Archive for compare contrast

Forty years after and Vietnam learns capitalism

It took forty years after being abandoned to the communists but Vietnam has discovered what capitalism can bring. The mindset there is a comparison and contrast to that in the U.S. as Glenn Harlan Reynolds explains in How we ‘won’ in Vietnam, but are losing at home.

But the Vietnamese advantage may boil down to this: Free markets are new there, whereas America has had them for a long time. Scientist Thomas Ray once said that every successful system accumulates parasites, and the free market in America has been successful for a very long time. Established businesses get tied down with regulations that keep out new innovations — like Michigan’s GM-backed anti-Tesla law that bars car makers from selling directly to the public — while politicians line up to line their pockets with taxes and fees and campaign contributions.

The question is what it will take to get the U.S. back on track. That is what worries.

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The puzzle: how can it be?

Burt Prelutsky says that RINOs are not the Enemy and then gets into the rather puzzling beliefs that seem so common.

“In spite of the fact that states that allow their citizens to carry concealed weapons, liberals are convinced that the Second Amendment should be made null and void. In spite of falling temperatures, they believe that Al Gore’s warnings about global warming are as close to gospel as they care to get. In spite of his lies about ObamaCare, Benghazi, the IRS and Ebola, they are convinced that Obama is an honest man.

“Furthermore, they believe that the Republican House is filled with obstructionists who stay awake nights trying to figure out ways to thwart the people’s’ will in spite of the fact that Harry Reid stops every House bill in its tracks, refusing to even allow the other 99 members the opportunity to do what they’re paid to do; namely, vote.”

“Again, I understand that some people hate to confront reality and prefer to say that both parties are the same, and if there isn’t a Ted Cruz or a Mike Lee on the ballot, they prefer to stay home on Election Day, indulging in the luxury of feeling themselves superior. Which would be bad enough, but they then spend the next two, four, six or eight years, whining about how the liberals are ruining the country.”

“It seems that Mayor Parker is unaware of the fact that sexuality, for better or worse, has been a legitimate concern of religion at least since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s only been in recent years that liberals have managed to turn these matters into political fodder as they’ve gone trolling for votes and financial support in some very peculiar places.

“Yet at the same time that Christian pastors are being hassled, Muslim ministers go their merry way, indoctrinating our prison population, long an ideal recruiting ground, particularly among black inmates, for Islamic terrorists.

“In the meantime, our State Department, which often seems to get its marching orders from our sworn enemies in the Middle East, endorsed a Muslim handbook that promotes Sharia law and refers to jihad as a noble pursuit.”

It doesn’t make sense. It is a puzzle. But then, that’s assuming that people actually think and hold intellectual integrity as a positive value.

Worried, yet?

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The search for equality: will they ever learn?

At the end of the 18th century, there were two great Western revolutions — the American and the French. Americans opted for the freedom of the individual, and divinely endowed absolute rights and values.

“A quite different French version sought equality of result. French firebrands saw laws less as absolute, but instead as useful to the degree that they contributed to supposed social justice and coerced redistribution. They ended up not with a Bill of Rights and separation of powers, but instead with mass executions and Napoleonic tyranny.

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration is following more the French model than the American.”

Professor Hanson describes Obama’s Ideal Revolution and the inevitable outcome.

“Official stories change to fit larger agendas.” … “We are back to the daily revisionism” … “Once-nonpartisan federal agencies are now in service to the goal of changing America from cherishing an equality of opportunity to championing an equality of enforced result.

“Our revolutionary inspirations are now Georges Danton, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien de Robespierre, not the Founding Founders.”

Think about it. Take a look at the actual history of nations and the health and welfare of their peoples. Why do so many ignore the misery to delve into fantasies again and again? Why do they expect different results this time?

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Vietnam redux

Bruce Walker describes Obama’s Vietnam

“The very preventable Holocaust that Cambodia and Vietnam endured happened because of gutless American presidents and in spite of the courage and honor of our fighting men.

