Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Cool as hell. Posted by Hello

Every so often I read something that just floors me. The Moscow Times carried a story about the revival of the Jewish community in Berlin. It is made up almost entirely of Russian Jews, 70 of whom are Red Army veterans from World War II. That is ironic. Unfortunately, I do not know a word for superironic. What is superironic is the second half of the story, in which the author discusses the burgeoning anti-Semitism and Nazi movement in . . . Russia.

The only Russian who could be a Nazi would have to be illiterate. Hitler, in Mein Kampf (which you’d expect a Nazi to look to for guidance) wrote:

“. . . the organization of a Russian state formation was not the result of the political abilities of the Slavs in Russia, but only a wonderful example of the state-forming efficacity of the German element in an inferior race. . . And the end of Jewish rule in Russia will also be the end of Russia as a state. We have been chosen by Fate as witnesses of a catastrophe which will be the mightiest confirmation of the soundness of the folkish theory.” Vol. I, Ch. XIV.

Anyway, the author ends the story quoting a Russian man who says that the Jews are to blame for Russia’s problems. “I lost family in the war," he said. "But that doesn't mean that Hitler wasn't right.” Fascinating. As stupid as you’d have to be to be a Nazi, you’d have to be that much more stupid to be a Russian Nazi.


The Straits Times, which sounds like an alternative news paper for straight people, but is actually the semi-official paper in Singapore, carried a story on a law the are considering passing in Korea (South—I’m not sure the North really has “laws” as opposed to “whims”). It seems that Korean children are failing in the filial duties with regard to their aged parents. In Korea, it is traditionally expected that sons will take care of their parents as their parents age. To help encourage this tradition, the opposition is about to introduce a bill that would give people who showed “filial piety” a reward of 10 million won, as well as discounts on other services.

As I was reading this, I was picturing Homer Simpson bargaining with the state. “Well, 10 million would be nice, but what’s it worth if I just get him a private room at the retirement home?” I wonder if they have a sliding scale for this sort of thing.


Today our web access keeps disappearing. I’ll be reading a story, hit the back button, and get a server not found message. If this keeps up, I half expect to see people walking around my office in tears. Thankfully, golf is still up.


My earlier rant about party politics and F’s blog actually started me thinking. As an aside, that is the key to quality blogging. Write, THEN think. Anyway, there was a time when I was much more interested in many of the sorts of political issues I now think are either irrelevant or unsolvable. I started wondering why I, a person for whom the American meritocracy has worked fantastically, was so disillusioned with politics. It struck me that I thought both parties were full of jackasses.

Anyway, into that brainstorm walks David Brooks. Not the David Brooks my aunt married (I don’t think). Instead, the David Brooks who writes for the New York Times. Last Sunday he had an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine entitled “How to Reinvent the G.O.P.” Now, it is not clear to me exactly why the formula would only apply to the GOP. It would return to the ideology of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, but parties change and the ideology he discussed is not any more inherently “Republican” than any other idea is. In any case, I will excerpt from Brooks here, but you ought to get your hands on the original if possible. While I have tried to assemble a sensible and condensed narrative, Brooks expands on several points and discusses more history than can be done here.

“Today we have one political tradition, now housed in the Democratic Party,
which believes in using government in the name of equality and social
justice. We have another tradition, recently housed in the Republican
Party, which believes, or says it believes, in restricting the size of
government in the name of freedom and personal responsibility. But through
much of American history there has always been a third tradition, now
dormant, which believes in limited but energetic government in the name of
social mobility and national union.”

“This progressive conservative tradition is built on an admiration for a
certain sort of individual: the young, ambitious striver, who works hard,
makes something of himself, creates opportunities for others and then goes
on to advance America's unique mission in the world. Alexander Hamilton
was the first embodiment and definer of this creed.”

“[Hamilton] rejected the formula, assumed too often today, that you can be for government or for the market, but not for both.

For his part, Hamilton saw entrepreneurial freedom, limited but energetic
federal power and national greatness as qualities that were inextricably
linked. It was always the cause of America, or rather, the cause America
represents -- universal freedom -- that was uppermost in his mind.
Hamiltonianism was about spurring individual initiative, but it was also
about gathering the fruits of that energy in the cause of national

“This free-labor ideology was a contract. Individuals would be held
responsible for their own behavior. But government would do what it could
to open up opportunities, so that people would have second and third and
fourth chances to succeed. During Lincoln's presidency, this government
philosophy produced a raft of legislation: the creation of a single
currency, the Homestead Act, the Morrill Land Grant College Act, the
railroad legislation and so on. All of these initiatives were designed to
stimulate, energize and unify the nation. The Homestead Act placed land in
the hands of families. The Land Grant College Act promoted the spread of
practical knowledge. These Republicans were not trying to care for the
downtrodden or shelter them. They were trying to open fields of enterprise.”

“Roosevelt, too, believed that government must sometimes play an active
role to give everybody a fair shot in the race of life. ''The true
function of the state, as it interferes with social life,'' he wrote,
‘should be to make the chances of competition more even, not to abolish

Let me first point out that the Land Grant colleges, like my two-time alma mater, University of Illinois are an invaluable resource that needs to be funded for a big part of this dynamic mobility to be realistic. However, I don’t know if we can ask for more of our policies than (a) we act decently and humanely to the least among us, and (b) we strive to open real opportunity for everyone. The first is necessary because as a society we have a responsibility to not abandon people unable to fend for themselves, and the second is necessary because it does not doom the children of those unable to fend for themselves to a life of not being able to fend for themselves.

