"In Ontario, car pooling is a prohibited activity that can only be allowed under strict government control, as determined by a government regulatory agency set up to oversee such conduct. Those who violate the law – as did a nonplused outfit called PickupPal — can and will be punished with the full force of the law. With the government's blessings, you can share expenses by car pooling from home to work and back again, but only under certain conditions. You have crossed the line if you try to car pool to work across a municipal boundary — the government frowns upon suburbanites who commute this way. As for car pooling for a frivolous, non-work purpose — to school, to the hockey arena, to the doctor’s office — this is outlawed outright, regardless of whether you cross a municipal boundary."
The more power you hand to regulators, the more often you get back-room back-scratching that protects other members of the in-guild (in this case, a bus company). Sometimes, there's enough public outrage to overturn it. Most of the time, there isn't.
Interesting bit that Nortius Maximus sent my way, about some modern psychology research by Paul Zak, "neuroeconomist". Key takeaway, in he gender non-specific "he":
"....The key to a con is not that you trust the conman, but that he shows he trusts you."
Read more here including an interesting video of the classic "pigeon drop" con.
It's early Thanksgiving morning, and everyone else is asleep. I've washed the pots and pans from the dishes we prepped last night, and before the holiday madhouse begins, I thought I'd take a moment to express my public thanks - as opposed to the private ones I'll be making at supper later today.
I am first and foremost thankful to the great nation that I'm a part of; humanity's hopes given material shape. No one will kick in my door today, no matter what I write here, and I do not need to censor what I say or think because I fear what will happen if I do not. Rent Perseopolis sometime soon, and appreciate what we have achieved here.
I am thankful that we all see what we have achieved as a nation is imperfect and flawed, because that means that all of us follow the standards of being uncertain in our rightness and so willing to listen and learn. And because it gives all of us purpose in contributing however we can to making things better.
I am thankful for everyone who has struggled and suffered to give me and mine what we all enjoy today. From the earliest immigrants to the Founders to the poor soldiers of the Revolution and every soldier and worker and shopkeeper and engineer and lawyer - and yes, even every politician. We live on the shoulders of giants, and we all have a patrimony that we should be grateful for and thinking hard how we can improve.
I am thankful today for the women and men who endure hardship in my name; who wear the colors of my country and who have chosen to stand between my family and those who would harm them. Their mistakes are mine - because they are grounded in the political leaders I and others like me have chosen - and their honor is their own.
I am impossibly grateful for the explosion of ideas - good, bad, and insane - that have sprouted as all of us have been given the ability to speak out using tools like this blog. I have thought more, learned more, been more outraged, and seen my fellow humans better in the last six years of my life than in the other 49.
And I'm thankful for this place, where I've been able to think out loud, been challenged, corrected, changed my mind and stood firm and where I've forged my deepest friendships. I have learned so much here over the last few years, and that is the greatest gift of all to me - to refresh my ability to learn, to refresh my beginner's mind.
Finally, and personally, I will thank my family - because they are my family and I'm so grateful to them for loving and accepting me - and because for all the crazy fits and starts, we have done three things very right - my son Eric who is far away, and his brothers Luc and Isaac who are asleep close at hand - who have grown into such wonderful young men and boys that I cannot find words enough to express how proud I am of them. So I'm thankful for Tenacious G, who married into this complex, crazy mess and to the boy's two biological moms, who joined me in deciding that we were all parents first.
OK, enough of this - I've got stuffing to finish! Don't forget to scroll down and donate to Project Valour-IT and give some wounded soldiers something to be thankful for today.
Update 2: It's almost Thanksgiving and this is about to wrap up - if I can ask you to reach and consider donating if you haven't - or consider on the the eBay auctions that are being held to benefit Valour-IT - everything you spend will go to helping wounded soldiers.
Update: We need more donors!! Donate, comment, and recognize that you're doing a Really Good Thing.
Even before I had a soldier of my own, I've been a big supporter of Soldier's Angels, the peer-to-peer organization that allows each of us to support the men and women of our military.
They are the kind of organization that is a no-brainer to get behind, regardless of your politics - because it's about providing support to the soldiers and their families.
Right now, they are running a fundraiser for Project Valour-IT, which provides speech-controlled laptops to wounded soldiers. I was at an event where Chuck Z talked about what it meant to him, as a wounded and recovering solder - to suddenly be able to send and get email, to surf the web, to write letters. What it meant to no longer be helpless in one area of his life and to begin the long walk to independence and recovery of himself. When you listen to stories like that, it's suddenly easy to understand why this is important.
The latest NIE regarding Afghanistan is reportedly not good - to put things midly. As we've discussed here before, Al-Qaeda lost in Afghanistan but won in Pakistan, where the classic "friendly dictator" strategy and the "democracy will solve" approaches have both come a-cropper. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban control a large section of western Pakistan, complete with training camps that are larger and more extensive than Afghanistan pre-9/11. Pakistan itself is in the middle of an insurgency that's far more serious than Iraq's, and key elements of the state continue to work with Al-Qaeda and with that insurgency. Others are willing to be bought. The inherent coup possibilities should be obvious.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan remains a long way away from being a functioning country, as any sane person would expect. And NATO allies continue to come up short in men, equipment, and promised aid. There are some notable exceptions (Australians, British, Canadians, Dutch, French, and Polish) - some of whom (Canadians, Dutch) are getting extremely tired of shouldering the combat load while larger countries like Italy, Germany, Spain, et. al. do so little. To Pakistan's nukes and a resurgent al-Qaeda, add "the future of NATO" to the things at stake in Afghanistan-Pakistan.
Obama has said that Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area would become a greater focus of his Presidency. Maybe that's just the standard lie told so often by people who do not wish to fight their co-belligerents anywhere, and always push "somewhere else" in order to conceal that fact ("jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today"). Or, maybe he's serious.
If he is serious, he'll need a viable strategy.
I'm not sure there is one, absent progress in Pakistan - and I've yet to see a viable plan that would give us progress in Pakistan. There are just too many people in Talibanistan, Pakistan, whose birth rates and local environment will ensure a steady stream of brainwashed jihadis coming across a very permeable border in perpetuity. If you're a villager on the Afghan side, what are the odds that your village can hold out against that for the next 30 years? What are the odds that the foreign troops (even if they're in small enough numbers and behave well enough to be tolerated) will remain that long? And how militarized would Afghanistan have to be, in order to shut down that inflow and make the areas near the border anything but de facto al-Qaeda safe havens that expand outward?
If Pakistan's government had been able to control its side of the border, we'd be looking at a very different situation in Afghanistan. Right now, it isn't able to, and may not even want to.
This take explains my view that Afghanistan is a stupid place to do much of anything - except maintain low-key efforts that manage an unsolvable problem.
Regardless, a viable strategy is necessary. It's necessary if you're taking the "manage it" approach. It's necessary if Afghanistan becomes a significant hook for your efforts and prestige. And hey, maybe the pig will fly, and things will happen that improve the Pakistani side. Unlikely, I'll grant, but you need to do something on the Afghan side while playing for time and looking for resolution.
The British blog Defense of the Realm has a very interesting set of prescriptions on that note, in their 12-part series, "Winning the War."
Their analysis makes the point that Afghanistan cannot be solved by military means - then backs it up with an analysis of Afghanistan's situation, and the key fulcrums for allied efforts.
Now, Richard North isn't some idiotarian who believes that building schools without a strong military effort will do anything except give al-Qaeda demolition practice. But he does make a strong case that military objectives in Afghanistan need to be subordinate to some simple and easily understandable civilian goals that would serve as the central thrust of policy.
Contrast with what we have now: a semi-random aid hodgepodge that has operated as a "hearts and minds" adjunct to military operations.
That's not going to get it done.
Winds of Change mission statement 2.0:
What challenges will face the U.S., the West, the rest of the world that aren't being discussed everywhere every day?
What opportunities exist - to these challenges or the widely discussed ones - that should be pursued?
What isn't being talked about in the chattering class that should be? Winds should be a place where questions that are slightly off-center can be asked, and where answers that aren't obvious should be proposed.
For the next four years, we're going to hear endless partisan chatter from people who care a lot about it in publications and on sites where that is the focus. Winds isn't one of those sites, and "impeaching Obama" or "destroying the GOP" aren't going to be core topics here.
The goal for Winds, as I see it, is to be a place for interesting conversation about issues that possibly shows them in a new light.
Note that interesting conversation comes first; that means respectful engagement with the rest of us.
To that end, we're working on Winds 2.0 which I hope will launch in early December (my attention and time are the throttling issues). I hope we'll have an interesting lineup of writers (a lot of whom are people you se here today) and I truly hope that those of you who have participated will continue to do so, and will step up and occasionally author a piece here.
There will be some new rules - we'll require registration from commenters - and, I hope, some new ideas.
Since I only have a limited about of bandwidth to devote to Winds, it will have to be split between blogging and managing the changeover. So both will get less than I'd like.
If you have author privileges at Winds today, please read this, think about it a bit, and drop me a note that sets out your interest in participating and some of the ideas you'd like to bring to the table.
While Winds isn't a hugely popular blog, it’s got a pretty respectable level of traffic, and I'd like to see if we can find some smaller, interesting bloggers and reach out to them about joining us here - either by moving here, or by using it like Totten does as a way to put interesting posts out into the world and pull more people to his blog. So what new voices are out there that we ought to reach out to?
My goal is to port the site to the new platform (which will be MT 4.2 based) by the 1st week in December, then spend December establishing the lineup of authors and start the new year with a refurbished set of digs (and maybe Diggs) for all of us.
by Valentina Colombo.
“I am fully ready to have a public debate with Tariq Ramadan to make it patently clear that the man does not know 1% of what a world-class scholar must know.” The challenge comes from an another Tarek, the Egyptian intellectual Tarek Heggy. When you tell Heggy about the expansion of Islamic extremism in Europe, but most of all when you pronounce Ramadan’s name he flies into a rage. He wonders why Europe keeps on listening to people like him and why many European intellectuals and politicians consider him the best Islamic intellectual. This is the reason why I asked Heggy to comment some quotes from Ramadan’s speeches, books and videos. Here you find the result that should teach us something very important: we cannot trust Tariq while we should trust Tarek!
