Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The First Day of School

The students are going to show up Tuesday. Last week I was setting up my room. I've spent the past three days attending "professional development" sessions given by the district. We've been treated to overviews of the newest latest and greatest programs that are supposed to bring success to our students. These replace last year's latest and greatest. They, in turn will be replaced next year. For the most part, I was able to contain my aggravation at having a new set of crutches thrown at me. These programs are crutches designed to compensate for the fact that we don't use the proper methods to teach our children to read. Until we are allowed to use (and for almost all teachers, taught to use) explicit phonics programs in the early years, there will be no end to the crutches in public schools.

I wasn't able to contain all of my aggravation at our session preparing us for the state's standardized testing to be given in October. The writing portion does not grade for spelling, punctuation, grammar or any of the basic skills. In other words, the state standards have sunk so low that a student can pass the test without knowing any of the conventions of writing.

This all makes me crabby.

Tuesday, when the kids show up, I will be happy and excited. I like being in the classroom. I don't like being at meetings where the trainers insist that students don't need to know anything. I will also be relaxed as my family will be spending the weekend camping. I plan to do a lot of reading.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Another Pre-emptive MSM Surrender

There was the warning a few days ago on Little Green Footballs.
Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed has inked his share of anti-Bush episodes, but tonight he’s run afoul of an enemy that really does want to destroy his free speech.

And I’m not talking about radical Islamic front groups this time. Berkeley Breathed is being preemptively censored by our very own Western mainstream media.
One of the cartoons in question was supposed to run today (Sunday) the other one is supposed to run next Sunday. Today's cartoon is at also has this commentary by Joan Walsh on the newspapers not running Opus.

I waited to see if my own Detroit News would wimp out, and sure enough they did. Instead of the precious half page that Opus gets each Sunday, there was Candorville, a strip that on its best day is almost worth a chuckle, but is usually so ham handed in its political humor, that I cringe at the consistent lack of wit. Not only that, but Candorville was a single panel gag today. With the size of comic strips being squeezed more and more every year, to give a half page to a lame one panel joke was even more of an insult than the pre-emptive dhimmitude of the News. A real cartoonist (had they known in advance) could have really done something with a half page.

Once again, our newspapers have looked into the eyes of the Jihad and surrendered. But this time, there were no protests, no riots, no murders due to the usual insult or humiliation that the not-the-Amish claim every time they demand a concession from Western civilization. This time, news editors didn't even wait for the fight. They refused to stand up for the First Amendment. Rather, they censored themselves. There was no talk of fighting the good fight for freedom, no boasting of speaking truth to power. Why is that? Because this time, there may have been consequences for practicing that freedom. Newspapers, including the Detroit News have decided that the First Amendment is not worth fighting for. They no longer have that right if claiming that right offends the not-the-Amish.

The not-the-Amish, on the other hand, have been granted the special freedom, by craven newspaper editors, to not be offended. It's a good thing we have the Internet.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fascinating Links

I found some others who are going to speak for me. I didn't mean for this to happen, they just happened to say some things that don't need to be rewritten, they only need to be read.

First up is Dr. Sanity presenting valid reasons why there is so little that qualifies as Islamic science. Read the links in her post too.
In October, Malaysia's first astronaut will join a Russian crew and blast off into space. The news of a Muslim astronaut was cause for celebration in the Islamic world, but then certain questions started popping up. How will he face Mecca during his five daily prayers while his space ship is whizzing around the Earth? How can he hold the prayer position in zero gravity? Such concerns may sound absurd to us, but the Malaysian space chief is taking them quite seriously. A team of Muslim scholars and scientists has spent more than a year drawing up an Islamic code of conduct for space travel.

This story illustrates the obstacles that face scientists in Muslim countries. While it's always risky to draw generalizations about Islam, even conservative Muslims admit that the Islamic world lags far behind the West in science and technology. This is a big problem for Muslims who envy the economic and military power of the United States.

What's so striking about the Muslim predicament is that the Islamic world was once the unrivaled center of science and philosophy.

Next we have two articles, one by Thomas Sowell that I linked to previously, but I'm doing it again because it follows the same line of thought from a Walter Williams post on how environmentalism has killed thousands if not millions of human beings over the past 50 - 60 years. Thomas Sowell says,
The other recent tragedy that has held the nation's painful attention — the mine cave-in in Utah — also has implications that few seem to notice.

