Thanksgiving is a quintessentially American holiday. So, what am I thankful for? I am thankful for my family, for my wonderful wife and 2 beautiful girls. I am also thankful for the generally pretty good life I have. But who should I thank for all this? The religious people thank G-d for all their blessings. But I am not religious enough in order to do that. And then it dawned on me. I should thank this wonderful country called United States of America and its wonderful people.
So, thank you, America, for existing, for being a beacon of freedom in the world where freedom is far from being commonplace. Thank you for making freedom your “national idea”, if you will.
Thank you, American Armed Forces, past and present, for ensuring our safety and, as my kids would put it, "fighting the bad guys". It is you, who defends our freedom and wonderful opportunities this country provides.
Thank you, America, for accepting me as your own. You welcomed me, my family and friends and made us all Americans, part of your great people. You accept anybody who is willing to be accepted. You made acceptance and tolerance part of your ideology too.
Finally, thank you, America, for defending “liberty and justice for all” all over the world. Your young people volunteer to go and fight for what’s right and moral. If I were 25 years younger I would have joined them (lame excuse really, but that’s the only one I have). Winston Churchill once said: “The Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they had exhausted all other possibilities”. He knew what he was talking about. It is only natural to try “all other possibilities”: people always look for easy solutions. But in the end Americans do the right thing, no matter what the cost, for doing the right thing is a part of American ideology too.
Thank you, America.
If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will. From Politico’s Bill Daley interview:
“And all President Obama has to do to achieve this [times "better" than the past three years] is make a startling end run around not just the Republicans but also the Democrats, in Congress.
All he has to do, Daley says, is operate in domestic affairs with the same speed, power and independence that he possesses in foreign and military affairs.”
Go read it all. And follow the links there. One in particular takes you to the Glenn Beck TV segment, where Beck demonstrates how some Democrats encourage Obama to circumvent the Constitution, and Obama is quite willing to do so. Then go to this post on Legal Insurrection:
Sometimes the Editorial Board of The NY Times gets it right, even if for the wrong reasons, as in this editorial, The Court and the Next President:
When Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. began the new Supreme Court term by congratulating Antonin Scalia on his 25th anniversary as a justice, it was a reminder that Justice Scalia is now 75 as is Anthony Kennedy and that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 78.
Since 80 is the average retirement age of justices over the past generation, whoever is elected president could shape the court for the next generation….
That’s about as much as The Times’ editors get right, and the rest of the editorial is devoted to bashing Republican candidates and the conservatives on the Court.
Again, read this one in full. And then think of these two in combination. Can you imagine what will happen if Obama gets a chance to pack the Supreme Court, like FDR did? So, for those who want a Conservative nominee, go ahead and support whoever you like in the Primaries, but once the nominee is chosen, support that nominee. It does not even matter if whoever is nominated and hopefully wins, nominates to the Court Justices as liberal as Obama would. Because hopefully whoever that will be, it will not be Obama. If you wait for some “real Conservative” to come along in 2016, and let Obama win in the meantime, you may not get a chance in 2016! The scariest part of that Glenn Beck segment is the moment when Obama says that it is tempting to change laws without Congressional approval, his audience cheers him on, chanting: “Yes, you can!” There is enough people in this country apparently that seem to think that giving the President that much power is a good thing. History is my hobby, and so I can think of one historical analogy in particular: the Enabling Act. Think this can’t happen in America? Would you like to take that chance?
… especially by someone on your side. Now I know how the Soviet soldiers escaping from Nazi POW camps felt when they were accused of treason and sent to GULAG or shot upon reaching their own lines. Well, obviously what happened to me is not quite that bad, but unfair and unwarranted accusation still hurts, especially since it would only take about 5 minutes for the person doing the accusing to clear the matter, if he would only bother to do so. All he had to do was to follow the link to this blog provided with that original comment.
Here is what happened. A couple of days ago I posted a comment on one of the blogs I like, Hillbuz, expressing concern about Conservatives (and Hillbuz owner Kevin in particular) attacking Romney incessantly and refusing to support him under any circumstances. Here is the blog post on which I commented. Below is the text of my comment:
Romney is definitely not my first choice. I like Cane. But what are you going to do if he does get nominated? Any of the Republican candidates is much better than Obama, including even Ron Paul with his isolationist/McGovern-like foreign policy. I’d like to remind you of Reagan’s "11th commandment": never speak ill of a fellow Republican. Right now all these attacks on Romney make it much easier for Obama to win, should Romney get the nomination. Ultimately we all want Obama to lose in 2012. So, he is the one we need to attack. People were saying that McCain or Hillary were Obama-light. But any "Obama-light" would be infinitely better than "Obama-full version".
I got much more than just a comment in response. I got a full front page dressing down. Go ahead and read it in full. In short, Kevin accused me of being paid Romney campaign operative trolling his blog. He then came up with very strange theories about who I am and what I do, including some devious explanation of why I misspelled Herman Cain’s last name (it was simply a stupid mistake not caught by the spell checker). Only one commenter on that post seemed to be willing to give me the benefit of the doubt. I thank her for that. Kevin then proceeded to block me from commenting on his blog, leaving me no way to respond to his accusations. So, I am going to post my response here, exactly as I would on his blog. Maybe someone might read it here and then let Kevin know about it. So, here goes:
Wow, front page dressing down for my little comment! And here I just subscribed to replies in the comments section. Sorry, it took me 2 days to reply. But, here it is.
Who I am is easily established: the link to my blog was provided in the original comment. But maybe that link somehow did not come through. So, here it is again: http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/. And, Kevin, you surely got my personal e-mail, since I did enter it when I wrote that original comment. How many trolls do you know that give you their personal e-mails? That one wasn’t even web mail, it was the one that goes straight to the hard drive of my home computer. The IP might have been a little funky, since, if I remember correctly, I wrote that original comment at work, during my lunch hour. But this one is straight from home. Go ahead, check the IP. I don’t know who is your blog space provider, but I use WordPress. They send all that information in the e-mail. Incidentally, about work and that "steady paycheck". I do get it, as an Electronics Engineer, designing electronics for a medical equipment company. That is also easily established from my blog (the part about me being an Electronics Engineer that is). Incidentally, if you go there, you might read what I wrote about your blog when I added it to my blogroll. Hint: I like your blog. You might also learn why Obama’s second term, unrestrained by the necessity to run for re-election, scares the hell out of me. But for those who for whatever reason don’t want to take time to go to my blog I’ll spell it out here. You see, I was born and grew up in the former Soviet Union. I came to this country in 1989 at the age of 25. So, I know exactly where the Left is trying to take this country because I’ve been there before. You think what Obama is doing now is bad? You haven’t seen nothing yet. Unrestrained by the need to appeal to the mainstream Americans, even those left of center, he will really show his true colors. And his supporters on the Left will really push for his cult of personality. You’ve seen some hints of this: children singing songs about him, children’s book about how great he was as a child. That is scary. The books like that one I’ve read back when I was a kid. They were about Lenin. If G-d forbid, Democrats regain the majority in the House, I believe they will attempt to repeal the 22nd Amendment, the one limiting the Presidency to 2 terms.
Obama needs to be defeated at all cost. He just has to be out of the White House, thrown back to Chicago (sorry, Kevin, that you have to share the same city with him). Part of what scares me about possible Romney’s nomination (and it is a possibility) is that enough Conservatives will not vote for him and give Obama the 2nd term. That’s how McCain was defeated. That, and also enough people believed media lies about Sarah Palin. For the record, she would make a great President. But she was right not to run because all the lies about her simply could not be undone. And I never called McCain or Hillary "Obama-lite". I have just said that other Conservatives did. But you see, people like you and I, McCain and Hillary, Herman Cain and Romney, all agree on goals: to keep our country free, prosperous and secure. We might just disagree on the best way of achieving these goals. Although, in the case of you and I, even those disagreements virtually non-existent. You would know that if you ever take time to look at my blog. But Obama is different. His goal is to turn this country into that other one that I left 22 years ago. That is why I will support anybody who runs against him. And that brings us to that disagreement between us that started this whole conversation. You are willing to vote for 3rd party, thereby giving Obama the 2nd term. You prefer to wait until 2016, when hopefully a real Conservative comes along. Let me spell it out for you and all the other Conservatives that share your view on this: YOU MAY NOT GET A CHANCE IN 2016! Go ahead, call me a paranoid right-winger. Tell me that it can’t happen in this country. Right now there are just baby steps in that direction: Obama’s appointment of various "czars", some Democrats suggesting to suspend elections or rule by decree. And that is while he still has to run for re-election. What do you think will happen when he does not have to run? Do you think that in 1933 Germany there were no people waiting for the next elections? In fact, that was probably the majority: Hitler’s party won only plurality of the votes. Yes, I am comparing Obama to Hitler. Not because his policies are genocidal, but because Obama’s economic policies closely resemble German version of socialism at that time. As for the other areas of resemblance, that may still come. His "Occupy whatever" buddies are already ranting about Jewish bankers. In case you are wondering, yes, I am Jewish. But then, you would know it from my blog, wouldn’t you?
So, you don’t like Romney? Fine! Mount a primary challenge in 2016. Or get a decent Democrat to run against him. Perhaps Hillary might decide to try again. Just get Obama out! He is very dangerous to this country.
Well, I hope you will admit that you were wrong in accusing me of being a troll. Jumping to conclusions like that, accusing someone of some insidious conspiracy? That is something I would expect from the Left, not from you. Perhaps, after a little research you will discover that the comment on Romney was not the first one I made on your blog. Perhaps also you might decide to reciprocate the link I have to your blog. But if not, that’s OK. I’ll still keep the link to your blog on mine. You probably wouldn’t care: I don’t get nearly as many hits as you do. But, like I said, I like your blog, and that link is a convenient bookmark.
So, what do you think? Will Kevin admit that he was wrong?
20 years ago the old Soviet Union effectively disintegrated. Yes, it did last as a country till the end of 1991, but by the early September this disintegration was a done deal. Jewish Russian Telegraph is linking to an article on the subject and asking whether it was worth it:
As Muammar Gaddafi’s rule crumbles in Libya, the anniversary of another revolution is passing by almost unnoticed. In August 1991, a cabal of Kremlin hardliners moved against Mikhail Gorbachev, whose reforms they saw as weakening state power and giving too much autonomy to the Soviet Union’s constituent republics. Gorbachev was detained on a Crimean vacation and officially declared to be taking a health-related leave of absence, with an eight-man State of Emergency Committee taking the reins of power. After three tense days that saw tanks in Moscow’s streets and a deadly clash between Soviet troops and pro-democracy protesters, the coup failed, and the fallout helped hasten the end of the communist regime and the Soviet empire.
In my opinion, it was definitely worth it, especially for the Russians and other residents of the former Soviet Union. Although, I believe that it would have been easier for our government here in America to deal with a single entity, if a democratic Soviet Union was ever possible, the disintegrated Soviet Union is better than a totalitarian regime that existed before fall of 1991. And despite the authoritarian tendencies existing in Russia today, modern Russia is much more free than the old Soviet Union ever was. Russian nationalism is dangerous, but perhaps the good life made possible by the market economy will keep the dangerous tendencies in check.
Is there any difference? Especially, in light of Jimmy Hoffa Jr’s rhetoric:
Cranking up the anti-Tea Party rhetoric, Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa called on workers to "take these son-of-a-bitches out" as he warmed up a crowd Monday in Detroit ahead of President Obama’s Labor Day speech.
But then, historically the mafia connection was always there. And, with rhetoric like this, Jimmy Hoffa Jr. was practically asking for this connection to be brought up.
As an engineer, I often get frustrated when politicians make pronouncements on some technical issues. I often know for a fact that what they might be saying is idiotic, and they have no idea what they are talking about. Technical progress does not happen because politicians just wish for it. And physics cannot conform to political sound bytes. Turns out, I am not the only engineer frustrated with technical illiteracy of the politicians. Here is an article in EE Times:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard reach 54.5 miles/gallon by 2025 (so many significant figures in that goal—the precision is truly admirable!). Before you say "huh?", note that this goal has many loopholes, subclauses, and qualifiers, befitting a number set by bureaucrats, see here.
After long period of neglect it was finally time to update my links. Some links that no longer worked got deleted. Some new links got added. All the new links are worth checking out. The ones I’d like to mention separately are:
HillBuzz, by former Democrats who after 2008 elections realized that the Democratic Party they used to support was very different from the leftist monstrosity it has become lately.
One interesting thing about HillBuzz authors is that the core authors is a Gay couple who used to support Hillary Clinton. They seem to have no problems with religious Christians who might not approve of their lifestyle, but agree with them on all the other issues. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that this Gay couple realizes that the religious Christians, while might voice their disapproval, will never do anything beyond that. On the other hand, we are facing the enemies that will kill them for their lifestyle. Add to this the fact that Socialism creates misery equally for everybody, Gay or straight, and you have a couple of Gays who are just as Right-Wing as I am: real liberals.
In light of the HillBuzz story, it is worth mentioning one of the deleted links, Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs. Immediately after 9/11 Charles was instrumental in starting anti-jihadi blogosphere. However, toward the end of Bush’s term he started vicious arguments on his blog with whoever he perceived not polite enough to our enemies. He also found himself arguing with religious Christians over issues that were ultimately irrelevant to our struggle against those who want to kill us. And he was willing to twist the facts and words of those who he disagreed with in order to advance his arguments. For example, in one of his attacks on Glenn Beck he twisted Beck’s argument to make him into an idiot, even though Beck was arguing the same point Charles was. All right, I’ll mention what it was about. Back then some video appeared on Youtube about some FEMA camps. The argument was made that Obama was preparing concentration camps. Glenn Beck showed the video on his program and then proceeded to talk about ridiculousness of this conspiracy theory, even bringing in experts to explain how ridiculous this theory about Obama preparing concentration camps was. For the record, I have no love for Obama administration and I do believe that comparisons between this administration economic policies and National-Socialist economic policies have merit. And there is no conspiracy in it. But that particular conspiracy theory was indeed ridiculous. Charles Johnson and Glenn Beck both pointed that out. But Beck also showed that Youtube video on his program in order to illustrate what he was talking about. Charles posted about it on his blog, portraying Beck as a supporter of the conspiracy theory he was arguing against. Well, anybody can make a mistake. But I saw that particular Beck’s program. So, I made a comment on Charles’s blog, pointing out his mistake. It did not matter: Charles continued piling on Beck. Lately Charles’s blog degenerated into vicious attacks against anybody who disagrees with him personally. So, I am not going to link to his blog any longer.