“Whatever the faults of George H. Bush, he fully grasped the reasons we failed in Vietnam, and he scrupulously avoided those in Desert Storm, a war against a much more powerful Iraq (we tend to forget that the battle-tested Iraqi army had outfought, in a decade-long war, an Iranian army three times as big.) We had a specific goal, and we used every weapon we had to achieve that goal. Leftists at the time predicted that this would be “another Vietnam,” but they were utterly and pathetically wrong.

“Obama, now, is demonstrating that it is possible to repeat all the mistakes of Vietnam.”

This is just another example of conveniently distorting history. Columbus Day used to be a celebration of exploration and discovery and now many try to make it an example of Western Culture oppression. Forget the context of the times or what really happened. Paint the picture to suit one’s fantasies. Again, in the mid-East, the effort is to squash the oppression of Western Culture and bash the U.S., especially. Overlook the tragedy and try to ignore the suffering. Again.

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Commitment

Professor Hanson asks Bomb or occupy — or neither? and says “Blowing things up and going home allows trouble to reignite.”

“Wars usually end only when the defeated aggressor thinks it would be futile to resume the conflict. Lasting peace follows if the loser is then forced to change its political system into something other than what it was.

“Republican Rome learned that bitter lesson through three conflicts with Carthage before ensuring that there was not going to be a fourth Punic War.”

There are plenty of examples to compare and contrast. Where the U.S. upheld its commitment after victory in Germany, Japan, the Balkans, and Korea and where it did not as in Vietnam and Iraq. Will we ever learn?

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The reluctant warrior who doesn’t learn from history

Gary Anderson says If You Liked Vietnam, You’ll Love the War With the Islamic State.

President Obama is repeating three key strategic mistakes that President Johnson made in Vietnam. First, he has embarked on an open ended commitment; there was no measurable end state. … f the president’s aim is to destroy the military forces of the Islamic State, he is making the second mistake by thinking it can be done by airpower alone. … That brings us to President Johnson’s third great mistake; he allowed North Vietnam to become a sanctuary.

Young progressives of Barak Obama’s generation were taught by their professors that the Vietnam War was an evil undertaking few had the inclination to seriously study. Obama himself described it as one of the “dumb wars” when he was a candidate. There are no dumb wars; there are however, wars fought in a dumb manner. Our president appears to be embarking on one.

Vietnam was one of the first military wins that was given away by a government that got tired of the carry through and abandoned an ally by emptying its promises of continuing support. Iraq was another such episode. In both cases, the human cost has been tragic. Now its trying to fix one case by ignoring what history can tell us — again.

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aspirational vs envious

It’s New York measured against Hong Kong. Richard W. Rahn – Hong Kong, an aspirational society to emulate – “The currency of Hong Kong is effort, rather than envy”

Why is Hong Kong succeeding while New York City is receding? They are both world-class cities with about the same per-capita income and great natural harbors.

Hong Kong, like Singapore, South Korea, Chile and Switzerland are aspirational societies, rather than societies consumed with envy, like France. Work, saving and investment are not punished in aspirational societies, and there tend to be less social conflict and a higher level of civility. The United States used to be an aspirational society, but has increasingly become an envious society.

The leaders of China understand that aspirational societies work and those based on envy do not — but an aspirational society requires both economic freedom and individual liberty. Those who seek to control the lives of others, whether they are in Beijing, Paris or Washington, fear aspirational societies and thus, seek to regulate them — out of existence.

Envy, hate, and greed – it isn’t capitalism but rather the take from those who have to give to those who appear to need (or those who are friends of those in power). Powerful emotions overwhelm the ability to learn from history or from reality.

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Moral outrage

The Slut Walk epitomizes liberal moral outrage against morality itself. It’s also a tragic metaphor for our era’s weird revolt against sanity and time-tested truth about human nature.

Robert Knight onHow a moral code outrages the secular left – “The notion of personal responsibility gives the secular severe heartburn”

It’s a long list and Knight provides selected examples.