We could have far fewer men going down into those mines in the first place if we could use other readily available and economically viable substitutes for coal, such as nuclear power or more of our own oil.

Here too, politics is the problem. The only "alternative energy sources" that are on the political agenda are those few very expensive options that environmentalist zealots approve.

Nuclear power is not on the green zealots' approved list, even though nuclear power is widely used in other countries.

Some say nuclear power is not safe. But nothing is categorically "safe." The only serious question is how its safety compares to that of alternative ways of generating energy.

Ask the families of the trapped miners if they think mining is safe. Ask them if they would rather face the grim reality of a death in their family or the hypothetical possibility of inconveniencing some caribou in Alaska.
Walter Williams says,
In the wake of Hurricane Betsy, which struck New Orleans in 1965, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed building flood gates on Lake Pontchartrain, like those in the Netherlands that protect cities from North Sea storms. In 1977, the gates were about to be built, but the Environmental Defense Fund and Save Our Wetlands sought a court injunction to block the project.

According to John Berlau's recent book, "Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism is Hazardous to Your Health," U.S. Attorney Gerald Gallinghouse told the court that not building the gates could kill thousands of New Orleanians. Judge Charles Schwartz issued the injunction despite the evidence refuting claims of environmental damage.
And even more importantly,
Environmental extremists see DDT in a different light. Alexander King, co-founder of the Club of Rome, said, "In Guyana, within almost two years, it had almost eliminated malaria, but at the same time, the birth rate had doubled. So my chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it greatly added to the population problem." Jeff Hoffman, environmental attorney, wrote on, "Malaria was actually a natural population control, and DDT has caused a massive population explosion in some places where it has eradicated malaria. More fundamentally, why should humans get priority over other forms of life? . . . I don't see any respect for mosquitoes in these posts."
Speaking of placing ideology over human life here is another one by Williams on the stifling of dissenting opinions on the global cooling - I mean global warming - I mean climate change front.

Finally, here is the story, in three parts of a Montana woman who hunts Islamic terrorists on the Internet. She's worked with the FBI to help capture and prosecute some of these clowns. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.
It's 3 a.m., early May 2002. By now, she is continuing physical therapy, but she's done with the pain pills and the cane. The jihadists, though, have become central in her life.

Go on, I dare you, she murmurs as she finds her way to a new Web site, The Arab Castle. OK, she says. Watch this.

"Death to America," she types in Arabic, a phrase now as familiar as "Good morning."

It has been eight months since 9/11, and Rossmiller is well on her way toward completing online Arabic courses from the Arab Academy in Cairo and from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She waits for a reply.

An answer comes quickly enough: "I wish someone would blow up the American base in Afghanistan," a person writes in Arabic.

"It would be great," another responds.

No one corrects her, which must mean Rossmiller has said it right, in the right spot. She's elated. They're buying me as one of them.

Having digested a clutch of Arab novels, Rossmiller uses the devices of fiction to invent characters she can be on the Web.

She must be specific and nuanced to be believed, she thinks, but one persona is not enough.

It's a control thing, she decides. If I can have an effect on them, then maybe I can stop the evil they do.

Rossmiller begins to fill notebooks with detailed aspects of her made-up characters - names, photos, occupations. Some are good at bomb-making. Others are facile with small weapons.

I've got some real doozies here, Rossmiller says to herself as she reviews her ensemble of grim operators, her own fictional collection of serial killers.

Soon Rossmiller has created around three dozen "people." She searches Web sites for obituaries with pictures, then alters the images so relatives wouldn't recognize them.

The photos are mostly for herself, to keep a picture in her head of whom she's supposed to be, a sense of her character. Once in a while, someone asks to see whom he's talking to, and Rossmiller can oblige.

She researches mosques in Jordan and Pakistan to learn their street locations and the names of their imams. This way, she can make authentic references during online chats.

After several months, she has developed quite a correspondence with dozens of people who seem to believe she is whoever she says she is.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

What Kind of Sandwich Are You?

I don't normally do Internet quizzes, but this one goes beyond the normal quiz into extreme political and metaphysical importance. Besides, it's getting pretty close to lunch time.

You Are a Club Sandwich

You are have a big personality. It's hard for anyone to ignore you!

You dream big. You think big. And you eat big.

Some people consider you high maintenance, but you just know what you want... and when you want it.

Your best friend: The Tuna Fish Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

What Kind of Sandwich Are You?