Bookworm linked to an interesting article analyzing the possible performance of female members of American military in combat. While it is obvious to any sane individual that lowering standards in order to allow women to participate in combat will be deadly, it is useful to look at historical examples of women in combat and analyze possible advantages that women might have over men. These historical examples do not need to be from some ancient history. World War 2 examples are very relevant for this purpose.
1st, let’s mention something that, while extremely dangerous, does not necessarily involve direct combat: intelligence and sabotage work. Here is one example, but really, to list them all a book is required. The advantages are obvious: women often attract less suspicion than men. And, while such operations often do not involve direct combat, they come very close to what often Special Forces do.
2nd example is snipers. Female snipers were quite numerous in the Soviet Army during World War 2. The most famous one was Lyudmila Pavlichenko. During defense of Odessa and Sevastopol she was credited with 309 kills. There were others: Marie Ljalkova, Ziba Ganiyeva, Nina Lobkovskaya and Tanya Baramzina. These are just the ones I found in Wikipedia. There were much more, it’s just too hard to find info on them. However, according to the Wikipedia articles I found, the Soviets had Central Women’s Sniper Training School, so obviously there were more than I listed. Do women make better snipers than men? Well, it is quite possible: they tend to be more patient in stalking their prey. Indeed, in the animal kingdom it is often female species who are hunters (lions, for example). The modern example is the story about female snipers hired by the Chechen fighters in North Caucasus. While it is hard to say whether the story is true, this certainly seems plausible.
3rd example is perhaps the most famous one. The Soviets had 3 female Air Force regiments: 586th Fighter, 587 Bomber and 588 Night Bomber. The 586th Fighter Regiment was assigned to air defense duties for covering rear areas from German attacks. As such, it saw less combat than a front line unit would, although it participated with distinction in the Battle of Stalingrad. However, a couple of girls were transferred to the regular (male) front line units, and there they showed what they were capable of. Lilya Litvyak scored 11 personal kills, plus 3 shared, while Katya Budanova seems to be credited with 11 kills total. These results were achieved in less than a year: unfortunately both girls were killed in combat. In addition, Lilya Litvyak had another unusual kill to her credit, which showed some out-of-the-box thinking. As described in Anne Noggle’s “A Dance with Death”, at one point the Germans were using an observation balloon for artillery fire correction. Nobody could take it out, as it was heavily protected by anti-aircraft fire. Previous attempts to bring it down by the fighter aircraft were unsuccessful and resulted in losses for the Soviets. Lilya volunteered to shoot it down. Rather than attempting to fly toward the balloon directly, she crossed the front line some distance away from the balloon, where there were no anti-aircraft defenses. Then she approached the balloon from the German side. By the time the Germans realized what was happening and opened fire on her, the balloon was down, and Lilya was flying back to base. I want to indulge a bit: here is the picture of the Yak-1 fighter Lilya was flying.
As a side note, Lilya Litvyak had a very good reason to fight the Nazis: ethnically she was at least half-Jewish.
But getting back to the subject at hand: do women make better fighter pilots? Again, it’s quite possible. First of all, they can be just as aggressive and competitive as men. Second, there are evidence that women can sustain higher G-forces than men. The reasons seem to be the facts that center of gravity of female body is proportionally lower than that of male (butt is wider than the upper body) and that women are usually shorter than men. The fact that women are shorter means that the blood has less distance to travel toward the brain, making women less prone to blackouts. That’s important because ability to make tighter turns at higher speeds gives tremendous advantage in air combat.
The most famous of the 3 female regiments was the 588 Night Bomber, better known as Night Witches. It was later re-designated as 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment. The Guards designation meant that the regiment distinguished itself in combat. Stalin was not known for political correctness in the modern sense, so the Guards designation was well deserved. It was also the only one of the three that was 100% female. That included armorers who had to attach rather heavy bombs to the aircraft, so the women came up with mechanisms to help them lift the bombs. The other 2 regiments had some male personnel. The Fighter Regiment had a male commander and some male ground personnel. But it is the history of the 587th Bomber Regiment that demonstrates the capabilities and limitations of women in combat the best.
The 587th Bomber Regiment was commanded originally by Marina Raskova, who originally suggested to Stalin the formation of all-female Air Force regiments. Unfortunately, Raskova did not live to lead her regiment into combat: she died in a flying accident before her regiment was deployed operationally. Her replacement was a man, major Valentin Markov. Just like the Night Bomber Regiment, the 587th was re-designated 125th Guards Bomber Regiment in 1943, which means that it was quite successful. So, what was so special about this unit that might enable us to see the capabilities and limitations of women in combat? We need to examine the aircraft flown by those brave ladies in order to understand that.
587th (later 125th Guards) Bomber Regiment was armed with Petlyakov Pe-2 aircraft, the main Soviet tactical bomber during the war.
Pe-2 was originally developed as a high altitude heavy fighter and designated VI-100 (VI stands for “Vysotny Istrebitel’” – High-altitude Fighter). However, it was later decided to re-design it into a dive bomber. As a dive bomber it was re-designated as Pe-2. This aircraft was used for both dive bombing and level bombing. It retained many of the fighter-like characteristics. Indeed, its speed of 540km/h (335mph) exceeded that of many fighters in 1941. Pe-2 had a crew of 3: pilot, navigator and radio operator-gunner. The 2 forward-firing machine guns were fixed and fired by the pilot. They were aimed just like in any fighter aircraft: by aiming the plane itself. The dorsal gun, protecting the upper rear, was installed in a turret behind the pilot’s cockpit and fired by the navigator. The radio operator-gunner fired the 3rd gun. Its default position was ventral, protecting the lower rear. It was also often used for strafing enemy on the ground. However, this 3rd gun could be moved, as shown below.
This gun was quite heavy: either ShKAS or UB. To be able to move it quickly, aim and fire required upper body strength. That is why the position of radio operator-gunner was for the most part filled by men. Women simply could not operate that gun effectively.
Finally, let’s analyze the problem that is not physical, but often brought up as a one of the reasons why women should not serve in combat units. That problem is sexual tension. As a side note, that is also often an argument against gays in the military. Does this problem exist? Sure, it does. In fact, it could be argued that it led to Lilya Litvuak’s demise. During Lilya’s time in 73rd GvIAP (Russian for Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment) she became romantically involved with another pilot, Alexey Solomatin. Relationship was quite serious, and they got engaged. Unfortunately, Solomatin was killed in an accident, while he was training a new pilot. Lilya became understandably distraught and started constantly seeking combat missions without taking any time to rest. That took its toll, and on August 1, 1943 her luck ran out. But a situation like this one could happen to any man in combat just as well. This has nothing to do with sex. A death of a family member or a close friend could be just as devastating, and with the same result.
So, what can we conclude from this amateur historical analysis? Well, it seems to me that women can in fact participate in combat and be successful at it, if they meet the requirements necessary for combat. The key is to keep the requirements the same for men and women, rather than to try to accommodate women who cannot meet those requirements. Thus there will be women who can be combat pilots, snipers or even covert operators. There might even be some who can participate in infantry combat, if they meet physical requirements necessary for accomplishing the mission and survival. But the stupid political correctness regarding this subject should be stopped. The requirements should be based on what’s necessary for successful mission and survival, not diversity. Thus, in those areas, where women are not at a natural disadvantage, they will succeed in higher numbers than in other areas. And that’s OK. Stupid social experiments for the sake of diversity should not be conducted in the military: the lives of our soldiers, both male and female, are at stake.
Well, here is a couple of links to articles on Donald Trump’s possible Presidential run:
My own opinion? It can be summarized in the title of Larry Elder’s article, the 1st one I linked to: Doing the job the Media won’t do. Trump is blunt and unapologetic. And that is what I like about him. It will be hard for the leftist media to demonize him because he does not care what is said about him. The media will still be able to ridicule him enough for people not to take him seriously, and that might bring about Obama’s re-election. I am not sure whether he is the best candidate to beat Obama. Perhaps Romney might be better. He certainly might want to learn some bluntness from Trump. For now the danger is in Republican establishment ridiculing him. They should re-learn Reagan’s 11th Commandment:
"Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."
Tel Aviv University philosophy professor Asa Kasher co-authored the first IDF Code of Ethics and continues to work on the moral doctrines that shape the parameters of our army’s actions.
He has taught at the IDF colleges since the late 1970s and for a long time was the only professor talking to officers about military ethics. When the IDF decided to try writing a Code of Ethics, he was approached and appointed head of a team of generals that wrote a draft and then the final version of the 1994 code, which was approved by chief of staff Ehud Barak and prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
In the wake of Richard Goldstone’s belated withdrawal of the accusation that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in Operation Cast Lead, and the fresh round of moral argument the judge’s climbdown has provoked, I contacted Kasher to discuss the IDF’s ethics. I wanted to understand the thinking that underpins IDF dos and don’ts, the problematics of grappling with enemies that do not follow any such rules, and the gaping discrepancy, Goldstone’s reversal notwithstanding, between most Israelis’ certainty of the IDF’s morality and the international diplomatic, media and legal community’s relentless opprobrium.
The Underground Conservative provided full English transcript:
Never again! Never again! I am ashamed that he is allowed to speak here. I feel ashamed! I am German, and I am so sorry that someone like him can stand here and speak like Hitler! I am so ashamed! Where is everybody? Why are people not standing up in this country of ours? Why are you all keeping your mouths shut? Do you want Germany to be like those countries from which they all came? Do you really want that? You have to speak out! . . . Germany, you have to rise! Rise up, Germany!
What’s interesting is that toward the end of this video people she confronted tell her: “Stop the provocation”. So, confronting this new kind of Nazis is now called “provocation”. Good thing she was not arrested on top of that. That is certainly what modern dhimmy politicians might do.
Here is another interesting article on engineers and politics from EETimes:
…The 112th Congress has 541 members. The average age in the Senate is 62.2 years, in the House 56.7 years.
The top four occupations are business, public service, law and education. There are five engineers (chart below). None in the Senate. This meager representation is ridiculous for a profession that is crucial to the economy. But then we know that.
I often asked myself if I would ever consider running for office. The answer was always “Hell, NO”. I would imagine many other engineers would feel the same way. Why? Well, because politics often requires saying a lot without much substance, something engineers are not very good at. Those who would like to stick to engineering, like me, would not want to change careers. I don’t even want to be a manager. High level managers, on the other hand, are not much different from regular politicians. So, a high level manager in office would represent only marginal improvement over a career politician. Still, an engineer in a high political office is a nice dream to have.
Atlas Shrugs some time ago linked to this site dedicated to the opposition to Ground Zero Mosque. It in turn provides very interesting analysis:
One of the great questions of the 21st century is: What is the true nature of Islam? There are two distinct answers to this question from the media and leaders. The popular message is that Islam is one of the great world religions, a peaceful religion, a foundation of world civilization, its Golden Age was the highpoint of history, and it preserved Western thought while we were in the Dark Ages. The alternative message is that Islam is a brutal, backward, woman abusing, violent, intellectually narrow ideology that is out to annihilate civilization.
Which side is right? How do we resolve this issue? Can it even be resolved? If we turn to the “experts” of any of the opinions, they will tell you that their view is correct. What then is the ultimate authority that will give us a firm foundation for reasoning and judgment about Islam? Is it possible to use critical thought or must we just accept the authority of experts?
There is way to achieve consensus about ideas that goes beyond expert opinion. The use of facts along with logic is the basis of critical thought. The ultimate form of critical thought uses measurements and numbers to resolve questions. This paper will use the foundational texts of Islam and measure the importance of ideas by how many words are given to concepts. The assumption is that the more content that is devoted to a subject, the greater the importance of the subject is. As an example: the Koran devotes 64% of its text to the subject of the unbeliever. This is assumed to imply that the unbeliever is important in Islamic doctrine.
Obviously, you have to read the whole thing. People are busy and often don’t have time to read books like Koran for themselves. So, they often rely on other people to tell them what is there, so called "experts". But experts often insert their own opinions into their analysis. The analysis here seems to be devoid of opinion and simply presents facts. That’s what makes this analysis very valuable. Now, the site presenting this analysis obviously has an opinion and does not hide it. But facts themselves seem to be pretty cut and dry.
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Improving IED Countermeasure Technology – Using RF Capture and Playback Systems
By combining the Tektronix spectrum analyzer and X-COM Systems long duration RF signal storage system, a unique tool results for the recording, analyzing, and creating of new waveforms and complex RF environments to help tackle IED countermeasure technologies.
For those who might be interested, follow the link. There is a PDF that explains how it works. Tektronics is a company that makes various elecronic test equipment that I often use at work. Now I use their mixed-signal oscilloscope which I am quite happy with.
