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May 2013 Archives

May 1, 2013

May Day! May Day!

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Parades usually see the populace thronging the sidewalks to applaud the paraders. May Day parades, however, usually are regarded as threats to the peace, a kind of annual "Occupy" protest that is run (like Occupy) by individuals who have no regard for others. Accordingly, instead of setting out lawn chairs to watch the fun, offices along the May Day route in Seattle this year, as in other cities, are closing down early and getting out of the way.

The far left is not as agitated now as they would be if a Republican were President, but they never lack for manufactured indignation. Each subgroup will have its own cheeky assaults on good taste and decorum. Police are schooled in tolerant tactics that let the paraders/demonstrators have their way right up to the point--and usually well past it--where windows are broken. Certainly there will be no limit on noise. The whole point is to disturb others and make normal business impossible. Here come the same old drum corps, the same old style of chants and all the retread tactics of the anti-war movement of the 60s and the anti-nuke movement that preceded it.

Continue reading "May Day! May Day!" »

May 2, 2013

Okay to Kill Babies After Birth?

The uncomfortable subject of infanticide can be obscured by academic rhetoric and by changing the subject, such as to costs to the parent(s), costs to society, legal "rights", etc. Let's tut-tut about those. Of course, the same used to happen when the subject was a black person's ability to vote or the ante-bellum issue of slavery. There always are excuses; the human imagination is resourceful.

Continue reading "Okay to Kill Babies After Birth?" »

May 3, 2013

George W's Decency

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One reason George W. Bush is regaining popularity is that the truth will out, even in this wicked world! In Bush's case, the truth is flattering. For example, without fanfare the former president entertains wounded vets at his ranch about once a month. It is his way of showing appreciation and support. Recovery from a serious injury can be very lonely, and having some attention paid by the former Commander in Chief has to help.

Here is a picture of "43" dancing with a female vet. He's informal, he's obviously sincere and gentle. A gentle man.

Photo Credit

"They're Out of Sorts.." in the UK

The three major parties in Britain are faced tonight with a huge movement of votes in local elections to the relatively new United Kingdom Independence Party. UKIP's main issue, ironically, is Britain's place in the European Union.

Essentially, the Establishment is out of sorts. The UKIP has been dismissed as "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" by Prime Minister Cameron, who now has to explain that, of course, he is not talking about the roughly quarter of the country that voted UKIP. Still, alarm bills are ringing in political party offices and teeth are gnashing in newspaper editorial offices and the BBC.

It reminds me again of the old Noel Coward song, "There Are Bad Times Just Around the Corner."

Continue reading ""They're Out of Sorts.." in the UK" »

May 7, 2013

The Usefulness of Controversy

It is an irony that the Reinhart-Rogoff study on national debt's role in limiting economic growth was not widely known until the left started pummeling it recently. It was ushered into prime time by Rachel Maddow at MSNBC as if it were a new Watergate scandal. (Bengazigate gets no such attention.) Reinhart-Rogoff had omitted some data that changed the nature of their claim that after 90 percent national debt, economies flag. But, after they corrected their data, the validity of their main argument remains.

Our Discovery Senior Fellow Scott Powell finds it all distracting. You don't need the Reinhart-Rogoff study to know that governments that borrow to much are also borrowing trouble.


Continue reading "The Usefulness of Controversy" »

May 8, 2013

Politicians Refuse to Learn from Predecessors

One of saddest qualities of ego-driven politics is some new office-holders' refusal to learn from their predecessors. I have seen it in local, state and national governments. One would think that the newly elected official would be eager to learn all he can from those who went before, especially since there is no longer any threat to his own position.

Instead some new office-holders think that the people who had a job before couldn't possibly know as much about the office they just left it as does the newcomer. For example, take the case of Dixy Lee Ray, who followed Daniel J. Evans as governor in Washington state in 1976, a job for which Evans did not seek re-election. The outgoing governor and his staff prepared a file cabinet full of precise status reports on government agencies for his successor. But these reports were contemptuously tossed aside. That was a sign of hubris, not any warranted confidence.

Continue reading "Politicians Refuse to Learn from Predecessors" »

Free Nakoula

America is supposed to be a country that doesn't have political prisoners. But Nakoula Basseley Nakoula looks increasingly like one, a small time Los Angeles crook made a scape goat to cover up the Obama Administration's failure in Libya and the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The claim that Nakoula's puerile video against Islam led to a violent "demonstration" in Benghazi was immediately obvious at the time to Gregory Hicks, career diplomat and Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya, as a fabrication. He has just testified to Congress, "I was stunned. My jaw dropped."

