslim committing suicide would never say the shahada : "[As Muslims] we consider suicide an act of disbelief in God and all religions. Your expectation that the co-pilot committed suicide is a false claim."
It would also be interesting to go back several decades and take a look at air rage or various crimes involving planes and see if there was an Islamic (especially a Black Muslim) connection. For instance, I was on an engineering assignment back in the mid-1980s working for a week out of the Orange County airport, when an armed black woman drove her car onto the runway and tried to abscond with a small plane, before being subdued by security. Nothing much was made of her race at the time, but I wonder - was there a Black Muslim connection? How many more "isolated incidents" like that were there?
Anne 8:38 AM
Dick Gephardt pounds the pavement for cash for his presidential campaign.
It might seem graceless to bring this up now, with a war going on and all, but the Republicans really need to watch their flanks here. Gephardt has already established "the right" credentials on Iraq to satisfy the rural and small town Red Zone. Now he's stumping on economic issues, schools, and health care. Especially health care.
Most people who live in the Red Zone (i.e. Midwestern, Western, and Southern states who went for Bush in 2000) work for small businesses, on farms, for state governments. In case anyone hasn't noticed, times have changed significantly since 2000.
Manufacturing jobs continue to be lost. There are hundreds of towns like this one over the Midwest and South. Whether the factories leave for overseas or for another location due to consolidation and economy of scale, the business formula is still the same and the result is the same as well. Unfortunately for displaced small-town workers, not much is forthcoming from Republican ranks except more appeasement of Mexico's Vincente Fox, more tolerance of illegal Mexican immigration, and an unwillingness to rescind the H-1B / L-1 visa programs for technical workers.
Layoffs continue apace, and more people are without medical insurance, without the money to pay $1000 a month *or more* for COBRA carry-over insurance. After 18 months, increasing numbers of people in the Red Zone are finding themselves without unemployment benefits, without health insurance - and still without a job.
State employment is more significant to small town and rural people, but state budgets everywhere have been cut, resulting in more worker layoffs.
Then there is the bill soon to come due from the federal "No Child Left Behind" act (whose real name should be "Every Child Left Behind.") In small towns and rural communities, the school is a focus point for the entire community. Outstate people take pride in their schools, which are often the first to be ravaged by budget cuts as money hemorrhages into the "failing inner city" schools. Last month the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Wright City school system was on the verge of being defined as "failing" under the new federal law, much to the distress of citizens.
After the end of the 2003-2004 school year (in June 2004), an increasing number of Red Zone schools in the heart of Bush Country will be deemed "failures," and this is going to have political repercussions. It makes no sense to impoverish rural schools for 20 years to pay for inner-city bussing programs, and then condemn the rural schools for being "failures" on the same level as those inner city schools (who seem to have improved not one whit with all the bussing and redirection of funds from country to city.)
These political "accounts receivable" may not be easily exploited by a New York elitist like Hillary Clinton, but are well within the grasp of Dick Gephardt. Most outstate Red Zone voters couldn't care less about more Mexican immigrants, charter schools, vouchers, "faith-based initiatives," helping big corporations with more Indian computer programmers on H-1B visas, more free trade for China, and so on, while their own schools and communities crumble around them.
Anne 8:22 AM
MSWA: should they be in the armed forces at all? Michelle Malkin takes on Muslim Soldiers With Attitudes, of which Sgt. Asan Akbar is only the most recent example, and argues that they are a significant national security threat. Time for a Fifth Column purge.
Anne 7:59 AM
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
They're mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore: Shi'ite Muslims in Basra (southern Iraq) rise up against Saddam and his Fedayeen troops. The Brits are helping.
Anne 12:54 PM
Saturday, March 22, 2003
God rest the souls of the US and UK soldiers killed in Iraq:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon St. Crispin's Day.
Anne 4:38 PM
Not just Iraqis, but Iranians look forward to US liberation of Iraq, like these students fighting the Islamic fundamentalist regime.
Anne 4:33 PM
One Iraqi welcomes UK soldiers and reporters:
Ajami Saadoun Khlis, whose son and brother were executed under the Saddam regime, sobbed like a child on the shoulder of the Guardian's Egyptian translator. He mopped the tears but they kept coming.
"You just arrived," he said. "You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious. I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand. We came out of the grave."
"For a long time we've been saying: 'Let them come'," his wife, Zahara, said. "Last night we were afraid, but we said: 'Never mind, as long as they get rid of him, as long as they overthrow him, no problem'." Their 29-year-old son was executed in July 2001, accused of harbouring warm feelings for Iran.
Both British and US soldiers have been rendering humanitarian aid to wounded Iraqis:
At a checkpoint just north of the town two British military policemen with paramedical training and a US doctor rushed to treat two Iraqi men brought in on the back of a beaten-up pick-up truck. Their legs were lacerated by shrapnel. The military policemen did their conscientious best, and may have saved their lives.
This is in The Guardian, mind you.
Anne 4:31 PM
I need another margarita, fast: Mexican lesbians protest the war. No, it's not from the Onion.