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In the article I linked to in my previous post, Vladimir Bukovsky touches upon an interesting phenomenon: fascination of many Western intellectuals with socialism and Soviet Communism. Just before anybody tries to point out any distinctions between Communism and Socialism, I have to explain something about the old Soviet Union. The Soviet Union never called itself "Communist". When I was growing up there, we were "building Communism". But we were "country of advanced Socialism". After all, the official name of the country was "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics". We were always taught that Communism was the last and most advanced stage of Socialism. So, all the distinctions between Socialism and Communism are really a matter of degree. Soviet Communism is really a logical conclusion of the socialist policies. So, for simplicity I will use the term "Communism", as it is accepted in this country. The Western intellectuals refuse to acknowledge the staggering number of victims of Communism or, if they do, they find excuses for it: it was not done right, there were excesses, it was done for the greater good etc. But the number of victims of Communism far exceeds the number of victims of Nazism. There are several reasons for it. First of all, unlike the Nazism, Communism is international in nature and thus has larger pool of victims. Communism also was spread over larger territory and affected much greater population. Finally, it simply lasted longer. In fact, it is still around in places like North Korea and Cuba. Yet, while Nazism, or National Socialism, is universally condemned as an anti-human ideology, its international cousin, better known as Communism, is not. Why is that? Well, a big reason National Socialism was condemned were Nuremberg Trials, where not just individual Nazis, but the whole system of National Socialism was put on trial. The whole organizations, like SS, were declared criminal. Does it mean that every member of this organization committed crimes against humanity? No. Many members of the Waffen-SS were simply soldiers of elite units who fought quite heroically, although for a very bad cause. But the organization as a whole was in fact guilty of crimes against humanity. However, Communism and organizations like KGB escaped this condemnation. Why? Well, one of the reasons is that Hitler and Stalin ended up on the opposite sides of World War 2. Thus, the Soviets managed convince the world that they were ideologically on the opposite side of political spectrum. Furthermore, from my narrow Jewish perspective, Soviets were preferable to Nazis simply because Soviet Communists were "equal opportunity murderers". In their bigger pool of victims the statistical chance of survival was better. And so, the Soviets became "good guys". Their crimes were largely hidden. And just like the Nazis before 1939, they did not overtly attack any country. So, for many people it was very hard to understand what was so bad about the Soviet Union. In 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, but even now, in light of 9/11, an argument can be made that a Soviet-controller Afghanistan would be better than Taliban- or Al-Qaeda-controlled. And in any case, the Soviets of 1980s seem definitely more Western-like and more civilized than Taliban. But after the fall of the Soviet Union the crimes of the Soviet Communists for the most part still remained hidden. What Vladimir Bukovsky suggests should have happened is a Nuremberg-like trial, where the whole Soviet system would be tried. That is where the archives should have been open, and all the Soviet crimes against humanity would have been revealed for the world to see. Unfortunately this never happened, although for time there was a chance that it might. This crazy fascination with the Soviet system still remains in the Western intellectual circles. That even includes our current President. But I’d like to make any small contribution to breaking this fascination. Vladimir Bukovsky compiled his own archives. Read them at your leisure. Pass the link around. Maybe enough people will open their eyes to the crimes of National Socialism’s international cousin. Maybe eventually the whole Socialist ideology will be exposed for what it is: an anti-human system of oppression, death and destruction.
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I periodically get e-mails from Jewish Russian Telegraph, a blog maintained by Americans of the same background as mine out of Boston. One of their recent posts linked to this article/lecture by Vladimir Bukovsky, a famous Soviet dissident:
…Countless new theories, first of all linguistic ones, came into being. Remember Orwell saying that the leftists always seek to win the terminological war first. And so it went: you cannot call them Miss or Missis, because this is how we define their marital status – this is unacceptable. An unlikely form for the English language showed up – Mis. It is hard to pronounce, but it was only the beginning. They went on saying that it is indecent to say history (his story), you should rather say her story. Countless linguistic novelties fell on our heads: we were told that we cannot use the word seminary, because it is originated form the word “semen” – one should say ovulary instead. And, on the whole, how should we call women? It was a great puzzle for the new academics.
The word woman contains the word man and this is terrible. Call it female – even worse. There is the word male in it. So they coined a new term to define women: wofe (wo from woman and fe from female). And now we are to call them this way, otherwise we are male chauvinist pigs!
It sounds nonsensical. Aren’t there enough madmen in the world? I was once incarcerated with many madmen and got fully used to them. But the thing is that the present day society, especially American, is primitive. It takes in any folly and soon turns it obligatory to anyone. Especially the American society. Although the European societies are surely no less conformist. So we are to accept everything thrown at us for the sake of success. For life to go smoothly, it is by no means unacceptable to be non-conformist.
This kind of American pattern has quickly spread as mandatory. It is a mandatory paradigm, because it is incredibly incorporated into legislation. Among other things, this new feminist movement blamed men of sexism. In their view, all men are sexists because they see a sex object in a woman, therefore everything in relation with the woman or sex needs to be eliminated. Any flirt between a man and a woman was called an “oppressive action” (with exploitation in mind). Therefore, if you make a joke at your co-worker, or, even worse, your subordinate, you are in trouble – she will sue you and you will lose your job.
But it does not end here. You cannot say that women are less inclined towards certain professions. For example, the president of Harvard University said in a private meeting that women, due to certain reasons, perhaps lack of interest, seldom chose precise sciences, especially mathematics. He lost his position, because a wild wave of hysteria followed his remark. He had to write an application to quit the job. And this is a mass phenomenon, reminiscent of the terror of 1937.
You see, the Americans had a surge of insanity, which had exceeded the previously accepted threshold of insanity. They had a wave of unhealthy campaign for racial equality. The campaign started on a fully sound basis at the end of the fifties, sixties and seventies. At that time the remains of racism were really obvious, especially in the South, but in the North it was never there. This was a really unacceptable and meaningless phenomenon, and the case for racial equality was fully grounded. But, just like all other campaigns of the kind, after this campaign reached its goals, its activists carried on until they got to the point of absurdity and started demanding for “positive discrimination”. The activists behind this campaign were blinded by utopia. They did not believe that inequality was a natural state, that we are all born unequal. It is like the followers of Rousseau, who believed that a human being is like a piece of clay and you can knead it into any shape you like.
Therefore, the followers of the campaign took the fact that the racial equality movement did not produce a sufficient number of successful black people, such as professors, millionaires, etc., as their failure, and resolved to strive for equal results rather than equal opportunities. And so they started introducing the so called “positive discrimination”, which brought about the existing quotas. Those are not official, but they are working. Every university has to enroll a certain percentage of the black people. It has never been put down in writing anywhere, but everyone knows that if they don’t do this, they will have their eyes scratched, they will face endless court trials, and alike troubles. Quotas at work. Here is a private company, and, out of the blue, a public fury erupts – why is there only one woman on the board? Women make up about half of all inhabitants on the earth, so they should make about 50 per cent of all the board members. And so on. Isn’t it madness to push people to certain positions judging merely by the colour of their skin or gender, even if they could not claim such positions based on their personal characteristics and skills?
Let’s go back to the army. When women gained their right to serve in the army, they found a great niche: they go to the army, serve there for three months or so, file a case of sexual harassment, the court awards them several million dollars and they leave. It is a reasonable way to get rich in two or three years. In the US army, a new type of uniform appeared – that is of a “pregnant soldier”. I never have fancied I would live to see such a thing! The very concept of “pregnant soldier” is a terminological contradiction. Men are supposedly there to protect pregnant women. This riddle is not for my mind. Nevertheless, there is such a uniform.
The excerpts don’t really do this article justice. Yes, it is rather long, but you have to read it all. If you don’t have time to sit in front of a computer and read it, print it out and read it before sleep, or while you are riding on a bus or a subway, or even while you are sitting in a bathroom, but read it all. In fact, here is what I’ve done. I copied the article into a Word document and converted it into a PDF here. That way you can just download and print the article without anything else. I will leave you, though, with this chilling conclusion of the article:
I don’t see why we should repeat the same mistakes the West was making all those 70 years throughout the Cold War. You will also have political correctness, let me assure you. You are in the European Union, and political correctness is but an EU ideology. It will reach you from Brussels and become obligatory. And you will have nowhere to hide, because the Brussels decisions have precedence over the decisions of national parliaments. The problem is not the idea that you may discuss. The problem is that discussions on the idea are not allowed. Discussing it will soon be punishable by prison (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit. If you have any doubt that Mr. Bukovsky is right in his prediction, you can just look at Geert Wilders prosecution). Trust me. I am an old jailbird, and I know when it whiffs with prison. And in the West this whiff starts to appear. This is the thing. It is not a matter of free choice. It will reach you like a ban on smoking. Today you think that it does not concern you. It will. In the West they always thought that they had nothing to do with communism. They had. This is why it is better to be prepared in advance. And what is positive? Well, a positive side can be found about anywhere. Communism had its positive sides, too. If we were friends back then, we were friends for real, for ages, risking lives for each other. And this means something. Under communism, atheism and the struggle for domination made science develop in huge strides. We had great physicists, mathematicians – well, that is positive, who would argue? But this doesn’t mean that the very phenomenon was positive. You could have achieved the same things by other more vegetarian means, couldn’t you?
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The short answer to this question is that I don’t know. I’ve been so depressed about the direction this country is taking and, even worse, by people’s refusal to even listen to any alarms, that I simply did not feel like blogging. So, I just concentrated on my own everyday life. And whenever I had time for blogging I avoided it by finding something else to do. But today my wife took the kids skating (something I usually do, but I am sick), and I decided to get into it again. Let’s see if I will keep it up.
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Here is another video of indoctrination:
As it turns out, there is an Obama Scholars program offered by Arizona State University. Still, why is there a scholarship named after a live sitting President? As I said many times, this all is very reminiscent of the Soviet style cult of personality.
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Apparently, there is a new bill being pushed through Senate by none other than Joe Lieberman, along with Sen. Collins, called ‘‘Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010’’. Here is the article on the subject:
The federal government would have “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under the terms of a new US Senate bill being pushed by Joe Lieberman, legislation which would hand President Obama a figurative “kill switch” to seize control of the world wide web in response to a Homeland Security directive.
Lieberman has been pushing for government regulation of the Internet for years under the guise of cybersecurity, but this new bill goes even further in handing emergency powers over to the feds which could be used to silence free speech under the pretext of a national emergency.
Read the whole thing. Here is the original link to the bill itself in the PDF format. In case it goes away for some reason, I saved it to my site here. Now, admittedly, the sponsors of the bill are not Obama supporters and seem to be more concerned with possible cyber attacks than anything else. Still, giving the Federal Government that much power to control the Internet seems to be taking national security a bit too far. I first heard about it on the local radio show, and then found a link to it on Bookworm’s site. I’d be very much interested to see some legal analysis of this bill. Are my concerns justified?
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When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, among the most popular satire authors were the duo of Ilf and Petrov. They were long gone by the time I was growing up: Ilf died of tuberculosis in 1937, and Petrov was killed in a plane crash during World War 2. Still, their humor and ability to laugh at the Soviet reality of 1920s – 1930s ensured their continuing popularity. They were especially popular in my native city of Odessa, because that’s where they were from. Their 2 main novels are The Twelve Chairs and its sequel, The Golden Calf. The 1st of the 2, The Twelve Chairs, even was made into a Mel Brooks movie. The main character of the novels, Ostap Bender, is basically a small-time con artist trying to get rich in the early Soviet Union during the time of New Economic Policy, when some elements of free enterprise were allowed. Upon getting reach, Bender dreams of escaping the Soviet Union to Rio-de-Janeiro, where, he is sure, "everybody wears white pants". In the 2nd novel, The Golden Calf, Bender and his cohorts set their sights on Aleksandr Koreiko, an "underground millionaire". Koreiko was "underground" because there were no legal millionaires in the Soviet Union. He made his millions by cleverly defrauding the Soviet Government. For example, in one instance Koreiko set up a chemical factory. This chemical factory never produced anything. The whole production process amounted to transferring water from one barrel to another. The source of income for this factory and personally for Mr. Koreiko were government grants and loans. Right before discovery Koreiko managed to disappear with the money. Of course, Koreiko could not spend his money, because that would reveal to everybody his ill-gotten riches. He had to stay "underground", posing as a lowly bureaucrat. And that made him vulnerable to blackmail. Ostap Bender conducted an extensive investigation, gathered enough evidence and succeeded in extorting a million rubles from Koreiko.
Both books are hilarious and were always a part of the culture in the Soviet Union, often quoted by people in regular conversations. But someone might ask: "What does it have to do with Obama Administration?" Well, a couple of days ago I caught a glimpse of Glenn Beck’s program in which he mentioned a company by the name of Molten Metal Technology Inc. and one of its officers named Maurice Strong. Beck said that the company’s source of income were US Government grants, and that Strong and some other company leaders sold their stock, making millions, right before our Government stopped paying, and the company went belly up. I immediately thought: "Wait a minute, I remember that story". Indeed, that is exactly the episode out of one of my favorite books, the one I described above. I looked it up. Here is one article on the subject:
…The tawdry tale of the top two global warming gurus in the business world goes all the way back to Earth Day, April 17, 1995 when the future author of “An Inconvenient Truth” travelled to Fall River, Massachusetts, to deliver a green sermon at the headquarters of Molten Metal Technology Inc. (MMTI). MMTI was a firm that proclaimed to have invented a process for recycling metals from waste. Gore praised the Molten Metal firm as a pioneer in the kind of innovative technology that can save the environment, and make money for investors at the same time.
“Gore left a few facts out of his speech that day,” wrote EIR. “First, the firm was run by Strong and a group of Gore intimates, including Peter Knight, the firm’s registered lobbyist, and Gore’s former top Senate aide.”
(Fast-forward to the present day and ask yourself why it is that every time someone picks up another Senate rock, another serpent comes slithering out).
“Second, the company had received more than $25 million in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research and development grants, but had failed to prove that the technology worked on a commercial scale. The company would go on to receive another $8 million in federal taxpayers’ cash, at that point, its only source of revenue (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit).