Tariq Ramadan: “For years I have heard people saying: "Be careful with Tariq Ramadan because he has one message in French; and a different one for when he speaks Arabic in the suburbs." Go and try to speak Arabic in the suburbs of France and you won’t have an audience because they don’t know Arabic”.
Tarek Heggy: Like a number of Muslim Brothers, Mr. Ramadan has two messages : one for the non-Arabic speaking audience (such as his views about the physical punishments) and different messages in Arabic. The difference between the spirit of these messages is enormous ... one would realize the dangers of this phenomenon only if equipped with good command of Arabic and good knowledge of Sharia. The only way to reveal this "academic lie" is by directing certain question to Mr. Ramadan and his peers such as : a) what do think of the Khilafah system? b) how you describe the so-called martyrs-operations? c) is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a model that you approve? d) can we establish in the 21st century an international law and a legal system based on Shari'a ? e) what do think of the status of women in the Islamic jurisprudence and in the Muslim societies ? f) what would be the status of non-Muslims in an Islamic state ? g) can a non-Muslim be the head of the state in Egypt - where your parents came from ? h) what is your overall judgement on the western-Civilization and its value system ? .... I personally would love to have a public debate with Mr. Ramadan to enable the civilized societies people to see what is under the external coats of this gentleman and his peers and to show them how incomplete (and deformed) his/their intellectual formations are.
T.R. To Ernesto Ferrero, director of Turin Book Fair, in 2008 with Israel guest of honor: “This is where we deeply disagree: to choose the State of Israel while you know what was, and still is, happening in the occupied territories - and just after the international community, almost unanimously, condemned the Gaza’s blockage - is neither wise nor fair towards the Palestinian and their dignity. I am sorry to repeat, you took a wrong and an unwise decision.[...] A call for a boycott was launched before I was asked about it and I simply decided to support this call not to attend. It seemed to me it was a question of conscience and dignity.
T.H. Mr. Ramadan, what is the relationship between all what you have said about the sufferings of the Palestinian people and a book-fair in Italy ? and apart from this book-fair boycott (BTW, did the Arab boycott ever yielded any significant fruits ?!) ... what are your views concerning the Israeli/Arab conflict : do you favor the route of Anwar al-Sadat, i.e. a political settlement to the conflict via civilized negotiations and therefore you accept that as the Palestinians have the right to have their own state, Israel has an equal right to exist ? .. or you favor "The Military solution" that Hamas and Hezbollah advocate ?... and what is your description to the suicide attacks committed by Palestinians against Israeli civilians?
T.R. “Muhammad married a Jewish woman and he even protected Jewish tribes”.
T.H. This is partially correct. The Prophet took a Jewish lady who was, by our modern terminology, a Pow as a wife. Though I read all the main Sira books, I have not come across the so called "protection rendered to some Jewish tribes" - we shall be grateful to Mr. Ramadan if he could guide us (!!) to the sources that he depended on, in due course.
T.R. “Today Europe is Dar al-shahada”
T.H. Saying that Europe today is dar al-shahada" confirms that the fellow (Ramadan) has a sick-nostalgia. This passion to use medieval terminology and concept is (in my views) a strong and patent sign of illusive mind, a mind that imagines that a certain era or period of history was a paradise : its heroes, language and concepts were "Angelic", and therefore aim at replicating. The term dar al-shahada represents this sick relationship with the past (or with a specific epoch): a sentiment that has now scientific bases whatsoever. More dangerously, it motivates young and semi-educated people who were raised in total isolation from the contemporary age to endeavor to replicate what cannot be (by any means) replicated. The term (also) could mean much detrimental meaning, as it could (linguistically) mean "The place for martyrdom" !!! Which would be (if so meant) quite dangerous.
T.R. To criticize the religion and Muslims is not Islamophobia; a critical attitude towards religion must be accepted. But to criticize someone or discriminate against them only because they are Muslim-this is what we can call Islamophobia, this is a kind of racism.
T.H. This is great Mr. Ramadan! But while we are aware of thousands of books that were written by Jewish scholars criticizing many Judaism related subjects and thousands of books that were written by Christian scholars criticizing many Christianity related subjects - please give me only ten titles of books written by Muslim scholars in which they criticized any Islam related subjects without being considered by most of the Muslim clergy as INFIDELS and asked for them to get killed if not by their governments, so be it by volunteers !!!!!!!!!!
T.R. “The worst that can happen to a democratic society is to see its citizens being transformed to passive victims paralyzed by fear. The proponents of the global clash of civilizations theory shall win if we accept to be individually colonized by emotional caricatures and suspicion towards people of other faiths and cultures”.
T.H. This is absolutely correct, but I guess that he will never dare to declare that the a major Arab/Islamic country that invested billion of dollars on spreading its own interpretation of Islam is the number one society that MUST be described by Ramadan's words (a society that its citizens are being for more than 80 years transformed systematically to passive victims paralyzed by fear) ... a society that established a peerless case of duality in all values and behaviors. A society that send its children each Friday to watch the authority representatives while whipping people, or cutting their hands and legs and/or stoning men or women to death !! Mr. Ramadan is requested to give us some examples of these societies that transform its citizens to passive victims paralyzed by fear!!!
T.R. “If a law already exists, why a new law in 2004? This is because crucifixes were accepted under the old law. The new law was passed because of France’s Muslim presence. The reality is that France’s secular tradition is being adapted to target a specific group. French society is going through something of an identity crisis. I have told all French girls that, if they have to make a choice between going to school and wearing the headscarf, they must choose school. Just go. This is the law. But at the same time, being a democrat means that you continue to discuss the merits of the law and call for change”.
T.H. Mr. Ramadan asks "why a new law in 2004 ?" ... the answer is patently clear : " because of the rapidly growing danger that nobody could neglect or ignore".
T.R. About Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab: “We cannot deny that his intervention in Arabia was often a kind of a war, but at the same time the reason of his enterprise were filled with a will of renewal”
T.H. I read everything Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab wrote (13 booklets) and read also all what has been written on this ruthless man and found him nothing but a very shallow man and simply and clearly a blood, destruction and killing advocate. Every expert in Islamic jurisprudence knows that while Ibn Hanbal represents the most conservative figure among the Sunni Jurisprudents, Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim represent the extreme wing among the Hanbali sect followers and the ones who gave "the text" the largest role and minimized the role of the human mind. As a semi-educated and intellectually thin followers of this line Ibn Abd al-Wahhab reached an unprecedented level of conservatism, narrow-mindedness, hatred to all forms of OTHERS and rejection to modernity. Having read a great deal of what Ramadan has written, I have no doubt that he neither read (in full) Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim nor the 13 extremely shallow booklets of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Ramadan repeats (with a very little thinking) the Wahhabi claim that Abd al-Wahhab was calling for "Renewal". Abd al-Wahhab was calling for a litteral return to the year 632 AD (in all forms and respects). about the man that I consider to be the most brutal and ruthless blood, destruction, hatred, violence and killing advocate throughout the past 300 years.
T.R. “I have said that I am against the implementation of stoning, death penalties and corporal punishments. In Islamic-majority countries, this is a minority position. What we cannot deny is that these punishments are in the texts. What I am saying to Muslim scholars is that today’s conditions are different, so in this context you cannot implement these punishments. So we have to stop. This is the moratorium”.
T.H. The question Mr. Ramadan is not the implementation of the physical criminal/penal punishments. The question is simply as follows : if you do reject the Islamic criminal punishment - does this take you to the rest of the Sharia and therefore say the same i.e. as the physical punishment are not anymore suitable to what humanity has reached in the areas of modernity and sophistication, would it be acceptable to Mr. Ramadan to say the same about the other domains of the Sharia i.e. the civil law, marriage, commercial and international relations spheres which will automatically imply that the sharia in its entity has become not suitable to be applied (similar to its Jewish equivalent)?
T.R. About Hasan al-Banna, his grand-father and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: “He is very badly known to the West since he is known only from the words of British colonizers and Zionists.”
T.H. Mr. Ramadan should pray day and night that the British do not release all of their documents that are relevant to Hassan al-Banna !! If they do, the world would realize why the Muslim Brothers society was formed in the Egyptian city of Ismailia in 1928. I know from reliable document that the idea was mainly a British idea (that was fully supported by King Fouad I of Egypt) who both came to the conclusion that after all minority parties failed to eliminate the overwhelming majority of the Wafd party that was leading the national movement in Egypt since 1919 anti the British occupation and the unlimited authority of the King - that only the use of Islam will work. This was the beginning of a march of mistakes in each of which a party throughout that the religious card will help against a third-party ! (the biggest replication of this danger theory took place when the American joined hands with the Saudis in the late 1970's and throughout the 1980's in creating the phenomenon of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan !! which was the beginning of the march of terror that lead to 9/11 catastrophe in NY. In all cases, nobody expects Mr. Ramadan to give an objective judgement about the father of his own mother !!
T.R. “I don’t work for the British or any other government. I am open to any kind of dialogue as long as the rules are clear: free to speak out, free to criticize, free to resist and free to support when it is right. Muslims should stop thinking that to talk is to compromise, but the black and white approach is often the reality of Muslims today”.
T.H. That is great MR. Ramadan - let us have a public debate anywhere in Europe or in the USA. I did my own survey to your writings and speeches and came to a patently clear conclusion that your main qualification is that you are the grandson of Hassan al-Banna the founder (with the British Embassy in Egypt in 1928) of the MB's organization and that your knowledge base is a bit thin and distorted.
T.R. “As to Hizb ut-Tahrir, I disagree with them but I think that as long as they are not speaking illegally, they must be free to speak and the society and Muslims should be free to respond. Hizb ut-Tahrir is not calling Muslims to kill or to act illegally, so it must be heard and challenged. To ban is the wrong way”.
