The Kristof Contradiction

March 31, 2011

Maybe, someday, this bubble head will put together the relationshp between the revolutions in the Arab world he so admires with the likelihood they will bring out an adherence to Islamic law, which he rightly deplores.


I can’t improve upon Steyn. I’ll only include some quotes from him and some background on some of the references he makes.

” “That’s why building this international coalition has been so important,” [The President] said the other day. “It is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally.” ‘

Yes, the President really said this, taking time from his vacation in El Salvador. I’m sure the military who are being volunteered on the World’s behalf appreciated the President gave them some lip service.

Oh, and Steyn also mentions something about those civilians in Eastern Libya. “. . . according to West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center, {Eastern Libya] has sent per capita the highest number of foreign jihadists to Iraq.

You can find a reference to the source for that information here.

According to a cache of al Qaeda documents captured in 2007 by U.S. special operations commandos in Sinjar, Iraq, hundreds of foreign fighters, many of them untrained young Islamic volunteers, poured into Iraq in 2006 and 2007. The documents, called the Sinjar documents, were collected, translated and analyzed at the West Point Counter Terrorism Center. Almost one in five foreign fighters arriving in Iraq came from eastern Libya, from the towns of Surt, Misurata and Darnah.


There are only two plausible reasons the French are leading this:
1) They’ve made a deal for the oil
2) They want to minimize the number of refugees that land on their soil

Related to that second idea; Sarkozy wants to get ahead of the National Front. What? you ask; that crazy right wing xenophobic party?

Yes, they are polling fairly strongly, but frankly, they’re only getting started. I suspect their party will merge in some kind of way with the Socialists at some point in the future. Let’s see Nationalists and Socialists together in one big happy party. Where have I heard that one before?

This gentleman has reduced it to eight principles he says dominate thinking in Democratic circles. I’m not so sure about that, but it may help explain the President.

At the heart of my philosophy of human sociology lies Thomas Hobbes who believed in a state of nature life pretty much is a disaster (nasty, brutish, and short goes the adage). This underlies a lot of Western philosophy regarding social contract. Many people think Locke started all that. He lifted it and modified his theory from that of Hobbes.

But what if you didn’t believe Hobbes was right? What if you thought the exertion of force by nation states was the problem? What if your own country was the worst example of that?

Well, then you’d have our President.

I have said in the past that he thinks the US is the problem, and as such is the first anti-American President (except, perhaps, Carter, and I suppose Jefferson Davis) to hold the office.

Since the President is reluctant to share his philosophy with his subjects we are left to wonder. It’s been a little less than a week since we launched this attack we didn’t lead, although, apparently, we fired all but two of the Tomahawks. Oh, and, by the way 2,200 marines are on the way to the Mediterranean.

In all this time the President hasn’t bothered to explain his decision to the American people. He hasn’t explained why he changed his mind from his young days (three or four years ago) when he felt Presidents didn’t have the authority to unilaterally take military action. I know. We all grow in office.

This President is out of control and is becoming more so. He consults with the Arab League. He consults with the United Nations. He doesn’t bother to consult with Congress. He pushes the button, and then he gets out of Dodge, and then he figures we can “turn over” leadership of this operation to NATO or somebody, anybody, else.

Who exactly is in command of our ships in the Mediterranean? Who are they going to follow orders from? A NATO committee? I rather doubt it. I’m betting they’ll still be taking orders within the US chain of command. So, this “turn over” is a facade. And if we’re turning something over, doesn’t that mean our Secretary of State was lying about our not leading this? If we weren’t leading, precisely what are we turning over?

Oh, and while we’re all watching the birdie over there. take a look at what’s going on in Egypt over here.

The NY Times is awakening to the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is surging in Egypt. Go figure. And not only that we’re discovering they probably had more of a role in the revolution than “anyone’ thought.

“As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it.

“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.”

As I said then, I know nothing about Egypt, but you didn’t have to be the amazing Kreskin to see what was going on.

While Kristof was being exhilarated in Cairo. . .

. . . he might have given some thought to those armed men who manned every intersection he drove through his “old neighborhood.” Again, who did he think these people were? Maybe, he should have brought a journalist along to ask them. There was only one force outside the military and the police capable of organizing these men. Everyone knew who it was. Why didn’t anyone report it?

If you haven’t thrown up yet, then you can read his follow-up about what Egypt can teach America

Okay, before I sign off, I love this line from the NY Times article.

“It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.”