“With Al Gore’s Earth Day as a Wall Street calling card, Molten Metal’s stock value soared to $35 a share, a range it maintained through October 1996. But along the way, DOE scientists had balked at further funding. When in March 1996, corporate officers concluded that the federal cash cow was about to run dry, they took action: Between that date and October 1996, seven corporate officers—including Maurice strong—sold off $15.3 million in personal shares in the company, at top market value. On Oct. 20, 1996—a Sunday—the company issued a press release, announcing for the first time, that DOE funding would be vastly scaled back, and reported the bad news on a conference call with stockbrokers (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit).
“On Monday, the stock plunged by 49%, soon landing at $5 a share. By early 1997, furious stockholders had filed a class action suit against the company and its directors. Ironically, one of the class action lawyers had tangled with Maurice strong in another insider trading case, involving a Swiss company called AZL Resources, chaired by Strong, who was also a lead shareholder. The AZL case closely mirrored Molten Metal, and in the end, Strong and the other AZL partners agreed to pay $5 million to dodge a jury verdict, when eyewitness evidence surfaced of Strong’s role in scamming the value of the company stock up into the stratosphere, before selling it off.
The article ties Mr. Strong to Obama. Read it all. But isn’t it ironic, how life imitates one of my favorite childhood books. Here is another article, this one about how Al Gore and the above-mentioned Maurice Strong making money off the carbon credits. Indeed, Gore made millions off this scheme. Al Gore, Maurice Strong and other Global Warming gurus are nothing more that scam artists, just like Aleksandr Koreiko, the fictitious character from the old Russian novel. Do you think there might be an Ostap Bender who might take time to investigate and expose the bastards?
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Yes, I know: when good guys give up, the bad guys win. I hope to be on the side of good guys, and so it is time for me to shake off my apathy. So, as a starting point, here is a couple of videos of Geert Wilders speech e-mailed to me by a friend.
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I haven’t updated my blog for a while. There is a number of reasons for it. But yesterday I started thinking about it. I came to conclusion that all the usual suspect reasons for being silent: busy at work, family obligations etc. are just excuses. The real reason is that I just was not in the mood to write anything. I am simply running out of arguments. Or, more precisely, my arguments are being dismissed by people who just refuse to listen. I am of course talking about politics and about what the current administration is doing to this country. Whenever I point out that what Obama is doing reminds me of the old country (Soviet Union), people say: "No, you are exaggerating". A friend sent me an article dismissing the claims that he is a Socialist based on the fact that people calling themselves Socialist say that Obama is not. Maybe, he is just not socialist enough for them. It is not just Conservatives in this country who call him "Socialist". Putin said that his economic measures lead to it. "Pravda" called him "Socialist" as well. Yet, first 25 years of my life’s experience are dismissed by people who are often my friends and agree with me. That particular friend that thinks that I am overreacting did not vote for Obama and does not like him much. Yet, she does not see much danger in tendency of schoolchildren singing songs about Obama. If I can’t persuade someone who often agrees with me, how can I hope to change the minds of people who voted for the guy? In recent poll they found that 50% of American Jews see Obama as strong supporter of Israel. Republican Jewish Coalition thinks that this is a good thing: now "only" 50% of American Jews are Democrat Party zombies. 50%?! After a member of this administration suggests shooting down Israeli warplanes should they fly to attack Iranian nuclear facilities!? People like those 50% will never be persuaded. They will be like those shot by Stalin’s secret police: shouting "Long live comrade Stalin!", as they were being shot.
And so, the name of this post is "Despair". Because that is my general feeling. Perhaps I am wrong to feel this way. I will try to force myself to post regularly: we should not be giving up. Please give me some time.
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Engineers are unique group of people. They tend to try to dig into things in order to understand how they work. They also tend to avoid jumping to conclusions and are hard to influence emotionally. In a word, they are nerds. So, here is a couple of articles brought to me by professional newsletters that I receive: Planet Analog and Power Management Design Line. But first, an excerpt from the Editor’s note from Planet Analog:
…And now, the "long-story long" version–in alignment with the analog world, I’ve always preferred to be on the trailing edge of leading developments; in other words, not being an early adopter. And I am also very hesitant and skeptical whenever a hot new development is heralded as the answer to all your problems, whatever ails you. (We see this repeatedly in our overhyped industry and society.) Finally, I’m not a fan of using frequent (out)bursts of under 140 characters; I prefer a longer 500-word column (sorry, it’s now called a "blog") or even a well-reasoned, articulated, full-length essay such as Raymond Chandler’s skillful The Simple Art of Murder or George Orwell’s timeless Politics and the English Language. (These are available online, but I am not sure if these are "legal" versions due to copyright ownership, so I’d rather not give any URLs.)
Equally important, as an engineer, I subscribe to Shannon’s Information Theory, which says that less (news) conveys more (importance). I certainly don’t want to add unnecessarily to the already too-high level of clutter and commentary noise around us, which reduces the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), thus obscuring and sometimes even burying worthwhile messages.
But given all that, there is a place for Twitter, when used appropriately and judiciously. It’s another tool which we can use–where it makes sense. So that’s what I will try do, by tweeting when there is something I think will be of interest or noteworthy, and not tweeting simply for the sake of being "out there" and trendy. I promise!
Beyond Newton’s Laws and Maxwell’s Equations: one thing that engineers know (or learn) is that in addition the laws of physics we have, there are also other "laws" that should limit our hubris; among these is the "Law of Unintended (or Unforeseen) Consequences". This was nicely shown in an article I came across from The Wall Street Journal about how and why the use of low-flow showerheads may actually increase water usage, "Under Pressure: Bathers Duck Weak Shower Heads". Unlike some technically obscure or hard-to-understand examples, this is a wonderfully clear one. It’s a lesson worth keeping in mind whenever you or a co-worker explain, with absolute confidence and certainty, the implications of design decisions, especially in the area of user interface and interaction (but not limited to those areas only).
I just excerpted the part that did not contain any professional stuff. But it does have a link to an interesting article about unintended consequences of stupid regulations. Do read it. Bill Schweber, the above-mentioned Editor, also supplied his own article on Global Warming:
I once heard that you should be skeptical of any discipline with the word "science" included. The reasoning is that the addition of "science" is merely a device for enhancing the credibility of a particular discipline. While that comment was made in connection with "social science," it also applies to climate science.
I’m not discussing here whether man-made global warming is real, or is part of other, larger forces, or not happening at all. What I am saying is that the discpline called climate science does not meet my standards for what can be legitimately be considered science.
Here’s why: I’m a strict constructionist when it comes to using the "s" word. Scientific theories are established by developing a hypothesis and a model, then verifying them by repeated experiments and control groups. In the case of climate science, researchers don’t have that opportunity, for obvious reasons.
Again, read the whole thing. While majority of people are not engineers, engineering perspective can be useful for understanding things. Finally, a bit of an explanation of the current Toyota problems, again by Bill Schweber:
We’re all aware of the two mega-recalls of Toyota vehicles. The quick and easy explanation is that "cars are too complicated" and "cars have too many processors and too much software."
Certainly, there is some truth to that (software-controlled cars creep me out), but the sticking-accelerator problem has nothing to do with electronics; it’s a mechanical problem with a mechanical solution. But the real problem which designers of mass-market, high-volume products really face is the law of large numbers. When you have tens or hundreds of thousands of a product out in the market, some of their incredibly obscure and subtle problems will eventually surface.
To those pundits in media who so quickly criticize the Toyota problem as a result of poor engineering and inadequate testing, I say "you have no idea what you are talking about." It’s only because the basic design is so good and reliable, and the number of units on the road is so large, that these problems can even have a chance to appear. The law of large numbers is tough to work around, and does not yield easily to amendments.
I still think that Toyota is a very good car, with solid and reliable design. But the article explains to those, who are not engineers, a little bit of what is involved in designing and testing a mass-produced product. So, again an obligatory recommendation to read the whole thing.
I really wish more people in this country got more interested in designing and making things. Just shuffling money will not sustain this country. Some time ago I posted an article by Jack Ganssle of Embedded.com about why he became an engineer. Now he wrote another article on this subject. He also referred to another article from EE Times. Both articles are interesting. But comments are just as interesting, if not more so. So, enjoy. See if you can relate to any of it. I certainly can.
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I wanted to write this article for a while now, but there was never enough time. So, finally I decided to start and slowly over some time write it.
There have been a lot of talk lately about the horrors of socialized medicine on one side and the benefits of universal coverage on the other. So, let’s examine the ultimate socialized health care system – the one in the former Soviet Union. Let’s compare it to what we have here in the US.
Back in the old Soviet Union the health care was free, i. e. paid for by the Government. You can’t necessarily say that it was paid by the taxpayers, since the Government was one huge monopolistic business. The Soviet Government did business with the outside world and conducted commerce internally. It also employed doctors and paid them the money it printed. Back in Odessa we used to say about the free health care: “Лечиться даром – это даром лечиться”. I am just giving you the phrase in the original Russian. Here is the transliterated version: “Lechit’sya darom – eto darom lechit’sya”. The literal translation is: “If you get treated for nothing, it means that nothing gets treated”. The more proper phrase in English, perhaps the one some people might have heard is “The health care is free, and you get what you paid for it”. This indeed does reflect the overall situation. But, amazingly enough, for people who were relatively healthy and had just minor problems here and there, the system actually did work. The primary care doctors saw patients in their offices for 3 hours a day. The rest of the day they made house calls. Yes, if you were sick, you called your primary physician’s office and request for the doctor to come visit you at home. People were actually almost forced to do that if they were sick, even with a common cold. Here is why. There were no finite number of sick days per year. Instead, every time you got sick, you were entitled to stay home, with pay, provided that it could be verified by your doctor. So, if you can go to a clinic, you were considered well enough to go to work. Of course, there was some abuse, but for the most part people remained honest. The doctor was always more likely to err on the side of sending you to work. For those who actually visited a doctor in the office, 2 or 3 days a week the office hours were conveniently from 6pm to 9pm, making it easy to have an appointment without having to take time off work. It was relatively easy to schedule simple procedures you might need. So, the bottom line, for people without major problems the Soviet health care did work. The problem would arise if you got really sick. That is when the lack of proper equipment, lack of proper medicine, shortage of hospital space and general mess would come into play. If you got into a hospital room with 7 or 8 other people, you were lucky. The unlucky ones had to be stationed in the hallways. Sometimes some patient’s family would bribe somebody on the hospital staff, and the space in one of the 8-bed rooms would be made available, often by moving some unlucky soul to the hallway and moving the “paying” patient into the freed-up space in the room. The doctors and nurses were not the highly paid professionals they are in this country. There were good doctors and nurses, but their pay was, like that of engineers, way below any blue color worker. So, to some extend you can hardly blame doctors and nurses for supplementing their income by re-arranging hospital beds for a fee.
On the other hand, there were special hospitals for high government and Communist Party officials. There was always space, equipment and medicine available there, and the staff was well paid. The general public had no access to those hospitals …unless they either managed to bribe someone really well or knew someone in the government or party hierarchy.
What is interesting about the Soviet health care is that there were no especially designed measures to save the resources, like rationing. Although, the different quality of care available to Communist Party officials could be construed as such. However, the poor quality of care in general was not due to rationing, but simply a result of lack of incentive to provide good care. Basically, the whole thing was a mess. It will not be so, if our Government ever gets to control the health care system. As inefficient as our Government can be, its inefficiency pales in comparison to the Soviet Government. So, our Government will inevitable design some cost-saving measures, which will essentially amount to rationing, although they will be called something else. And it will be much worse than the Soviet system. Because in the Soviet Union you could try to ask your friends and acquaintances if they knew somebody who knew somebody. You could try to bribe somebody. Basically, there were ways around the generally messy system to get better quality care. And nobody counted the money spent for people’s care, so if some particular resource was available somewhere, there were ways, sometimes illegal, to obtain it. However, if the Government in this country gets a hold of the health care system, it will be efficient and it will control cost. So, if you get denied some level of care here, it will be the end of the line. There will be no ways around the system, at least not for the first 50 years, until it becomes as messy as the Soviet system. And it may never become as messy. So, there will be some Government bureaucrats who will ultimately will decide who lives and who dies. Yes, I know that a lot of people don’t believe that. But that is inevitable, because the only alternative is to design the Soviet messy system right from the start, without any cost control. And that will never happen.
Ann Coulter recently published an article listing all the evidence that the Fort Hood Massacre committed by Nidal Hasan was a jihadi attack and taking the mainstream media to task for refusing to call it an act of terrorism:
It’s been weeks since eyewitnesses reported that Maj. Nidal Hasan shouted "Allahu akbar" before spraying Fort Hood with gunfire, killing 13 people.
Since then we also learned that Hasan gave a medical lecture on beheading infidels and pouring burning oil down their throats (unfortunately not covered under the Senate health care bill). Some wondered if perhaps a pattern was beginning to emerge but were promptly dismissed as racist cranks.
We also found out Hasan had business cards printed up with the jihadist abbreviation "SOA" for "Soldier of Allah." Was that enough to conclude that the shooting was an act of terrorism — or does somebody around here need to take another cultural sensitivity class?
And we know that Hasan had contacted several jihadist Web sites and that he had been exchanging e-mails with a radical Islamic cleric in Yemen. The FBI learned that last December, but the rest of us only found out about it a week ago.
Is it still too soon to come to the conclusion that the Fort Hood shooting was an act of terrorism?