Continue reading "Free Nakoula" »

May 9, 2013

Added Voices Raised on "Benghazi Patsy"

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the petty crook and video-maker in Los Angeles who was made the fall guy for the Benghazi killings, was the subject of a discussion with my Discovery colleagues yesterday before I blogged "Free Nakoula". Was I going out on a limb? Not at all.

Not only has Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit been on this topic for months, but today Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, also has a fine piece on "The Benghazi Patsy" at Politico.com.

Remember, after the killings, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised the father of one of those killed that the maker of the video would be "arrested and prosecuted." Indeed, he was. And he is still in jail, though ostensibly for parole violation.


Continue reading "Added Voices Raised on "Benghazi Patsy"" »

A Hard Choice for the Pro-Choice

The way to trouble the pro-life advocate is to ask what he or she would do in the case of "rape or incest". That question tripped up at least two U.S. Senate candidates last fall and led to their defeats.

In a similar fashion, pro-choice advocates have a terrible problem with a question about late-term abortions. That difficulty has become especially acute now that the Gosnell trial has revealed the existence of after-birth abortions, an idea that literally was only the stuff of satirical invention a couple of decades ago. But in 1997 "ethicist" Steven Pinker of Harvard more or less defended the practice in an article in the New York Times. That helped break the taboo among some, though hardly all, progressives.

Regarding Gosnell, it is said that the disgusting conditions of his clinic, the insensitive, even cruel treatment of women there and the readiness to "snip" the spinal cords of babies born alive after an abortion attempt shows the need for better facilities under nicer conditions.

Continue reading "A Hard Choice for the Pro-Choice" »

May 13, 2013

More Calls for Reshape or End of EU

The recent local election successes of the UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) have shaken everybody up, even the Labour Party. Regarding the EU Prime Minister Cameron wants to mend it rather than end it, and President Obama has given him his blessing. Cameron also is proposing a free trade zone with the U.S. and Britain, which has long made sense. But it is hard to see how that works--unless one of two things happens. 1) Britain exits the Eurozone, or 2) part of "fixing" the EU is to abandon much of the regulatory regime and to make freer trade among free market/democratic countries a stronger standard going forward. The "fix", in that case, means an end to the EU as we know it and a new free trade zone that includes Europe and North America.

Continue reading "More Calls for Reshape or End of EU" »

Pressure Cooker Whistle Blows

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A Saudi Arabian has been detained as he entered the US at Detroit carrying a pressure cooker in his luggage.

The Tsarnaev brothers' weapon of choice, the pressure cooker apparently can be converted to a bomb following directions online, courtesy of al Qaida.

Will we soon have pressure to ban pressure cookers? Well, some Miami-Dade County students have a petition for just that cause. Williams-Sonoma already has taken pressure cookers off their store shelves. Can Crate&Barrel be far behind?

Continue reading "Pressure Cooker Whistle Blows" »

May 14, 2013

Strange Alliance of Islamists and Left

It seemed strange at the time, and it continues to seem strange: the radical Left in Europe (and the U.S.) and the Islamists fundamentalists in Iran were in effective alliance at the time of the Iranian revolution. The ramifications are felt today, for sure.

Nir Boms and Shayan Arya have a useful, if not exhaustive, analysis.

Continue reading "Strange Alliance of Islamists and Left" »

Solutions on IRS

1) Reduce the size of government.
2) Reduce tax rates.
3) Clarify criteria necessary for attaining non-profit (tax free) status.
4) Prosecute those who leaked IRS data to political opponents.

Maybe start with 4).

Continue reading "Solutions on IRS" »

May 15, 2013

B.C. Election Will Spur U.S. Pipeline

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A stunning provincial election surprise in British Columbia Tuesday returns the more free enterprise Liberal Party to power with a larger majority over the left wing New Democrats (NDP). The NDP was expected to win--it was up eight to nine points in pre-election surveys--because of supposed voter opposition to gas and oil pipelines to connect Alberta's energy fields to ocean shipment points in B.C. The NDP had pledged to stop the pipelines.