T.H. You are most mistaken Mr. Ramadan. It is time for Europe to get up and protect democracy from all those who are trying to utilize "the tools of democracy" to establish a system that is by all civilized definitions is MOST ANTI-DEMOCRACY. The basic beliefs of Hizbu al-Tahrir are entirely anti-modernity, anti-democracy and anti-west. The freedom to the enemies of freedom MUST come to an end. Why Hizbu al Tahrir does not move from Europe to the Saudi capital?
T.R. “Firstly, we have to be accountable when attending international interfaith meetings. If we engage in dialogue only at conferences, then we are not living up to our spiritual commitment. We must be committed to go back to our communities and share what we have learned and put our words into actions”.
T.H. The basic requirements of a scientific and objective dialogue among the followers of the three monotheistic religions are not (yet) mature at the side of the Muslim intellectual. They still lack the minimum respect to OTHERS and to their freedom to be different. Just look at the speeches of all the Saudis who participated in the recent conference in Spain that was held on a call from the Saudi Monarch.
I'd bookmarked this to blog, finally got some time, and discovered that Ann Althouse had written pretty much word for word what I intended to write:
Deal with it, you candy-asses. If you eat meat, something like that is going on in the background for you too.
Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan has been arrested by Iranian security (h/t Harry's Place).
Hoder - as he was widely known in the blogs is another OG blogger who has lived in Canada for some time to keep himself out of the hands of the Iranian police. While anti-mullah, he's resolutely pro-Iranian, and we've actually knocked heads a bit on that.
The Guardian writes:
A prominent Iranian blogger has been arrested in Tehran and accused of spying for Israel after visiting the country with the aim of being "a bridge between Iranian and Israeli people".
Hossein Derakhshan, 33, was reported by the Iranian website Jahan News to have confessed during initial interrogations to being involved in espionage.
The Jahan News site, which is widely believed to be linked to the Iranian intelligence services, also said he had been described in Jewish newspaper articles as a "friend of Israel".
He holds joint Iranian-Canadian citizenship and left Tehran for Toronto in 2000 after hardline opponents of then president, Mohammad Khatami, closed down the reformist newspapers he worked on. He also lived in London for a while.
Derakhshan had returned to Tehran three weeks ago. His blogs, in Persian and English, have been suspended.
You'd think that the party with a massively biased media dead-set against it might be the one doing the most innovation in terms of new channels and approaches. You'd be wrong, of course. The GOP leadership still sees the Internet as a cheaper way to send pres releases, with partial research materials sent as a concession to bloggers. I have yet to see anything approaching a party communication and mobilization strategy for the GOP itself, let alone outreach beyond its base or input into the communication and policy process.
Obama led in all these areas, and this MarketingVOX piece talks about their continuation into governance, alongside the immediately-available "change.gov."
Marc's startlingly naive election-period posts re: "McCain should have run a better campaign in the face of a deeply slanted media" missed a point that no veteran of politics should have missed. Candidates don't have alternative channels to leverage - and it's stupid to expect that. Parties might have them, if they build and tend them beforehand. The GOP has been remarkably deficient in that area, despite the clear writing on the wall for over 7 years, as part of a much larger disconnect from its base. While the GOP begins to sort out its leadership problems, therefore, Obama will continue full-speed ahead - building on his existing advantage in case his fawning media sycophants ever decide to start, you know, doing their jobs.
In "The Next Tech Boom is Underway," Greg Ness says it may be something much more prosaic and fundamental than the clean tech startups attracting so much venture capital money these days:
"Until the current network evolves into a more dynamic infrastructure, all bets are off on the payoffs of pretty much every major IT initiative on the horizon today, including cost-cutting measures that would be employed in order to shrink operating costs without shrinking the network.... even with the simple act of managing an enterprise network’s IP addresses, which is critical to the availability and proper functioning of the network, expense and labor requirements actually go up as IP addresses are added. As TCP/IP continues to spread and take productivity to new heights, management costs are already escalating.... If something as simple and straightforward as IP address management doesn’t scale, imagine the impacts of more complex network management tasks, like those involved with consolidation, compliance, security, and virtualization.
....The cloudplex will utilize racks of commodity servers populated with VMs that can scale up as needed in order to save electricity and make IT more flexible. That makes incredibly good sense, but are we really there yet? No.... For the network to be dynamic, for example, it needs continuous, dynamic connectivity at the core network services level. Network, endpoint and application intelligence will all depend upon connectivity intelligence in order to evolve into dynamic, automated systems that don’t require escalating manual intervention in the face of network expansion and rising system and endpoint demands."
The article as a whole goes into more depth concerning these challenges, as well as some potential winners in this race. Is this the next tech boom? And is it really underway?
This post is inspired by fiona patten's comment (link):
"Yep we [the Australian Sex Party] are not going to be all things to all people- but hopefully we can make some positive change."
Prince Charles, who will in time be King of Australia as he will be of the United Kingdom, wants to take the opposite tack. He wanted to be Defender of Faiths when he becomes King, rather than Defender of the Faith, that is, a particular faith (originally the Roman Catholic faith). That proved controversial, particularly with the Church that he would be the formal head of, but no longer the defender of. So, he's had a new idea (link).
In a compromise he has now opted for Defender of Faith which he hopes will unite the different strands of society, and their beliefs, at his Coronation.
However, there would be huge obstacles to overcome before the Prince can fulfil his wish which he has discussed with some of his closest advisers. It would require Parliament to agree to amend the 1953 Royal Titles Act which came into law after changes were made for the Queen's Coronation in the same year. A senior source told The Daily Telegraph: "There have been lots of discussions. He would like to be known as the Defender of Faith which is a subtle but hugely symbolic shift."
As a monarchist, I acknowledge that there are now no circumstances in which a king or queen of Australia would overrule a Governor General or a Prime Minister, but I think the sovereign is valuable as a traditional symbol above partisan politics. Being the head of the winning political party does not put your picture on the money or on pictures on the wall. There are honors that the scufflers in the grubby brawls of politics, however successful, don't get to ascend to. They are reserved for someone who doesn't even live in the country. And the monarchy is a reminder of tradition in a country where there is no Bill of Rights and where it's tradition, culture and unwritten convention that have, however imperfectly, nourished and protected freedom.
If the monarch isn't willing to be a symbol of something in particular, I think that's an argument against his usefulness.
I don't think you can be a useful symbol of "faiths" or "faith" (in general) in the sense that it seems Prince Charles wants to be.
Faith is specific: it's trust and belief in someone or something, or some group like a pantheon. It's not just a feeling of high-mindedness combined with a desire to be all things to all people. Jesus or Osiris, Krishna or Buddha, Isis or Joseph Smith, Muhammed or Odin, pick one, or with Richard Dawkins none, but if you have faith, you should be willing to choose and defend that choice.
Between Christopher Hitchens (abrasively atheist) and his younger brother Peter Hitchens (actively and solidly Church of England), does Charles have a side, at all?
There's a moment in United 93 (2006) (link), in Chapter 18, an hour and thirty minutes in, where people on the plane are praying: the jihadists to Allah, and the others to Jesus (plus, presumably, Jews praying to their God). What side, in particular, would the Defender of Faith be on? On the side of the faithful, of course. On the side of those praying, and with their causes.
That doesn't cut it. The title "Defender of Faith" is not serious. It's not even symbolic defense of anyone or any cause.
I can't see the benefit, the positive change to be brought about. If you are a member of some tiny minority religion, such as an Australian Aboriginal persisting in your ancient tradition or a reconstructionist British druid trying to revive yours, the King will be no more a symbol of the defense of your rights than he ever was. To the extent that jihadists were emboldened to believe that yet another symbolic defender of a religion other than Islam had crumbled, you would be less secure in your rights.
We may come to a time where the Australian Sex Party is serious, in the sense of being willing to say what it stands for and commit to defending it, and the king of the country will not be serious, in the same sense.
The Australian Sex Party is online (link).
In the context of preferential voting and proportional representation in the Senate, this could become a viable little protest party.
Or rather an anti-protest, anti-pressure group party. It's appeal is straightforward:
"If you're sick of religious and anti-sex politicians like Steve Fielding, Brian Harradine and Fred Nile threatening to block legislation in the Senate and State Upper Houses unless they get their way on sex and gender issues, vote for someone who understands this rort."
Given the damage that Brian Harradine alone caused, and how little Australians like wowsers (that is, people who are obnoxiously puritanical and feel a need to legislate restrictive drinking hours, anti-sex censorship and so on), that's a good pitch.
The Australian Sex Party hasn't released its policies yet, and my opinion of it will depend on what they are, and what the character of the party turns out to be.
If the Australian Sex Party turns out to be a "leave us alone" party with support from the pornography industry, which is what it looks like so far, that's good. (Self-interest can encourage level-headedness, staying power and the habit of not being pointlessly annoying, for the sake of your bottom line. In this context, I think "greed is good".)
If it becomes a broad spectrum "progressive movement" party, that's not good, from my point of view. The last thing we need here is American style "8=hate" thugs going after churches, "anti-choicers" and anybody who believes in the traditional definition of marriage, or defining "hypocrisy" as being gay and not supporting a gay agenda, with "standing up to hypocrisy" defined as "outing" people.
If the party goes bad or goes nowhere, as most small parties do, it's not that big a loss. There are plenty of other worthwhile micro parties competing for my pro-freedom protest vote, such as the Australian Shooters Party (link).
I have been studying the Arab mindset for the last four decades from several perspectives. For a start, I myself am a product of this Arabic-speaking region and was able to study the phenomenon from the perspective of an 'insider' as it were, as well as from my vantage point as a researcher who has had twenty books published in Arabic and English (including five devoted exclusively to the Arab mindset and Arab culture). I also had the opportunity to interact with the Arab mindset and culture from a different angle during my years as chairman & CEO of a multinational oil company in the Arab region, when I worked in close proximity with the end product of Arab culture, so to speak – the Arabic-speaking worker in the work environment. The fourth and final perspective from which I interacted with Arab culture and the Arab mindset was when I was called upon to lecture to post-graduate students at a number of universities in various Arab countries on subjects related to modern management sciences and techniques.