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Weed and booze

The argument is often made that weed is safer than booze. That is the logical fallacy in extremis. True enough, maybe, but R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. delineates a clear difference in how these drugs are usually used.

One enjoys the scotch for the taste. With scotch, there are scores of different tastes. One drinks a single malt. One drinks a blend. The same is true with bourbon and all manner of alcoholic drinks. One imbibes for the taste, then for the refreshment, finally for the relaxed feeling it imparts. Very, very finally, some drinkers drink a scotch and soda to get blitzed and drop out. Maybe the pathetico drinks to pass out or to throw up. A true alcoholic is a sad spectacle. A drunk is a person who has ruined many a good drink.

Consider the increasingly civilized option, marijuana. One smokes a joint to get stoned and steadily to drop out. Is that really civilized? I have never heard of a connoisseur savoring a joint for the taste. One smokes it for the effect.

Smoking used to be considered something bad. That appears to be changing, as least as long as it isn’t tobacco. As social acceptance increases, the risks and results of weed will become more evident. Perhaps it will spawn an industry like tobacco did and then where will they be? It is the ‘big corporation’ aspect of tobacco that helps make it a target of the left.

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Equal Protection Under the Law?

It is a comparison between Exxon and Ivanpah. Coyote Blog takes a look at Equal Protection Under the Law? when it comes to energy producing companies.

You can see from the last line that the Feds don’t seem to be even considering a penalty, but are just considering whether they should permit such plants in the future. If the 28,000 figure is correct, this company should be getting $196 million in fines (the Exxon rate of $7000 per bird) if there was any such thing as equal protection. Even the company’s admitted figure of 1,000 a year is almost 60 times as high as Exxon was penalized for, despite the fact that Exxon experienced the deaths across hundreds of locations in five states and this is just one single solar plant.

What it costs is no longer a measure of feasibility. The side effects only matter depending upon context. — nice if you can afford it.

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No, they are not all the same

Paul Mirengoff notes how Democrats tilt towards Hamas and blame Republicans for their position.

“What explains the fact that Democrats now see Israel as no better than Hamas in a war precipitated by Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel and its refusal to accept a cease fire.

“Pro-Israel liberals have come up with an odd but not unexpected excuse: it’s the Republicans’ fault.

This, as Mandel notes, was the thesis of the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg back in 2012. He argued that by criticizing President Obama for his policy towards Israel, Republicans make “supporting Israel distasteful to many Democrats.” Worse, they cause Democrats to “lump supporters of Israel in the same category they reserve for climate-change-denying anti-choice Obamacare haters.”

“As question-begging arguments go, this one belongs in the Hall of Fame.”

“The obvious answer is that ideology drives contemporary Democrats to view Israel far less favorably than Republicans view Israel. The political fallout — criticism by Republicans of Obama’s Israel policy and the identification of the Israel-U.S. alliance with the GOP rather with both parties — is a symptom of the difference in the way the two parties view Israel, not its cause.

What accounts for the underlying ideological difference between the two parties when it comes to Israel? The answer, I think, is this: Israel is a U.S. ally with strong Western values and a willingness to use military force when necessary to protect itself.”

“Many Democrats are uncomfortable with one or more of these attributes. Their ambivalence towards the U.S. and its values causes them view a hardcore U.S. ally skeptically (or worse). “

Then you can take a look at the recently uncovered Lerner Email messages or the partisan vote regarding any attempt to reign in executive expressions of power …

there is a difference, a wide gap, between political parties in the U.S. despite what some may claim. 

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Moral and tactical insanity – its us providing the motivation

Krauthammer thinks it is Rare moment in international politics where “international politics present[s] a moment of such moral clarity.”

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

“To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.”

The fact that such clarity does not seem to matter to so many also shows in the recent shootdown on a Malaysian jetliner as well. It also is evident in domestic political scandals and such expressions as AG Holder’s “racist” rationale.  

Then there is that cheating study in Germany that seemed to indicate that those who lived longest under the Soviet socialist regime were more likely to be a bit dishonest in their play. 

