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Friday, August 19, 2005

Our Military Costs A Lot But Not As Much As Yesterday

The Belmont Club discusses the costs of our military in comparison with our expenditures of the past. Given the greater needs due to terrorism, the US will spend 3.4% of GDP on the military in the 2000-2009 decade. The prior decades from the 1990s to the 1960s were respectively 4.1%, 5.8%, 5.9% and 10.7% . Add in the fact that the Clinton spending was low because he piggy-backed on the Reagan build-up.

Meanwhile Belmont quotes Dr. Michael O'Hanlon of the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute:

"Twenty seven percent of the requested increases were for higher salaries for military personnel, reflecting the need to retain personnel who might be lost to the service. Much of the rest was required to "to restore funding for hardware to historic norms after a 'procurement holiday' in the 1990s". Most of the pressure comes from "the main combat systems of the military services, which are generally wearing out.

But in plain dollars, the US military spending almost equals that of the rest of the world combined.

A FEW SIMPLE WORDS

Mike Taylor provides us this valuable commentary:

Language is a funny thing.

Every now and then, someone will utter a phrase that summarizes their philosophy. The phrase may have no direct bearing on a person’s outlook on life but a few short, simple words can communicate an entire spectrum of ideas.

For example, what can we learn about a person who said:

“Veni, vidi, vici.”?

Those three words say a lot about Gaius Julius Caesar, don’t they?

What can we tell about Abraham Lincoln’s outlook when he said “a government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth…”?

And I think we can all understand a great deal of how Bill Clinton’s mind works when he said:

“It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

This morning I was half-listening to the Don Imus Show, pre-occupied as I was with my ongoing research in the field of perfecting espresso. (Today’s experiment: Espresso Vivace Dolce beans that were roasted in Seattle on August 16th.) Frank Rich, a regular columnist in the New York Times was opining on a broad variety of topics. At the moment I was evaluating crema production as determined by granularity I heard Mr. Rich tell Mr. Imus, something to the effect of…

“Cindy Sheehan is not that well understood by Americans who are just concerned with collecting their tax cuts…”

It struck me that Mr. Rich was summarizing the ultra-liberal philosophy of government with that last phrase: …”collecting their tax cuts…”.

To me, Mr. Rich was implying that the tax cuts instituted by George W. Bush are somehow government largesse. That tax cuts are some crazy giveaway/takeaway scheme dreamed up by conservatives to get votes. Mr. Rich seemed to imply that there is some moral laxity in wanting tax cuts… that tax cuts make Americans less understanding… perhaps more self-centered.

I have news for Mr. Rich, if his web browser ever comes across these words, and I will put them in loud caps so that he can hear them:

TAXES ARE TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT FROM THE EARNINGS OF WORKING MEN AND WOMEN. TAX RELIEF IS NOT A GOVERNMENT HANDOUT PROGRAM. WANTING TO KEEP MORE OF YOUR EARNINGS IS NATURAL AND, IN FACT, PRODUCES MORE SOCIAL GOOD THAN GOVERNMENT EVER CAN.

In a few, simple words Mr. Rich has communicated the philosophy of the left wing. Your earnings do not belong to you, they belong to the government. The very idea that you would want to keep more of your own money is morally wrong. The government knows better than you and can spend your money more effectively than you. To deprive the government of tax revenue is to deprive society of all the good that government does.

The Left wants you believe that if you want to keep more of the money you earn, you’re a stupid, selfish, heartless bastard.

There is an overused label that fits Mr. Rich’s philosophy, that label is “socialist”.

Mr. Rich, if the Federal government were starving for money to provide for the basic defense of this country, to provide assistance to those who can not help themselves or to provide infrastructure that would make all Americans better off I might agree with you that tax cuts aren’t a good thing.

But I don’t think that the Federal Government is lacking funds to do those things. In fact, I think the Federal government still has too much of my money. We don’t need yet another building in West Virginia named after Robert C. Byrd. We don’t need a $230 million bridge in Alaska connecting Gravina Island (population: 50) with the Alaskan mainland. And we certainly don’t need to spend $1.2 billion (yes, BILLION) to renovate the United Nations building in Manhattan.

Sadly, I don’t think that Mr. Rich is ever going to understand that by letting people keep more of their own money we are going to make more Americans better off. No, Mr. Rich doesn’t trust you with your own earnings. He thinks that Robert C. Byrd has better uses for it.

The Flop of The Secret Man

The following was published today in The American Thinker (see link on the margin of favorite links):

The NYT has reported that The Secret Man, Bob Woodward’s book that officially outed Deep Throat of Watergate fame, has sold far fewer copies than the publisher (and the NYT) expected. Here was a book from the author who brought us Deep Throat actually naming the name and explaining the background of the clandestine source. With such a momentous admission about the identity of the most famous corroborator in journalism history, why has the public largely yawned to the publication?