The insight into the contemporary Arab mindset that I was able to develop from all these perspectives, in addition to my consuming interest in and close follow-up of the phenomenon over the last four decades, led me to reach the conclusions laid out in my latest book, Arab Culture Enchained, soon to be published by Cambridge University Press. In the book, I describe the Arab mindset as a prisoner held captive within three prisons or shackled with three chains. The first chain is a regressive, dogmatic interpretation of religion that is totally at odds with the realities of the age, with science and civilization. The second is a culture that is not only totally divorced from science and progress as a result of Arab history and the geopolitics of the Arabian peninsula, but, more important, has produced educational institutions and programmes that, rather than foster the values of progress and humanity, actively promote a xenophobic rejection of these values. The third chain holding the Arab mindset back from embracing the spirit of the age is a philosophical dilemma which renders it unable to develop a proper understanding of progress and modernity, and drives it to reject such notions as an invasion of its cultural specificity and civilizational legacy.
The first chain weighing the Arab mindset down and preventing it from joining the march of human progress which, according to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, is moving towards the attainment of transcendental idealism, is the regressive, medieval, Bedouin understanding of religion. A large number of modern-day Muslims have never been presented with an interpretation of religion other than the one propagated by the enemies of reason and free thinking, from Ibn Hanbal in the tenth century to the founder of the Wahhabi-Saudi alliance in the Arabian Peninsula in 1744 (Mohamed ibn-Abdul Wahab, the spiritual father of Wahhabism, whose message was merged after his death with the ideas of Abul 'Alaa Al-Mawdoody) to the ideas of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. More recently, an Islamic state established three quarters of a century ago (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) took it upon itself not only to stand as the embodiment of this brand of Islam but to export its understanding and spread its message to every corner of the world. In that version of Islam there is no room for the Other (Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or otherwise); there can be no equality between men and women nor peaceful coexistence with others, no possibility of allowing the human mind to explore new horizons, no scope for creativity or imaginative thinking. So firmly entrenched in the past is this harsh and uncompromising brand of Islam that it does not allow for the proper interpretation of the word jihad as meaning the use of force only in self-defense against outside aggression but continues to use the interpretation adopted by Bedouin tribes in the Middle Ages, which is the imposition of their religious beliefs on the whole of humanity by force of arms.
Nine centuries ago, the world of Islam was the scene of a battle of ideas between two trends. One trend, which upheld the primacy of reason, began with the Mu'tazalites and was taken to new Aristotelian heights by Ibn Rushd, who lived in Andalusia just over eight centuries ago. The other opposed the use of reason in the interpretation of holy texts, upholding orthodoxy and tradition and spurning deductive reasoning altogether. This latter trend had many prominent adherents, including Ahmed ibn-Hanbal, one of the four Sunni imams, and Abu Hamed Al-Ghazzali, the noted Islamic jurist. Unfortunately for Muslims, the school which favoured unquestioning adherence to tradition over the use of critical faculties prevailed. The defeat of the school of reason was symbolically represented in the burning of Ibn Rushd's works by the authorities, who elevated the stature of Al-Ghazzali to towering heights by bestowing on him the name "Hujat al Islam" (the authority on Islam). Exalting a man who did not believe the human mind capable of grasping the Truth as ordained by God set into motion a process that continues to this day with devastating effects on the Arab mindset, which has become insular, regressive and unreceptive to new ideas.
The second chain shackling the Arab mindset is a cultural climate which has encouraged the spread of tribal values, including such negative values as individualism (instead of tolerance) and insularity (instead of open-mindedness). As a result, Arab societies were unable to receive and assimilate the values of pluralism, acceptance of the Other, a belief in the universality of knowledge and science, acceptance of the human rights movement and the movement for women's rights – not to mention an institutional rejection of the most important achievement of human civilization, democracy. Educational systems in Arab societies reflect the prevailing cultural climate, which stands as a barrier between the Arab mindset and the march of human progress. One need only look at the educational systems in force in a country like Saudi Arabia to realize that they are creating generations totally unequipped to deal with the realities of the age. Indeed, it is enough to see the opinion leaders of that society to realize how strong the organic link between the cultural/educational climate and the insular, backward-looking ethos in some Arab societies.
Finally, the religious, educational, cultural and media institutions in Arabic-speaking societies have created a mindset that considers the call for progress and modernity a call to accept a cultural invasion and the loss of cultural specificity.
The problem of Arabic-speaking societies as well as of some non-Arab Muslim societies will not be solved by military confrontations, security measures or economic rewards and/or punishments. None of these measures address the core issue, which is essentially one of culture and knowledge. Accordingly, the most effective way of dealing with the problem is by adopting a level-headed approach based on a thorough understanding of the reasons behind the distinctive characteristics displayed by the contemporary Arab mindset.
...that's not my heavy breathing in the background, it's windy as heck (which is why the fires were so much trouble).
The panels are up and connected. We're waiting for the final city inspection and then we'll throw the (very large) switches.
At $68/month it's a screaming deal. I'll post more as the system comes online.
...some more pictures.
In retrospect, isn't Barack Obama's charge that electing John McCain meant more of George W. Bush more plausible, now that we see the Republican Party embroiled in a toxic post-defeat fight, and John McCain, the leader of the Republican Party, taking it easy, starting to restore his personal image, and doing nothing either for his party or for his candidate to be Vice-President?
Barack Obama was trying to tie John McCain to the "failed policies" of George W. Bush. That wasn't a very good attack. One of those "failed policies" was the surge, which John McCain did back, and which worked.
But George W. Bush had probably provoked even more frustration through his personnel management than through his policies. He rewarded, elevated and maintained in office people who weren't up to the job. Harriet Miers was a Bush pick that caused a big, needless brawl, but I think Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (elevated) and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet (maintained in office) are better examples, because they got to prove themselves on the job, and they definitely proved they were incapable of performing their duties commendably. Yet George W. Bush gave George Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That was infuriating.
Many of George W. Bush's people were not only incompetents but backstabbers: George Tenet himself of course; Secretary of the Treasury Paul Henry O'Neill; the amazingly disloyal Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who knew that he had outed CIA officer Valerie Plame but kept mum in public and let a long, destructive and divisive investigation continue anyway; and the pathetic Scott McClellan, a Press Secretary who had so little communications skill that he didn't seem to understand what he was doing in office till he reviewed his performance later (if he worked it out even then). He always made me think of a certain song, or at least its title. (link)
Besides appointing, maintaining in office and offensively praising incompetents and backstabbers, George W. Bush spent a lot of his first term in office apparently waiting for key personnel like Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resolve their differences and start playing nicely together. They never did, and meanwhile the war in Iraq drifted into deep trouble.
John McCain in his long career as a conservative gadfly and liberal media favorite never built up either a settled body of doctrine that his would-be new supporters could refer to in getting up to speed quickly or an adequate supply of personal loyalists to pass on to others face to face his randomly assorted quirky stands on various issues. He had no political army to fight the battle for the presidency with, and no way to train one. He also had an intimidating habit of bolstering his bipartisan bona fides by denouncing conservatives. Those who guessed wrong about things like whether he would think it was OK to run ads using Jeremiah Wright faced censure, and that went a long way to chill John McCain's potential 527 support.
John McCain wasted months after he was confirmed after he was luckily confirmed as the Republican nominee while Barack Obama was still struggling for his nomination, unable to get his campaign any traction. John McCain couldn't heal his rift with a party and a conservative movement that didn't like him or what he stood for, especially McCain-Kennedy. His staff was Bush leftovers, especially Steve Schmidt. He had nothing like the pool of enthusiastic activists needed to give him a strong "ground game". And he didn't have enthusiastic donors sending him money. Bobby Jindal, no fool, wanted nothing to do with this ill-run campaign. (link)
In the end, Sarah Palin gave John McCain the forgiveness of conservatives, and crowds and volunteers, and more money than he had been used to seeing. As a campaigner she proved a mixed bag: horrible in interviews with Charlie Gibson and (much more destructively) with Katie Couric; but great in giving a speech, good in debate with Joe Biden, and fantastic in drawing and pleasing large conservative crowds. Good and bad, she was the campaign, or the part of it that worked on the stump: John McCain had to speak alongside her, or address embarrassingly small audiences. And, in difficult circumstances, Sarah Palin was relentlessly upbeat, whether blithely claiming vindication over "Troopergate" or trying to square the "s***t sandwich" of a 700 billion dollar bailout with a conservative base that hated it.
Now the election is lost and won, both sides, by time-honored tradition, are dealing with their turncoats. On the Democrat side, this should be very simple.
On the Republican side it's a nightmare, because there's not just one Senator Joe Lieberman to cull, there's a horde of pundits, and the party's candidate himself is a foe of all sorts of positions commonly held in the party; and his staff of Bushies has turned out not only to be inept but lying backstabbers, conducting a not-for-attribution smear campaign against John McCain's choice for the vice-presidency.
Beldar explains and in an update shows what needed to happen to the anonymous sources telling lies about Sarah Palin (link).
Nothing of the kind has happened, and too much time has gone by to suspend judgment any more. John McCain has failed to exercise leadership.
And he has failed in the same way George W. Bush did at his worst: by hiring and maintaining in office liars, incompetents and backstabbers; and by letting them do whatever they want; and by not articulating for the conservative movement any relevant, solid and widely acceptable values and principles for guidance. He's not doing anything about the crisis in the party; and he hasn't provided any basis for anyone else to do anything either.
If John McCain had been elected president, it's plausible that he would have kept playing to the same pattern he showed in the campaign and that he is showing much more damagingly after it. If so, it would not have been possible to run the White House effectively like that.