The Liberals will exact environmental protections, but they support the pipeline expansions, especially the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline to ship Alberta tar sands crude oil through Burnaby, B.C. With the oil pipeline and the Enbridge Northern Gateway gas pipeline expansion both likely to get a go-ahead in B.C., Canada's leverage in persuading the Obama Administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline through the central U.S. probably is increased.

Had the New Democrats, who oppose the B.C. pipelines, won yesterday, the national Canadian government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have lost a psychological advantage on the energy issue, as well as a practical alternative to Keystone. Now Mr. Harper can advise the Americans, either allow Keystone to go through or we will send our added energy supplies to China.

The pipeline controversy was expected to hurt the incumbent government of British Columbian Premier Christy Clark. Instead Liberal Party strategists think it helped. British Columbians apparently were satisfied that the gas pipeline and the extension of an oil pipeline would not hurt the environment and would boost the province's economic future. This sentiment was plainly missed by pollsters going into the election.

Photo Credit

Continue reading "B.C. Election Will Spur U.S. Pipeline" »

U.S. Should Quiz Turkish P.M. on Churches

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey will be in Washington, D.C. tomorrow to meet with President Obama, the main topic being the future of Syria, Turkey's embattled neighbor. In that connection, the President should ask him again about the continuing failure of the Turkish government to allow freedom of worship for Christians in Turkey itself. In particular, the Turks should be asked to allow the ">reopening of the Eastern Orthodox Halki Seminary.

Continue reading "U.S. Should Quiz Turkish P.M. on Churches" »

May 16, 2013

"Heck of a Wreck" in Higher Ed

Georgia Tech, in concert with AT&T and a company called Udacity, is offering a master's degree online in computer science for only $7,000. If you actually go to Georgia Tech's campus and get your master's, the fare is $40,000.

This is the next wave of revolution in higher education. The halls of ivy have priced themselves out of the reach of the middle class, and even the upper middle class. Giving more "scholarships" is a way for the most-endowed schools to handle sticker shock, but that usually does not meet the needs of people who just don't want to pay so much for what increasingly is irrelevant, ideologically driven schooling.

Continue reading ""Heck of a Wreck" in Higher Ed" »

May 22, 2013

Contagious Apophenia in the Senate

The Honorable Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island is getting a lot of well-deserved criticism for stating that natural disasters such as the tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma this week are the products of climate change (nee, "global warming") and, therefore, somehow the responsibility of climate change doubters. Moreover, since many Republicans are among those questioning the assertions of global warming and especially the idea that people mainly cause it, he said, they ultimately are responsible for forcing the rest of the country--including his state--to help pay the costs of disaster relief.

This kind of thing would be the stuff of satire if it were not taking advantage of the recent tornado deaths and destruction in Oklahoma.

Discovery fellows Steve Meyer (author of the forthcoming, Darwin's Doubt) and Jay Richards were on the Michael Medved show today to talk about a variety of similar claims fraudulently made in the name of science.

Misperceiving patterns and lessons from random information is a form of psychiatric disease called "apophenia," a delusional condition the sufferer confuses with reality. The political and metaphorical version of it is conspiracy theory, or, in this case, an attempt to claim for climate change what even scientists (including those who fully accept the idea that the Earth is warming and that people are responsible for it) don't claim; namely, that specific severe weather can be attributed to climate change.

Moreover, even if you did hold weather is a reflection of climate change, you would have to deal with the statistics that until this week's tornados, the past year has been notable for a relative paucity of tornados. In the same way, Hurricane Sandy last year was terrible in its destruction in the populous Northeast, but otherwise not an example of a trend in hurricanes.

The Medved program did a good job dispatching the Sheldon Whitehouse case of political aprophenia. The trouble is, the disease is contagious, as comments from Sen. Barbara Boxer show.


Continue reading "Contagious Apophenia in the Senate" »

May 28, 2013

USA Losing Popularity

The United States is going down in popularity. It wasn't supposed to be this way under Barrack Obama; just the opposite was supposed to happen.

Says the BBC Poll, "Views of the US have shown some sharp declines among the citizens of its allies the UK (46%, down from 60%), France (52%, down from 62%), and Germany (35%, down from 44%), as well as in Egypt (24%, down from 37%). On a global scale, however, views have only slipped slightly (from 47% to 45% positive, with 34% now negative)."

