Thursday, June 28, 2012

Schools of War

Robin writes:

The main reason we had rules to force kids to attend primary school was to make obedient soldier citizens to support their nation in time of war.

Maybe.  But that isn’t exactly what the study says.  The study finds a correlation between “large investments in state primary education systems” and “military rival[ry] or threats.”

Aside from the usual caveat about correlation not being causation, I would add that it’s not especially clear that, were that it’s intent, the pro-war faction is getting its money’s worth.  As near as I can tell, the purpose of public education is to promote Diversity and Global Warming, and I be greatly surprised to find public schools actively encouraging support for war.  Once upon a time, subjects like, say, the history of America’s past military glories might have had second order effects encouraging support for the wars of the present, but these have now taken a back seat to Sojourner  Truth and the Tuskegee Airmen.

I suspect that, if anything, the causality runs the other way, at least in the American context:  it was precisely the experience of various wars that consolidated nationalism, making national expenditures for things like education more likely.

Elsewhere, Robin asserts a similar purpose behind nationalize health care.  My guess is that such will bankrupt us to the point where foreign war becomes unaffordable.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Codewords of Futility: “Innovative Project”

A trend piece from Good News about Millenials moving to Detroit (via Gucci) informs:

There may be some “creative class” boosterism going on in Detroit, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t also authentic, sophisticated projects in motion . . . .

[Master’s in theology graduate Amy] Kaherl now runs Detroit SOUP, a monthly dinner that charges five dollars for a plate of home-cooked food to generate seed funding for a selected project that promises to positively impact Detroit. Projects funded by SOUP include a park clean-up day for schoolchildren, a homeless outreach program, and a community-run radio station . . . .

Justin Jacobs, 29, also created a career by fulfilling a need in Detroit. He founded a city-wide sports league, Come Play Detroit, and had an incredible influx of customers within months, because nothing like it existed . . . .

[Twenty-seven-year-old PhD student Jess] Daniel started an organization called FoodLab that incubates small local food businesses and offers monthly workshops on formalizing and developing a microenterprise . . . .

The “cool kids” moving to the Motor City want to put their ideas to work, and create a culture they enjoy living in. Compared to their counterparts in other cities, who have to put in more hours at side jobs or 9-to-5s unrelated to their passions, Detroiter’s Millennials have more time to do what motivates them—and what aids their struggling city.

Though we may not see job creation and economic improvement instantly as a result of Millennials moving to the Rust Belt, they are part of the overall solution, and they know it. They’re working hard, thinking critically, and contributing.

On the one hand, I don’t want to mock these kids.  They’re coming out of school into the worst employment market in several generations, and the fact that they’re doing something, anything other than sulking in Mom’s basement, or camping out with OWS, is praiseworthy.

But as I read this article, I can’t help notice the conspicuous absence of words and phrases like:  “industry”, “technology”, “products and services people actually purchase with their own money”.

I should disclose that on this subject, I am metaphysically pessimist:  Detroit is done .  The best thing for it is to part it out, literally.  I certainly don’t know how to create jobs in Detroit given the political structure.  I don’t even think these Millennials are the leading edge of gentrification.  But I am reasonably sure that their “contributing” isn’t going to produce the renaissance they’re hoping for.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Intergenerational Awareness

Reacting to a survey purportedly showing that “racism” is almost as high among Brits 18-24 years old as among over 55s, Vanishing American writes:

I would love to think that the younger generations will save the day, but the poll results noted in that post of mine contradict the hints of a politically incorrect sensibility among the young adults. After all, that age group is most often the one in which young people like to outrage the sensibilities of their elders and say things meant to shock, annoy or to set themselves apart from their ignorant parents. Being politically incorrect is just part of that; witness shows like South Park, which, politically incorrect as they are, are not expressions of healthy ethnocentrism.

I would add to this that ought not interpret these generational differences as a harbinger of shifting public sentiment.  Sometimes these age bracket gaps remain static as the individuals move between them, adopting new opinions to suit new circumstances.

For instance, I remember reading forever ago how young people were more prolife than old people.  Those youngsters are all grown up now and presumably running things, yet somehow that hasn’t no changes in policy have actually materialized.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Today's Armed Forces

Headlines from Wednesday's

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daylight in the Swamp

From the Wall Street Journal (via the EarlyBird):

U.N. Fires Officials At Its Afghan Fund

By Dion Nissenbaum

KABUL—The United Nations fired three officials running its $1.4 billion Afghanistan police trust fund as the first step in what is expected to be a broader shake-up at the program currently facing an internal investigation of mismanagement, according to U.N. and Western officials.

Problems with the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan became public last month, when The Wall Street Journal reported that international donors were concerned about possible abuses at the fund. The trust fund's main contributors are the U.S., the European Union and Japan.

While UNDP officials initially dismissed Journal reports about mismanagement allegations at Lotfa, the U.N. now says that its own investigation of problems at the fund preceded these articles—and that it is taking allegations of abuse seriously.

In other news, U.N. officials were outraged to discover that Spinal Tap isn’t a real band . . . .