Without being able to pick and keep control of good personnel, and without the ability to make the best use of any talent he luckily hit on (as the fiasco of the Palin rollout and the worse fiasco now unfolding demonstrate), without nurturing either a movement or a party (as Barack Obama and Howard Dean have), without any possibility to reach out successfully to the hostile Democrat legislature (as the financial crisis demonstrated) or to the implacably hostile mainstream media (as the whole campaign demonstrated), John McCain would have been in great danger of being reduced to a lonely figure in the Oval Office, with nothing but the formal powers of his office.
In other words, in some ways he could indeed have been four more years of George W. Bush.
My request to embed with the U.S. Army in Baghdad has been approved, and it turns out that I need to leave a bit earlier than I expected. It will take a while before I actually get there – I need to be in Kuwait four days in advance for paperwork and “processing,” and I’m going to stop in New York City for two days on the way to Kuwait. But I’ll be there soon enough and will have a large batch of fresh dispatches for you about what is hopefully the end of the war.
I haven’t spent any quality time in Baghdad for over a year. The first time I visited Iraq’s capital was shortly after General David Petraeus unleashed his surge of counterinsurgency forces. It was impossible to determine whether or not he would succeed at the time. Sometimes the surge seemed a smashing success in the making. Other times Iraq looked despairingly broken beyond repair. The country was still so mind-bogglingly dysfunctional it was sometimes hard for me to believe it was real.
A year ago I went to Fallujah and had to spend a day in Baghdad’s Green Zone filling out paperwork to get myself credentialed. While waiting to be processed I sat outside on the lawn next to the Iraqi parliament building and listened to a 45-minute fire fight just on the other side of the wall in the Red Zone. The BRRRRRAP of automatic AK-47 fire was punctuated by the sound of explosions. Police car sirens wailed, and I remember feeling relieved that at least the Iraqi Police were rushing toward, instead of away from, the fight. I remember hearing a car bomb explode two miles away. It sounded like it exploded mere blocks away. Baghdad in 2007 was still not a place you would want to be.
Here's a picture taken of my Great Grandfather with his grandson just before the latter embarked to Europe during the "Great War." The firearms they carry are obviously not indicative of those that were used in Europe at the time, but it provides an interesting continuity.
What follows is a brief account of my Great Grandfather's experience, transcribed by my Great Uncle, in what was called at the time the "War Between the States," because we didn't realize how typical it would become. Just for the sake of recollection and to provide a sense of how easy it isn't. If you'd like to consult an historical review of the events recounted in my Great Grandfather's narrative check out a book by Charles Bracelen Flood entitled, Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War.
It might be of interest to the readers to get some first-hand experiences of one who was in the Civil War, told in his own words a few months before his death.
“I enlisted on President Lincoln’s first call for volunteers, at Key Stone Furnace in Gallia County, Ohio, July 13, 1861. This was in the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Much of the equipment at the training camp was poor. They had no guns. Very few of the soldiers knew how to shoot a gun and hardly knew which end of the gun was to be used. In training we used sticks for guns
“Our first assignment was to reinforce Mulligan at Lexington, Missouri. Lexington surrendered before we could bring up reinforcements. Our forced march took us 45 miles in two days, one right after the other. At Camden Hill we slept twenty minutes. Then we woke up only to find the Rebels had surrounded us in the dark. There was only one way out. We sneaked out, but it meant another forced march through some awful rain. Evidently we were not heard for we escaped an engagement. We marched on to Kansas City, a pretty miserable lot. You see our company had only two mules and one wagon. We had thrown our tents away during the march and our provisions were so scanty that we almost starved. Finally we went back to Lexington, 200 miles, for rations. All we had was a pint of cornmeal a day. Before the winter was over we were ordered back to Springfield, Missouri. In February we joined in the attack on Fort Donaldson [i.e. Fort Donelson].
“Some of the troops refused to walk to St. Louis. From St. Louis we took boats to Cairo, New Madrid and Island No. 10. We crossed the Mississippi in small boats and captured a bunch of Rebels. Our next move was down to Fort Pillow, and up the Tennessee River to the siege of Corinth and Iuka and Atlanta. [Although he began the Siege of Atlanta he mustered out before the city actually fell.] On October 22 and 23, 1862, we attacked Price and Van Doren [General Sterling Price and General Earl Van Dorn] from Missouri. During the first day of the encounter, our division was not in. We watched the movement of Price.
“On the second day we were put in the line of battle. Shells were thrown in. Price drew off the second day. If we had followed we could have captured the whole bunch. This country was mainly swamp. We buried our dead in a deep well [emphasis added]. The next morning we captured quite a bunch of Rebels. We followed them for two or three days to Mobile. [This may have been a slight exaggeration, since Mobile was very far south, near the Gulf. But since they marched 40 to 50 miles in a day, it's just barely possible.] Nothing to eat, no salt, and no bread, but we killed some cows and that helped. So we returned to Corinth and passed on the way a field of sweet potatoes and many got sick from eating them. We then stayed in Corinth awhile. Our next campaign was at Jackson, Miss.
“The 27th and 39th O.V. Regiments were together throughout the war and with the 43rd and 63rd made up the 4th Brigade. This drive was made against Forest (Nathan Bedford Forrest). Forest evidently retreated through a timbered section and eluded the Ohio Brigade. We finally returned to Corinth.
“The next order was to start for Vicksburg. We had no shoes or clothes worth speaking of. Our regiment was given a three months rest while we guarded Memphis. We were within one day’s march of Lookout Mountain. We then started our march to the Atlantic [emphasis added]. My four years were up and I was mustered out. [Although he indicated four years enlistment in the narrative that was clearly a mistake. Enlistment was for three years, which means he mustered out on July 13, 1864.] If I had known Sherman was starting his march to the sea, I would have reenlisted. [This is about as politically incorrect as it gets, but he clearly meant it. Sherman's "march to the sea" is what really ended the war, even though Appomattox was later.]“In looking back, one of the strangest things about the war was the small ailments that men died of. A blister, indigestion, or a touch of flu would put a man under, when in ordinary circumstances, or at home, he would have been well in a couple of days. Thirteen of the biggest men in the Company had measles. Of course, there being no wagons, they had to shift along. All were dead in less than twelve months [emphasis added]. Our equipment consisted of an old rifle that would kick you down and kick you after you fell, a saber, a bayonet, and belt.” [It isn't clear whether the muskets in the picture were the weapons referred to, but odds are he's holding his musket and the one held by his grandson was actually his brother's. All three brothers in the family served under Sherman.]
Update: By complete coincidence, or perhaps "brain jazz," Gerard Vanderleun just posted a picture (together with a stunning poem) of what appears to be part of Forrest's cavalry, that eluded my Great Granddad's unit. The picture of the Confederate troopers was taken in 1917, so could have been taken within months of the picture above. Well, they could have been taken on the same day for all I know.
I spent the weekend with Ehren Murburg's dad, Mike, who I consider a new friend. We ate, drank, and talked, and Saturday night a college friend of his from Princeton was in town, so dropped by for a few hours and we talked about everything except the thing which brought us together.
We wound up talking about - shockingly - patriotism, and going back and forth (both Mike and his friend Steve are forthright liberals) on the need for a patriotic liberalism. I told them that in my view, liberalism had become identified with a cosmopolitan view that denied the unique place that America has in the world and that wanted badly to reduce America to a country among others.
Steve offered the notion that America is an idea, and that that idea is inherently welcoming, and I chimed in supporting him; we are not a nation of blood or land, we are a nation of an idea, and possibly the first great nation that can say that.
We need - as liberals, as Americans - to embrace those ideas which are our patrimony, to accept their greatness and the imperfections of the realizations. Just as we recognize the greatness and flaws of our children.
Mike Murburg's son Ehren was buried under an American flag, and like all of those who died and were buried under that flag wearing the uniform of our country, he died for a set of ideas. Those ideas are not liberal, not conservative - they contain American liberalism and conservatism and so are greater than either.
I am an American liberal, and as such, I owe my first loyalty to my country.
And because of that - like many modern liberals - I have no problem being grateful to those who died, were wounded, who simply or heroically served in defense of our flag and the ideals it represents.
So on this Veteran's Day, let me - belatedly - say once again to all those serving and their families:
So thanks, veterans. Thanks soldiers and sailors and marines and airmen. Thanks for doing your jobs and I hope you all come home hale and whole, every one of you.
Thank you Ehren. And Mike, for loaning him to us.
And finally, thank you to Eric, my son. For protecting me and the rest of us, and for choosing to wear the uniform and defend the ideas that make this country what it is - great. May we and all our leaders be worthy of you and all your colleagues.
This is to acknowledge that in the recent elections the pro-choice side has been victorious everywhere, and the pro-life side has been defeated comprehensively. To all supporters of choice: congratulations.
In one final day of voting:
Hat tip to Jill Stanek, for Life will not go on (link).
"Obama's election means Roe v. Wade has been taken off the table for the next 20 or 30 years. Throughout his four- to eight-year tenure, Obama will nominate at least two or three young Supreme Court justices to ensure the majority continues to agree with that decision, forcing the continued legality of abortion on all 50 states for decades."
"So the holy grail for many pro-lifers is now gone. Just get used to thinking of pro-life strategy without it."
Elections have consequences. Barack Obama has moved promptly to gratify the hopes of his pro-choice supporters. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air notes that Barack Obama is set on course as a pro-choice absolutist, and predicts outrage by pro-lifers (link).
Not necessarily. That is what Michelle Malkin would recommend (link), and she'd be right. But with no obviously viable endgame left to play for and no doubt about what America has voted for, pro-lifers may simply be shattered.
IEEE originally stood for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, but the organization's scope of interest has expanded into so many related fields that it's now known only by its acronym. One field of intense interest to many IEEE members is the defense industry, and a recent IEEE Spectrum Magazine special offers a number of features that attempt to come to grips with current trends.