As our colleague, former Congressman John Miller, has noted in the past, the US usually is popular when we are not doing anything. Even in World War II (the "good war") US activism hurt our popularity.

Continue reading "USA Losing Popularity" »

May 24, 2013

Goodbye Al Qaida: Hello, Islamist "Loners"

President Obama picked a fine time to announce that the war on terror is winding down and that Al Qaida is on the run. The Benghazi attack last September should have destroyed that argument as a campaign theme; but it didn't, since a video-maker was falsely but successfully blamed for provoking the attack. (The official script eventually was changed, but, bizarrely, Nakoula Baseley Nakoula, the hapless video-maker, is still in jail.) Now Mr. Obama is making the claim again, just after a likely confederate of the Tsarnaevs dies in a confrontation with the FBI in Orlando and two self-proclaimed Islamists murder and butcher a British soldier on the street in London.

Speaking yesterday, the President announced a cutback in the use of drones and a renewed intention to close Guantanamo prison, asserting that such moves are justified in part because of the decline of Al Qaida. We're effectively back to the campaign theme of 2012: "GM is alive and Bin Laden is dead."

War on terror? Says the Commander-in-Chief: "This war must end. That is what history advises. That is what democracy demands."

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Continue reading "Goodbye Al Qaida: Hello, Islamist "Loners"" »

May 28, 2013

Psychiatry as Science Controversy Grows

Slowly it is dawning on people that the borders of "science" are not hard; they bleed into other fields and cannot be construed as fixed, in any event. The increasing debate over neo-Darwinism is an example. So, too, is psychiatry. An article on psychiatry at EvolutionNews is attracting increased attention. And today we have David Brooks in his column explaining the reality that this very valuable field of knowledge is perhaps "semi-science", in contrast, for example, to cosmology. Actually, cosmology itself is a field in the throes of definitional quarrels, since multi-verse theory is largely a parable.

Maybe we should compare psychiatry instead to mathematics, the hardest science there is. Except, of course, the more mathematicians cogitate, the more even they conjecture and conjure.

Continue reading "Psychiatry as Science Controversy Grows" »

May 29, 2013

Counterattack on Cyber-war, Cyber-hackers

Every day carries new stories of hackers and the damage they are doing to American businesses and government. "Pentagon Moving to Stem Hacker Attacks," the Associated Press reports today. Our country's defenses, power grid and business operations--and individuals--are at risk. It is not an over-statement to say that our country as a whole is at risk.

Yet there is no sign yet of effective defenses.

Two crucial ingredients are missing in news stories and articles on the subject: 1) Hardly anyone knows enough about the problem to explain it in technically correct terms that also are comprehensible to the average informed citizen. 2) Virtually no articles until now have explained what needs to be done to fix the problem(s). Domestically, a few very annoying crackpots in garages get arrested. But the serious problems come from overseas. Mostly the Government talks darkly of retaliations and remonstrations, whether the putative villain is in China or Iran. Businesses, perhaps fearing lawsuits and hoping to escape the hackers' attention, meanwhile, keep mum.

What the public has not had, therefore, is an explanation of what can be done on a large scale and why what we are doing now does not work.

George Gilder, Sr. Fellow of Discovery Institute and author of several books on technology and public policy (Microcosm, Life After Television, Telecosm, The Israel Test, etc.), has written a white paper that does the job.


Continue reading "Counterattack on Cyber-war, Cyber-hackers" »

May 31, 2013

National Service: Oldest and Worst "New Idea"

Oped articles were placed in both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal this week (both of which require subscriptions, so never mind any links) on the topic of universal national service. That suggests that there is a campaign afoot once more to reintroduce this recycled "new" idea into the public dialogue. I certainly hope so. It will be roundly defeated, providing an educational experience for all those who are tempted to increase the authoritarian tendencies of government. It will become a rallying cry for liberty for a new generation.

I know because I started combatting national service in the early 1960s when George Gilder was editor and I was publisher of a Republican journal called Advance. In the Summer 1963 issue we published an article by Congressman Tom Curtis of Missouri, "Youth and the Military", calling for an end to conscription. That was pretty bold at the time.

"Together with monetary savings and stronger defense, such a system could strike at the heart of the disrupted lives of our youth," the good Congressman wrote.

That was true fifty years ago--about a decade before the draft was finally abolished--and it is true now.

Continue reading "National Service: Oldest and Worst "New Idea"" »

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