Friday, August 17, 2007

Slandering our Armed Forces Again

The Detroit Free Press, with the assistance of the Associated Press slandered Marine Lt. General James Mattis. At first, they just present the facts,
In recent months, the senior Marine commander on the West Coast has dismissed charges against three troops implicated in the deaths of 24 Iraqis and reduced the sentences of three others in the kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi man.

Lt. Gen. James Mattis' actions in two of the war's highest-profile criminal cases underscore one of the wildcards in the military justice system: the sweeping powers of a commanding general to decide the fate of those accused of war crimes.
Later in the article though, they dredged up the old quote that first brought General Mattis into our collective consciousness,
"It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up-front with you, I like brawling."
Well! He certainly sounds like an ill-mannered thug, doesn't he? Yes, he does, unless you get the entire quote,
Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot… It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling… You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.
So while he did bruise the delicate sensibilities of CAIR and their anti war fellow travelers, after reading more about him, I'm eternally glad we've got him and other soldiers like him on our side.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Hezbollah Video Game

On the propaganda front, Hezbollah pulls out all the stops. Unlike our leaders in the West, who can't apologize enough for the success of Western civilization, Hezbollah is proud of their thuggery, their hate, their wanton destruction of human life. While the West encourages its young to accept and understand all cultures but its own, Hezbollah will do anything to encourage children to worship death, both their own, and that of their victims. The latest tactic is The Hezbollah Video Game.
Raid Israel to capture soldiers, battle tanks in the valleys of southern Lebanon and launch Katyusha rockets at Israeli towns -- a new Hezbollah computer game puts players on the frontline of war with the Jewish state.

Some 1,200 people were killed in Lebanon in last year's conflict.

"Special Force 2" is based on last year's 34-day conflict between the Lebanese guerrilla group and Israel.

"This game presents the culture of the resistance to children: that occupation must be resisted and that land and the nation must be guarded," Hezbollah media official Sheikh Ali Daher said.

But Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev responded by saying: ''It should come as a surprise to no one that Hezbollah teaches children that hatred and violence are positive attributes.''

Designed by Hezbollah computer experts, players of "Special Force 2" take the role of a Hezbollah fighter, or Mujahid. Weapons and points are accumulated by killing Israeli soldiers.
Since this is a report by Reuters, they still report Hezbollah misinformation as fact, and they certainly seem to gush over this new game. But it wouldn't be Reuters without the anti-Israel bias.

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Peace in Gaza?

Time Magazine ran a puff piece on the new Hamas utopia in Gaza.
The rule of law has returned to Gaza. Just two months ago, this beachfront slice of sand dunes and concrete jungles, home to about 1.5 million Palestinians, was one of the most dangerous places on earth. In June, after a few days of internecine warfare, Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, took control of Gaza from its rival, Fatah. Since then, Gaza has been under siege. Almost all shipments except for basic humanitarian supplies are barred from entering, and almost nothing comes out. The blockade is part of an Israeli and American strategy to isolate Hamas in the hope that Palestinians will turn away from its Islamist leaders, who have never recognized Israel, and toward Fatah, which is willing to restart the peace process. So far, the plan isn't working. With a free hand to govern as it pleases, Hamas is building popular support and military capability that may well outlast the international blockade.

Security is key to support for Hamas. Within a week of the takeover, crime, drug smuggling, tribal clashes and kidnappings had largely disappeared. According to human-rights groups, the ability of the Executive Force to achieve such a result is an indictment of the corruption and criminal collusion at the top of the Fatah-dominated security services that once controlled Gaza. "For the last year and a half, there has been an orchestrated escalation of chaos by some Banana Republic officers to show that Hamas does not have control of Gaza," said Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. "Gaza became like Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Thugs and gangsters were ruling, and some were supported and protected by our own security forces."
As the Gazans can never be held accountable for their self-inflicted misery, any problems are always the fault of Israel.
Yet Gazan business owners like Telbani and el-Helou--practical, apolitical men--are unanimous in their criticism of Israel rather than Hamas for economic problems. "If we are free, we should control our own borders," said el-Helou. "But we do not, so the full responsibility is on the Israeli side." And business leaders point to a paradox of the embargo; it is destroying the only class of Palestinians who looked favorably on Israel. Most of those in commerce speak Hebrew and have--or used to have--Israeli clients, partners and friends. They had once looked forward to the day when there would be no trade barriers between an independent Palestine and an Israel with which it was at peace. "The majority of Gazans do not like Israel," said Amassi Ghazi, the chairman of a company that imports building materials. "Until now, only the private sector had good relations with Israel. So please open the border before all Gaza will be enemies of Israel."
It's the same old story. Gazans can do no wrong. Israel can do no right.