Right now, the current trends are not good. The US Navy is smaller than it has been in decades, currently has no viable shipbuilding programs for surface combatants, and has credibility issues in Washington. The US Army has a clear modernization strategy, but faces a maintenance overhang, challenges with both program management of its $160 billion Future Combat Systems meta-program and the very premises behind it, and other issues. The USAF has become concerned about its institutional future, even as its aircraft continue to see their average ages rise and respected outside organizations slam its procurement plans as fantasy. A recent Pentagon Defense Business Board report that examined programs from 2000 - 2007 throws the problem into stark relief: cost increases on 5 major weapons programs accounted for $206 billion, or 22%, of the total jump in spending for new arms so far this decade. The Defense Procurement Death Spiral is biting, hard, across the board.
There is plenty of blame to go around, from requirements definition problems and skewed incentives within the Pentagon, to Congressional interference and overhead - though the latter isn't discussed much at Capitol Hill hearings. The IEEE Spectrum articles in this series offer a quick third party view. They are all relatively short, and include:
I'm absolutely happy that the margin (for almost all the races) was wide enough that it was not only outside the margin of error, but outside the plausible margin of any kind of fraud.
All the same, I'm developing an idea about crowdsourcing some post-election audits to try and see if we can generate enough data to either confirm that there were irregularities - or make a convincing argument that there were not.
I'd love to toss out a challenge to the conservative bloggers who tried to raise the ACORN/registration fraud as a meaningful risk to the integrity of the election.
First of all, I think it's likely that every state has a significant number of 'zombie registrations' - registrations from people who have died, have moved out of state, or registered illegally either deliberately or inadvertently.
Given a set of assumptions about the quality of the work that ACORN did, you can either assume that they did great audits of the cards turned in by their low-wage registration workers, and thus created very few zombies, or that they didn't (either deliberately or through lack of resources, processes, or ability) and so created a lot of zombies.
So it's reasonable to assert that there's a 'zombie issue'
Now the question is where there are exploits we can devise that use those zombies in a plausible way to commit voting fraud.
I'll exclude from this list encouraging people who shouldn't be registered but are from voting. That doesn't rise to the level of systemic fraud on one hand, and to the extent that we accept Patterico's argument that this represents a large number of illegal aliens who have registered and voted - it represents broader policy issues.
So how would you audit for voting fraud like this??
I'd like to throw down a challenge to the people who care about this to work with me in devising ways that we can do some proof tests to see if the problem exists, to try and sample it's extent.
Lots of knowledgeable people have looked at this and made the flat statement that it isn't an issue.
If you think it is - and I'm in the 'it might be' crowd - then let's get some folks together and figure out how to demonstrate it.
So I'm at an airport again, headed to Florida to give another talk and have dinner with Ethan Murburg's dad.
And after reading a bunch of papers, and talking to a bunch of friends, I want to set out some quick thoughts about our having elected Obama. Depending on how sober I am this weekend, I may have time to do some more in-depth writing. But quickly:
This isn't about Obama's policies, which the staffing rumors hint suggest may make me much happier than Ezra Klein.
It's about the notion that, first of all, America has overwhelmingly elected a black man to be President. And how unremarkable that seems, and how absolutely remarkable that unremarkability is.
And about the fact that a young, ambitious man - with no family assets, no inherited connections nothing except the relationships he chose and created himself - managed to rise up over a period of 15 years and make himself President.
This is an open thread for discussing the brilliance and the many successes of Barack Obama, his Democratic colleagues and his supporters in the recently concluded elections.
Just to lead off with something: Barack Obama won the youth vote for the Democratic party. Here's a graph showing the collapse of the Republican youth vote in 2008, compared to 2004 and 2000. (link) Of course the converse of this collapse is Democratic success, and Barack Obama is the cause of that new success.
As I said I would, I'm working up a top post and some ground rules for the promised American Exceptionalism thread.
I expect some spirited participation. But the entry is not ready to publish just yet. My goal is to create an adequate and worthy capsule post and then drop the "green flag". I hope to have that ready very soon. "That is all."
So we were lucky enough to go to Sacramento Tues night - TG, BG (who is home on leave for two weeks) and I - where we got to watch the election results at the Secretary of State's office. The things you have to do when you don't have TV at home...
...and I was looking forward to standing around watching as crises flew up and were swiftly dispatched; the intent buzz of seriousness filling the building as the creaky mechanics of electoral politics were brought to life.
Particularly this year. Because as a result of Secretary Bowen's insight and courage, California was the first state to take a stand on the deeply flawed electronic voting technology which had become pervasive by 2006. And we pulled the plugs on them. She decertified the bad machines, came up with security measures for the not-so-bad ones, and the county election officials screamed bloody murder, saying that they wouldn't be able to manage high-turnout elections without the systems.
So how was it?
An island of calm. Kind of boring. We wound up watching Comedy Central (funny!), because when we walked around, there was nothing exciting going on, except for lots of people working calmly. One of the help line workers took a call while we were there. A voter wondered how long the lines at her polling place would be. Seriously, that's the kind of stuff that happened all night. I chatted up several lifers - people who had been in the office for years - and they were beaming at what a smooth election it had been.
Sadly, smooth running doesn't make for great drama. But it does make for great elections. So hats off to all the workers - from the nice ladies in my neighborhood garage polling place to the county officials to the state staff to the Secretary herself, whose judgment in pushing back on the use of these machines was validated last night.
Now we need to get rid of them in the rest of the country. If you don't live in California, reach out to your state legislators, your Secretary of State, your Governor and ask why you can't have elections that run as smoothly as the one here just did.
Smoothly, accurately, transparently.
I'll have more on elections tomorrow, including a (friendly) challenge to election conspiracy theorists on the right.
It's Obama, and by a bigger margin than I'd anticipated. Much bigger.
And the speeches - both McCain's and the President-Elect's - were magnificent.
John McCain is a helluva man, and he showed us why he deserved to be the Republican candidate, and why he deserved a better campaign.
Barack Obama's speech hit the right notes for me - inclusive, hopeful, determined.
I am hopeful that that's the keynote for his Administration. And watching, to see what my President will do.
So I have a Really Important Presentation this morning in Orange County, then a lunch, then have to fly to Sacramento to watch the results.
I had it all figured out- pick up the docs at the 24-hour Kinko's down the street, get to the polls right at 7, vote, head to the meeting.
Glitch - found an error in the book, so work with the graphic artist on the East Coast and drop off the revised pdf at 5:30.
Home, shower, dress, wake TG, drive over to the neighbor's house where we vote.
At 7:01 there were 42 people in line. Uh-Oh.
I can swing by on the way to the airport this afternoon...I hope.
Update: Made it!! The nice voting lady in her garage said that she was head-down until noon.
200 of us were already lined up by the time the polling place doors opened at 7 a.m. The queue moved quickly. At the sign-in table, the election judge found my name on her screen and handed me a smartcard.
"Do you want to see my I.D.?"
Frown. "We were told not to ask for identification."
"How do you know if am who I say I am?"
She looks up. "Please sign this slip. Bring it and the card to the official by the booths."
I print the letter "A" followed by a straight horizontal line. "This isn't a real signature."
A sigh. "I could go on for hours about the procedures we've been instructed to use this year, but there isn't time, you know..."
On to the booth. I inserted the smartcard into the hack-prone, no-audit-trail Diebold machine. Part of the matched set that our county bought at such expense a few years ago, and that will proceed to its well-deserved place on the scrapheap after today. Made my choices and touched "Cast Your Ballot."
I was back outside by 7:30; there were 150 more voters waiting to take their turns. Maryland will see a heavy turnout, because of--or despite--its deep Blue color.
As every Canadian knows, Ti Kwan Leap is the timeless martial arts comedy skit performed by the 1990s comedy troupe The Frantics. It remains a classic. Today is election day, and I had resolved not to be involved in the American elections. Living here as a Canadian citizen, who can still vote in Canada, and did... just didn't feel right. Nevertheless, as an act of compassion I thought I'd contribute this classic bit of Canadiana to make you all laugh. Apparently, a kids' tae kwon do class somewhere was inspired to put it on as a play...
JK: So, we got a reader who submitted an article on Proposition 8, the California referendum that would define marriages as exclusively heterosexual. Marc and I don't agree with it, and his article speaks for both of us... but it was a different take, and we've published a number of guest columns from people we've disagreed with before. Add this to the pile.
No on Prop 8 is Anti-Feminist and Regressive
by Wayne Lusvardi, MSW, Pasadena, CA
As a former court protective services worker for abused and neglected children, I am in favor of Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage; however, I am unpersuaded by all the arguments for and against it.
The arguments in favor of the Prop 8 are overly defensive, conjectural, seemingly discriminatory and moralistic for the wrong reasons. Concern over a speculative future harm to children as the weakest members of society will not likely overcome the perception of actual discrimination against gays today in the eyes of much of the liberal public. Moreover, many people believe on religious and secular grounds that children should be taught not to discriminate against gays.
Conversely, the arguments against Prop 8 on the basis of injustice, unfairness and the unhappiness and social stigma inflicted on gays by denying them the sanction of marriage equally miss the mark. Gays have already mostly been granted rights and protections of quasi-marriage (power of attorney, family status for hospital visitation, benefits rollover). The social status of gay couples is essentially no different than that of anyone else who lives in an unmarried status, including widows.
The notion that progressive “change” will overcome the “centuries’ long struggle for civil rights” for gay marriage is historically myopic.
The past Progressive reforms of busing in our public schools (“white flight”) and recent reform of affordable housing credit as a civil right (“sub-prime” loan foreclosures and investor wipe-outs) are tragic cases of the unintended consequences of the politicizing of “civil rights.”
If Prop 8 passes we may sadly see "straight flight" by parents, who were formerly tolerant of gays, pulling their kids out of public schools. Parents who were formerly laid back about teaching about gay rights in public schools may actually start teaching and preaching to their children the opposite at home. Needless to say, this would not further Progressivism.
The prospect of Muslim polygamous marriages proliferating in California due to rejecting Prop 8 does not seem far fetched, hysterical, or a scare tactic given the thousands of such marriages in Italy and Great Britain. Is this what we want in "Progressive" California?