It is surmised that pre-publication new articles that reported Deep Throat was W. Mark Felt took the steam out of the public’s curiosity. One store owner was “flabbergasted” when he sold only 5 of the 50 copies he ordered. Overall, the sales are around 65,000 over the past 6 weeks (3500 sold this week). Simon & Schuster printed a reported 750,000 copies.

Earlier in the year Woodward’s book on the preparation of the Bush administration for the Iraq War (“Plan Of Attack”) sold 183,000 copies. “The Secret Man” has been no flop in the sense that it did make the NYT bestseller list reaching 4 and dropping to 12 last week.

How could the publishing of the name of Deep Throat not have sparked a buying spree of the book?

One thing may be that Mark Felt is a relative unknown. If it had been Al Haig or someone of that stature, as some people had guessed, then you have a block-buster. As with sports, no one remembers the team that finished in second place. And Felt was an also-ran of names familiar to the public.

More important, Watergate does not have the draw that it used to. Since Watergate, we have seen the flop of the century in Jimmy Carter’s term. Reagan had the Iran-Contra affair. The Clintons, besides Lewinsky, used their position to use the FBI and IRS as proxies to intimidate enemies. And last, the heated Bush administration.
These debacles and abuses of power make Nixon more palatable. While those of the Left have not, the silent majority book-buyers have gotten over Watergate. The 65,000 purchasers are probably represented by journalists, who entered the profession largely due to Woodward and Bernstein, and fossils of the Left who are stuck in the quagmire of the mind of Vietnam and Watergate.

The publisher is stuck with about 700,000 unsold copies, so watch for The Secret Man to show up in the discount bins at Borders and elsewhere. Political junkies should brace themselves for 2 or three copies as Christmas presents.

Faith In The American Dream Lives

Blog collaborator Bill Suda sent me this article with the comment to “read this article, then reread the title, then the article and slam it in blog on about 8 bases”. I do not know whether I’ll find 8 reasons to kill the article but BBC News in “Stark Reality of the American Dream” tries to slam America for either not providing its citizens the elements of the American Dream or for propounding a myth.

The body of the story found people (in the socialist home of America-Seattle) generally happy with their lives or resigned that their position, if unsuccessful, was a result of their own actions. The writer Humphrey Hawksley is astounded that Americans choose not to blame their government for what they lack. When meeting with out-of work men at some “low-ceilinged eating hall”, Hawksley writes:

[T]here seemed to be little resentment or blame of government. American culture is about self-reliance and the individual fighting a way through.

Later Hawksley talks to an immigrant from Ethiopia who chose living in America over Europe who says:

"Europe," she said disdainfully. “What do they ever hope for in Europe? Here they have a law that you can dream to be happy."

The story never matched the headline. The story tells us that not only Americans but people world-wide see America as the land of opportunity to make it on your own. Hawksley spoke to a grizzled old-timer who was asked if he had the American dream:

“I guess you are talking about a home, wife, children and all that."
"Do you have it?" I said.
"No. No. I don't. I had my opportunities, but I lost."


Actually, today’s culture has directed women to realize they can have the kids without a husband. But that is a topic for another day.

The one thing everyone on our side of the big ocean realizes is that government cannot provide you a home, wife and kids.

My guess about the title is this is a terrifying picture of life for Hawksley's Europeans. Imagine having to pursue with your own effort most of your material needs? Imagine the government not providing necessary leisure time?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Kelo Is Bulldozing All Over

One location ready for eminent domain takings for the immediate benefit of developers is in Lodi, NJ. Reports the Institute for Justice (the folks that lost Kelo but have won many other cases against government encroachments):

Save Our Homes, a coalition of 200 residents in a Lodi trailer park targeted by the City for private retail development and a senior-living community, goes to court on July 18 to try to prevent a private developer from taking their homes. Lodi Mayor Gary Paparozzi called the Kelo ruling a “shot in the arm” for the town. He told the Bergen County Record, “The trailer park is like a poster child for redevelopment. That’s the best-case scenario for using eminent domain.”

Is it OK because trailer parks are associated with poor white people? Go to ILJ and see the other places around the country where homes will be razed thanks to Kelo.

9-11 Commission Getting More Heat

The NYT reports: Officer Says Military Blocked Sharing of Files on Terrorists By PHILIP SHENON:

A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly. The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the bureau.

This whole angle was ignored by the 9-11 Commission. Commissioner Jamie Gorelick is reputed to have been the architect of the info wall when she worked for Janet Reno.

Said Rush recently:

It was a 1995 memo when she effectively was running the justice department for the Clinton administration, and this memo prevented law enforcement from learning what intelligence knew, and vice-versa. They couldn't go back and forth and it's a convoluted thing. One of the theories that's been espoused to explain it, is this was actually a technique that the Clinton administration was using to hide campaign contributions from foreign countries like China, the Riadys and the Lippo group and this sort of thing. Self-serving as it was, but then it had ramifications later on down the line when we were trying to collect information on terrorists.