Ms. Coulter is of course correct in pointing that one has to be willfully blind in order not to see the action of Nidal Hasan for what it is: an attack by an adherent to violent Islamist ideology on American soldiers. Any attempt to portray Hasan as some sort of a deranged individual is now ridiculous. He is no more deranged than the 9/11 hijackers flying planes into buildings or the ideology they all adhere to. I do, however, disagree with Ann Coulter and many others on the right in one thing: I would not call Hasan’s action as terrorism. Why? Well, because if the terrorism is defined as a deliberate attack against civilians in order to score political points, then this attack was not an act of terrorism. The targets of Hasan’s attack were our soldiers. Thus, this attack was an act of war, rather than terrorism. Nidal Hasan executed a surprise attack on our military, similar to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. This makes him an enemy combatant. The fact that he was wearing American uniform prior to the attack makes him an illegal combatant, the kinds of which were shot on the spot during World War 2. Finally, there is a "T" word that properly defines the actions of Major Nidal Malik Hasan: TREASON. Here is how Section 3 of Article 3 of the United States Constitution defines treason:
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit). No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
If the action of US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan is not "levying War against" the United States, then I don’t know what is. And there are more than 2 witnesses to his action. The fact that he is charged merely with murder is a very sad thing. In my opinion, treason should definitely be among the charges against Hasan. Upon conviction he should face the firing squad, or perhaps even be hanged. There should be no lethal injection for him. Yes, I know that he will be dead either way, but symbolism is important for showing how serious we are in prosecuting the war to defend ourselves.
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… are seen not only by the immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
I have a friend who is an Application Engineer for one of the major semiconductor companies whose chips I often use in my designs. He is of German descent. In fact, I think he was about 11 years old when he came to this country with his parents. A couple of days ago we were having lunch and talking about the recently uncovered videos of school kids singing songs in praise of Obama. Those videos were posted on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood blog and also shown on Fox News. As a side note, most of the videos were removed from Youtube since the story broke. But you can still see transcripts of them all. But back to the lunch with my friend. He told me that he was watching those videos on the news with his mother, who is in her early 70s. As they were watching, all of a sudden his mother told him that she remembered something similar from the time when she was a little girl, 5 or 6 years old. She told him that all the kids in her school were lined up and were taught to praise the leader of the country she lived in at that time. Did I mentioned that my friend’s mother is from Germany? As a little girl she was taught to say "Heil Hitler!" Now, looking at the video of those kids, she was absolutely terrified. Now, I have to say that, while my friend is a Republican and pretty much agrees with me politically, his mother is left-of-center and would have been a Democrat if she would get her American Citizenship. Still, tendencies toward the Nazi and Soviet-like cult of personality terrify her. As those of us who lived in the former Soviet Union, she too knows all too well what a cult of personality might mean. I did ask my friend if he prompted his mom to comment on those videos in any way. He said that no, it was totally unsolicited reaction of his mother.
I wish those Americans who do not have any personal experience with totalitarian regimes, upon seeing reaction to the news of those of us who do, would ask themselves: "What do those people with such experience know that they don’t know?"
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A couple of weeks ago my cousin from New York e-mailed me a poem in Russian. The poem was pretty good and reflected the feelings of pretty much every emigrant from the former Soviet Union I knew: the old country, in the form of Obama administration, is catching up with us. The poem was signed by someone named Alex Matlin of New Jersey. Although I like the poem, I was disappointed that it was in Russian and, thus, I could not share it with my non-Russian-speaking friends. So, I forwarded it to a bunch of my friends and suggested that they try translating the poem into English, if they were so inclined. One of them, Diana from Los Angeles, took a first crack at it. She sent me her version, and I improved on it the best I could. Then I googled the authors name and came up with his web site and contact information. I e-mailed Alex Matlin Diana’s and mine translation attempt. He tweaked it some more and sent it back to me along with permission to post it on my blog along with the picture of himself at the 9/12/09 rally in Washington, DC. Here is that picture below, along with both Russian and English versions of the poem. Note that if any of you, dear readers, decide to forward this poem to any of your friends, be sure to include the Russian version as well. It does not matter that you or your friends might not be able to read Russian. The fact that it was written in Russian originally makes it much more meaningful.
Прощай, страна моя родная!
От Сан-Диего до Детройта
Долой капитализма рабство!
Получат равные зарплаты
Мы к цели рвёмся неуклонно
Звучит сигнал: вперёд, к надежде!
Ведёт. Раздумывать не нужно:
Хамасу, Северной Корее,
Мы их накормим – всех, конечно,
Не будет нам пути обратно,
Мы будем все любить друг друга,
В своём стремлении упорном
И будут дети повсеместно
Не станут поклоняться люди
Ни христианство, ни еврейство
А следом – мы в победном звоне
Партийных разногласий раны
Все будут счастливы, до страсти
Темнеет небо, блещут звёзды
Как мы ни прятались, опять нам
Good bye my dearest land of freedom!
From Florida to Oregon,
Good bye, the chains of Capitalism!
And each, as country’s perfect cure,
We will achieve our final aim,
We’ve got our signal: On, to Hope!
He is leading! No time to waver:
Iran, Venezuela, Cuba —
We’ll feed them all, yes, everybody,
No turning back! Move forward only!
We’ll fall in love with everybody,
We will achieve our noble goal
And our children everywhere
We will discourage all religions,
The old Judeo-Christian values
With our victorious devotion
All the old quarrels of two parties
With love and passion we’ll be happy,
The sky gets dark, the stars are shining,
We tried to run, to hide, but no:
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This question has been bothering me for quite a long time. Of course, I myself tend to vote Republican. Most of the Jews I know, mostly from the former Soviet Union, also tend to vote Republican. But those who grew up in this country are Democrats, even though it seems contrary to their values. I am not the only one who is bothered by this. A good friend of mine from San Jose (let’s call him G. F., by his initials) sent me this analysis with permission to post it on my blog:
- Majority of American Jews vote for Democratic party predominantly because of the historical standing for civil liberties and freedoms – this is how it all started. In fact it started around 1916 when 55% of Jewish voters voted for Woodrow Wilson;
- American Jews are not Israeli Jews – besides immigrants from former Soviet Union – Israel is somewhere between gay rights and gun control on the list of their current Issues. I mean they all donate, but more action would be very nice;
- Most of the American Jews (I am not speaking about most of the immigrants from former Soviet Union) are shielded by comfortable living in their bedroom communities and a lot of pain and suffering Israel endures during the "peace process" does not necessarily translate directly to their (American Jews) decision making. I mean some of them do attend rallies to "stand with Israel", but this group of educated, intellectual thinkers cannot organize a rally that looks like a rally worth covering in the national news. Let’s say the media has a bias (it does) – so what? Jewish population is slightly larger than Muslim in United States, we are richer and more educated, there are tons of Jews in media and Hollywood. There is something terribly wrong here. Look at Pro-Palestinian rallies – they do look scary and impressive! Barbarians destroyed the Rome, remember?
- The 2. and 3. explains (in my opinion) why American Jews vote differently then Israeli – it has nothing to do with poor or great education – Israel has enough bright and educated who voted for Netanyahu or even Liberman
- 2., 3. and 4. brings us to the fact that American Jews love to deliberate about fairness, settlements, security fences (in the context of a land grab) – all current Democratic party line. By doing this they (we, us :) exercise a very noble (I am serious) intellectual game of continuing the fight for liberties, while "supporting" Israel. The problem is (in my view) that when this deliberations is done amongst ourselves – this is all fine (kind of), but bringing it out and agreeing with national agenda – brings back Israel on the map – making Israel sound as a sole cause of instability in the world. Never mind every single country in the Middle East having their own version of Hitler (or Stalin – whichever you like or dislike more :) at the throne, peddling their own version of fascism, oppressing their own people and killing their own Muslims;
- Which brings us to UN – because of the above Israeli Jews do vote differently and recently gave a fat middle finger to Obama in the form of not negotiating anything before the regimes they being forced to negotiate with agree with Israel’s right to exist. What also makes me feel good is that (excellent BTW) at UN did draw more hits on YouTube than Obama’s part 1.
- The Israel is changing so do American Jews – Americans just lag. Which brings us back to the voting. Based on my own research and everything above I came to the conclusion that attrition to Republican party amongst American Jews actually exists. Since both – Democrats and Republicans – had pretty bad candidates during 2008 election (Obama is horrible and McCain just suck), some (and I suspect a lot) just didn’t vote for a president at all or throw away their vote by giving it to someone outside of the public radar. Most likely only those who seriously to the left or right from the center voted for the president and the rest – just abstained. Which resulted in 78% Jewish votes for Obama and 21% for McCain – which didn’t make sense but does now. My prediction is that on next elections (unless of course Republicans will pull "Sarah Palin" again) Republicans will get their 30% or even above of Jewish voters if attendance (Jewish) will be high. I bet I do not need to explain how 3% error of 2% (total US Jewish population) looks like when statistical set is smaller. They will not necessarily vote for Republican party, but against Obama.
Consider this table:
Voted For Dem Voted For Rep President
45% 39% 1980-Carter->Reagan
67% 31% 1984-Mondale->Reagan
64% 35% 1988-Dukakis->Bush
80% 11% 1992-Clinton<-Bush
78% 16% 1996-Clinton<-Dole
79% 19% 2000-Gore->Bush
74% 25% 2004-Kerry->Bush
78% 21% 2008-Obama<-McCain
My only disagreement with my friend’s analysis is that he seems to have bought into the media demonization of Sarah Palin.
Updates are in the body of the post.
I often see some disturbing parallels between our current administration and Obama supporters on one side, and totalitarian regimes from history on the other side. Those totalitarian regimes had one important component: the cult of personality. I, along with others, mentioned this disturbing trend of Obama supporters to create his cult of personality before. But whenever I mention my concerns to many people I know, both Obama and McCain voters, they dismiss those concerns and insist that it will never happen in this country. Well, here is another disturbing video of kids singing praises to Obama, this time apparently organized by their teacher at some elementary school, and apparently during school time:
The video was removed from Youtube, but thankfully Bookworm has posted the transcript:
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama
He said that all must lend a hand [?]
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama
He said we must be clear today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama
He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama
He said Red, Yellow, Black or White
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama
It was a bit hard to make out what the kids were chanting, but it was clear that they were chanting the President’s name and said that he was number one. Go here and here to see some bits transcribed. There was also this "study guide", clearly pushing certain political agenda on kids. And this.
Am I still an alarmist? Are you scared yet?
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There are many people who share my views on the current administration who don’t think that comparing to leftist totalitarian regimes is useful. One of the most outspoken on this is Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs. Bookworm also suggested that it should not be done (also here). Even my fellow Protest Warriors argued against it. Back when I suggested comparing the leftist demonstrators to Nazis, it was not so much because I view the leftist ideology as similar to National-Socialism, but for the shock value: the Left does not expect anybody to compare them to Nazis. But any careful review of the leftist ideology will reveal their desire to perfect society by subordinating individual liberties to what they consider the common good, with the state as the enforcement mechanism. And there lie the similarities between the modern Left and the totalitarian regimes of the past and present, including the Nazi regime. Whenever the term "Nazi" invoked, people immediately think of the Holocaust. But that is not the only thing the German Nazis did. Jonah Goldberg in his "Liberal Fascism" brilliantly shows the similarities between the Left and the German and Italian versions of Fascism. He also points out that Hitler’s genocidal anti-Semitism was not at all common to all of such movements. In fact, Mussolini considered it stupid. I highly recommend this book. Whoever reads it will learn to look beyond the Holocaust and will see the horrors of totalitarian ideology even without Nazis’ genocidal policies. Whoever reads it will also learn that the horrors perpetrated by various totalitarians are the direct result of their desire to perfect society. As they say, "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions".
As I was considering this post, I received an e-mail from a friend. The e-mail contained an open letter supposedly written by Ayn Rand in 1941. I attempted to verify that this is indeed her open letter, but only could find the same letter here and here. While reading it, I found myself largely agreeing with what Ayn Rand supposedly wrote back in 1941. Given similarity of my background to that of Ayn Rand, this is not surprising. Here is that letter, entitled "To All Fifth Columnists":
You who read this represent the greatest danger to America.
No matter what the outcome of the war in Europe may be, Totalitarianism has already won a complete victory in many American minds and conquered all of our intellectual life. You have helped it to win.
Perhaps it is your right to destroy civilization and bring dictatorship to America, but not unless you understand fully what you are doing.
If that is what you want to do, say so openly, at least to your own conscience, and we who believe in freedom will fight you openly.
But the tragedy of today is that you — who are responsible for the coming Totalitarian dictatorship of America — you do not know your own responsibility. You would be the first to deny the active part you’re playing and proclaim your belief in freedom, in civilization, in the American way of life. You are the most dangerous kind of Fifth Columnist — an innocent subconscious Fifth Columnist. Of such as you is the Kingdom of Hitler and of Stalin.
You do not believe this? Check up on yourself. Take the test we offer you here.
1. Are you the kind who considers ten minutes of his time too valuable to read this and give it some thought?
2. Are you the kind who sits at home and moans over the state of the world — but does nothing about it?
3. Are you the kind who says that the future is predestined by something or other, something he can’t quite name or explain and isn’t very clear about, but the world is doomed to dictatorship and there’s nothing anyone can do about it?
4. Are you the kind who says that he wishes he could do something, he’d be so eager to do something — but what can one man do?
5. Are you the kind who are so devoted to your own career, your family, your home or your children that you will let the most unspeakable horrors be brought about to destroy your career, your family, your home and your children — because you are too busy now to prevent them?
Which one of the above are you? A little of all?
But are you really too busy to think?
Who "determines" the future? You’re very muddled on that, aren’t you? What exactly is "mankind"? Is it a mystical entity with a will of its own? Or is it you, and I, and the sum of all of us together? What force is there to make history — except men, other men just like you? If there are enough men who believe in a better future and are willing to work for it, the future will be what they want it to be. You doubt this? Why then, if the world is doomed to dictatorship, do the dictators spend so much money and effort on propaganda? If history is predestined in their favor, why don’t Hitler and Stalin just ride the wave into the future without any trouble? Doesn’t it seem more probable that history will be what the minds of men want it to be, and the dictators are smart enough to prepare these minds in the way they want them, while we talk of destiny and do nothing?