Parenthetically, secularization has imposed rules of the game on religious believers, to wit: "You are completely free to live by your religion in private, but keep it out of the public sphere." Jews have embraced this public-private dichotomy because it has afforded them protection and opportunities. Protestants have also accepted this bargain somewhat less enthusiastically, albeit with the option of withdrawal by sectarianism. A problem is that Islam is not a religious faith but a system of political and social organization that does not accept the modern public-private separation and does not sanction toleration, assimilation or intermarriage. Failure to ratify Prop 8 would send a signal that the public-private arrangement between religion and modern society is over. Your private marriage and your religion would be in the public domain. This would be highly regrettable.
This is not to say that civil rights for gays have been a bad thing. To the contrary, civil rights for gays have led to social tolerance. And social tolerance has brought about gays seeking to institutionalize and stabilize their partnerships instead of the social chaos which existed previously. This is relatively a good and Progressive thing.
Notwithstanding all of the above, I have two objections to same-sex marriage which I have not been addressed in the media. One: it is anti-feminist; and two: it is regressive.
No on Prop 8 is Anti-Feminist
The word “mother” comes from the Latin word “mater” for mother. And “mater” is what matters in marriage. Marriage is unavoidably built around female sexuality and procreation. Marriage can only concern a relationship to a woman for procreation. Marriage is the opposite of concubinage, which is an involuntary relationship with a man of higher status typically in a traditional society.
A social order that doesn’t protect a woman from rape or incest or concubinage can’t give women freedom to control who the father(s) of their children are, or their own bodies, or even their own health (re: John Stuart Mill). Marriage is the structure of this freedom of choice for women in a modern society. Women’s freedom to control access to their body for procreation is what modern marriage is all about. Without that there is no societal or religious basis for laws to protect marriage, particularly gay marriage.
Defining marriage down to a mere contract between companions or non-procreative sex partners will only end up harming all women for if everyone can marry, no one needs to and it becomes meaningless. Women will ultimately suffer most. Gay marriage robs something that belongs exclusively to women. Traditional man-woman marriage is not anti-gay, it is pro-feminine.
Same sex marriage as currently proposed without strictures against polygamy, arranged marriages, and under-age marriages (or even contrived Oedipal marriages between an adult child and their parent for medical insurance coverage) would likely result in something anti-feminist and socially and politically Regressive. Modernity has liberated gays from discrimination but it has also led to a yearning to overcome the alienation and psychological "homelessness" that accompanies modernity. Same-sex marriage can thus be seen as a counter-modern movement (Peter Berger, et. al. The Homeless Mind).
A pro-feminine position would perhaps look favorably on gay marriage for lesbians, given that artificial insemination plus married lesbians would equal women with control of and a support structure for procreation. And lesbian couples have a lower level of failure than heterosexuals or male homosexuals.
No on Prop 8 is Regressive
My second objection to a No Vote on Prop 8 and the unthinking race to embrace gay marriage is that it is politically regressive and will violate the successful social contract of tolerance that has been built in our society.
Up to now there has been an absence of passion about opposing same sex marriage. The attitude of most of the majority public is reflected in the popular joke: "Same-sex marriage? Sure: Welcome to the joys of alimony!" Most Americans have gravitated to look at homosexuality as something to be avoided wherever possible. But they are tolerant toward homosexuals and have conceded them all sorts of rights, even superior rights and sinecures in the workplace, as long as they do not usurp the traditional meaning and sanctity of marriage. This social tolerance contract has now been abrogated by the California Supreme Court.
There is no guarantee that ending this social tolerance contract will be a good thing. In all likelihood, it will result in tragic and regressive unintended consequences. The negative consequences of gay marriage, as presently left vague and open, are as predictable as those who foretold the coming disaster of our financial institutions in 2004 (see: Mark C. Taylor, Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption).
Sociology, Not Theology
I suspect the reason that I find the arguments on both sides of California's Prop 8 so unpersuasive is that what separates people on this issue is not ideology or theology but sociology. Those in the professional class (law, education, media, and liberal clergy serving the professional class) are predominantly in favor of same-sex marriage and oppose Prop 8; and those in the commercial and working classes and the military (and their clergy) oppose gay marriage and favor the protection of marriage under Prop 8. (If this means anything, my carpenter is gay and is opposed to Prop 8).
There seems to be no way to transcend this social division given that both Christianity and Judaism are captured by social class and culture and have been unable to articulate a middle ground theology (theodicy) of toleration and marriage in a modern context (see Berger and Berger: The War Over the Family: Capturing the Middle Ground, 1983).
There is another possible sociological reason that there is so much conflict over this issue: many of the clergy leading the campaign for gay marriage are gay; conversely many of the clerical opponents of gay marriage are straights. Demagoguery, self interest and fund raising seem to reign supreme and we are left without religion to transcend social divisions and bring about reconciliation. Churches and synagogues that are nothing more than social clubs will be used as social “clubs.”
If we willy nilly grant marriage rights to one group - gays - we will find it politically impossible to deny such rights to others scripted with their own resumes of "victimization." And politicians will always be ready to politicize modern marriage by expanding it beyond its original purpose.
Marriage isn’t a conspiracy of patriarchs, straights, or the respectable capitalistic bourgeoisie class. It is part of the divine and natural order – only through marriage can the world and social order persist. And it is also part of the larger social contract of modern society.
It is more important to exclusively preserve the freedom of marriage for women at this time than to throw out the social tolerance contract with nothing to replace it but backlash and a social order built around an anti-American notion of social “pillarization” as found in the Dutch social model. Preserving marriage exclusively for procreation and women's freedom transcends the politics and religion of Left and Right and is the most Progressive option at this time until a consensus about marriage can be agreed upon.
Even though I am disappointed with the arguments both for and against Prop 8, I nonetheless urge you to VOTE YES ON PROP 8 as the Feminist and Progressive option at this time.
Reposted from November 1, 2004
This was posted four years ago, but I want to make sure people today keep it in mind.
Over the last few weeks, I've felt the pressure to get off the fence and declare for one candidate or the other. Commenters here, and people in my personal life, have pushed me to 'fess up that I'm a Bush supporter, or admit that I'm too much of a Democrat to cross the line.
Thinking about this feels kind of like having a chipped tooth. Every time your tongue curls over and touches it, you get a flash of pain, and yet you keep going back and doing it again.
And then, as I wrestled with it - with Kerry's opportunistic failure to be honest about where we stand in foreign policy; with Bush's stream of failures in post-invasion Iraq and domestic security - I realized that there's a much bigger issue afoot.
I remember the bumper stickers disclaiming responsibility for the Nixon/Humphrey election - "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for McCarthy" which in today's discourse have been replaced by bumper stickers saying "He's Not My President" and trying to disclaim responsibility for a whole Administration.
Well, you can't. And yes he is. And yes he will be, whoever he is.
And I think that the attitude that denies legitimacy to an opponent - which is not nearly the same thing as rolling over for that opponent on policy issues - is far more dangerous, and will do far more damage to my country than either candidate can possibly do if their opponents most feverish claims prove to be true.
Michael Totten has a good column over at TechCentralStation about why hawks like me shouldn't hyperventilate over the prospect of a Kerry victory.Former Lee Atwater staffer Pitney has a great column on partisanship up at SFGate.
OK, here goes: I doubt that all wisdom lies on my side of the political spectrum. I do not think that all the people who disagree with me are crazy, stupid or evil. Though I'm voting for President Bush, I hardly believe that the election of Sen. John Kerry would bring on the end-times.There are two powerful issues here.
Behind all this invective lies a sense of certainty that I don't share. Political issues are largely about the future, and nobody can be sure what the future holds. Will Social Security go bust? Would a privatized system work better? We free-market conservatives answer yes to both questions. We make a strong case, but some smart people reach different conclusions. Until the future arrives, each side should ponder the possibility that the other side may have a point.
The first is that, like it or not, we are all citizens of the same polity. As much as TG is committed to the issue of gay marriage, she shares the political space with Cathy Seipp, who opposes it with equal fervor. They can choose to define themselves by their differences or by what they share - which is actually a lot.
That sense of shared citizenship ought to be the root of our patriotism, which manifests itself in any number of small and unheroic ways - the taxes we willingly pay to keep open schools when we have no children, the traffic lights we don't run because it would be wrong. Instead we narrow our focus on the small circle of people whose beliefs reinforce ours, and whose shared sense of powerlessness and entitlement - after all, in this system none of us entirely get our way - lead us down a path to rage and frustration.
And it leads us off a cliff as well.
The incredible strength of the West lies in the fact that Western culture, uniquely as far as I know, facilitates open clash of certainties.
Reality is far more complex than any of us know, than any of our ideologies can express, and than any of our policies can deliberately shape. Politics is the realm of the "wicked" problem.
In my daily life, much of what I do is deal with organizational failure.
The primary cause of organizational failure is the unwillingness of those in charge to listen, to look, at adapt to new facts or changing circumstance. We try many ideas, and some of them prove out - or prove out for a period of time. We have to be open to abandoning them if we are going to succeed.
Those who criticize the conduct of the war in Iraq have valuable things to say, as do those like me who support it. The tension and arguments between us are not a bad thing, they're a good thing, because out of that kind of process we arrive at better policy and better answers.
But that implies an openness to argument, as opposed to a struggle to simply upend the other, which is where we are today.
That implies that you think that we're all part of one team.
Whoever is elected in November will be President of all of us. I don't know who it will be - and I'm not making this appeal because I secretly think it will be one or the other and I want to 'bind the wounds' - but I'll have no problem saying "President Kerry" as I have no problem today saying "President Bush".
Either man will be my President - and yours as well.
Here's a fast roundup on my take on the current crop of California propositions...
1A - bonds for high-speed rail. NO. I like intercity rail, but not enough to take on this financial burden at this time. Smart people also suggest that it's unlikely to be workable - see this series at the Antiplanner.