How to right an insanity can be especially difficult when the very concept is denied.

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Prosecutors and other government agents building confidence in the system?

“We are not safe. We are not happy. The only question now is: How long are we going to take it?”

What will finally be the last straw? FrankMiele asks.

“There is a name for what the government did to the Washington Redskins last week. It is called extortion.”

Johnathan Turley describes how The patent office goes out of bounds in Redskins trademark case.

“The problem is that the Redskins case is just the latest example of a federal agency going beyond its brief to inappropriately insert itself in social or political debates.

Few people would have expected the future of the Redskins to be determined by an obscure panel in a relatively small government agency. Yet the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board showed little restraint in launching itself into this heated argument — issuing an opinion that supports calls for change from powerful politicians, including President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The board had at its disposal a ridiculously ambiguous standard that allows the denial of a trademark if it “may disparage” a “substantial composite” of a group at the time the trademark is registered.”

“As federal agencies have grown in size and scope, they have increasingly viewed their regulatory functions as powers to reward or punish citizens and groups. The Internal Revenue Service offers another good example.”

“There is an obvious problem when the sanctioning of free exercise of religion or speech becomes a matter of discretionary agency action.”

Then there are matters of prosecutorial indiscretion and the political propaganda campaign. David Harsanyi takes up the latest outrage on this front as Hillary vs. Walker: Due Process Only Applies If You’re A Liberal” – “Child rapists deserve due process. Conservatives governors, not so much.” Hillary defended a rapist early in her career by sliming the victim. Walker was the subject of secret ‘investigations’ that both state and federal courts threw out as unsubstantiated. Hillary gets defended and excused. Walker gets excoriated by innuendo.

And then there’s the IRS commissioner with a smirk and no apologies about destruction of evidence despite the laws for records retention.

worried, yet?

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Trying to find a rational understanding of irrationality

Energy, climate, medicine, and even such things as liberty and the military create political brouhahas that can be difficult to understand. An example is a look at the question Why Is Clean, Cheap, Conventional Energy a Hard Sell? (Part 1) by Wayne Lusvardi and Charles Warren on June 5, 2014.

“The result of opposing conventional energy is therefore a win-win-win for socialism. For techno-socialists, there is the mythic grandeur of holding out for the impossible dream of energy utopia. For eco-socialists, there is the mythic holiness of lowering living standards and going back to an ascetic, simple lifestyle in a bucolic green landscape guided by a conservation ethic. And for crony capitalists, it just so happens, a first step in the right direction (in either the techno- or eco- direction, they will assure you) is the use of highly subsidized “renewables” that foist higher electricity prices on everyone else.

Given the inherent mythological handicap of market electricity in offering an appealing vision, despite its undeniable contributions to human welfare, what can those in the conventional energy industry do? Part 2 of this series will discuss what can be done to overcome the powerful mythic pull of postmodern, central planning in the electricity industry and in society.”

On one side is the paradigm of dealing with reality and actually serving the needs of individuals with what can be done. On the other is a vision and an ideal about what should be. One is in the present, the other in a future fantasy. If you have your feet on the ground, it can be difficult to communicate with someone who has his head in the cloud.

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Myth mongering: trying to deny the reality

The ‘Nixon got the IRS to go after political enemies’ has been popular lately what with the current IRS scandal. The ‘useless Bush wars’ is another one that denies the authorization to use military force. Now we have the outing of CIA agents as a stimulus to push another denial rationalization. William A. Jacobson describes how the WaPo perpetuates myth that Bush Admin Iraq War supporters “outed” Valerie Plame.

“A reader called to my attention this sentence in a Washington Post report about the Obama administration outing the identity of the CIA Station Chief in Afghanistan …”

“Scooter Libby was convicted for lying to prosecutors and obstruction of justice in the Special Prosecutor’s investigation, under a contorted theory that nonetheless prevailed with a jury. He was sentenced to jail, but the sentence was commuted by George W. Bush.

“Libby, a close confidant of Dick Cheney, however, was not the leaker.