You say, what can one man do? When the Communists came to power in Russia, they were a handful of eighteen men. Just eighteen. In a country of [170,000,000] population. They were laughed at and no one took them seriously. According to their own prophet, Karl Marx, Russia was the last country in which Communism could be historically possible, because of Russia’s backwardness in industrial development. Yet they succeeded. Because they knew what they wanted and went after it — historical destiny or no historical destiny. Adolf Hitler started the Nazi Party in Germany with seven men. He was laughed at and considered a harmless crank. People said that after the Versailles Treaty Germany could not possibly become a world power again, not for centuries. Yet Hitler succeeded. Because he knew what he wanted and went after it — history or no history. Shall we believe in mystical fates or do something about the future?
If you are one of those who have had a full, busy, successful life and are still hard at work making money — stop for one minute of thought. What are you working for? You have enough to keep you in comfort for the rest of your days. But you are working to insure your children’s future. Well, what are you leaving to your children? The money, home, or education you plan to leave them will be worthless or taken away from them. Instead, your legacy will be a Totalitarian America, a world of slavery, of starvation, of concentration camps and of firing squads. The best part of your life is behind you — and it was lived in freedom. But your children will have nothing to face save their existence as slaves. Is that what you want for them? If not, it is still up to you. There is time left to abort it — but not very much time. You take out insurance to protect your children, don’t you? How much money and working effort does that insurance cost you? If you put one-tenth of the money and time into insuring against your children’s future slavery — you would save them and save for them everything else which you intend to leave them and which they’ll never get otherwise.
Don’t delude yourself by minimizing the danger. You see what is going on in Europe and what it’s doing to our own country and to your own private life. What other proof do you need? Don’t say smugly that "it can’t happen here." Stop and look back for a moment.
The first Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Russia. People said: well, Russia was a dark, backward, primitive nation where anything could happen — but it could not happen in any civilized country.
The next Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Italy — one of the oldest civilized countries of Europe and the mother of European culture. People said: well, the Italians hadn’t had much experience in democratic self-government, but it couldn’t happen anywhere else.
The next Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Germany — the country of philosophers and scientists, with a long record of the highest cultural achievements. People said: well, Germany was accustomed to autocracy, and besides there’s the Prussian character, and the last war, etc. — but it could not happen in any country with a strong democratic tradition.
Could it happen in France? People would have laughed at you had you asked such a question a year ago. Well, it has happened in France — France, the mother of freedom and of democracy, France, the most independent-minded nation on earth.
What price your smug self-confidence? In the face of millions of foreign money and foreign agents pouring into our country, in the face of one step after another by which our country is [moving] closer to Totalitarianism — you do nothing except say: "It can’t happen here." Do you hear the Totalitarians answering you — "Oh, yeah?"
Don’t delude yourself with slogans and meaningless historical generalizations. It can happen here. It can happen anywhere. And a country’s past history has nothing to do with it. Totalitarianism is not a new product of historical evolution. It is older than history. It is the attempt of the worthless and the criminal to seize control of society. That element is always there, in any country. But a healthy society gives it no chance. It is when the majority in a country becomes weak, indifferent and confused that a criminal minority, beautifully organized like all gangs, seizes the power. And once that power is seized it cannot be taken back for generations. Fantastic as it may seem to think of a dictatorship in the United States, it is much easier to establish such a dictatorship than to overthrow it. With modern technique and modern weapons at its disposal, a ruthless minority can hold millions in slavery indefinitely. What can one thousand unorganized, unarmed men do against one man with a machine gun?
And the tragedy of today is that by remaining unorganized and mentally unarmed we are helping to bring that slavery upon ourselves. By being indifferent and confused, we are serving as innocent Fifth Columnists of our own destruction.
There is no personal neutrality in the world today.
Repeat that and scream that to yourself. In all great issues there are only two sides — and no middle. You are alive or you are dead, but you can’t be "neither" or "in between." You are honest or you are not — and there is no neutral "half-honest." And so, you are against Totalitarianism — or you are for it. There is no intellectual neutrality.
The Totalitarians do not want your active support. They do not need it. They have their small, compact, well-organized minority and it is sufficient to carry out their aims. And they want from you is your indifference. The Communists and the Nazis have stated repeatedly that the indifference of the majority is their best ally. Just sit at home, pursue your private affairs, shrug about world problems — and you are the most effective Fifth Columnist that can be devised. You’re doing your part as well as if you took orders consciously from Hitler or from Stalin. And so, you’re in it, whether you want to be or not, you’re helping the world towards destruction, while moaning and wondering what makes the world such as it is today. You do.
The Totalitarians have said: "Who is not against us, is for us." There is no personal neutrality.
And since you are involved, and have to be, what do you prefer? To do what you’re doing and help the Totalitarians? Or to fight them?
But in order to fight, you must understand. You must know exactly what you believe and you must hold to your faith honestly, consistently, and all the time. A faith assumed occasionally, like Sunday clothes, is of no value. Communism and Nazism are a faith. Yours must be as strong and clear as theirs. They know what they want. We don’t. But let us see how, before it is too late, whether we have a faith, what it is and how we can fight for it.
First and above all: what is Totalitarianism? We all hear so much about it, but we don’t understand it. What is the most important point, the base, the whole heart of both Communism and Nazism? It is not the "dictatorship of the proletariat," nor the nationalization of private property, nor the supremacy of the "Aryan" race, nor anti-Semitism. These things are secondary symptoms, surface details, the effects and not the cause. What is the primary cause, common to both Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, and all other dictators, past, present, and future? One idea — and one only: That the State is superior to the individual. That the Collective holds all rights and the individual has none.
Stop here. This is the crucial point. What you think of this will determine whether you are a mental Fifth Columnist or not. This is the point which allows no compromise. You must choose one or the other. There is no middle. Either you believe that each individual man has value, dignity and certain inalienable rights which cannot be sacrificed for any cause, for any purpose, for any collective, for any number of other men whatsoever. Or else you believe that a number of men — it doesn’t matter what you call it: a collective, a class, a race or a State — holds all rights, and any individual man can be sacrificed if some collective good — it doesn’t matter what you call it: better distribution of wealth, racial purity or the Millennium — demands it. Don’t fool yourself. Be honest about this. Names don’t matter. Only the basic principle matters, and there is no middle choice. Either man has individual, inalienable rights — or he hasn’t.
Your intentions don’t count. If you are willing to believe that men should be deprived of all rights for a good cause — you are a Totalitarian. Don’t forget, Stalin and Hitler sincerely believe that their causes are good. Stalin thinks that he is helping the downtrodden, and Hitler thinks that he is serving his country as a patriot. They are good causes, both of them, aren’t they? Then what creates the horrors of Russia and of Germany? What is destroying all civilization? Just this one idea — that to a good cause everything can be sacrificed; that individual men have no rights which must be respected; that what one person believes to be good can be put over on the others by force.
And if you — in the privacy of your own mind — believe so strongly in some particular good of yours that you would be willing to deprive men of all rights for the sake of this good, then you are as guilty of all the horrors of today as Hitler and Stalin. These horrors are made possible only by men who have lost all respect for single, individual human beings, who accept the idea that classes, races, and nations matter, but single persons do not, that a majority is sacred, but a minority is dirt, that herds count, but Man is nothing.
Where do you stand on this? There is no middle ground.
If you accept the Totalitarian idea, if the words "State" or "Collective" are sacred to you, but the word "Individual" is not — stop right here. You don’t have to read further. What we have to say is not for you — and you are not for us. Let’s part here — but be honest, admit that you are a Totalitarian and go join the Communist Party or the German-American Bund, because they are the logical end of the road you have chosen, and you will end up with one or the other, whether you know it now or not.
But if you are a Humanitarian and a Liberal — in the real, not the prostituted sense of these words — you will say with us that Man, each single, solitary, individual Man, has a sacred value which you respect, and sacred inalienable rights which nothing must take away from him.
You believe this? You agree with us that this is the heart of true Americanism, the basic principle upon which America was founded and which made it great — the Rights of Man and the Freedom of Man? But do you hear many voices saying this today?
Do you read many books saying this? Do you see many prominent men preaching this? Do you know a single publication devoted to this belief or a single organization representing it? You do not. Instead, you find a flood of words, of books, of preachers, publications, and organizations which, under very clever "Fronts," work tirelessly to sell you Totalitarianism. All of them are camouflaged under very appealing slogans: they scream to you that they are defenders of "Democracy," of "Americanism," of "Civil Liberties," etc. Everybody and anybody uses these words — and they have no meaning left. They are empty generalities and boob-catchers. There is only one real test that you can apply to all these organizations: ask yourself what is the actual result of their work under the glittering bromides? What are they really selling you, what are they driving at? If you ask this, you will see that they are selling you Collectivism in one form or another.
They preach "Democracy" and then make a little addition — "Economic Democracy" or a "Broader Democracy" or a "True Democracy", and demand that we turn all property over to the Government; "all property" means also "all rights"; let everybody hold all rights together — and nobody have any right of any kind individually. Is that Democracy or is it Totalitarianism? You know of a prominent woman commentator who wants us all to die for Democracy — and then defines "true" Democracy as State Socialism [probably a reference to Dorothy Thompson]. You have heard Secretary [Harold] Ickes define a "true" freedom of the press as the freedom to express the views of the majority. You have read in a highly respectable national monthly the claim that the Bill of Rights, as taught in our schools, is "selfish": that a "true" Bill of Rights means not demanding any rights for yourself, but your giving these rights to "others." God help us, fellow Americans, are we blind? Do you see what this means? Do you see the implications?
And this is the picture wherever you look. They "oppose" Totalitarianism and they "defend" Democracy — by preaching their own version of Totalitarianism, some form of "collective good," "collective rights," "collective will," etc. And the one thing which is never said, never preached, never upheld in our public life, the one thing all these "defenders of Democracy" hate, denounce, and tear down subtly, gradually, systematically — is the principle of Individual Rights, Individual Freedom, Individual Value. That is the principle against which the present great world conspiracy is directed. That is the heart of the whole world question. That is the only opposite of Totalitarianism and our only defense against it. Drop that — and what difference will it make what name you give to the resulting society? It will be Totalitarianism — and all Totalitarians are alike, all come to the same methods, the same slavery, the same bloodshed, the same horrors, no matter what noble slogan they start under, as witness Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.
Principles are much more consistent than men. A basic principle, once accepted, has a way of working itself out to its logical conclusion — even against the will and to the great surprise of those who accepted it. Just accept the idea that there are no inalienable individual rights — and firing squads, executions without trial, and a Gestapo or a G. P. U. will follow automatically — no matter who holds the power, no matter how noble and benevolent his intentions. That is a law of history. You can find any number of examples. Can you name one [counter-example]? Can you name one instance where absolute power — in any hands — did not end in absolute horror? And — for God’s sake, fellow Americans, let’s not be utter morons, let’s give our intelligence a small chance to function and let’s recognize the obvious — what is absolute power? It’s a power which holds all rights and has to respect none. Does it matter whether such a power is held by a self-appointed dictator or by an elected representative body? The power is the same and its results will be the same. Look through all of history. Look at Europe. Don’t forget — they still hold "elections" in Europe. Don’t forget, Hitler was elected.
Now, if you see how completely intellectual Totalitarianism is already in control of our country, if you see that there is no action and no organization to defend the only true anti-Totalitarian principle, the principle of individual rights, you will realize that there is only one thing for us to do: to take such action and to form such an organization. If you are really opposed to Totalitarianism, to all of it, in any shape, form, or color — you will join us. We propose to unite all men of good will who believe that Freedom is our most precious possession, that it is greater than any other consideration whatsoever, that no good has ever been accomplished by force, that Freedom must not be sacrificed to any other ideal, and that Freedom is an individual, not a collective entity.
We do not know how many of us there are left in the world. But we think there are many more than the Totalitarians suspect. We are the majority, but we are scattered, unorganized, silenced and helpless. The Totalitarians are an efficient, organized, and very noisy minority. They have seized key positions in our intellectual life and they make it appear as if they are the voice of America. They can, if left unchecked, highjack America into dictatorship. Are we going to let them get away with it? They are not the voice of America. We are. But let us be heard.
To be heard, however, we must be organized. This is not a paradox. Individualists have always been reluctant to form any sort of organization. The best, the most independent, the hardest working, the most productive members of society have always lived and worked alone. But the incompetent and the unscrupulous have organized. The world today shows how well they have organized. And so, we shall attempt what has never been attempted before — an organization against organization. That is — an organization to defend us all from the coming compulsory organization which will swallow all of society; an organization to defend our rights, including the right not to belong to any forced organization; an organization, not to impose our ideology upon anyone, but to prevent anyone from imposing his ideology upon us by physical or social violence.
Are you with us?
If you realize that the world is moving toward disaster, but see no effective force to avert it —
If you are eager to join in a great cause and accept a great faith, but find no such cause or faith offered to you anywhere today —
If you are not one of those doomed jellyfish to whom the word "Freedom" means nothing —
If you cannot conceive of yourself living in a society without personal freedom, a society in which you will be told what to do, what to think, what to feel, in which your very life will be only a gift from the Collective, to be revoked at its pleasure at any time —
If you cannot conceive of yourself surrendering your freedom for any collective good whatsoever, and do not believe that any such good can ever be accomplished by such a surrender —
If you believe in your own dignity and your own value, and hold that such a belief is not "selfish," but is instead your greatest virtue, without which you are worthless both to your fellow-men and to yourself —
If you believe that it is vicious to demand that you should exist solely for the sake of your fellow-men and grant them all and any right over you —
If you believe that it is vicious to demand everyone’s sacrifice for everyone else’s sake, and that such a demand creates nothing but mutual victims, without profiting anyone, neither society nor the individual —
If you believe that men can tell you what you must not do to them, but can never assume the arrogance of telling you what you must do, no matter what their number —
If you believe in majority rule only with protection for minority rights, both being limited by inalienable individual rights —
If you believe that the mere mention of "the good of the majority" is not sufficient ground to justify any possible kind of horror, and that those yelling loudest of "majority good" are not necessarily the friends of mankind —
If you are sick of professional "liberals," "humanitarians," "uplifters" and "idealists" who would do you good as they see fit, even if it kills you, whose idea of world benevolence is world slavery —
If you are sick, disgusted, disheartened, without faith, without direction, and have lost everything but your courage —
— come and join us.