Wonder how they treat lesbians in Iraq?
Anne 4:25 PM
List of coalition countries: Just so you know whose wine to buy next time you go shopping...
Anne 3:57 PM
The Fourth Reich's new Nazis attack French Jews, only this time it's not the skinheads doing it, but rather French Muslims. Apologists insist that distinctions must be made between "anti-Semitism" and "anti-Israel" actions, but tell that to an assaulted schoolboy:
[Jewish 15-year old Jeremy Bismuth] was attacked by a group of other children, mostly Muslim, at the private Catholic school he then attended. They dragged him into the school's locker room showers shouting that they were going to gas him as the Nazis had gassed Jews. He was beaten and flogged with a pair of trousers whose zipper scratched one of his corneas...
The Bismuths are trying to emigrate to Florida. Over 2,500 Jews have left France for Israel last year alone.
When Jérémy broke free from his tormentors in the shower, he ran for help to the teacher's lounge but none of the faculty rose from their chairs to help the disheveled and distraught boy. Jérémy said it wasn't the first anti-Semitic incident he had experienced at the school, nor the last.
Anne 3:36 PM
War pix slide show here.
Anne 3:28 PM
Babies had to spend the night without their blankies... A big fat "Awwwww" to protestors arrested in San Francisco and jailed overnight. The guards weren't polite. The plastic restraints hurt. Bathroom passes were not always forthcoming. The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches tasted bad. In other words, it wasn't like being at home in Marin County or vacationing with the 'rents at Club Med.
That's why they call it "jail." Perhaps Iraqi ones have better accommodations.
Anne 3:20 PM
Friday, March 21, 2003
I have read a fiery gospel
Writ in burnish`d rows of steel,
"As ye deal with My contemners,
So with you My grace shall deal;"
Let the Hero, born of woman,
Crush the serpent with his heel
Since God is marching on.
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
Anne 8:20 AM
"Mental heavy lifting" makes the USA Number One, Daniel Henninger tells us in WSJ Opinion Journal. He lists our impressive spectrum of technical superiority, then asks:
Where did this superpower-only stuff come from? From holes in the ground, like oil? No. From a secret basement in the Pentagon that al Qaeda tried to destroy September 11? No, not there. Some suggest it's the result merely of "defense spending," a Home Shopping Network for unimaginably high-tech munitions. Not quite. This stuff came from all over America, from heavy mental lifting done by tens of thousands of people the past 10 years. Truer still, it goes back about 500 years, when some ex-Europeans got off the boat and, starting with their first steps forward into thick forest, decided that henceforth they'd be willing to try anything that hadn't been tried before and risk their lives and capital to make daily life in America ever better for anyone who cared to join them. At that moment, America was a zero-power.
There's a serious word of warning here too, for those who can see it.
Yes, the military inventory and tactical skills on display for all the world to see right now are one reason the U.S. has sole claim to the title of superpower, but that stuff's just one piece of it. Similarly, the Caltechs, MITs, Georgia Techs, Boeings, Northrup Grummans, and innumerable small high-tech start-ups that made this extraordinary military technology possible are also just pieces of the more interesting American whole.
The whole is in fact a system--a philosophy of foundational values going back to Ben Franklin and before. It's a social and political system rooted in mavericks, innovation, risk-taking, open intellectual argument, impatience, creative change, failure, the frontier spirit, competition and a compulsion to get ahead. Every American kid who doesn't sleep through school eventually knows how the system works. Some go into lifelong opposition to it. Most just go to work--at jobs somewhere inside the tens of thousands of businesses or educational institutions painstakingly built up, piece by piece, year after year, in 50 separate states. That's the "power" that created the JDAMs and B-2 Stealth bombers.
Fewer American students are showing interest in science and technology, and our universities (especially the state-funded land grant colleges *specifically* designed for agricultural and technical expertise) increasingly grant advanced degrees to men from majority-Muslim countries.
It's not surprising that Americans don't study engineering, science, or technology. For one thing, engineering training begins way before high school and college. It begins when busy youngsters play with chemistry sets, build model rockets (which occasionally blow up), build drag racing cars (which occasionally crash), and other pursuits generally deemed too dangerous or too interfering with the "college preparation" schedule.
Students today are expected to avoid risks at any cost, conform politically and socially, avoid argumentation, "get along in groups," focus on "good grades" rather than discovering an obsessive intellectual passion.
We may be descended from long lines of Yankee enterpreneurs, but ironically too much nervous-nanny caution about child rearing (especially boys'), too much academic anxiety, and too much dependence on foreign engineers and scientists as well as foreign oil may be poisoning the very well from where we drew our strength.
Anne 8:00 AM
Ditch the UN, says Charles Krauthammer to President Bush. Good advice. The UN building would make a lovely condominium / theater / entertainment complex with a great East River view. And the last people we want mucking up post-war Iraqi construction are the French. They missed the bus and can sit at the stop for the next one, if it ever comes.
