Monday, January 31, 2011

On Egypt

My explanation for all the brouhaha: it's just a slow news week and the major dailies have nothing better to talk about just now. (See, I got sucked into it, too.)

If there's an op-ed explaining why we should care what happens in Egypt I haven't seen it yet, and I read 12 major publications daily.

They have little oil and no nuclear weapons. They haven't been a friend of the U.S. when it counts for many years, if ever. (Even granting the dubious proposition that countries can have 'friends' rather than just strategic, and ever-shifting, alliances.)

What's the worst that could happen? Are they going to export still more jihad to the U.S. or Afghanistan or Iraq? As if Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan don't already have that covered? Could even an Islamic theocracy block the Suez Canal for more than a day, without the government being blasted to rubble?

(Aside: by international treaty the Canal is open to all in peace and war and the other thugs in the region use it, too. And if they did block it, wouldn't that be a great excuse to blast an Islamic theocracy away? Not that we would do it, but the Russkies would, without hesitation.)

Sincere best of luck to those in Egypt who want freedom, all five of them. The rest are no concern of ours.

[Update 2/2/2011]

Daniel Pipes, who knows a thing or two about the Middle East, offers some helpful background and perspective.

P.S. Kind of interesting how Obama did nothing whatever to support the clear call for freedom in Iran when the moment came. Now, when no one knows what the hell the Egyptian people want, but an Islamic theocracy is the odds on favorite, he's all over it. The guy is a true Anti.

P.P.S. Happy to eat my words if someone can clue me in why all this is important.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thomas Sowell Shreds Frances Piven in 1980

Statist Frances Fox Piven, much in the news lately for recent foolish remarks drawn straight out of Marxist revolutionary anno 1968, is given her comeuppance by the incomparable Thomas Sowell.

Having watched the clip, though, I'm reminded once again how useless it is to debate Progressives. There might be some value in the discussion, since it might help tip others to one side or the other. But Progressives, in my view, are simply beyond redemption. When you are as committed to egalitarianism, Comtean altruism, and statism as is this creature, there's just no reaching her.

The clip is interesting for another reason. See how many of the standard Progressive cliches, countless times disproved, you can count. Some examples as hints (paraphrasing slightly): "Capitalism enslaves the poor," "Capitalists use government force to rob them," "We must use government to guarantee minimum sustenance and services or equality of opportunity becomes a sham..." and so forth.

When you're counting, keep in mind this was 1980. Progressives had already learned well by then how to use the language of capitalism to destroy it.

I keep wondering when those who defend capitalism are going to learn to use morality to defend capitalism. I wonder if they'll ever come out and say, unapologetically: "Individual freedom is a sacred value no matter what happens to the old, the sick, the poor, or any other favored Progressive needy group du jour." In other words, defending freedom chiefly on utilitarian grounds is a losing proposition.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Virtues Required for Freedom

I'm not in general a fan of Friedrich Hayek. I think he surrenders far too much to Progressives. But he had some things of value to say. In particular, this gem from The Road to Serfdom:
There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought. It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel.

The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people, excepting only a few of the smaller nations, like the Swiss and the Dutch, were independence and self-reliance, individual initiative and local responsibility, the successful reliance on voluntary activity, noninterference with one’s neighbor and tolerance of the different and queer, respect for custom and tradition, and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.
The cultural decay represented by the withering of those virtues is almost as true of America today as it was of Britain in the 1950s. (That latter makes it all the more remarkable that Hayek saw this in 1944.)

We won't come back unless those virtues again become dominant and are as celebrated as they were a hundred years ago.

Still, I'm not completely pessimistic. If anyone can restore them to popularity, it would be the American people. After all, Progressives may currently dominate all but two of the major cultural transmission belts, but are in fact a small percentage of the population. So was the aristocracy of Britain (and their sycophants) in the 18th century and we managed to rid ourselves of them. Maybe we'll do so again with the current crop who believe themselves anointed to rule us.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Progressive Racist

“We feel we have much to learn from Scandinavia’s democratic socialist tradition . . .”
[Martin Luther King, Jr. during his visit to Sweden to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.]

This and many similar comments demonstrate that King favored Progressivism - both in economics and as social policy.

It's for this reason that he deserves exactly none of the praise he has received over the years and this latest round of conservative gushing is particularly galling.

To be opposed to racism is the bare minimum to expect of any civilized person. It is not some great achievement. But King did more - and worse - than that. He explicitly viewed all American blacks as "brothers and sisters." In short, he was a standard (reverse) racist, judging individuals not by their character but by the color of their skin, contrary to his high-flown rhetoric.

He was not a great man, nor a great thinker. He was just another Progressive leader, and therefore wholly undeserving of praise.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Eliminate "Inflammatory Right-Wing Rhetoric"

At Breitbart's Big Government, I offer a few words on the Left's attempt to connect the shootings in Arizona with 'right-wing' political activism.

It begins:
Many commentators almost as mad as Loughner have attempted to connect this lunatic’s actions to “inflammatory right-wing rhetoric.” I won’t go into here the long list of inflammatory left-wing rhetoric (and actions) that spill over into open violence. (Michelle Malkin has a good summary — with detailed proof — if you’re interested.)

Instead, I’ll make a suggestion.

If the Left wants to eliminate at a stroke the vast majority of heated, hated right-wing rhetoric there’s a very simple way to do that: give up. ...
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The History of the Yo-Yo

One of my favorite pastimes is reading about inventions. has a good, short article on the surprisingly long and colorful history of the Yo-Yo. Enjoy!

They have been around for over twenty-five hundred years... Around 1800, the yoyo moved into Europe from the Orient.


It is a Tagalog word, the native language of the Philippines, and means "come back". In the Philippines, the yoyo was used as a weapon for over 400 hundred years. Their version was large with sharp edges and studs and attached to thick twenty-foot ropes for flinging at enemies or prey.


[Modern inventor Donald] Duncan's first contribution to yo-yo technology was the slip string, consisting of a sliding loop around the axle instead of a knot. With this revolutionary improvement, the yo-yo could do a trick called "sleep" for the first time.