Monday, June 18, 2012

Compare & Contrast

Headlines from the EarlyBird (DoD login required):

“US Pledges Ongoing Support To Turkey’s Fight With PKK Terror”, Today’s Zaman (Istanbul)

“Russia Is Arming Assad, U.S. Says”, Washington Post

So, the U.S. is publicly promising aid to one country in its fight against an insurgency, while accusing Russia of providing aid to another country in its fight against an insurgency.

All in a day’s work.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Slouching towards Bankruptcy

I don’t mean to pick on Congressman Mike Turner; this is just representative of the problem:

This month, the House passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4310). As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I worked closely with members of the Committee to craft a bipartisan bill that advances our national security objectives, establishes a robust national missile defense, and ensures that veterans and their families maintain access to the care and benefits they have earned through their service. This bill protects veterans and military families from a proposal by the Obama administration to increase most TRICARE enrollment fees and co-pays, and prevents the Administration from implementing new fees.

Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, across-the-board cuts known as a “sequester,” are scheduled to take effect next January, due to the failure of the bipartisan “super committee” to agree on a plan to cut federal spending. I voted against this law, which raised the federal debt ceiling and created the so-called “super committee,” because these cuts would place our national security at risk and have a detrimental effect on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and our regional economy. Funding for the Department of Defense will be slashed by $500 billion, and certain domestic programs face an automatic eight percent across-the-board cut. The federal government must learn to live within its means and balance its budget, but our servicemen and women and their families need not shoulder the burden for Washington’s failure to budget responsibly.

Don’t tax you.  Don’t tax me.  Tax the feller behind the tree!

Look, I’d be happy this provision puts more money in my pockets, except for the fact that it’s the same process that has paralyzed our government in the face of trillion dollar deficits.  We just can’t afford all the stuff we’ve been getting anymore, and to argue that the military should be exempt from cuts is wildly wrongheaded.

On the other hand, we have Obama, who thinks that only military benefits should be cut:

As reported here, the House Armed Services Committee recently forwarded the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 (HR4310) to the full House for a vote. The bill added back many of the cuts proposed by the White House, and ignored the DoD’s request to increase TRICARE Fees for military retirees.

While most expect it to pass in the House, it is also assumed that the Senate will not pass the current version. And, of course the President would surely veto it if it happened to make it through the Senate. On Wednesday the Office of Management and Budget that confirmed that the President would veto the bill. The OMB statement states, “If the cumulative effects of the bill impede the ability of the Administration to execute the new defense strategy and to properly direct scarce resources, the President’s senior advisors would recommend to the President that he veto the bill.”

So President $4T-and-counting has decided that now It’s Time To Take A Stand against excessive spending?

Leon Panetta hasn’t covered himself in glory, either.  On the one hand, military retirees should not expect to be insulated from skyrocketing health care costs, and indexing our Tricare premiums to those costs would be fair even if we weren’t facing a budget crisis.  But Panetta’s defense of those cuts – “hey, you’re still getting below-market rates on healthcare!” – is disingenuous.  Lifetime healthcare is part of our deferred compensation and has been, in one form or another, for a long while.  Saying that Tricare fees are “below market” is to lower the bar considerably.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Whither the Arabists?

Pat Buchanan quotes Bill Kristol:

“The big story in the Republican Party over the last 30 years, and I’m very happy about this,” said Kristol, is the “eclipsing” of the George H.W. Bush-James Baker-Brent Scowcroft realists, “an Arabist old-fashioned Republican Party ... very concerned about relations with Arab states that were not friendly with Israel ... .”

That Bush crowd is yesterday, said Kristol. And not only had the “Arabists” like President Bush been shoved aside by the neocons, the “Pat Buchanan/Ron Paul type” of Republican has been purged.

I can’t speak to 30 years ago, but 20 years ago I distinctly remember despising the Baker-Scowcroft vision of “realism” myself.  I was thoroughly under the influence of NR at the time (although a different NR, perhaps), so I remain ready to be persuaded otherwise, but . . . remind me what were the wonderful victories for American values and interests achieved by the Arabists?

I can’t think of any, except that the damage done by their entanglements (Lebanon, Gulf War I) was smaller than that done by the entanglements of their successors.  But “We Suck Less!” is hardly inspiring.

Hindsight being 20/20, I can’t think of any involvement with the Middle East in the last 40 years that hasn’t come to a bad end.  And I will admit that we should have heeded the warnings of Paul and Buchanan.  But let’s face it:  Buchanan was a leading light of the Republican Party in the early 90s, and yet he had zero impact on our Middle East policy.  So really, what difference did purging him actually make?

Monday, June 11, 2012


Latest chain mail . . .

1) Only in America could politicians talk about the greed of the rich
at a $35,000 a plate campaign fund raising event.

2) Only in America could people claim that the government still
discriminates against black Americans when we have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal workforce is black. 12% of the population is black.