Anne 7:48 AM
76% approval rating for war, says recent poll. Given the tendency of pollsters to want to mold the attitudes rather than just report them, one wonders if it's even higher than that.
Anne 7:43 AM
The surrendering continues: Some find it amusing to mock surrendering Iraqis by saying they've been "studying French," and the like, but those surrendering should be commended for their good sense rather than mocked. AP reports:
Overall, resistance to the allies was limited. Within a few hours of crossing into southern Iraq, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit encountered 200 or more Iraqi troops seeking to surrender.
Let's see how many of these images make it onto the front pages of the major media, instead of the scraggly Saddamites of San Francisco and other Blue Zone bastions. Obtaining them shouldn't be any problem with all those "embedded reporters," right?
One group of 40 Iraqis marched down a two-lane road toward the Americans and gave up. They were told to lie face down on the ground, then were searched by Marines.
Waving Iraqi civilians greeted members of the 1st Marine Division as they entered the town of Safwan.
"We're very happy... Saddam Hussein is a butcher," said a man in the back of a pickup truck, identifying himself only as Abdullah. A woman fell at the feet of the Americans and embraced them, touching their knees.
Anne 7:38 AM
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Iraqis fight ... to surrender: On the first full 24 hours of US attacks against Iraq, Iraqi soldiers are apparently fighting Iraqi "security forces" in order to surrender.
This reminds me of the situation faced by the Union Army during the Civil War, when numbers of black slaves crossed the Ohio River and were taken as "contraband." Later the Union Army armed some of the "contraband," and many of them fought valiantly against the Confederacy, especially as they knew that capture meant certain death.
Perhaps it's not practical in this modern war, but it would be sweet were the Iraqis to turn the tables on the "security forces" and Republican Guard, as in this modernized version of an old Civil War song:
We are very much perplexed to know who is the next
To command the new Baghdad expedition,
For the capital must blaze, and that in ninety days,
And Saddam's men be sent to perdition.
We'll take the cursed town, and then we'll burn it down
And plunder and hang each cursed Rebel.
Yet the contraband was right when he told us they would fight:
"Oh, yes sir, they will fight like the devil."
Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeve,
For Baghdad is a hard road to travel.
Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeves,
For Baghdad is a hard road to travel, I believe.
("Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel," with apologies to the anonymous writer.)
Anne 9:38 AM
The Poster Child for limiting foreign student enrollments in US colleges: One of Saddam's bomb-builders got his training at Florida State University, where he earned a PhD in physics. At least Khidhir Hamza has repented, but how many more are there in American universities now?
Anne 9:22 AM
I refuse to call them "peaceniks." It's a familiar term, but doesn't describe fully what taking a pro-Saddam, pro-Iraq, anti-Israel, anti-Bush position implies. So hereafter they're referred to as "Saddamites;" only one vowel different from their predecessors.
Anne 9:07 AM
Want to know what the Saddamites are doing in your neck of the woods? Check out their website here.
In fact, this website could be a very useful planning tool for parents sorting through colleges. If a college is listed, maybe it's one to avoid. I'm proud that my alma mater Purdue University has nothing announced, so far. Neither does University of Missouri at Rolla. Good for them.
Unfortunately, college Saddamites are going to be with us as long as the recession lasts. Recessions give students powerful incentives to stay in college. Colleges have incentives to keep them, because they're warm bodies & they pay tuition. Meanwhile, the critical mass ferments until it explodes in a purulent discharge of Marxo-babble, as now.
Anne 9:06 AM
Aussies told to boycott Oscars: Pretend we care - as if anybody even watches them anymore. Who wants to see yet another retro space-age Whoopi Goldberg outfit, or listen to more lobotomized babble from the film industry?
The American-born writer claims:
The US, for all its military might, has a political system that makes it very vulnerable to protest campaigns which target any of its major industries. The entertainment industry is certainly among the most influential of those. Does he really think the networks and film industry have any effect whatever on the course of this war? The US government, especially conservatives within it, probably care not at all for a film industry that's long since catered to English-illiterate young men in the action-adventure overseas market, and has left most Americans entirely bereft of any reasonable film entertainment.
Anne 8:52 AM
Iraq gets bombed. Arabs are angry. Yawn. However,
Iraqi exile Faisal Fikri called the attack "the moment I have been waiting for all my life: to see the despot gone."
Anne 8:40 AM
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Computer's hosed. Will be back online when it's fixed.
Anne 11:06 AM
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Nuts to Europe: Mirror columnist Tony Parsons hopes that Europe never has "another Hitler" and needs our help again. It just might not be forthcoming.
He's spot on right here:
When will the British wake up from their pathetic little dreams of being Europeans and realise that we have been looking for our future in all the wrong places?
Mr. Parsons, do whatever is in your power to convince your government that they really, really need to get out of the European Union. This week, preferably.
Who wants to be European today? Who wants to be an ungrateful, unprincipled, two-faced, pacifist, Euro-grasping, oil-hungry Lilliputian?
No matter what happens over the coming days and weeks, it is true what they say. The English Channel is far wider than the Atlantic.