The Detroit Free Press ran this piece of idiocy, supplied by the Israel haters at McClatchy Newspapers.
If you think of the Gaza Strip as a volatile, violent battleground run by fanatic Islamist militants bent on destroying Israel, Hamas wants you to think again.

Think: "Safe, clean and green."

One month after seizing the Gaza Strip in a military rout that shattered brittle Palestinian unity, Hamas is embarking on a radical marketing campaign to promote what it calls "the new face of Gaza."

They call it the "Gaza Riviera."

Hamas banners flutter over Gaza City with a message for aid workers and journalists worried about being kidnapped: "No more threat for our foreign visitors and guests."

Bearded gunmen in blue-gray camouflage uniforms who helped seize control of Gaza now rush to settle routine neighborhood squabbles and family disputes.

Once-deserted Mediterranean beaches are now filled with dozens of families holding picnics to escape the summer heat until long after midnight.
I couldn't help but wonder how Gilad Shalit is enjoying his forced stay in the "Gaza Riviera" after being kidnapped by Hamas over a year ago. Neither McClatchy nor The Free Press thought to ask.

Once again though, the Gazans shoot themselves in the foot by showing their true colors.
Palestinian officials and witnesses say Hamas militiamen detained at least 10 members of the rival Fatah movement after breaking up a wedding and beating guests.

The witnesses said the arrests occurred during overnight marriage celebrations in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun.

Hamas authorities say the wedding guests were singing Fatah nationalist songs in support of Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, and firing guns into the air.

Hospital workers said at least 10 people were hurt in the confrontation.

Witnesses said that after the incident, about 150 relatives of those arrested staged protests outside Hamas offices in the town. Most of the protesters were women and children.

Hamas militants took control of the Gaza Strip nearly two months ago after a week of deadly street battles with Fatah.
So far neither of the Detroit papers have reported on this embarrassing situation. By the way the wedding crashers video is here.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Raise Taxes?

Our infrastructure is crumbling. The only reason any of us noticed this was due to a bridge collapsing in Minnesota. What should we, excuse me, I mean, what should our elected officials do? One of the standard answers to all that is ailing our country from the left side of the aisle is: Raise taxes! Those fool Republicans and their "tax cuts for the rich" are causing our country's roads, bridges, and power grid (remember the black out a couple of years ago?) to crumble into dust around us. It's all being held together by the cobwebs that remind us of the years of neglect.

Fortunately for us, there is Thomas Sowell. And Thomas Sowell says,
The real problem is that the political incentives are to spend the taxpayers' money on things that will enhance politicians' chances of getting re-elected.

There may be enough money available to maintain bridges and other infrastructure but that same money can have a bigger political pay-off if spent building something new instead of maintaining and repairing existing structures.

When money is spent building a new community center, a golf course, or anything that will be newsworthy, there will be ribbon-cutting ceremonies and the politicians who cut the ribbons can expect to see their pictures in the newspapers and on TV.

All that keeps their name before the public in a positive role and therefore enhances their prospects of being re-elected.

But there are no ribbon-cutting ceremonies when bridges are being repaired or pot-holes are being filled in. These latter activities may be more valuable than a community center or a golf course, but they are not nearly as photogenic.

The preference for showy projects that will enhance a politician's career prospects is not peculiar to current politicians. Adam Smith pointed out the same thing about politicians in 18th-century Europe.

We can vote the rascals out but the new rascals who replace them will face the same incentives and in all likelihood will respond in the same way.

A pattern that has persisted for more than two centuries is likely to continue unless something fundamental is changed.
Sowell also says,
Those who live by talking points now have a great one: "How can we fight an expensive war and repair our neglected infrastructure without raising taxes?"

Plausible as this might sound, tax rates are not tax revenues. The two things have moved in opposite directions too many times, over too many years, for us to take these clever talking points at face value.

This administration is not the first one in which a reduction in tax rates has been followed by an increase in tax revenues. The same thing happened during the Reagan administration, the Kennedy administration and the Coolidge administration.

Tax rates and tax revenues have moved in opposite directions many times, not only at the federal level, but also at state and local levels, as well as in foreign countries.