There is so much at stake — and so little time left.
Let us have an organization as strong, as sure, as enthusiastic as any the Totalitarians could hope to achieve. Let us follow our faith as consistently as they follow theirs. Let us offer the world our philosophy of life. Let us expose all Totalitarian propaganda in any medium and in any form. Let us answer any argument, every promise, every "Party Line" of the Totalitarians. Let us drop all compromise, all cooperation or collaboration with those preaching any brand of Totalitarianism in letter or in spirit, in name or in fact. Let us have nothing to do with "Front" organizations, "Front" agents or "Front" ideas. We do not have to proscribe them by law. We can put them out of existence by social boycott. But this means — no compromise. There is no compromise between life and death. You do not make deals with the black plague. Let us touch nothing tainted with Totalitarianism. Let us tear down the masks, bring them out into the open and — leave them alone. Very strictly alone. No "pro-Soviet" or "pro-Nazi" members of the board in our organization. No "benevolent" Trojan horses. Let us stick together as they do. They silence us, they force us out of public life, they fill key positions with their own men. Let us stick together — and they will be helpless to continue. They have millions of foreign money on their side. We have the truth.
As a first step and a first declaration of what we stand for, we offer you the following principles:
We believe in the value, the dignity and the freedom of Man.
— That each man has inalienable rights which cannot be taken from him for any cause whatsoever. These rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
— That the right of life means that man cannot be deprived of his life for the convenience of any number of other men.
— That the right of liberty means freedom of individual decision, individual choice, individual judgment and individual initiative; it means also the right to disagree with others.
— That the right to the pursuit of happiness means man’s freedom to choose what constitutes his own private, personal happiness and to work for its achievement; that such a pursuit is neither evil nor reprehensible, but honorable and good; and that a man’s happiness is not to be prescribed to him by any other man nor by any number of other men.
— That these rights have no meaning unless they are the unconditional, personal, private possession of each man, granted to him by the fact of his birth, held by him independently of all other men, and limited only by the exercise of the same rights by other men.
— That the only just, moral and beneficent form of society is a society based upon the recognition of these inalienable individual rights.
— That the State exists for Man, and no Man for the State.
— That the greatest good for all men can be achieved only through the voluntary cooperation of free individuals for mutual benefit, and not through a compulsory sacrifice of all for all.
— That "voluntary" presupposes an alternative and a choice of opportunities; and thus even a universal agreement of all men on one course of action is neither free nor voluntary if no other course of action is open to them.
— That each man’s independence of spirit and other men’s respect for it have created all civilization, all culture, all human progress and have benefited all mankind.
— That the greatest threat to civilization is the spread of Collectivism, which demands the sacrifice of all individual rights to collective rights and the supremacy of the State over the individual.
— That the general good which such Collectivism professes as its objective can never be achieved at the sacrifice of man’s freedom, and such sacrifice can lead only to general suffering, stagnation, and degeneration.
— That such conception of Collectivism is the greatest possible evil — under any name, in any form, for any professed purpose whatsoever.
Such is our definition of Americanism and the American way of life.
The American way of life has always been based upon the Rights of Man, upon individual freedom and upon respect for each human individual personality. Through all its history, this has been the source of America’s greatness. This is the spirit of America which we dedicate ourselves to defend and preserve.
In practical policy we shall be guided by one basic formula: of every law and of every conception we shall demand the maximum freedom for the individual and the minimum power for the government necessary to achieve any given social objective.
If you believe this, join us. If you don’t — fight us. Either is your privilege, but the only truly immoral act you can commit is to agree with us, to realize that we are right — and then to forget it and do nothing.
There is some excuse, little as it may be, for an open, honest Fifth Columnist. There is none for an innocent, passive, subconscious one. Of all the things we have said here to you, we wish to be wrong on only one — our first sentence. Prove us wrong on that. Join us.
The world is a beautiful place and worth fighting for. But not without Freedom.
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Below is the Republican Jewish Coalition Newsletter. I hope it will come out right on the blog. There are a lot of interesting articles there. Of particular interest are the ones about buyers remorse and analysis of Jewish vote.
Again, below is the post from last year. But there is nothing to add. Just remember…
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Al-Qaeda on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a state of war has existed between the United States and the followers of Islamo-Fascist ideology along with their supporters.
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Tomorrow the President is giving his speech to American schoolchildren. There has been some controversy: some people are worried that some leftist agenda will be pushed. My younger daughter is in kindergarten, and her teacher wisely decided that the kids in her class are simply too young for this. I like my younger daughter’s teacher: she has some common sense.
My older daughter is in 3rd grade. I e-mailed her teacher, asking for his plans regarding the speech, but he hasn’t replied yet. I have to say, I am disappointed by this lack of reply. But the speech itself is available on line. So, go read it, especially if you have kids in school. Having read it, I have to say that the speech itself does not concern me. It is simply an admonishment to do well in school. The teacher’s presentation might still get screwed up and tilted toward some leftist agenda, but one can hardly blame Obama for that. So, read the speech. Since Obama likes using a teleprompter, he is unlikely to deviate from the speech, as it is written. And I doubt there is a second version to be presented, insidiously created to fool the parents. So, there is no reason to worry about the speech itself. Just look out for the teacher’s presentation and make sure your kids are prepared for it.
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Senator Ted Kennedy has died last night. My condolences to his family. He was the last of the 4 brothers. 2 oldest ones were genuine war heroes. The oldest, Joe Jr., gave his life. Now media is singing praises to Ted. And that makes me very uncomfortable, to say the least. You see, the rule of not speaking ill of the dead does not always apply. I don’t think it applies in this case. No, I am not talking about politics. Bookworm said what needed to be said. Read it and follow her links as well. I agree with her conclusion: the man was, “at best, immoral and, at worst, evil”.
Long time ago, on a continent far-far away, there was a beautiful, progressive (in a good sense of the word) and tolerant country. It was a parliamentary democracy. Its President played largely ceremonial role. The leader of the party winning the most seats in parliament would usually become the country’s Chief Executive and form a Government. One day the country had elections, and a party favoring socialism (a popular idea at the time) and claiming to represent working class won the most seats in parliament. This party did not win the majority of seats, but it did win the plurality. And, thanks to clever parliamentary maneuvering and coalition building, the party’s leader became the Chief Executive of the country’s Government. The economic situation was pretty bad, and so this Chief Executive persuaded the parliament to grant him the right to rule by decree. After all, something had to be done quickly to rectify the economic situation. The country’s constitution provided for it, and it would be only temporary. In 4 years these extraordinary powers would be reviewed. In fact, they were, but by then the parliament simply extended those powers indefinitely. But I am getting ahead of myself. Shortly after this country acquired this new energetic Chief Executive the country’s President died. The new Chief Executive was pretty popular, so the country citizens overwhelmingly voted for him to assume the office of the President as well. After that the Government decreed that the officers of the country’s armed forces should swear allegiance not to the country and its people, but to the Chief Executive himself. Now, let’s stop and think. Could that be going too far? Perhaps the country’s military had a good reason to rebel at this point and remove this Chief Executive from power? But they did not, although there was an opposition within the military to this new regime. By the time the military did make an overt attempt to remove this Chief Executive from power, it was already too late.
In case you haven’t guessed it yet, the country in question is Germany. Hitler became Chancellor after free democratic elections. Shortly after that he was granted the power to rule by decree by so-called Enabling Act of 1933. Finally, after the death of President Hindenburg, the German military was required to swear loyalty personally to Hitler. If at that point the German military would have staged a coup and removed a very popular Chancellor from power, the world would have been spared the horrors of World War 2. In fairness I have to say that some people in the German military did try, but not hard enough, and ultimately were not successful. They would, however, have had a better chance early on.
Fast forward to 2009. The country is Honduras. Unlike Germany in 1933, it is a presidential democracy similar to the USA and seems to have separation of powers. And, unlike Nazi Germany after 1938, it has a functioning parliament and a functioning supreme court. The Honduran President was attempting to usurp too much power and was violating the Honduran Constitution. Thus, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the President had to be removed from office and assigned Honduran Military to do the job. The President was replaced by a member of his own party, thus the Opposition did not gain power. Everything was done in accordance with the Honduran Constitution. And yet it was called a coup by our President. That pro-Chavez Organization of American States said that and the dictator-loving UN said that is not surprising. But the United States should know better. Furthermore, even if it were a coup, it still should have been supported. Can anybody imagine condemning Klaus von Schtaufenberg and his co-conspirators for the assassination of Adolf Hitler and the coup if they were successful?
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This e-mail is from Yaacov Ben Moshe of the Breast of the Beast:
There were the Blues Brothers of Moscow… This is not a Belushi and Akroyd spoof!
Yaacov Ben Moshe
I receive posts by Judith Apter Klinghoffer via e-mail. Judith blogs at History News Network, a very interesting and informative site that analyzes today’s events through historical perspective. Below is the post I received today. This will also serve as another test of posing via e-mail.
Judith Apter Klinghoffer http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/97816.html
Angering MSM and many economists Angela Merkel said no to stimulus. And, dire predictions aside, so far the numbers prove her right. Jim Cramer, sums it perfectly
The stocks that were thrown away yesterday are now set to have a good day because of a piece of information out of Germany that no one thought a thing about 24 hours ago. Or 24 days ago or months ago, or whatever.
What piece of information?
This one- German industrial output leaps higher
Roaring auto output pushed German industrial production higher in May by the biggest margin since August 1993, official data showed Wednesday, signaling the country’s deep recession might be near an end. The economy ministry said overall output in Europe’s biggest economy jumped by 3.7 percent in May from the previous month and added: “Industrial production may have passed the trough.”
This is at a time, the US is celebrating the fact that The U.S. manufacturing sector shrank in June but at a slower pace than during the prior month
Yes, prejudice blinds. German unemployment declines in June from 8.2% to 8.1% after having dropped from 8.4% a month earlier. In contrast, American unemployment rose from 9.4% to 9.5% in June after having risen from 8.9% a month earlier. As I have previously noted, both country had 7.2% unemployment rate in December 2008.
None of this means that Germany is out of the woods. It merely means that she is bound come out of them in a much better shape than had she wasted money in ineffective “make work” projects. I wish I could say the same about the US. And the “usual suspects” are talking about a second stimulus!
The other day I stumbled upon this article in the FrontPage Magazine:
Who won the Cold War? That’s a no-brainer. The United States prevailed while the Soviet Union collapsed, and the People’s Republic of China dumped Marxism; capitalism (free markets and private property) triumphed over socialism (centrally planned markets and state-owned property); an ethos of individual rights proved to be more resilient and healthy than collectivist ideology; relatively small, democratic government clearly was demonstrated to help a society prosper far more effectively than elitist Big Government.
How ironic, then, that voices in Russia and China are mocking our current Big Government policies. Those whose countries took the tragic, impoverishing detour through Big Government hell now react with scorn and derision as we Americans charge headlong down that same path. What an amazing spectacle it must be for them to see the victor of the Cold War borrow many pages from the losers’ playbook.
Read it all. And then read the article from Pravda that the FrontPage article refers to:
…The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America’s short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.
These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?
These men, of course, are not an elected panel but made up of appointees picked from the very financial oligarchs and their henchmen who are now gorging themselves on trillions of American dollars, in one bailout after another. They are also usurping the rights, duties and powers of the American congress (parliament). Again, congress has put up little more then a whimper to their masters.
Then came Barack Obama’s command that GM’s (General Motor) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of “pure” free markets, the American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go dither, the centurion commands his minions.
So it should be no surprise, that the American president has followed this up with a “bold” move of declaring that he and another group of unelected, chosen stooges will now redesign the entire automotive industry and will even be the guarantee of automobile policies. I am sure that if given the chance, they would happily try and redesign it for the whole of the world, too. Prime Minister Putin, less then two months ago, warned Obama and UK’s Blair, not to follow the path to Marxism, it only leads to disaster. Apparently, even though we suffered 70 years of this Western sponsored horror show, we know nothing, as foolish, drunken Russians, so let our “wise” Anglo-Saxon fools find out the folly of their own pride.
Read this one in full as well. Granted, the article has a bit of anti-Western bent, blaming the West for Marxism. But other than that, the article is right on the money. And surely the irony of an article in Pravda, the former Soviet Communist Party newspaper, warning about dangers of Marxism must be appreciated.
This is the test post to all my blogs from my laptop.
While I am at it, let’s test the link to a good Bookworm post.
This is the test of posting by e-mail that I have just enabled.
What If Israel Strikes Iran?
The mullahs would retaliate. But things would be much worse if they had the bomb.
By JOHN R. BOLTON
Whatever the outcome of Iran’s presidential election tomorrow, negotiations will not soon — if ever — put an end to its nuclear threat. And given Iran’s determination to achieve deliverable nuclear weapons, speculation about a possible Israeli attack on its nuclear program will not only persist but grow.
So what would such an attack look like? Obviously, Israel would need to consider many factors — such as its timing and scope, Iran’s increasing air defenses, the dispersion and hardening of its nuclear facilities, the potential international political costs, and Iran’s "unpredictability." While not as menacingly irrational as North Korea, Iran’s politico-military logic hardly compares to our NATO allies. Central to any Israeli decision is Iran’s possible response.