We need a union of freedom-loving people: England, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, and the other the Baltic and Eastern European countries, Australia, India, Japan. Singapore, South Korea. The Russians and Turks are blowing their chances daily, and for Russia it will cost them dearly.
Goodbye to the UN and the EU, and what is the point of NATO any more, either? Sooner or later most of the EU/NATO countries are going to have sizeable jihadi populations. What then?
Anne 11:18 AM
Romanian Catholic bishop says that war with Iraq is the equivalent of direct abortion: The full text of Bishop John Michael Botean's Lenten address is here.
Therefore I, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See Bishop of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton, must declare to you, my people, for the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the Person and Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just war theory.
Romanian Catholics are a separate (Eastern) rite but are in full communion with Rome, putting them under the authority of the Pope. His directive is binding only on Romanian Catholics, but appears to indicate that Romanian Catholic soldiers, chaplains, etc. are automatically excommunicated if they participate in the war, as that is the Catholic penalty for having or performing an abortion.
Thus, any killing associated with it is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder. Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion. For the Catholics of the Eparchy of St. George, I hereby authoritatively state that such direct participation is intrinsically and gravely evil and therefore absolutely forbidden.
Anne 11:03 AM
Whose call is it to file sex abuse charges? For over a year now, the media has shone a spotlight on Catholic priests accused and convicted of sexual abuse of boys both young and teenage, and on the bishops who've covered for them. One general consensus which has emerged is that concealing evidence of sexual abuse and failing to report known abuse has wounded the Catholic Church in many ways.
Now, this New York Post article raises the question as to why the Smart family of Salt Lake City, UT, whose kidnapped daughter was recently returned after alert citizens spotted her alleged abductor, are fighting prosecutors who want to bring sex charges against the suspect.
"There are charges the family has issues with," David Smart, one of Elizabeth's uncles, told The Post.
The suspect went through some bizarre invented "marriage ceremony" and considers Elizabeth Smart "his wife." This to me says that there's a good likelihood rape occurred, and thus the state of Utah has a bound duty to investigate and prosecute it.
Smart wouldn't say what those charges are - but law enforcement sources said the family doesn't want sex abuse charges brought.
If sex charges are filed, depositions will be taken, and the girl herself will probably be questioned. All the medical results will be probably deposed as well. A judge can seal part or all of the proceedings, but the whole process is still traumatic. It's understandable the family would not want their daughter to testify. But just as is the case in Catholic dioceses, covering up is no longer an option. If rapists are going to be put away, they have to be prosecuted, and that means looking at all the evidence.
Nor is covering up the possibility of rape going to help Elizabeth Smart recover faster. If rape did occur, any family actions to deny it or cover it up is probably one of the worst things to do.
Anne 10:41 AM
Who says our president is a Texan who's "all hat?" The text of the President's Monday, March 17, 2003 speech is here.
Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you.
Glory, hallelujah, praise God, pass the ammunition, and don't mess with Texas.
As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need.
We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.
In free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms.
The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.
Anne 10:21 AM
Who pays for anti-war protests? Answer: commies and friends of terrorists.
As far as upping the ante once hostilities start, I don't think these Wobblies have a clue as to what kind of anger they will unleash should they really approach "schools, daycare centers, and preschools," as they've threatened.
"The major anti-U.S. government demonstrations are organized by people who have been around for a long time, particularly the Workers World Party, which has existed for more than 30 years now and has always supported the enemies of the United States," said Herbert Romerstein, a retired agent of the U.S. Information Agency.
Keep this in mind next time you wonder why it's so hard to even buy a "Time to Bomb Saddam" bumper sticker or poster, and media footage of anti-war demonstrations shows thousands of pre-printed signs and hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of organization.
The Workers World Party describes itself as Marxist in nature ... [and] supports North Korea's brutal regime...
Not in Our Name is financed by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization. I.F.C.O. is a million-dollar-a-year non-profit that supports Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and once sponsored a group headed by Sami Al-Arian — the University of South Florida professor being charged with fundraising for terrorist organizations Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad ...
I.F.C.O. defied U.N. sanctions when it made a trip to Iraq in the mid-1990s...
Anne 10:08 AM
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Schools for Terror: The FBI is investigating jihadi terrorists' connections to small-town land-grant universities like University of Idaho. Great Plains and/or Midwestern universities are ideal settings from which terrorists can operate because:
Foreign exchange programs make it easy for people from other countries to arrive and stay in the United States for long periods, many campuses are in rural settings with few police officers, and they often have sophisticated communications links to the outside world, such as high-speed Internet access.In addition, Muslim-country foreign students study engineering and other high-tech specialties. For instance, one student arrested as a terrorist material witness was described thus:
Khafagi enrolled at the University of Idaho in 1986 and earned a master's degree in civil engineering in August 1988, school officials said. His master's thesis was on the design of pre-stressed girders, such as those used in high-rise buildings and bridges.
I can see how knowing exactly where to hit the bridges and buildings would be a "useful skill" for a terrorist to have.
