Friday, March 06, 2015

Stuck in Scandal Land

The inimitable Peggy Noonan asks a question that is too wordy to be branded on anyone's forehead, and whose very wordiness speaks to the doubts everyone has (or should have) about another Clinton presidency:

Is it too much to imagine that Mrs. Clinton wanted to conceal the record of her communications as America’s top diplomat because she might have been doing a great deal of interesting work in those emails, not only with respect to immediate and unfolding international events but with respect to those who would like to make a positive impression on the American secretary of state by making contributions to the Clinton Foundation, which not only funds many noble causes but is the seat of operations of Clinton Inc. and its numerous offices, operatives, hangers-on and campaign-in-waiting?
Read it here: Stuck in Scandal Land

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Warbird's Forum for March

(To see the video referenced here, go to the Warbird's Forum online)

I first spotted a still photo of this "factory" on a Chinese government website, which a commenter on the Warbird message board identified as probably taken in Kunming late in 1942 because it showed both an AVG Tomahawk and a USAAF P-40K. Then another member linked it to this YouTube video, which is even more fascinating. It not only shows the Tomahawk known as Yuannan Whore, but also a Curtiss C-46 Commando in CNAC warpaint. In best Second World War style, the Chinese characters on the post proclaim: "Working for Righteousness and Peace".

Some good reads this month: Go to the Warbird's Bookshelf for my thoughts on The Secret Knowledge by David Mamet, a wonderful rant against all things left of center. (Spoiler alert: there is no secret knowledge. "The Federal Government is merely the zoning board writ large.") And about American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird. (Or click on the titles to see the books on Amazon.) And, for small-plane enthusiasts, go to the Piper Cub Forum for the splendid double issue of Skyways devoted entirely to early models of the Taylor and Piper Cubs.

The March Atlantic has a great essay by by Graeam Wood: "What ISIS Really Wants." It should be required reading in the White House, whose primary occupant is so reluctant to name the religion espoused by Mr Rumaysah and his colleagues, who in little more than a year have conquered a swath of land larger than England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Read it and be frightened. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Friday, February 27, 2015

The climate changes

The New York Times finds it newsworthy that February 2015 has been a tad on the chilly side:

The coldest in eighty years or so! Isn't it lucky that the "scientific consensus" has ditched the concept of global warming and adopted what is, after all, a tautology? Yes, indeed, the climate changes! That's what it always has done, and presumably will continue to do.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Well, we could always impose a tax on thirsty people and have the IRS collect it

The New York Times has never met a government regulation it didn't like, and indeed would like to see more of them. Here is op-ed writer Mark Bittman on the subject of a 571-page government report on American nutrition:

5. It tells you to drink all the coffee you want, up to something like five cups a day, which makes some people ecstatic. But far more important is this statement: “Strategies are needed to encourage the U.S. population to drink water when they are thirsty.” Imagine if that were official policy.
Yes, just imagine!


Writing in the Wall Street Journal today, Daniel Henninger lays out the challenge that will face the 45th president of the United States:

Needed, a U.S. president able to confront a world in chaos, rebuild shattered alliances, revive the country’s demoralized intelligence services and senior [military] officer corps, manage foreign and domestic demands with a budget that will be drained for years by fantastically expensive debt servicing, and along the way restore public faith in an array of deeply politicized federal bureaucracies—Justice, HHS, EPA, Labor, Internal Revenue, the NLRB, FCC, EEOC, even the Federal Reserve.
And, before surveying the current Republican field, goes on to say:
The U.S. just tried electing a rookie president and had six years of amateur hour. It doesn’t work. 
Indeed. My personal opinion is that the incumbent has done more damage to the United States than any elected official since Jefferson Davis. So wouldn't it be a priceless irony if I wound up voting for Mr Obama's former secretary of state in 2016? She at least is not an amateur.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In time of peace, prepare for war

In response to Russia's slow-motion invasion of Ukraine, and to its earlier land grabs in Georgia and Moldavia, Lithuania this week reintroduced conscription. "Today's geopolitical situation requires that we strengthen and speed up the manning of our army," said the country's president on Tuesday. Lithuania is lucky enough not to share a border with Russia, but it does have a long frontier with Putin ally Belarus.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The inequality follies

In their lust to raise taxes, politicians and the media have been rooting over the concept of "income equality" for the past few years. Now the New York Times has discovered -- oh, my goodness! -- that Inequality Has Actually Not Risen Since the Financial Crisis. Indeed, it has fallen! In case you can't get past the paywall (you're allowed ten free articles a month), here is the crucial graph, showing how incomes have fallen and to a lesser extent risen since the economic meltdown of 2007:

So it turns out that, after all, the richer you were in 2007, the worse you fared in 2009, with your income nearly halved. The top 1 percent (the favored meme of the envious) fared slightly better than the very rich, while the top 10 percent (what I regard as affluence) did only slightly worse than the mass of us, and indeed in 2012 actually did slightly better.

The figures of course top out in 2013 and therefore don't account for the stock market boom of 2014 and (so far) 2015.

(And we are of course all a bit poorer than we were when Dubya was president. And, as it has been since the beginning of time, the rich are still richer than the rest of us.)