Far from being a success, Japanese bullet trains put the previously profitable, state-owned Japanese National Railways into virtual bankruptcy. This forced the government to privatize the railroad and absorb $200 billion in high-speed debt.
Nor did the bullet trains slow Japan’s adoption of automobiles. Instead, the growth of auto driving accelerated when the bullet trains were introduced, partly because the Japanese National Railways responded to their monetary losses by raising fares. Since the bullet trains were introduced, rails lost more than half their market share of travel to the automobile.
Europe’s high-speed rail story is no better. Since introducing high-speed rail, rail has slowly but steadily lost market share to autos and airlines. Despite spending tens of billions of dollars per year subsidizing rail, the only European countries where rail has more than a 9 percent share of passenger travel - including Hungary and Switzerland - don't have high-speed rail.
2 - bans factory farming. NO. Emotionally, I support this. We buy cage-free chicken and eggs. But we pay more for it, and I'm not sure that everyone in California can or should. So based on that, I'm inclined to vote no and let the market push for better treatment of farm animals.
3 - children's hospital bond act. NO. We need more and better hospitals. But we don't need bond acts with this language in them:
Designates that 80 percent of bond proceeds go to hospitals that focus on children with illnesses such as leukemia, cancer, heart defects, diabetes, sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.
Designates that 20 percent of bond proceeds go to University of California general acute care hospitals.
I'm not saying that the UC lobbyists decided they needed $196 million in funding and decided to bury it in a larger proposal - no one would be that sleazy. But that's the effect. And we're in a financial crisis, so I'd be inclined against even a well-crafted bill. NO.
4 - parental notification. NO. This was probably the hardest decision for me to make this cycle. Intuitively, as a parent, I'm very unhappy with the notion that my minor child could get healthcare without my consent. At the same time, I understand why issues around sexuality might be more difficult. And I'm in the 'unhappily ambivalent' category on abortion in general. This is one where TG swung my vote with her strong opposition; explaining that it was a vote for backalley abortions. So I'm holding my nose and voting NO.
5 - decriminalizes various drug possession charges and moves them to a treatment track. I support drug legalization; I think it would have a worldwide positive impact if we took the lawlessness, crazy profit, and institutional damage that it does to law enforcement, etc. But this proposal strips the judicial system of too much power in dealing with drug offenders, and doesn't place the kind of regulatory regime in place that would support legalization. So a big NO on this one.
6 - sets aside almost a billion a year for law enforcement and prosecution. NO. I hate - that's haich-aye-why-tee-eee - budgeting by initiative.
7 - mandate an unrealistic level of renewable energy. NO. Renewable good - Mandates that more energy than can be generated from renewables soon be purchased, guaranteeing billions in green utility boondoggles and high utility rates with not much to show for it.
8 - bans gay marriage. NO. Go read this and understand why.
What it is that matters in a marriage? Commitment. Duration. Primacy. It is a commitment - which means that in the face of conflicting desires, you have to anyway. It has duration - meaning it gains in value over time. An old good relationship is better than a new one. My dream is to grow old with TG, and to have the span of our history together as a part of what we share. It means that I will take care of her, and be taken care of by her in turn, and that in the time where long shadows come over our lives, we won't be alone in facing them. And it has primacy over your other relationships. The act of saying to this person "You are the most important person in my life. Not my children, not my boss, not my pastor or anyone else matters more to me than you do," fundamentally changes both one's life and one's relationships to others.
These are good things. They are not only good for people, they are good for society. They bind people to each other, and bind them to a future. They create the kind of 'units' of people that can successfully build societies and raise children.
The kind of sexual equipment that the people involved have, and what they do with that sexual equipment, has nothing to do with these core values. You'd hope that they were sexually compatible and satisfied, since seeking out other sexual outlets tends to conflict with the core values. But for crying out loud, what difference does their sexual behavior make to what really matters?
9 - criminal justice reforms. NO. Look, even prosecutor Patterico isn't even supporting this. I've got problems with the language, and - again - think that we're better off letting our legislators, you know, legislate.
12 - CalVet bonds. YES. Safe, well-run program that helps California veterans buy homes.
I'l be voting at 7am tomorrow...
This is a cross-post, but I expect it'll interest a few of you.
William McIntosh, the "White Warrior" of the Creek nation, had risen to the leadership of the Creeks in spite of being of mixed Creek and Scottish blood. That Scottish ancestry offered no shame to a warrior people: he was of the blood of John Mohr McIntosh (the Gaelic byname meaning, "the Great"). John Mohr was recruited by Georgia's own founder, the heroic Sir James Edward Oglethorpe, friend of the Yamicraw nation, to guard the early colony against Spanish raiders from the south. Chief William was of the blood also of General Lachlan McIntosh, who served with General Washington at Valley Forge and helped to negotiate treaties for the establishments of forts in the west during the Revolutionary war; he thereby opened the West to later expansion. General McIntosh also killed Declaration of Independence signatory Button Gwinnett in a duel. Finally, he was a direct descendant of William McIntosh, who was sent by the Revolutionary government to the Creeks to aid them in fighting the British.
Perhaps out of loyalty to this revolution, or out of loyalty to his fathers who fought for it, Chief William McIntosh made a deal that put the lands of the Creek Nation under the jurisdiction of the state of Georgia. Shortly thereafter, he was assassinated in his home by tomahawk; but the transfer of authority held in spite of his murder.
What had heretofore been forested country began to be cleared by homesteaders, who wanted a place to grow food for their families and crops to sell at market. As they cleared a particular patch of land in west central Georgia, they began to notice that the land began to erode far more than other lands in Georgia. The erosion was serious enough to be noteworthy in the 1830s. One can imagine the early farmers wondering how bad it would get. The topsoil, and their livelihood, was washing away: where would it stop?
Providence Canyon, North Rim
Providence Canyon, West Rim
Providence Canyon, Spire
It's a strange world we live in. Divided loyalties lead to murder or betrayal. Other men stake their hopes on a crop, and see the ground literally wash away from them. Hopes are dashed, lives are blasted, the work of a lifetime is lost: and an unimaginable beauty appears from the land. Long she waited there, cloaked in seemingly usual hills and valleys, waiting only the right touch to make her beautiful. How many more wait, and for what man's touch?
The ranger center proudly posts several registry sheets showing the names of famous guests. In 1967, the guest register for Providence Canyon was boldly signed: "John Wayne."
I would say the lessons are that:
Disaster may give way to beauty.
Many things are hidden.
Here are men who did their best, and followed their vision. They did not get what they sought: Chief McIntosh was killed by his own, farmers lost their fortunes, Lachlan McIntosh slew a great man of his own cause.
Here is their mark: this is how the world received them.
Find its equal. The world loves such men. At their touch, she shows herself as only does a woman who loves.
There's a lot of heated words on Memeorandum on Obama's taped conversation with the SF Chronicle about coal, and I think they are unfair.
Here are some headlines:
...and so on.
They're kind of full of it.
First of all, he's talking about making it difficult to build new coal plants. not shutting down existing ones. No one gets "bankrupted" in that scenario.
I'm not sure that's a wise approach, given new clean-coal technologies, and I don't see how it fits into a broader energy policy that revolves around replacing oil imports, but I absolutely don't think it merits the level of hysteria and hyperbole that's presented.
Here's what Obama's latest policy paper on energy (pdf) has to say about coal:
Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology. Carbon capture and storage technologies hold enormous potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as we power our economy with domestically produced and secure energy. As a U.S. Senator, Obama has worked tirelessly to ensure that clean coal technology becomes commercialized. An Obama administration will
provide incentives to accelerate private sector investment in commercial scale zero-carbon coal facilities. In order to maximize the speed with which we advance this critical technology, Barack
Obama and Joe Biden will instruct DOE to enter into public private partnerships to develop 5 "first-of-a-kind" commercial scale coal-fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration.
So under cap-and-trade, you can build a "clean coal" plant - one with extremely low carbon outputs - but if you build a "dirty-coal" plant, the cost of the carbon output will be uneconomical.
I really don't see this as exceptional; in the mid-term, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables are far more important.
having said that, I think his policy on nukes is hypocritical.
I think this takes the cake - God, I certainly hope it does.
I sat down this evening to hand out candy and do a quick post on journalism - in the light of the Nir Rosen Rolling Stone piece - bringing up my usual "journalist vs. citizen" point, and ragging, in a pipe-smoking philosophical way, on Rosen's detachment and belief that he's somehow "more" than a citizen - he's a journalist.
Then I sat down to reread Bing West's attack on Rosen and the comment thread under it, and went ballistic.
Because Rosen didn't just embed with the Taliban on an operation - he used his journalistic credentials to help them get past an Afghan army guard.
i did not say i deceived the afghan soldier. on the contrary, both i and the taliban commanders i was with told the afghan soldiers that i was a journalist and in fact i showed him my passport. of course there is nothing wrong with deceiving anybody if its going to protect you, but it wasnt necessary in this case, and i did not claim to deceive them. i in fact had to persuade them that i was a journalist and not a suicide bomber, which is what they suspected at first.
I'd like to be speechless; instead what comes to mind is a string of invective that will get the blog blocked in corporate firewalls for quite some time.
If I, or the parent of another American soldier, ever meet Mr. Rosen, he'll be lucky to only get the contents of my drink in his face.
Mr. Rosen enjoys the protections of a US passport; he was born in New York City.
I'll let a better man than I have the final word.In the colloquium on journalistic ethics that I frequently cite, after the two leading journalists explained that they would stand by and roll tape as an American force was ambushed, an American soldier stood up. Col. George M. Connell said:
"I feel utter . . . contempt. " Two days after this hypothetical episode, Connell Jennings or Wallace might be back with the American forces--and could be wounded by stray fire, as combat journalists often had been before. The instant that happened he said, they wouldn't be "just journalists" any more. Then they would drag them back, rather than leaving them to bleed to death on the battlefield. "We'll do it!" Connell said. "And that is what makes me so contemptuous of them. Marines will die going to get ... a couple of journalists." The last few words dripped with disgust.