August 04, 2009

WORSHIP OF WE

At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he broke their chains. Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race. But he broke their chains. He declared to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take away from him, no matter what their number, for his is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right. And he stood on the threshold of the freedom for which the blood of the centuries behind him had been spilled.

But then he gave up all he had won, and fell lower than his savage beginning.

What brought it to pass? What disaster took their reason away from men? What whip lashed them to their knees in shame and submission? The worship of the word "We."

I thought of that passage in Anthem when I read this.

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IT'S A LIBERTY ISSUE

Mark Steyn sums it all up:

Government health care would be wrong even if it “controlled costs.” It’s a liberty issue. I’d rather be free to choose, even if I make the wrong choices.

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August 03, 2009

IT'S NOT 50/50?

FbL sent me this article today, about how coin tosses are not 50/50, that there's a bias towards whatever is facing up when you begin the toss.  Oh lordy, say it ain't so.  Because my coin has been facing tails for a while.  Heh.  Neat research there.

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August 01, 2009

ODDS AND ENDS

Why I Oppose National Health Care:

I'm afraid that instead of Security Theater, we'll get Health Care Theater, where the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we're getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.

That's not just verbal theatrics. Agencies like Britain's NICE are a case in point. As long as people don't know that there are cancer treatments they're not getting, they're happy. Once they find out, satisfaction plunges. But the reason that people in Britain know about things like herceptin for early stage breast cancer is a robust private market in the US that experiments with this sort of thing.

So in the absence of a robust private US market, my assumption is that the government will focus on the apparent at the expense of the hard-to-measure. Innovation benefits future constituents who aren't voting now. Producing it is very expensive. On the other hand, cutting costs pleases voters this instant.

Clunkers Is ‘The More Urgent Priority’

A greater irony than the raid of Title XVII is the Clunker-bill provision that requires the destruction of traded-in cars, as I reported yesterday. The very people who want us to recycle plastic bags, glass bottles, and aluminum cans are now shredding finely engineered machinery that took enormous amounts of time, skill, and energy to create.

Live slogan-free or die!

"The Governor's Task Force for the Recruitment and Retention of a Young Workforce for the State of New Hampshire" stated in its official report: "Our State portrays an unfriendly message that every individual has to succeed on their own, rather than count on a support system for assistance (Live Free or Die is not a friendly, supporting message that appeals to young people)."

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July 31, 2009

DYING IN THE STREET

A great post: Dying in the Street?

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July 28, 2009

SHOOTING THE GUINEA PIGS

This made me LOL, srsly.


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July 26, 2009

ROSES ARE RED

I adore Mark Steyn.

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DEFINITE MUST-READ

5 freedoms you'd lose in health care reform

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July 24, 2009

STUPIDLY INDEED

Good VDH commentary on Gates: What Was That 'Stupidly' All About?

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July 21, 2009

THE BEAR ON THE SNACK TABLE

More thoughts on Afghanistan from Grim:

Afghanistan's sheer distances are the chief problem.  It is not just that there is no factory.  It is not just that the factory has no electricity.  It is not just that the worker has no education that would make him able to take a job in the factory if you built one and provided it with energy.  What could rural Afghanistan produce that is worth enough to make it worthwhile to export -- by donkey, over mountains, in many cases?

Comments and links are worth reading too.

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July 17, 2009

IRRESISTIBLE ILLUSION

Rory Stewart has a long article that relates to my unease with Afghanistan strategy.  In his article, The Irresistible Illusion, he actually promotes a solution:

After seven years of refinement, the policy seems so buoyed by illusions, caulked in ambiguous language and encrusted with moral claims, analogies and political theories that it can seem futile to present an alternative. It is particularly difficult to argue not for a total withdrawal but for a more cautious approach. The best Afghan policy would be to reduce the number of foreign troops from the current level of 90,000 to far fewer – perhaps 20,000. In that case, two distinct objectives would remain for the international community: development and counter-terrorism. Neither would amount to the building of an Afghan state. If the West believed it essential to exclude al-Qaida from Afghanistan, then they could do it with special forces. (They have done it successfully since 2001 and could continue indefinitely, though the result has only been to move bin Laden across the border.) At the same time the West should provide generous development assistance – not only to keep consent for the counter-terrorism operations, but as an end in itself.

A reduction in troop numbers and a turn away from state-building should not mean total withdrawal: good projects could continue to be undertaken in electricity, water, irrigation, health, education, agriculture, rural development and in other areas favoured by development agencies. We should not control and cannot predict the future of Afghanistan. It may in the future become more violent, or find a decentralised equilibrium or a new national unity, but if its communities continue to want to work with us, we can, over 30 years, encourage the more positive trends in Afghan society and help to contain the more negative.

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July 16, 2009

I DON'T SMOKE BUT...