The useful idiots are gone, but the Times wistfully hopes they might come back. Or maybe, the Brotherhood really isn’t that bad. I hear they’re secular.

How many years did Churchill rail against the Storm before Septermber 1, 1939?

We don’t even have a Churchill yet.

Why we have a Deficit

March 23, 2011

Take this story.

Two airplanes had to land at Reagain National without assistance from the control tower because it was non-responsive. There was only one air traffic controller on duty at the time (it was after midnight without much air traffic). So, not only is the FAA considering upping the staff to two controllers at Reagan National. They are looking at other similar situations.

So, let’s take a step back.

The available evidence indicates that we didn’t need anyone in the control tower after midnight.

Yet, the government’s first thought is to double the staffing.

. . . as opposed to what they think you want to hear or, perhaps, just to say anything to make you leave them alone.

But then unconsciously (or not) the truth slips out.

Take a look at EgyptAir’s flight map, for example.

Zero in on the Middle East. Notice a country missing? Before you look, take a wild guess which one it is.

. . . boys are so bad at getting into good colleges that admissions directors have to favor them just to keep them at 40% of the student population.

Quality of GDP

March 21, 2011

When I worked in the electric power industry we used to talk about the “quality” of earnings. That is, earnings that were cash and stood a reasonable chance of reoccuring. This became a big deal during the era of nuclear power construction. Accounting rules allowed a utility to book “earnings” based on the construction work in progress (CWIP). Yes, a utility could report earnings on a half built portion of a nuclear power plant.

It’s complicated, but I can explain the rationale if anyone is interested. Short of that the detailed explantion, the basic idea was that when the plant went into service, the utility would “give back” some of those earnings. It works great as long as everything goes as planned, but if the plant costs a lot more than expected or doesn’t get completed, then as soon as that gets recognized, then the utility is in a world of hurt.

As it turned out many utilities had income streams that were well over half composed of fiction. Their condition could have been known by a savvy investor, but utilities are supposed to be widow and orphan stocks. So, anyway, a lot of people lost money.

Okay, not back to the present. I think we’ve discussed the notion of the quality of GDP. It seems self-evident that building a bridge is a lot more productive than paying a bunch of men to dig holes and fill them up again.

But why?

I’m beginning to formulate a hypothesis, attempting to describe GDP quality. Here are some ideas of what constitute “Good GDP.”

1) It helps gather foreign currency: Economics is a competitive game. Getting more of your opponents’ currency seems like a good idea.
2) It creates skills that have use for further economic activity (Bridge building skills have great future value than hole creation and destruction)
3) It creates means that increase a nation’s productivity

Does this make sense, and if so, can you improve on these criteria?


What’s Worse . . .

March 20, 2011

. . . than an American administration afraid to act without “worldwide approval?”

An adminstration that is afraid to act without such approval and then, upon acting, immediately receives their disapproval.

In some odd way, you kind of have to be impressed.

Choose Your Truth

March 19, 2011

CNN: Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian presidential candidate and Nobel laureate, was attacked by thugs at a polling station in Cairo on Saturday, his brother told CNN.

Vancouver Sun: Hundreds of Islamists hurled stones at secular opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei as he went to cast his ballot in a referendum in Egypt’s capital on Saturday, an AFP reporter said.

As I mentioned earlier, I know virtually nothing about Egypt. Nonetheless, I believe it likely it will slide into Islamic radicalism. I found this paragraph of the article I linked below to be particularly interesting.

I should add I know nothing about the credibility of this publication either.

“As a hint of what might be in store for Egypt, consider the city of Alexandria. Once it was a cosmopolitan summer resort famous for its secular, carefree atmosphere. Now it is about the least fun place to live in North Africa. All Muslim women in the city are veiled, among the young often for fear of otherwise being labelled a whore; and violence between local Christians and Muslims is commonplace (23 Christians were killed by a bomb planted in a Coptic Orthodox church on New Year’s day). Most bars have stopped serving alcohol. The only women to be found on the beaches, even in the height of summer, are those taking care of their kids — and they are invariably covered from head-to-toe in black.”

Among other things I don’t know is the current state of Alexandria. I know that it’s named after Alexander the Great (hence the name). I know that the Romans burned the library there, destroying many great works. I know that Nasser expelled all the Greeks there after revoking their Egyption citizenship.

I do recall reading an article five or so years ago about women getting their own beach there. I doubt it was for the benefit of the women, but, of course, all the onces interviewed said how great it was to be away from the men.

Anyway, I’m inclined to believe this account, and I think I can see where this is all going.