How many times does it have to happen before people stop equating tax rates with tax revenues? Do the tax-and-spend politicians and their media supporters not know any better — or are they counting on the rest of us not knowing any better?
Besides, we know how readily and how easily our government wastes our tax dollars. From the Citizens Against Government Waste website, we have this choice tidbit,
Members of the Senate Transportation/Treasury Appropriations subcommittee paved the way for another year of reckless spending by adding 874 pork projects totaling $1.28 billion in the fiscal 2006 Senate Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act. Not satisfied with grabbing money for parochial projects, the appropriators also included $5 billion for 18 programs that the president suggested eliminating or reducing. Programs resurrected from the scrap pile of presidential cuts include $150 million for the Revitalization of Severely Distressed Public Housing account (the HOPE VI Program), $25 million for the National Defense Tank Vessel Construction Program, and $24 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Rural Housing and Economic Development.
That of course is only the beginning, and it's only one bill. They've been doing this for years . . . with our money.

Of course, there's more. There's always more. We taxpayers provide our elected representatives a bottomless well in which to dip from. According to John Stossel,
By now you've probably heard that a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states:

From 1999 through 2005, the USDA "paid $1.1 billion in farm payments in the names of 172,801 deceased individuals. ... 40 percent went to those who had been dead for three or more years, and 19 percent to those dead for seven or more years." One dead farmer got more than $400,000 during those years.
But wait, it gets better,
An amendment that would have withheld subsidies from farmers with incomes of $250,000 or more was rejected by the House.
Hmm, maybe I didn't mean better. I'm sure there's another word for what I really meant, but I try to watch my language.

CONCLUSION: Congress already has the money. If they thought more about working for the country rather than pandering in order to get reelected, this wouldn't be an issue. If Progressives who hate Capitalism would take the time to learn a bit about real world economics, there wouldn't even be this stupid debate.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Doing the Jobs Newspapers Refuse to Do

The leading candidate to replace Marianne Udow as director of the state Department of Human Services next month is a longtime community organizer and bridge-builder between metro Detroit's Arab-American community and other ethnic and business groups.

The appointment of Ismael Ahmed, executive director of the Dearborn-based Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), has been speculated about since Udow announced last week that she would leave Aug. 31.

Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm, declined to comment this week except to say that an announcement will come by month's end.

Sue Hamilton Smith, director of the Wayne County Department of Child and Family Services, said Thursday that Ahmed would be a good choice.

"A phenomenal man with great integrity," Smith said of Ahmed.

"Ish is one of those people that has the ability to talk as comfortably with corporate America as he does with the homeless. And he does do both."
That's what the Detroit Free Press had to say about Ismael Ahmed. There is even a nice photo of Mr. Ahmed looking a lot like someone you might buy a used car from.


There is much more to the story. As Debbie Schlussel informs us,
Readers of this site are familiar with Ahmed because I've written a great deal about him. The former head of Jesse Jackson's Michigan Presidential campaign, heads a Muslim-dominated agency that defrauds Medicaid by helping bring pregnant Muslim women from all over the world to America and giving them phony Social Security numbers to use so they can defraud Medicaid and have you--the taxpayers pay thousands of dollars to cover the deliveries of their babies. Plus the babies get U.S. citizenship.
It's also disturbing because Ahmed's agency used thousands of government job-training funds to train Al-Qaeda terrorists to get commercial driver's licenses and hazardous material hauling certificates.

And his agency used government money to sponsor the University of Michigan Divestment (from Israel) Conference. Imagine what Ahmed will do with access to and control over Michigan's giant budget for everything that falls under "Human Services."
While you're there, follow the links where Schlussel gives more damning evidence of Ahmed's terrorism ties.

The big question here of course is, why are our newspapers offering themselves as lapdogs to our political leaders who pander to radical islamists? What ever happened to "speaking truth to power?" Sure, they'll slam Bush, Cheney, Rove, and any other conservative within reach, but there are no consequences for those attacks. There are consequences for speaking truth to Islam. So we have Debbie Schussel and other bloggers doing the jobs that American newspapers won't do. And believe me, there is a price to pay.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Evangelicals and Israel

I was playing "follow the link" on this post by Smooth Stone. One of the arguments that I get into with members of my congregation is the alliance that should be strong and unbreakable between Jews and Evangelical Christians. I'm one of the few who realizes that we are on the same side. To most others, including my rabbi (whom I do respect a lot even though I disagree with him on this) there is a visceral distrust of Evangelicals. The common excuses for rejection of Evangelicals are; they only want to convert us, they're only using us in hopes of fulfilling dreams of The Apocalypse and Second Coming, they think we're all going to Hell anyway. The people who express these apprehensions see themselves as thoroughly modern liberal progressive Jews, but if you think about it, they're still living mentally in the anti-semitic Europe of their grandparents and great grandparents. They are afraid to look closely to see who are our real friends are, and who our enemies are. It's one of those things that would make them think about who and what they've been voting for all these years.