End of political posts.


“Car Explosion Kills 5 in Moscow, Reason Unknown”

Wait, wait, wait. Do they mean that the cause of death of the five is unknown? Is this a more universal condemnation of the Russians, who are apparently unfamiliar with Reason? I’m confused.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


F believes I mischaracterized his points. Since I can't link to his blog (it is not very transparent), I will post his reply. That is only fair. So speaketh F:

a) my concerns have been less with Patriot Act (much of which will sunset, anyway) but social policy initiatives that seek to incoporate much of the far right agenda into politics, a true violation of any truly conservative ethic

b) Kerry HAS foreign policy expertise in his group of advisors - they're the people who pissed away eight years under Clinton, causing many of the national security problems we are now stuck with. If they failed once, why should they be given free rein to fail again?

c) Defense and Intel were grossly underfunded in the 1990's. HUMINT suffered because budgets were slashed and technology was deemed the most cost effective way to gather intel if you couldn't put people in the field. And who voted for that? Kerry. And who's ideas were they? those of Kerry's foreign policy advisors. You siad the two war doctrine was sound but what mattered was choosing your second war wisely...doesn't matter which second war you choose if you don't have the resources to fight it effectively.

d) at least we agree on trade

All that being said, I (WAYLA BOY here again) still see no point in treating my party affiliation like I do my faith. I am a consumer of politics, and willing to treat the parties with all of the love and respect I reserve for internet service providers, telephone companies, airlines, and similar providers. Put a better product on the shelf, lower the price, and I'll buy. I will not, however, agonize when you put a product like Alan Keyes (!!!) on the shelf and expect me to buy.

Today’s Best

I don’t have time to blog, but there are a few things that I cannot let pass…

Nigerian police clash with wife-swappers from Reuters
No comment necessary.

Snohomish PUD moves to get rid of Enron fee (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Fight for a fee-free pud!

Some pot use will be legal in Detroit, but little else changes (Detroit Free Press)
Arguably, nothing changes…

Finally, my favorite blog just celebrated its first anniversary. Here’s wishing for many nore.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


I bet you thought this would be about the Homeland Security warnings, etc. You are wrong. I have largely stopped worrying about that. Like so much in life, why stress about what you cannot control.

Instead, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that an underprivileged 13 year old from Boston at a camp in New Hampshire died after he became frightened by a black bear. The kid and his guide saw the bear twice and ran away from it both times. After the second time, the kid collapsed and died.

This story is absolutely insane. I hardly know where to start, except to say that the story indicated that “the last time a bear killed anyone in the state was in 1784. Let me be the first to say that the non-killing streak, in my judgment, remains in tact for the bears. My goodness, can you imagine a black bear (as opposed to a grizzly or Kodiak) realizing it scared someone to death?


I make it a practice not to respond to the blogs I read because I generally think my blog sucks too much to be taking any shots at anyone. This is true even of Belle du Jour, who hasn’t written anything remotely interesting since she got a book deal. Who wants a prostitute to write about which boy she likes most? BORING!

Anyway, F has inspired me to just a short couple of rebuttals to his agony with the Republican Party. Towit: the Republican Party has been hijacked by the Ashcrofts. They stand for nothing that moderate Republicans stand for. Retaining them in office is as dangerous to our liberty as anything the twisted clowns attacking us can think of. See, they can kill a few of us, but the Ashcrofts can institutionalize a loss of freedom.

Second, Kerry may not have the foreign policy expertise that one would wish for, but he has at least as much today as Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, arguably Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, or the current President did when they entered the office. Only Ike and George Walker Bush were left off of that list from the end of World War II. If we have done ANYTHING correctly on foreign policy since 1945, it was most likely done by someone who was less experienced than we would have liked.

Third, Kerry and Edwards are wrong on trade. Free trade helps us in gross terms, even if in specific areas it hurts. I always ask people who complain about this if they know why there are so many “old mill towns” in New England. It is because the low wage Southerners in the Carolinas took away the textile jobs from New England. Just as the Chinese are about to take those jobs from the Southerners.

Fourth, there is no number of additional carrier groups that would have prevented 9/11. Funding was not the problem for the intelligence services. Their reliance on technology to the exclusion of individuals on the ground was. We are overstretched in Iraq now not because of military cuts made in the 1990s, but because we went to war before we were ready to, and for reasons as yet unclear. The two war doctrine was appropriate after the Cold War and still is. You just have to pick your second war more wisely that Bush did. Whether Europe actually decides to act like an ally in Iraq if Kerry is elected is largely irrelevant, since even the possibility of such assistance is an improvement over the relations we have with Europe today. Finally, and frankly, if “Mission Accomplished” and “Wanted Dead or Alive” are not the sort of glib talking points we are being run on now, I’m not sure what they are.

I simply don’t understand why people identify themselves with parties. On the issues that I care about (with the exception of trade), this President has been an utter failure. Therefore, regardless of party, I want to see him go. No fuss, no muss, and I don’t give a rat’s ass what party he’s from. The other guy at least deserves a chance to see if he can be a bit less of a screw up.