“The leaker was an Iraq War critic in the State Department, Richard Armitage. Christopher Hitchens reported at the time”

They’ve got a twofer going on this one. Not only a ‘both sides do it’ excuse for the current example but also a blame shift away from the culpability of friends in the previous example.

Then there’s the whole issue of screaming about useless investigations compared to what happened to Libby, but that’s another story.

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Ethics, politics, and the current state of affairs

Victor Davis Hanson provides a list: President Obama’s ethical vacuum — “Untainted administrators and department heads are few and far between.”

In all of these cases, politics trumped ethics. Because Mr. Obama professed that he was on the side of the proverbial people, administrators assumed that they had a blank check to do or say what they wished without much media audit. The mystery is not whether some administration officials were incompetent or unethical or both, but whether there are any left who are not.

and, no, both sides are not the same. Asserting so is just a denial of reality.

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Both sides do it?

One of the excuses or rationalizations for inappropriate behavior is that ‘both sides do it.’ This comes up in the IRS scandal trying to pretend that wishing to sic the IRS on political opponents (e.g. Nixon, R) is the same as actually doing it. A pattern is beginning to show, however, that is making the ‘both sides do it’ rationalization rather thin. Communications have surfaced that implicate Democrat Party leaders in misconduct in regards to the IRS scandal. Another is described by John Hinderaker about how Democrats persist in illegal use of capital visitor center.

“In addition to being tasteless, the event is illegal for the reasons we stated here. Today, Candice Miller, Chair of the Committee on House Administration, wrote a polite letter to Nancy Pelosi pointing out the legal issues with the Democrats’ use of the Visitor Center for a partisan political event.”

“Tomorrow evening’s event promises to be a clown show, and an illegal one, at that. The fact that the Democrats have sunk this low is one more sign of how intellectually bankrupt the party has become.”

The Koch Brothers obsession is about trying to overturn the Citizens United where the SCOTUS decided that corporations could speak as citizens. The use of taxpayer facilities to air a deceitful propaganda film with Congressional leaders chipping in to denigrate their opposition is the example here. That isn’t something both sides do.

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The case of Lennart Bengtsson – a victim of modern extremism

Luboš Motl has the rant of the day: Lennart Bengtsson will probably remain a renegade, anyway.

“I must say: Welcome to the real world, Lennart Bengtsson. Maybe he didn’t expect this reaction. I surely would. You know, the movement of climate psychopaths belongs among the most aggressive extreme components of the far left and new fascist political movements of our epoch. They have no respect to any moral and human values that would transcend their sick propaganda whatsoever. They’re ready – and eager – to destroy human lives. Some of them are bloody, treacherous beasts of prey dressed up as friends. In the world of Academia, they’re omnipresent. It doesn’t mean that they’re the majority; they are surely not. But their concentration and their aggressiveness is high enough to cripple and poison every large enough research group or institution.”

“It seems unlikely to me that by having resigned from the GWPF board, Lennart Bengtsson will revert his standing in the “community” to the previous conditions. These climate fascists have probably labeled him a dangerous renegade, a heretic, a doomed apostate. Special folders and pages on the black lists have been dedicated to him. Some of the alarmists may be somewhat moderate but the most consequential ones are the infinitely unhinged individuals whose desire for the ideological “purity” (meaning 100% šittiness) within what they consider “their ranks” knows no limits.”

To underscore the observation, it appears that Henninger did a census of this year’s PC impact on graduation speakers in a WSJ column. Worried, yet? 

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Malthusians lack imagination?

One basic assumption of the modern era traces back to 1798 when Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population as illustrated by  the best-selling book “Limits to Growth” published in 1972 by the Club of Rome. It seems common sense: use something and you will run out of it. That is based on the zero sum presumption that all is fixed and nothing is created. The amount of wealth is fixed so rich are rich at the expense of the poor. The amount of oil is fixed so we will run out of that. The amount of land is fixed so we will run out of room for farms to feed the population. Matt Ridley says The World’s Resources Aren’t Running Out. “Ecologists worry that the world’s resources come in fixed amounts that will run out, but we have broken through such limits again and again.”