The link from Smooth Stone, took me to a piece by Ruth Matar, whom I'd never heard of before. She makes a lot of sense. The site won't allow me to lift quotes. You're going to have to go read it on your own.

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Get Fuzzy

One of the few actually funny comic strips today, is Get Fuzzy. Lately he's been delving into politics. But unlike other strips that are more interested in pushing an agenda than in entertaining, Get Fuzzy is as funny as ever. A highlight was this strip from July. Another thing that sets this strip apart from lesser ones is that the punch line is not always in the final panel.

Today's strip was pretty funny too.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wealth of Nations

I wanted to read Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS this summer. It was going to be my summer reading project. There have been a lot of distractions this summer, so I'm only a little shy of half way through. I could have avoided some of the distractions, but that's the way summers go. I have to admit: this is a tough book. Some of what Smith writes is simple common sense - followed by endless pages on explanation on the reduction of the amount of gold in the English pound, or price fluctuations of corn, or other things that are important to an economist. These explanations are valid today, and if I took the time to study the text carefully, perhaps even taking notes, I would probably understand more of it. From reading the part I have read, I've come to the conclusion that capitalism works because it is based on common sense and on the way real people act.

No matter how much it annoys leftists who rail against "greedy capitalists" and long for Marx's promised socialist utopia, capitalism works. That should be obvious to anyone who has honestly compared the economies of capitalist countries with those of communist countries. Which way are more people immigrating? If I recall, more Cubans are willing to risk their lives on leaky rafts to reach Florida than the other way around. In fact, from Florida, you could take the ninety mile ride in comfort. But how many people do it? Hugo Chavez is forcing a brain drain from Venezuela in his quest to force socialism down the throats of Venezuelans. Jungle Mom has been keeping us abreast on the nascent Hugotopia. As much as Chavez, Castro, and the hypocritical Hollywood morons who worship them want to deny it, people don't work the way Marx claims they do.

Getting back to Mr. Smith, he opens by discussing a simple concept: division of labor. Much more wealth is created and many more necessary products are available to the average person because many people are at work in the various aspects of product creation. In the making of a shirt, you have people who pick the cotton, others who spin the cotton to create the thread, still others who make the fabric. Then there are those who make the dyes for the shirt, those who make the machines that all of the manufacturers use to make the different parts of the shirt, the people who transport the materials and the finished product, etc. In the end, this is much more efficient than each family having to make their own clothes by going through the entire process.

Smith goes into wages, profit, capital, labor, rent, stock, money, prices, and everything else you can imagine that would be covered by economic theory. He even talks about that ultimate evil (if you are a Marxist) that concept that is even more foul, more disgusting, more wicked and diabolical than profit: self-interest. Smith recognizes that self-interest is what drives people. While those on the left see this as "greed" and condemn it, Smith sees it as how people operate. It's neither good or bad in itself, it just is. He is under no illusion that all of us work together under Capitalism. Some people work against others; bosses and employees certainly have conflicting interests when it comes to the level of wages. Two merchants selling the same product may have to compete for the same customers.

I probably won't finish this monster this summer, but eventually I will. The parts that aren't tedious and boring are fascinating in their simplicity and common sense. Ideologues who through their own inability to get what they want, who are bothered because not everyone succeeds, or who are simply morally twisted and condemn Capitalism and the philosophy of Adam Smith out of pure hatred, distort what he has to say in order to make their point.

Is Capitalism fair? In the sense that it gives us all the chance to succeed and excel if we want to take that chance, yes it is. In the sense that under Capitalism, people have more freedom (to succeed and fail) than under any other system, yes it is. In the fact that there is no guarantee of success, and certainly no equality of outcome, then no it isn't . But then, as your parents probably told you a long time ago, life isn't fair.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

A Warning?