His student visa expired in July 2001 and authorities said he was living illegally in the United States at the time of his arrest.
It's time to cut off the gravy train. State universities need to be told in no uncertain terms by state legislators that foreign students from countries on the INS "security list" will simply not be admitted. Period. Similarly, the US Congress should instruct private colleges which receive federal aid (including students who receive federal aid) that no foreign students from suspect countries will be admitted.
If this means less tuition money, tough. The private schools can dip into their endowments and make more whining pleas to alumni. The land-grant colleges can trim the fat and the frills and get back to their original Morrill Act (1862) mandate: to provide technical, practical, and agricultural education for the *residents* of the various states.
Anne 3:24 PM
Buying American: It's time to consider it. Yes, it's a project, and yes, it generally costs more, at least up-front.
- Clothing: Believe it or not, the "goth" retail chain Hot Topic has more "Made in USA" items than just about any mall store I've seen. Pointer Brandjeans and overalls have "traditional" American styling and extended range of sizes as well. Need a suit? Consider having one made. All you need is one, right? Besides, the cost will motivate you to stay the same size.
- Furniture: Try Amish hand-crafted furniture. It will probably last longer than you. American Bungalow Magazine has an extensive resource list of craftsmen.
- Shoes: That's a really tough one. While New Balance has allowed some of its athletic shoes to be made in Communist China, they claim that these styles are still made domestically. For the tough proletariat look there is Red Wing Shoes.
- Kitchenware: Lodge Cast Iron kitchenware is probably still made in USA, to judge from their on-line catalog. Try Corningware bakeware; much of it appears to be domestic.
- Home decor: Try local craft shows and art festivals. Combine a trip to Amish or Mennonite settlements with a shopping list (quilts, area rugs, table linens, etc.) Plant a flower and herb garden. Repaint a room or two. Frame the kids' artwork. Learn to embroider or weave.
Anne 1:11 PM
Friday, March 14, 2003
Elizabeth Smart update: The San Diego Union-Tribune has been having some pretty comprehensive coverage of the Smart abduction (or was it an absconding?) This article suggests that Smart's 18-year old cousin Jessica might have also been a target. Apparently seven weeks after Smart disappeared, her cousin's window screen was found cut, and a chair was discovered under her window - as was the case with Smart.
Anne 4:46 PM
Ford Prefect, phone home: "Man bulldozes British pub after refused a drink." Maybe Arthur Dent should have tried that... not that it would have mattered, right?
Anne 4:42 PM
Diversity at any cost: Some alert private citizen snapped this shot in San Diego of what is probably David Mitchell, his "wife" Wanda, and the girl he is alleged to have kidnapped to make his "other wife," Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart.
Much puzzles and amazes me about this case, but one of the best are the Internet shots appearing - people have snapped this trio on the street, in town squares, all over. They literally hid "in plain sight," walking around in a weird getup that looks like a cross between Muslim hijab and medieval nuns' novice clothes. (This Free Republic thread has more photos.) They attracted attention, and now the sightings are all coming in, but what about when they were walking around?
Nobody did a thing, because we're dying of "tolerance" here, especially in light of the flaps about the "rights" of Muslim women to keep their faces veiled, even when they go for their drivers' license photos.
Anne 8:43 AM
Thursday, March 13, 2003
If you read *one thing* today on the upcoming Iraq war, and why it must be done, read this by Italy's national treasure Oriana Fallaci.
Anne 3:37 PM
Water those young conservatives and watch them grow! Joanne Jacobs found this Bay Area high school student's blog. Check out the Lone Dissenter and enjoy the cute pseudonyms for all the usual suspects at her high school, and her dry wit as well. I added her to the blogroll and hope she keeps writing.
Anne 11:22 AM
Hot stuff on Al-Jazeera: MEMRI translates a recent Al-Jazeera broadcast of a point-counterpoint debate between an Algerian Islamic fundamentalist and an Egyptian self-proclaimed "liberal." The Islamist spewed out the usual anti-American rant, but the "liberal," Ahmad Othman, had some interesting things to say:
The Arab has no honor, no thought, no culture. We have turned these images into regimes, and were we to replace them, others just like them would come in their stead. We must, first of all, change ourselves. We must establish cultural values...
Arabs with these views need to be brought to the US for lectures; broadcast on US TV and radio; solicited for opinion articles by major newspapers and Internet outlets alike. The more we can do to support Arab samizdat movements and a general modern revolution in the Arab world, the better.
Why do we want to defend Saddam Hussein? Why do all the Arab regimes use the Arab people as a human shield for the greatest dictator of them all? If you object to dictatorships – who in the [Arab] regimes is a greater dictator than Saddam Hussein? How can the Arab people, who are persecuted by their regimes, be asked to defend the murderer who killed hundreds of thousands of the Iraqi people...? How can we defend Saddam Hussein and remain a free people ourselves? [A people] that defends a dictator is not a free people...