Give NYT credit. Someone is smelling something foul and is chasing it. They are doing some journalism.

The UN Pays For "Intifada Worked" Signs In Gaza

The forced pull-out from Gaza of Israeli citizen-residents was accompanied by signs of Palestinians crowing about the success of the intifada. Palestinians have been complimenting themselves that suicide bombing works. And now we learn that the UN financed much of the pro-terrorism signage in the Gaza.

The NY Sun reports:

A special representative of the United Nations Development Program in the Gaza Strip, Timothy Rothermel, told Fox News that his office provided financial support for the production of materials that make up the Palestinian Authority's propaganda campaign, timed to coincide with the Gaza pullout. The Palestinian Authority's withdrawal committee developed and produced the posters and other items using U.N. money, Mr. Rothermel said.

In addition to the slogan "Today Gaza and Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem," many of the materials displayed the logo of the United Nations Development Program, which operates in 166 countries and spends about half a billion dollars a year.

Asked by a Fox News correspondent about one of the banners bearing the words implying an impending Palestinian Arab takeover of the disputed areas, Mr. Rothermel, said, "That particular poster was prepared by the disengagement office with financial support from the United Nations Development Program."

This is not an anti-Semitic organization exactly how?

What Kind Of Redskinned Savage Are You?

Another example of the small tyrannies that we need to expose and fight is the denial of promotion to a law professor at Indiana University Purdue University Indiana. William Bradford is a Chiricahua Apache, 10-year army veteran, former White House staffer with a resume of published law articles and a book that shows erudition and intelligence. He is a highly-valued teacher according to his students. Bradford has gone public with this job discrimination effort by the law schools establishment.

Why was he denied the position of untenured associate professor by the IUPUI establishment even though he has out-published two women profs holding chairs? He refused to sign a petition run by the Chair Florence Roisman in support of Ward Churchill. Bradford reports she responded to his refusal with: “What kind of Native American are you?” Roisman's denial are not convincing.

Don’t you love the pigeon-holing by liberals regarding how certain people should think? While someone outside of the stereo-type should be acclaimed by the multi-cultural Leftists, they want all minorities to remain in their safe little “I am a victim” boxes. The Sowells, Horowitz', Chavez' and other conservative "minorities" prove that people are individuals. That runs counter to the socialist mindset.

The Bradford tenure matter has been thoroughly reported by Frontpage here and here. Et Tu Bloge would love to lend assistance to the exposure of this small tyranny. It should not be hidden by the MSM.

Kelo- The Refs Ignored the Rulebook

Paul Woodruff's "First Democracy- The Challenge of an Ancient Idea" reviews the history of democracy going back to the Athenians, our demos predecessors.

Per the Oxford press review:

The heart of the book isolates seven conditions that are the sine qua non of democracy: freedom from tyranny (including the tyranny of majority rule), harmony (the blending of different views), the rule of law, natural equality, citizen wisdom, reasoning without knowledge, and general education. He concludes that a true democracy must be willing to invite everyone to join in government. It must respect the rule of law so strongly that even the government is not above the law.

Woodruff explains that equality "rests on the ides that the poor should be equal to the rich...at least for sharing governance."

Do we share in the glory of democracy in light of the Kelo decision? Do the poor have access to governance? Yes, they sought redress from the Court. The Court turned its backs on the Constitution that they should be upholding. The wealthy received their initial help from government in the condemnation proceedings and then they rulebook was ignored by the game's referees.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Kelo Plaintiffs Now Owe New London Backrents

It can get worse.

While the Supreme Court recently approved the eminent domain take-overs of residences in Kelo v New London, the town is now assessing those homeowners rent fees since the original takings in 2000. In other words, while Kelo and the others were challenging the condemnation in court, the town claims it can assess them rental costs since they were residing on the town's property.

One resident would owe over $300,000 at $6100 per month assessed.

Meanwhile, the FMV being offered those residents are dated back to 2000 prices!!!! Since they were not legal oweners since 2000, they cannot avail themselves of the last 5 years of home appreciation.

When government has the power, they use the power. This was something they were particularly restrained from ever doing since our founding until the Kelo decision. I guess those attacking Judge Roberts would want him to say he would uphold Kelo as it is precedent if faced with a similar case.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Harry Reid Leads Who?

Robert Musil at the excellent blog Man Without Qualities reprints a long excerpt from a New Yorker article on Harry Reid. The various anecdotes told by Reid and others show him to be, per Musil:

Vain, violent, ignorant, insecure, vindictive, small minded, corrupt, emotionally bitter and incoherent, ineffective, insightless and unwilling or unable to suppress his own petty feelings for the good of the nation or his colleagues. A man who seems to believe that the world owes him a living and hasn't yet paid out enough in dividends and interest.