“In 1972, the ecologist Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University came up with a simple formula called IPAT, which stated that the impact of humankind was equal to population multiplied by affluence multiplied again by technology. In other words, the damage done to Earth increases the more people there are, the richer they get and the more technology they have.”

The problem for these Malthusians is that life isn’t a zero sum game.

“Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter’s tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can’t seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.

“That frustration is heartily reciprocated. Ecologists think that economists espouse a sort of superstitious magic called “markets” or “prices” to avoid confronting the reality of limits to growth. The easiest way to raise a cheer in a conference of ecologists is to make a rude joke about economists.”

It is a lack of imagination, an immaturity of cognition, a concern grown to a paranoia. It is a part of that guilt that those in areas where the wealth was created seem to feel or the envy that those in other areas seem to feel. The feelings defy history and reality. 

The future is what we create. The U.S., in particular, has shown that the limits of the past can be set aside. The fight of the present appears to be whether or not we will regress to those limits, and poverty, of the past or proceed to create a future of our dreams.

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Burning Man does an about face

“Money is not Bundy’s point. Pleasing Harry Reid or the federal bureaucracy is not either. Making a living from the scrub of a desert by providing people good food probably is.

“Grant him that. He’s our past, Harry Reid and the bunch in Washington our future. To paraphrase the ancients, sometimes we’d rather be wrong with Cliven Bundy than right with Harry Reid — and the SWAT teams that will revisit Mr. Bundy and his clan very, very soon to enforce a dispute over grazing fees and insensitivity to a tortoise.”

Victor Davis Hanson on Civilian Bundy and The Rural Way

But it seems that Bundy has got a Burning Man organizer miffed (Washington Times). It seems they pay The Man so why shouldn’t Bundy? It does seem rather strange. Burning Man is about individual freedom and sticking it to the powers that try to control, a.k.a. The Man, you know, the one they burn. In this case, though, they side with The Man and go after the individual.

Burning Man charges its participants to pay whatever fees the government decides to charge along with other costs and whatever is needed to make an appropriate profit. The fee is to allow them use of a BLM playa for a week or so. As they’ve done before, they can change venue if the fees become too onerous or the government sets unreasonable conditions or whatnot. Burning Man organizers are more interested in keeping participants coming – and paying the fare – than they are in the land. The land and the nearby communities and the various governmental agencies fall into the category of ideological niceties or necessary nuisances.

Bundy is in a bit different situation. His ranch is a homestead which the government deeded to him with certain rights on nearby resources in exchange for developing the land as a productive ranch. His livelihood depends upon effective and proper stewardship of that land. He can’t just up and go somewhere else – he’s lost 52 neighbors who have been forced out and had to find other careers. When the government goes rogue, or some folks like the Burning Man organizer target him, he is backed into a corner.

It is a typical disingenuous tactic of the left, though: Ignore the issues and ramifications and instead find a nitpick to pound incessantly. The nitpick here is that Bundy is a lawbreaker. The issues and ramifications have to deal with armed forces trying to enforce a civil matter, governmental overreach, regulatory harassment, potential governmental corruption and collusion, proper land use, historical precedence, state’s rights over lands within their boundaries,  and governmental enforcement priorities.

I wonder what the Burning Man organizers would think if Federal, State, and county enforcement showed up en-masse in full SWAT gear to take a sweep of their event to arrest any and all lawbreakers. How many vehicles are not equipped properly or properly licensed and registered? Drugs? Public displays of nudity? Child porn? Polluting the playa or otherwise not following the letter of the use permit? Attendees with outstanding criminal warrants? Foreigners with improper paperwork? Vagrancy? Fires and hazardous materials? Electrical and construction code violations?– It’d be quite a project to cull all the laws and regulations to find all the offenses that could be cited. Handcuffs, guns, tazers, police bullying, and other tactics as seen at the Bundy ranch would probably not make for happy campers.

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