...Colin Powell said, 'We are willing to help the Arab people and pressure the Arab governments so that they will allow a kind of democracy for the Arab people.' The Arab people attacked Mr. Powell. All the Arab press and all the spokesmen of the Arab people attacked America because it wanted to help them achieve democracy. The truth is that we do not want democracy. We are against America...
How did the French revolution come about? The people itself, the shepherds, went out into the streets. The sheep became wolves, and broke down the Bastille and freed the prisoners... Were the Arab people to rise as one, no one could withstand them...
If the Americans enter, change the regime in Iraq, and bring in a democratic regime, it will be possible to replace the other regimes later. This is what Napoleon did. When he reached Egypt, the Mamelukes fled and a democratic movement arose, and the Egyptian people began to talk for the first time. The modern Arab renaissance began after Napoleon.
[Today, the intellectuals] have become government officials, and they defend a dictatorial regime. All the Marxist intellectual groups defend the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The Arab people no longer understand... our intellectuals have sold themselves to the dictator... But what happened is that after September 11, the Americans realized that the dictatorial regimes in the Arab region produce terrorists who attack America and Europe. The entire world lives in fear of the terrorists that these regimes produce. The Americans realized this. They do not want to establish democracy for our sake, but in order to defend themselves. If the Arab people have an opportunity to learn, to participate in the rule of its land, and to participate in building society, it will not destroy America and Europe.
The children who went to destroy America and threatened the entire world [on September 11] were educated in our societies, in our homes, in our schools. They studied what was said by our media and left our schools with the main thing interesting them being killing others. Who made them so barbaric?...
Religion, as I understand it, is belief in Allah, in the Day of Judgment, and in ritual [through prayer]. But now they don't talk about it any more [in the mosques]. A man goes to convert to Islam and he tells the sheikh: 'I attest that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger,' and that is it. But now they have turned the Islamic religion into warfare, martyrdom, Jihad. That is, whether you believe or not, whether you pray or not, it makes no difference...
Anne 9:47 AM
All businesses are equal, but some are more equal than others: Anti-war protesters in E. Lansing, MI blocked gasoline pumps at a gas station and kept motorists from filling up their tanks. This would be another la-di-dah account of the antics of college students with not enough studying to do, with one minor exception. Notice that it took the police *an hour* to arrive and even then the demonstrators were not removed from the gas station, but only made to open a pathway for vehicles.
By contrast, anyone who tries a stunt like this at a local abortion clinic will find themselves not only summarily arrested within two minutes, but will face maximum state charges *and* federal "access to clinics" charges, as well as a host of lawsuits. The abortion industry is quick to yammer about its "private property rights" and its "constitutional rights," but it's interesting how that same principle isn't applied to more humble businesses like filling stations.
On the other hand, if anti-war protesters can be convinced that abortion clinics somehow are responsible for the war, perhaps they'll go trespass there. That will keep them out of circulation for a long time, even *without* the application of RICO treble damages.
Anne 9:15 AM
"Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer: What do these pieces of propaganda and this one have in common?
We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people’s right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity. Not in our lifetimes has America been so isolated from old friends. Far worse, President Bush is being lured into a trap baited for him by these neocons that could cost him his office and cause America to forfeit years of peace won for us by the sacrifices of two generations in the Cold War ...
A list of the Middle East regimes that Podhoretz, Bennett, Ledeen, Netanyahu, and the Wall Street Journal regard as targets for destruction thus includes Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and “militant Islam.”
Cui Bono? For whose benefit these endless wars in a region that holds nothing vital to America save oil, which the Arabs must sell us to survive? Who would benefit from a war of civilizations between the West and Islam? Answer: one nation, one leader, one party. Israel, Sharon, Likud.
Does Pat Buchanan really think that the US has more in common, and more reliable alliances, with the above list of usual suspects than with Israel?
Anne 8:47 AM
Key Iraq evidence faked? The Washington Post today reports:
The FBI is looking into the forgery of a key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program, including the possibility that a foreign government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military action against Iraq.
While this doesn't mean Saddam's perfectly harmless, it does raise the question, *what* "foreign government?" I can think of only one that would have a powerful enough interest in us not taking on Saddam - the Dreary Kingdom centered in Riyadh.
"It's something we're just beginning to look at," a senior law enforcement official said yesterday. Officials are trying to determine whether the documents were forged to try to influence U.S. policy, or whether they may have been created as part of a disinformation campaign directed by a foreign intelligence service.
It wouldn't surprise me one bit if our President and the State Department weren't taken in by the Saudis. After all, they've had enough practice kow-tow-ing to them.
Anne 8:26 AM
Missing kidnap victim returned: Elizabeth Smart, who was taken from her Salt Lake City, UT bedroom in June of 2002, has been reunited with her parents. "Street preacher" and excommunicated Mormon Brian David Mitchell has been taken into custody but not yet charged. According to the Seattle Times:
Investigators said the bearded drifter, identified as Brian David Mitchell, told them he wanted the girl to become his second wife. "It was a religious thing," a police source told The Seattle Times. "This guy just wanted another wife, and God told him this was the one." Isn't that special. Smart was apparently traveling around with this nutbag and his "wife," as well as hanging out in plain sight dressed in some kind of faux-hijab costume.