R1 wrote about the Army smoking ban idea much more coherently and with less gut rage than I did.  Check it out.

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July 15, 2009

GOLDMAN SACHS IN BED WITH GOVT

Remember how much squawking there was about Dick Cheney's ties to Halliburton? Why is there no squawking about any of this?

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July 14, 2009

A PROPHECY

Nearly all my professors are Democrats. Isn't that a problem?

"You understand that my column was basically a prophesy," I shot back. I had suggested right-leaning ideas weren't welcome on campus and in response the faculty had tied my viewpoints to racism and addressed me with profanity-laced insults.

What's so remarkable is that I hadn't actually advocated Republican ideas or conservative ideas. In fact, I'm not a conservative, nor a Republican. I simply believe in the concept of diversity – a primarily liberal idea – and think that we suffer when we don't include ideas we find unappealing.


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July 13, 2009

MENTAL EXERCISE

A thought-provoking post via Greyhawk: The Mysterious Words of Power
I have no answers for him, but I join him in his mental exercise.

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DOWN WITH FLUSH TOILETS!

Mark Steyn:

Capitalism is liberating: You’re born a peasant but you don’t have to die one. You can work hard and get a nice place in the suburbs. If you were a 19th century Russian peasant and you got to Ellis Island, you’d be living in a tenement on the Lower East Side, but your kids would get an education and move uptown, and your grandkids would be doctors and accountants in Westchester County.

And your great-grandchild would be a Harvard-educated environmental activist demanding an end to all this electricity and indoor toilets.

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July 02, 2009

RECONSTRUCT

More on Afghanistan from Michael Yon. Note:

And the term PRT, though accurate in Iraq, should be changed to “PCT” (Provincial COnstruction Team) in Afghanistan. The Provincial REconstruction Teams in Iraq are far different. The term “reconstruction” in Iraq is generally correct, but it’s usually a misnomer in Afghanistan and confuses people at home by implying there was something here to reconstruct.

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June 19, 2009

WTF "SUPREME LEADER"

Krauthammer on Iran:

Then, after treating this popular revolution as an inconvenience to the real business of Obama-Khamenei negotiations, the president speaks favorably of "some initial reaction from the Supreme Leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election."

Where to begin? "Supreme Leader"? Note the abject solicitousness with which the American president confers this honorific on a clerical dictator who, even as his minions attack demonstrators, offers to examine some returns in some electoral districts -- a farcical fix that will do nothing to alter the fraudulence of the election.

Moreover, this incipient revolution is no longer about the election. Obama totally misses the point. The election allowed the political space and provided the spark for the eruption of anti-regime fervor that has been simmering for years and awaiting its moment. But people aren't dying in the street because they want a recount of hanging chads in suburban Isfahan. They want to bring down the tyrannical, misogynist, corrupt theocracy that has imposed itself with the very baton-wielding goons that today attack the demonstrators.

This started out about election fraud. But like all revolutions, it has far outgrown its origins. What's at stake now is the very legitimacy of this regime -- and the future of the entire Middle East.

This revolution will end either as a Tiananmen (a hot Tiananmen with massive and bloody repression or a cold Tiananmen with a finer mix of brutality and co-optation) or as a true revolution that brings down the Islamic Republic.

The latter is improbable but, for the first time in 30 years, not impossible.

(via UpNorthMommy)

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June 15, 2009

LIFE EXPECTANCY

Mark Steyn:

According to the U.N. figures, life expectancy in the United States is 78 years; in the United Kingdom, it’s 79 — yay, go socialized health care! On the other hand, in Albania, where the entire population chain-smokes and the health-care system involves swimming to Italy, life expectancy is still 71 years — or about where America was a generation or so back. Once you get childhood mortality under control, and observe basic hygiene and lifestyle precautions, the health “system” is relatively marginal. One notes that, even in Somalia, which still has high childhood mortality, not to mention a state of permanent civil war, functioning government has entirely collapsed and yet life expectancy has increased from 49 to 55. Maybe if government were to collapse entirely in Washington, our life expectancy would show equally remarkable gains. Just thinking outside the box here.

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June 12, 2009

MUST-Y SPEAK

Mark Steyn:

When President Bush used to promote the notion of democracy in the Muslim world, there was a line he liked to fall back on: “Freedom is the desire of every human heart.” Are you quite sure? It’s doubtful whether that’s actually the case in Gaza and Waziristan, but we know for absolute certain that it’s not in Paris and Stockholm, London and Toronto, Buffalo and New Orleans. The story of the Western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government “security,” large numbers of people vote to dump freedom every time—the freedom to make their own decisions about health care, education, property rights, and eventually (as we already see in Europe, Canada, American campuses, and the disgusting U.N. Human Rights Council) what you’re permitted to say and think.

I too used to naively think that all men desired freedom.  But that's must-y speak

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