3) Only in America could we have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner, the head of the Treasury Department and Charles Rangel who once ran the Ways and Means Committee, BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

4) Only in America can we have terrorists kill people in the name of
Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims
might be harmed by the backlash.
5) Only in America would we make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege while we discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just become American citizens.

6) Only in America could the people who believe in balancing the
budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as

7) Only in America could you need to present a driver's license to
cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.

8) Only in America could people demand the government investigate
whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas
went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).

9) Only in America could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more than it has per year for total spending of $7 million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.

10) Only in America could the “rich” people who pay 86% of all income taxes be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Faces of Failure

Admit it:  as an ironic commentary on feel-good-fascism, these t-shirts are really funny:

Tragically, however, for these particular young ladies, the shirts are not ironic.


Reading the Wikipedia article on Prussian Blue reminded me of an observation I had twenty years ago when I watched the HBO documentary, Skinheads USA:  Soldiers of the Race War, centered around the activities of Bill Riccio and his followers.  Said a judge at his 1992 sentencing for illegal weapons possession:

"It is [Riccio's] apparent ability to organize and mobilize disenchanted young white males even to acts of violence that makes him dangerous."

Well, to be specific, Riccio had gathered around him a group of young men who, for any number of reasons, were rejects, not only from mainstream society, but from their own families as well.  Once upon a time these boys might have found a home in the army.  No longer, since the standards of enlistment have climbed as the force has shrunk.  Riccio had turned his house in the country into a Pleasure Island, a place where the “disenchanted” could find some facsimile of love and acceptance, and a set of standards they believed they could meet.  The substance of racism was probably beside the point; they would have been just as happy if Riccio had been a Moonie, or the farmhouse the People’s Temple.

I know that polite opinion is supposed to be afraid of such young men and rush their contributions to the $PLC.  Mainly though, I just see a bunch of pathetic prole losers, perhaps worthy of pity, but not of fear.

This theme of prole loserdom crops up around Lynx and Lamb Gaede.  The first thing I notice is the implied broken home.  Next is the observation that, once they grew out of their roles as the Indigo Girls of white supremism, their lives pretty much went nowhere.  No college or higher education.  No careers.  (If their YouTube presence is any guide, their musical talents are modest at best, although that may just be the low production values.)  No husbands, which isn’t necessarily catastrophic at age 20, except their health is also failing, so their prospects are slim.

I retail this story not with judgment, but with sadness in the knowledge that there are so many people like them for whom the opportunity at a stable, productive life is vanishingly small.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Diversity: Changing the Subject

Diversity is . . .

Diversity matters

by Jon Hanson
Air Force Personnel, Services and Manpower Public Affairs

One Air Force Personnel Center officer describes diversity as more than male or female, black or white, young or old.

"It's bigger than that," said Lt. Col. Jenise Carroll, chief of the Total Force Service Center operations division at AFPC. "It's bigger than race. Diversity includes age, race, philosophy, gender, social economics, family, disability and geographic origin."

The AFPC Diversity Council events chairperson believes diversity includes and involves everyone and is one of the strengths of our nation and the Air Force.

"Diversity is truly about recognizing, embracing and utilizing our differences in every aspect of our life -- personal and professional," Carroll said during a professional development council seminar last month.

Although society promotes and encourages diversity, some people believe there is a stigma associated with the word, said Carroll.

"Many individuals associate diversity with quotas or think it is just another buzzword," Carroll said. "That is not the case. In my opinion, diversity goes beyond situations, ethnicities, generations, race and educational backgrounds. It is more about talent and opportunity provided to all."

Carroll believes society can overcome the stigma.

"We need to embrace our diverse world and understand everyone brings a different perspective to the fight," she said. "We can ensure this happens by educating personnel on the value of diversity.

"I always say 'it is OK to have friends who don't look like you,'" Carroll said. "You learn something from each other."

Others' successes did not happen overnight, and success will continue as long as people put forth an effort, Carroll emphasized, pointing to the impact on global culture by diversity icons including Amelia Earhart, Walt Disney, Mother Teresa, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

"These icons paved the way, knocking down barrier after barrier to get America and the Air Force to this level," Carroll said. "Let's continue the movement by creating opportunities for all people."

Hey, look kids, a deer!

Okay, seriously, leaving aside what diversity in “age, race, philosophy, gender, social economics, family, disability and geographic origin" are supposed to mean in the context of an all-volunteer armed services with strict age limits and fitness standards, the substance of this is disingenuous at best.  It’s all well and good that Lt. Col. Carroll has a warm place in his heart for all kinds of diversity, but at the end of the day, the kind of diversity that matters – and in fact the kind of diversity that has earned the word the reputation he is now trying to wiggle away from – is the kind that gets counted.  And in the military, as in the rest of the federal government, that diversity is limited to race and sex, plus ethnicity for Hispanics.

And frankly, in the context of the list above, that’s probably a good thing.  I have no idea what diversity in “social economics” and “family” is supposed to mean.  But diversity in “philosophy” probably means “more Democrats” at best and “more liberal atheists” at worst.  Is this really an improvement?  Better to leave well-enough alone.