There are too many questions at this point, especially why the girl stayed with her kidnappers for 9 months, and whether Mitchell was a "schismatic" faux-Mormon and/or part of a Utah polygamy cult.
One lesson from this sad situation is that veiling women conceals all sorts of abuses. One wonders how many people drove by Mitchell making a fool of himself on Salt Lake City streets; who thought he and his moll were just your average big city loonybirds, and were unaware of the abuse behind the veil.
Anne 5:41 AM
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Call your US Senator: His vote could be the one to break the tie over oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve.
Anne 10:05 AM
What happened to the Neandertals? Some think they can be found hanging around the subways and alleyways of New York. Others think our Cro-Magnon ancestors wiped them out. But speculative fiction on their fate still provokes interest, as this New York Times article points out.
Anne 10:03 AM
Strange bedfellows: the Vatican and "AmChurch" Catholics: Liberal American Catholics have discovered that Rome isn't always against them, as Vatican anti-Iraq-war activism grows.
The US Catholic "mainstream" is probably overjoyed beyond measure to have an "issue" in common with the Pope for once. Ever since the anti-birth control directive Humanae Vitae, American Catholics have been embarrassed by Rome. Now they are not.
It's no secret that the Catholic Church worldwide has taken a terrific beating over the sex abuse scandal, and has lost morale and financial support, if not numbers. So taking a hard, immediate anti-war stance was a *brilliant* move on the part of the Vatican. Papal loyalists are coming out of the woodwork, from places you would never *imagine* in the US & Europe. Look at Frances Kissling, taking the Pope's position on CNN last week, but she's only an extreme example.
The anti-war position has become the "AmChurch" position. Who'd have thunk that this would be the way to gather the lost Yankee sheep back to the fold?
Anne 9:41 AM
Saw Gods and Generals this weekend: Go see it, before it gets away. Yes, it's four hours long, but you really didn't need that 72-oz. soda anyway. Conservatives are always complaining about Hollywood "not making movies with strong Christian role models." Well, here's one. Put the money where the mouth is.
Anne 9:28 AM
Le Bon Vivant: Rod Dreher takes a break from conservative media France-bashing and tells us what's to like about that country. I can almost smell the baguette now...
Yes, the United States is graceless and tasteless in comparison. But I'm reminded of the legend of St. Christopher. Christopher was a giant who, as penance for the sins of his earlier life, carried travelers across a raging river. He eventually carried the Christ Child, but that isn't the point here. America is to a certain degree like that giant forever carrying others on his back.
The others, once safe and dry on the other side of the river, have lots of time to devote to their art, their cuisine, their music, their haute couture. The giant, meanwhile, keeps on carrying.
The French have a 35-hour work week and a welfare state. Of course they have time to devote to the fine arts of baguette-making, and of course they preserve all their 17th-19th century techniques. They can afford it because *we,* in the United States, came to the aid of France and the rest of Europe quite a few times in the twentieth century - in World War I, in World War II, during the Cold War, during the wars in the Balkans.
While the French were lolling around in their leisure, we imposed an income tax on our people to pay for *their* defense. Our people have worked two to four jobs per family and have been taxed at equally high effective rates, to pay for the military might that kept the Nazis and Russians at bay. We pay for the UN. We pay for NATO.
So St. Christopher doesn't get to cultivate the finer arts. But he keeps carrying. At some point St. Christopher, like Atlas, is going to shrug, and what will happen to France, and the rest of Europe, then?
Anne 9:24 AM
Local student knows the score: I went to a public middle school open-house last night, and looked at an exhibit on the Holocaust done by local junior high school students. One boy had made a poster that, with professional graphics, would have made a great World War II poster.
On an angry red background, the top half had stylized faces of Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito, with the caption "Axis of Evil in World War II." The bottom half had stylized faces of Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Kim Il Jong, with the caption, "Axis of Evil 2003." His little essay attached said, basically, we need to fight them today, just as we fought them in World War II.
The irony in all this, of course, is that pacifism didn't help the Jews of Europe one bit, and it isn't going to help us either.
Anne 8:45 AM
"Will They Fight?" This analyst says the Iraqi will fall all over themselves to surrender. Given that last week twelve Iraqi soldiers already tried to surrender to the Kuwaitis and their British "advisors" (who told them to go back home because the war hadn't started yet), he may be right. Our biggest problem will probably be to avoid inadvertently killing all those who do want to surrender.
Anne 8:35 AM
Symbol of "victimless crime" bites the dust as the federal government prepares to demolish the Mustang Ranch, Nevada's first legal brothel.
The legal house of prostitution 15 miles east of Reno has been closed ever since the IRS seized the place in 1999 following the conviction of the bordello's manager and its parent companies in a fraud and racketeering case. The women who worked there were evicted and the brothel was padlocked. Now the Bureau of Land Management has decided that the building is too decrepit for renovation (one suggestion was that it be turned into a battered women's shelter.)