HAMTRAMCK -- This small city of immigrants is quickly regaining its reputation.

Once a refuge for Catholic immigrants mostly from Poland and Ukraine, who staked their claim to the American dream in this 2.2-square-mile municipality, Hamtramck is now providing the same haven for Muslims from Bangladesh, Bosnia and Yemen.

And the dream is coming to fruition, again. There is a chance that, for the first time in the United States, a majority of members of the legislative body of a municipality will be Muslims, according to national Muslim and Arab organizations.

Four Muslims are in the Tuesday primary. If they are among the six of 12 candidates to emerge for the general election in November, they would have a chance of joining a fifth Muslim, Councilman Abdul Algazali, who is up for re-election in 2009, on the six-member council.
According to the writer, this is a good thing, but if you read his past articles, he's always been an apologist for islamists.
"This is not about Muslims, alone," Mafuz said. "This is about representing all people. That's my mission. I want to build a relationship with all people to unite, to create opportunities and the sort of city we all want to have."

Indeed, observers are quick to point out that the candidates who are Muslim are not generally allied.
Right, for now. Forgive my skepticism but I'm going to keep my eye on Hamtramck, because none of my local papers are going to run articles that are unfavorable to Muslims, even if they attempt the popular "creeping sharia" gambit. There are a lot of little corner bars in that city. It used to be the place to go to hear local rock bands. It still may be. I don't get out like I used to. Will there be any problem with their continued operation (recalling Somali cabdrivers in Minnisota)?

Like I said, I'm going to be watching.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ethanol is Not the Answer

The government in a blatant move to pander to the agricultural interests in this country are selling us out again. Huge subsidies are up for grabs in order to promote ethanol as an alternative to gasoline. The problem though, is that ethanol is not only a poor substitute, it will actually cause more damage to the environment and to the economy than petroleum. According to Mark Perry,
It sounds as though the United States is making progress to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil. It is stepping up production of ethanol. Legislation that would require a sevenfold increase in the use of biofuels is coming up for final approval in Congress. Carmakers are rolling out increasing numbers of new flex-fuel vehicles that can run on E85, a fuel that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

None of this should give us too much comfort, however. Ethanol production this year will replace less than 5 percent of the gasoline sold. Yet, since 20 percent of today's corn crop is used to produce ethanol, it is pushing up food prices -- everything from meat and dairy products to beer, soda pop and even charcoal briquettes, one of many products that contain corn.

So dominant has this grain become that of the estimated 45,000 items in supermarkets, more than one quarter contain corn. No surprise that the increase in corn-based ethanol during the past 12 months has raised food prices by $47 per person, according to a study by Iowa State University.

Fuelish rush causes harm

In the rush to replace gasoline with biofuels, we may be doing ourselves real economic harm. The government-supported push for ethanol will add to Americans' burden of high fuel and food costs and especially hurt people on fixed incomes.

Clearly, there is a limit to how much of the U.S. corn crop can be gobbled up for ethanol without pushing food prices higher and higher. This possibility does not seem to have bothered senators who voted for an energy bill requiring an increase in ethanol production to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, up from 5 billion gallons this year.

The bill would also provide loan guarantees, biofuels research and development grants, and grants for ethanol plant construction. As if that's not enough, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, are co-sponsoring a bill that would raise the ethanol mandate to 60 billion gallons by 2030.

Ethanol cannot be justified scientifically or economically. The only reason the industry has survived is that the government gives corn farmers and ethanol producers generous subsidies. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, ethanol is produced by mixing corn with our tax dollars.

If extended through 2022, as the Senate energy bill provides, it will cost taxpayers an estimated $131 billion, according to the Tax Foundation. Subsidies under the Lugar-Harkin measure would cost as much as $205 billion during the next 15 years.

The scientific problem with corn ethanol is that it contains one-third less energy than gasoline. So a motorist has to purchase one-third more fuel to go the same distance. If you total all of the fossil fuel that goes into making ethanol -- nitrogen-based fertilizer and herbicides, fuel to run farm machinery, natural gas for the distilling process at ethanol plants -- it takes more energy to produce ethanol than the fuel provides.

Formula for a drought

Furthermore, the rush to produce ethanol is adversely affecting the environment. In many parts of the corn belt, water tables are dropping, in some places 10 feet or more in the past decade, because it takes a great deal of water to grow corn and produce ethanol. For that matter, if the government keeps requiring unreasonably high levels of ethanol production, a prolonged drought that devastates the corn crop could cause fuel shortages in the future.