While I admire Reid's refusal to allow relatives access to him in his office (after it was publicized how beneficial the relationship benefited his son-in-law's lobbying firm), a reading of the whole article does not lead one to argue much with Musil's pithy description.

Israel: Best of Luck Dealing With The Troublemakers

Contributor Neal Meyerson tips me off on the NYT editorial "Only the Beginning" critical of Israel and Sharon for not leaving the West Bank just as they are forcibly removing settlements from the Gaza. Meyerson calls this Gazan exercise "ethnic cleansing pure and simple" with people ousted from their homes "because they are Jewish".

Meyerson points out the farce of the NYT position in this quote from their editorial:

"Now we must hope fervently that the withdrawal proceeds peacefully, without unnecessary provocation from troublemakers among militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad."

"Troublemakers"?

They later state:

The so-called road map for peace calls for Israel to work with elected Palestinian officials to create a plan for a negotiated Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. The responsibility of the Palestinians is to clamp down on terrorist activity against Israelis. Clearly, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, must demonstrate he can stop extremists from Hamas who labor under the mistaken belief that they will one day destroy the Israeli state.

Palestinian leaders have supposedly had this responsibility for at least 10 years. The Nobel Peace Prize did nothing to motivate such duties. They are being rewarded for terrorism. Predicts Middle East expert Daniel Pipes:

Just as the Israeli departure from Lebanon five years earlier provoked new violence, so too will fleeing Gaza. Palestinians ignore all the verbiage about "disengagement" and see it for what it really is, an Israeli retreat under fire. Indeed, Palestinian leaders have already broadcast their intent to deploy Gaza-like aggression to pry the West Bank and Jerusalem from Israeli control. Should that campaign succeed, Haifa and Tel Aviv are next, after which Israel itself disappears.

This is appeasement that the Gray Lady has been demanding of the US in its war on terrorism. So, let's roll the dice on a good outcome in Israeli. Oh, were the NYT editors to place the same hopes for Iraq's elected government!

We Feel Your Pain

With terrorism the focus of our attention, the despots rack up “smaller” victories that continue to pile up into a tyrrany by the elites.

One smaller issue is the PC-assault on words. David Yeagley, an American-Indian of devout patriotism, discussed the NCAA ruling that the Florida Seminoles must change their name due to the insult And pain caused by such Indian references and mascots.

According to Yeagley:

Never mind what real Indians think. There has been only one national, professional survey (Peter Harris) of their thoughts, and 83 percent were not offended, even by names like the Washington Redskins. That survey was published in Sports Illustrated, May 4, 2002.

A group of white people at NCAA leadership listens to how a few members of a minority class are offended and the bureaucrats cannot move fast enough to force changes.

Writes Yeagley:

Committees within the American educational system, even elected committees, simply do not consult the people. Committees make their own decisions. It’s all about power, indeed, tyranny. It’s not about what the people want. It’s about power grabbing by a very few individuals—dictating to the masses, even when the masses are opposed. Communism is alive and well in the education system.

The smaller intrusions pave the way for the bigger ones.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dude, Where's My Rudder?

Nostalgic over the ennui of the Gen Xers in the early 1990's, the children of neglect represented by Kurt Cobain (a kick-ass rocker by the way), NYT writer Nina Munk kvetches about the mundane wants of that generation now that they have grown up and gotten jobs. Her piece My Generation: Hope I Shop Before I Get Old examines the consuming consumption of those now in their late 30s. Apparently, instead of purchasing items that they want, they should be solving the world's problems or dropping out.

One of my mentors, Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek, ran into a similar sentiment in a book review in the WaPo. His letter to the editor captured my reaction to essayist Munk's piece. He wrote:

Why disdain people's workaday efforts to improve their lives? Why crave Great Causes in which people inevitably become means to elites' end du jour - ends, such as communism, that sound fine to ears clogged with romantic gunk but too often are terrible? And who, exactly, in the 20th century "settled for less"? Where markets were reasonably free, living standards skyrocketed. People of 100 years ago would envy our indoor plumbing, electric lighting, home refrigeration, telephony, automobiles, air travel, multimedia entertainment options, and the many other fruits of commerce that are spread most widely in precisely those places where "epic grandeur" was held in check by the quotidian business of buying and selling.

Apparently, purchasing goods (oh my God from China even) is the activity of the amoral. The problems have been so big that this generation dropped out by going to the mall. Munk quotes a market researcher:

"[W]e were a generation where everything was so messed up, from politics to the environment, holes in the ozone layer, high divorce rates, AIDS. We feel rudderless, and no one has helped give us a rudder. "

To NYT writers having kids, working and buying stuff is so ordinary. Maybe the elites need the rudder.

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