It's typical of the so-called "victimless crime" - the profiteers avoid taxes; the women wind up in a trailer park somewhere, nursing their emotional and physical damage; the taxpayers pick up the slack.
It all seems so ... 1970s, in retrospect. The great sexual revolution, including legalization of prostitution, was supposed to open up a "new era of freedom." Instead, back to the dust it goes. Good riddance.
Anne 8:28 AM
Friday, March 07, 2003
Will they "bounce along" or "go bust?" Flying just got a lot more interesting (for the men, at least) with the addition of Hooters Airways to the pantheon. Maybe they have something here - nothing else has worked, so why not try to make flying fun again?
Anne 9:36 AM
Home Economics 101: As jobs are slashed and unemployment goes up, Americans are still digging themselves deeper in debt by taking out home equity loans. People are also going bankrupt more often because of it.
The continued inflation of housing prices, the continuing boom in home equity loans, and the stream of those refinancing their homes are supposedly what is keeping our economy afloat. I recall a similar situation in the 1980s, however - then instead of residential real estate, it was an inflation of farmland prices that sent many to the bank. They bought land and took out large loans on the assumption that farm prices would "keep going up." Interest rates were far higher than today, so farmers ended up owing enormous amounts of money, and the foreclosures and bankruptcies were enormous as well.
So there's an object lesson here. Borrowing a lot of money to pay for a house with an inflated price, and then borrowing again on the equity is *not* smart.
One factor never mentioned in discussions on housing price inflation is the effect of dual-income couples. Twenty years ago, it was still possible to buy a home in a good school district on one professional salary. The net effect of professional working women has been to essentially double or triple the cost of a home. Instead of one salary, two are required.
How to get out from under this? The first step for new buyers is to buy a house that you *can* afford on one salary, even if there are two in the family. Make sure the loan has no prepayment penalty, and use the second salary to pay off principal ahead of time. Then, *don't take out a loan on the equity.*
Another way to stay ahead of the game is to take out a 15 or even 10 year mortgage instead of a 30 year. This mortgage calculator is useful for running the numbers.
On a $100,000 fixed-rate loan at 6%:
15 year: $844 per month x 180 months = $151,920.
30 year: $600 per month x 360 months = $216,000
In other words, that extra "savings" of $244 a month ends up costing a family $64,080 in extra interest. That money goes right down the rathole. Instead of winding up in the lenders' pocket, that $64,000 were invested at just 5% for 15 years, it would net about $133,000 in interest to the family.
The couple that buys a smaller and cheaper house and does *both* - gets a 15-year mortgage *and* prepays on the principal will find themselves in a far more stable financial position. The additional benefit is that they will find it much easier to transition to a one-income household when children come, because they will have not only the practice of living on less, but they will have more saved as well.
Anne 8:54 AM
Thursday, March 06, 2003
It's not even Easter yet... but the pet bunnies are worth looking at. "Come for the bunny photographs: stay for the warmongering..."
Anne 4:57 PM
No more Vietnams: The US is considering moving our troops out of South Korea. We can't be everywhere.
Anne 4:25 PM
Why We Fight: This is rough stuff to watch. Really, really rough. But we need to remember why.
Anne 4:06 PM
A reader writes about the politics of food: As much as my fiscally conservate and fatty-food-loving heart would like to
agree with you and/or NR, I think you're both off the mark. It's not free lunches or the food pyramid so much as it is cheap food. If you go to the supermarket and look at the cheapest foods, they're almost all terrible for you. They're the kinds of foods that both the low carb and low fat camps agree are bad for you. Potato chips, soft drinks, all high in refined sugars.
Combine that with the fact that the cheapest prepared food out there is fast food (with upsized everything always being the most economical) that are high in the worst kinds of fats, carbs, and everything else. On top of that, the wealthier you are the more likely you are to be able to afford healthier food and the more educated you are the more likely you are to know the difference.
Poverty in this country is far more complicated than a simple lack of money or a simple lack of "access to food," contrary to what liberals tell us.
The *staples* are very cheap, even when you account for inflation. What the staples require, though, are not only cooking skills, but the budgeting of time to cook. That's why immigrants end up owning businesses and moving to the suburbs, while so many poor people (black *and* white) remain mired in the slums.
I shop at grocers that cater specifically to the immigrant market (mostly Bosnians and other Eastern Europeans, as well as Asians.) We are frugal shoppers, but we look like gluttons compared to these folks, who load up their carts with vegetables of all kinds by the case, and the cheapest meats. They buy potatoes 50 lbs at a time; rice in 50 lb sacks. You know there's a mom or grandmother staying home all afternoon chopping and peeling and cooking the goulash for everyone, and that the savings are going right into the bank.
I'm glad the reader made these points, because like gambling, where the house always wins, the only people who win in the processed food game are the producers and marketers. It's certainly not the consumers, who spend far more money than they need to on food of extremely poor quality, and whose health as well as bank account suffer for it.
Anne 9:53 AM