In addition, heavy corn production exacerbates soil erosion, pollutes groundwater supplies from chemical runoff and increases the level of greenhouse gas emissions from the conversion of grassland to corn production.

If Congress wants to moderate fuel prices and help consumers, it ought to open potentially oil-rich areas off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to oil and natural gas production. And members of Congress should realize that producing oil in very deep water requires huge investments, as does developing techniques to tap the enormous deposits of oil locked in shale and tar sands.

But there is a real danger that Congress will remain oblivious to the economic and scientific realities of ethanol and take us down the wrong path by mandating a huge increase in ethanol production. Washington might have a love affair with ethanol for political reasons, but increasing ethanol production will lead to higher taxes, higher prices for both food and fuel, and damage to the environment, making us all worse off.

Congress needs to say no to the ethanol hustlers and end its political addiction to corn.
Yep, I swiped the whole thing. That's because the Detroit News lets old articles fade from the Net and this is too important to not be put in the face of every ethanol supporter. Mr. Perry has more to say about ethanol on his blog in this post.

I would like to hear the counter arguments - if any.

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Eight Things About Me

I was tagged by Quill of Bill. So here are eight things about me.
1. I like cereal. I eat it almost every morning and sometimes I have a bowl before bed.

2. I really like Jazz. I like it from Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke to Sun Ra and James Carter. "Smooth Jazz" does not count as Jazz.

3. I'm getting crankier as I get older. Between the Islamonazis and the idiots in charge of education in this country, I'm getting the Blues.

4. I used to play the tuba in high school.

5. I'm tempted to buy old cartoons on DVD, but the one time I did that I never even opened them.

6. I like comic books and comic strips. Old favorites are Pogo Possum, Krazy Kat, Calvin and Hobbes, Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge, Skippy, Thimble Theater, Li'l Abner, and Gasoline Alley. New favorites are Optic Nerve, Acme Novelty Library, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, Jump Start, and Eightball.

7. I have two great kids, but they make me angriest when they cop the same kind of attitude I did when I was their age.

8. Sometimes I think I'm interested in too many things to devote enough time to becoming knowledgeable in any one of them.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Video Recommended by the Prophet Mohammed himself.

OK, so it's not really recommended by Mohammed. But it is posted at The Official Website of the Prophet Mohammed. I like to visit there every once in a while for a bit of Islamic enlightenment and to recharge my inner jihad. I have to admit, he's got a pretty good sense of humor for God's final prophet. I've read some of the other prophets, Isiah, Ezekial, Micah, and none of them compare for sheer chuckle power. So watch the video, and if you have a moment, go visit Mohammed's official website.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Can You Imagine?

Go read this. It's by Vanderleun over at American Digest. I'd been debating for a long time whether or not to link to it.
Little of my conversation with Appelfeld remains in my memory save for one question and answer. I asked him what he thought his single message and driving force behind his writing was. His answer was essentially and in paraphrase, "As a Jew no matter how safe you think you are, no matter how assimilated you think you and your family might be, you aren't. You are never safe and you are never assimilated. You know could always happen again. You know it will."

From time to time his statement comes back to me when I'm faced with the inexplicable actions, the weak thinking, the unfathomable ignorance, and the cultural cringing of my fellow countrymen in our present era. Yesterday it was the bizarre editorial from the New York Times calling for immediate retreat and surrender in Iraq. Entitled somewhat poetically "The Road Home" the editorial is a monument to "the refusal to imagine" mindset that has overtaken so many Americans after years of the unremitting media water torture on the issue of Iraq. It's key passage reads:

"It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.... Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide."

When I first read this blithe gush issuing -- without heart or care or conscience -- from whatever mind originated it, and passed by whatever chortling editorial process approved it, I felt the twinge of nausea that I often feel when reading the carefully crafted and anonymous twitterings of that paper's editorial pronouncements. But, like most of those moments, I stopped ingesting it and, in time, my nausea passed.
Of course, there's more. Go and read it.

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Could it Be?

I was driving down Woodward Ave, the main drag from Detroit to Pontiac. There was a book in the middle of the street. The first thing I thought was, Hate Crime! It was obvious. Somebody threw this book in the middle of a busy thoroughfare in order to intimidate me. One of these days I'm going to call the police and report it. Then I'm going to press charges . . . against someone.


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