Israel’s alternative is that Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs reach fruition, leaving its very existence at the whim of its staunchest adversary. Israel has not previously accepted such risks. It destroyed Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981 and a Syrian reactor being built by North Koreans in 2007. One major new element in Israel’s calculus is the Obama administration’s growing distance (especially in contrast to its predecessor).
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President Obama plans to raise America’s corporate taxes to even higher levels. This policy will be destructive to U.S. firms’ competitiveness, pushing more jobs and companies overseas.
I’ve finally figured out the Obama economic strategy. President Barack Obama and his team have been having so much fun wielding dictatorial power while rescuing "failed" firms, that they have developed a scheme to gain the same power over every business. The plan is to enact policies that are so anticompetitive that every firm needs a bailout.
Once that happens, their new pay czar Kenneth Feinberg can set the wage for everybody and Rahm Emanuel can stack the boards of all of our companies with his political cronies.
I know, it sounds like an exaggeration. But look at it this way. If there were a power ranking of U.S. companies, like the ones compiled by football writers for National Football League teams, Microsoft would surely be first or second to Google. But last week, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer came to Washington to announce what Microsoft would do if Obama’s multinational tax policy is enacted.The U.S. now has about the highest combined corporate tax rate, second only to Japan among industrialized countries.
"It makes U.S. jobs more expensive," Ballmer said, "We’re better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the U.S." If Microsoft, perhaps our most competitive company, has to abandon the U.S. in order to continue to thrive, who exactly is going to stay?
At issue is Obama’s policy to end the deferral of multinational taxation.
The U.S. now has about the highest combined corporate tax rate, second only to Japan among industrialized countries. That rate is so high that U.S. firms have an enormous disadvantage versus competitors. The average corporate tax rate for the major developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2008 was about 27 percent, more than 10 percentage points lower than the U.S. rate.
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The other day I found this article:
The four of the Chinese Muslims, or Uighurs, released to Bermuda from the Guantanamo Bay prison told FOX News that they are innocent, glad to be free and hold no grudges against the United States for their captivity.
The men, who range from 31 to 38 years old, also said they think life in China, where they face persecution, is worse than life at Guantanamo.
With the help of a translator, they said they didn’t know anything about Al Qaeda or Usama bin Laden, despite past allegations that they had aided the terror mastermind’s escape.
"I am not a terrorist. I have never been terrorist," one of the men told FOX News. "I want to live peacefully."
The Uighurs, released this week, are staying at a guest cottage complex on the island without security or electronic monitoring, but their attorney said they will have to periodically check in with local police.
The release of the Uighurs comes amid increasing political tensions in Washington over what to do with the more than 200 detainees being held at the Guantanamo facility following President Obama’s pledge to close the facility within a year of taking office.
But the Uighurs may be among the least threatening of the detainees whose fate must be decided, given that the Justice Department under the Bush administration already had decided that they should no longer be classified as "enemy combatants."
A September 2008 federal court motion filed by the Justice Department confirmed their change of status and declared that all 17 Uighurs being held at Gunatanamo should be resettled in a foreign country.
The Uighurs will be eligible for Bermudian passports in the future, but the U.S. has a mechanism in place to block their entry into the U.S. unless the federal government chooses to let them in.
Their attorney says the Uighurs are determined to stay in Bermuda as part of a guest worker program. There is a provision in that program that in limited circumstances allows guest workers to get Bermudian citizenship.
However, the transfer of the Uighurs has been criticized not only by U.S. Republican lawmakers but by the governments of the United Kingdom, which controls the territory of Bermuda, and China, which wants the Uighurs returned.
On Friday, some members of the Bermudan government who said they’d not been informed of the transfer questioned the wisdom of moving the inmates to the island located 640 miles off the coast of North Carolina, saying it could hurt tourism, which is Bermuda’s chief industry.
But the Bermudan government defended its decision to take the Uighurs, whom the U.S. feared would face torture if sent back to China.
The Uighurs told FOX News that they plan to make their home in Bermuda, probably working first in some form of manual labor. They also may open a restaurant and look forward to swimming and fishing.
The article is too small for excerpts. Still, you might want to go there for the comments. So, these 17 Uighurs were apparently captured in Afghanistan. Suppose, 16 of them are innocent. It takes only one to do tremendous damage.
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Bookworm has the most complete round-up of commentaries on the recent Obama speech in Cairo. Just go there and follow her links, including her own commentary. Indeed, there was some good stuff there and some not so good. But here is the article that points out some disturbing moral equivalency so prevalent on the Left:
Just days ago Obama traveled to Cairo, Egypt. It was his second trip in a short time to visit Muslim countries. He sent a clear message by not visiting Israel.
But this was code.
In Cairo, Obama said things that pose a grave danger to Jews in Israel, in America and everywhere.
And if his views are not vigorously opposed they will help create a danger as great as that posed by the Nazis to the Jewish people.
Just last week, Obama told his worldwide audience — more than 100 million people — that the killing of six million Jews during the Holocaust was the equivalent of Israel’s actions in dealing with the Palestinians.
This remark is incredible on its face, an insult to the six million Jews who died as a result of Hitler’s genocide — and it is a form of revisionism that will bode evil for Jews for years to come.
While Obama acknowledged that “six million Jews were killed — more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today” — his discussion about the Holocaust was followed by this statement: “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” (Emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit).
“On the other hand . . . ”?
Obama’s clever construct comparing the mass genocide of six million Jews to the Palestinian struggle will not be lost on the estimated 100 million Muslims who tuned into to hear him.
This is the worst kind of moral equivalency. Read it all. And now we hear about the anti-Semitic statement of Obama’s mentor. Do you think 20 years of attending this guy’s church rubbed off on Obama? You know, to certain extent I feel vindicated when Obama’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic associations come out: I hope that this will teach those 77% of American Jews that blindly voting for Democrats is not always good for them. But then, those people usually refuse to hear and see the evidence. Just like the Jews under Nazi occupation refused to see the evidence of mass slaughter, so the modern American Jews keep blindly voting for Democrats despite growing anti-Semitism on the Left. A disclaimer: no, I do not compare Obama to the Nazis. But the refusal to see the evidence on the part of the 77% of American Jews is the same.
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It’s been a while since this has been posted, but it is worth reminding.
Back when the Left was screaming about harsh interrogations (waterboarding etc.), and when Obama declared that those techniques would no longer be used, Dick Cheney asked for the results of those interrogations be released along with with those memos authorizing them. Indeed, the question of effectiveness of those interrogations is very valid. In fact, this question even gets asked by some leftist at Huffington Post. So, here is the summary of what those interrogations revealed:
Not one of the liberal pundits decrying the use of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) appears to have read the complete set of memos released by President Obama. I know this because I cannot find a single, plain-text version of the scanned memos anywhere on the web. And, the most critical section — the results obtained from EITs — is nowhere to be found.
Most of the anti-American leftists seem strangely incurious regarding the key question asked even at The Huffington Post: what did the enhanced interrogations reveal?
I (Doug Ross) herein present the actual results of the EITs as described in the partially redacted 5/30/2005 memo (U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, MEMORANDUM FOB JOHN A. RIZZO, SENIOR DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, "Re: Application of ‘United States Obligation; Under Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture to Certain Techniques That May Be Used in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees’", originally classified TOP SECRET/NOFORN).
To put things in simple terms for any "progressives" reading along, here’s what the EITs revealed after 3,000 American civilians were slaughtered in cold blood by Al Qaeda:
• FACT: EITs produced 3,000 of the 6,000 critical counter-terror intelligence reports only after normal techniques had proven fruitless;
• FACT: EITs used on Zubaydah revealed KSM’s identity as a mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks;
• FACT: KSM ratted out a number of mass-murderers including Hambali;
• FACT: Hambali’s brother ratted out a cell bent on "9/11 Wave 2" on the West Coast;
• FACT: Zubaydah also revealed Padilla and his plan to detonate a simplistic dirty bomb in Washington, DC;
So, drones, you can either believe the CIA forged 3,000 documents and magically captured mass-murderers without EITs… or you can believe the truth.
Obviously, read the whole post by Doug Ross.
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There is a company called Vishay Intertechnology. They make all kinds of electronic components, which I, as an Electronics Engineer, use in my designs. In particular, they are the first ones I think of when I need to use filed-effect transistors (FETs, or MOSFETs, to be exact). I won’t get too deep into the technical details, but their FETs are very well suited for use in the switching power supplies. Recently I learned about amazing history of this company and its founder, Dr. Felix Zandman:
In the 1950s, patents were issued for the PhotoStress® products developed by Dr. Felix Zandman. These products reveal and measure stress distribution in airplanes, cars, and other structures under live load conditions. His research in this area led him to develop Bulk Metal® foil resistors, the most precise and stable resistors available — both then and now, over four decades later.
Dr. Zandman, with the financial support of Alfred P. Slaner, founded Vishay in 1962 to develop and manufacture Bulk Metal foil resistors. The Company was named after the village in Lithuania where relatives of Dr. Zandman and Mr. Slaner had perished during the Holocaust (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit). The Company’s initial product portfolio consisted of foil resistors and foil resistance strain gages.
Here is more:
A survivor from the Polish town of Grodno, Dr. Felix Zandman, immigrated to the United States and became an inventor and important industrialist there, in Israel, and in other countries. He named the electronics concern he established Vishay in memory of his beloved grandmother Tema Freydovicz, who was born in the town of Vishay, and the Jewish community there that had been annihilated in the Holocaust. The electronics plants he established in Israel also bear the same name.
This indeed is an amazing story. I sent these links to a friend of mine, an Applications Engineer from a Vishay distributor company, who is also Jewish. He did not know this history. But later, when he came to visit me in the office on business, he brought me a present from the local Vishay representative: the memoir of Dr. Felix Zandman. I am sure I will enjoy this book. And it is very satisfying to be able to use good products and support a good company and worthy causes at the same time.
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I haven’t posted for a while. Part of the reason for it is some feeling of apathy on my part. I keep encountering people who just refuse to hear my arguments about dangers of what Obama administration is doing domestically and internationally. On the other hand, not everything is bad: they do seem to make some responsible decisions, like the ones with restoring military commissions and blocking the release of photos of some GIs mistreating prisoners. Obama is now planning a trip to Europe and the Middle East. Apparently the trip includes a stop in Normandy to commemorate 65th Anniversary of the D-Day, a stop in Germany and in Egypt. The stop in Germany is what concerns me. I recently received an e-mail with a link to this story:
In a move aimed at healing the rifts of American foreign policy decisions, President Obama will make a trip to Europe next month, including a trip to Dresden, Germany. The trip will consist of several stops and the President will meet with the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany. Also slated are several policy speeches.
Perhaps the most controversial is a planned speech in which President Obama will formally apologize for American ‘war crimes’ during the Second World War. This would be particularly comforting to Europeans, who have long condemned American foreign policy actions, especially regarding civilians.
This speech will also be welcome in Germany, who had over 12,000,000 of its citizens killed during the war. Mayor Johann Krupp of Augensburg in Saxony stated to DW that the speech will "help my great-uncle’s soul rest. He burned to death during the Dresden bombings."
I then followed a link provided by Weasel Zippers. There it all seemed like some sort of satire. I could not find this story at the Deutsche Welle web site. Could it be satire? I started digging some more. I found this Gateway Pundit post on the subject with more links. Do follow those links and read the articles there. And if you have have time for just one of them, go to this Pajamas Media article. It does seem that Obama is planning to go to Dresden and apologize at the very least for the Dresden bombing. Bookworm also has a post on the subject of Obama going to both Buchenwald and Dresden, where she points out that the myth of Dresden bombing just to terrorize German population and the city of Dresden having no military value was started by none other than Josef Goebbels. And here we come to the book review. The definitive book on the subject of Dresden bombing is "Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945" by Frederick Taylor.
In the book Mr. Taylor proves beyond any doubt several things. First of all, the number of people killed was exaggerated 10-fold. As such, with 25 to 30 thousand people killed, Dresden did not have the most casualties of all the cities in Germany. The largest absolute number can be claimed by Hamburg, and the largest percentage of the population can be claimed by Leipzig. Further, Dresden also had significant number of legitimate military targets. First of all, it was the largest railroad junction in the Eastern Germany, through which the German Eastern Front was supplied. The Soviets requested in Yalta that Allies would bomb the German supply routes, and the Allies obliged. Dresden also had large tank repair shops, clearly a military target. Additionally, Dresden was home for a factory making communication equipment for the German Army and a factory making bombsights for the German bombers. The local cigarette factory was making rifle ammunition, since the equipment used for stuffing cigarettes can be also used for stuffing rifle rounds. Indeed, if you look at the history of Dresden, the ancient capital of Saxony, the claim that the city was devoid of any industry of military value would understandably seem as ridiculous as it really is. It is true that the city did not have much heavy industry, but it did have what in modern parlance would be called "high tech". All the jewelry historically produced in Dresden would just naturally evolve into it. The reason why Goebbels claimed the Dresden, of all other German cities, was an ultimate victim was because Dresden was a popular tourist destination before the war, particularly for the British and the Americans. The claim of Dresden victimhood was dismissed at the time. Obviously, in February of 1945 it was impossible to know that the war in Europe would end in May. But with the start of the Cold War the Soviets and their East German puppets were eager to paint the Western Allies in the bad light, so they resurrected the old Nazi lie. Now the blame-America-first crowd on the Left is eager to repeat it.
Other things that Frederick Taylor proves in the book are:
1. The blame for the high number of civilian death should placed squarely on the city Nazi leadership who built the nice bomb shelters for themselves, but neglected to provide adequate shelters for the population;
2. There was no strafing of the ground targets in Dresden by American escort fighter aircraft. Indeed, anyone who even played a Combat Flight Simulator game (this or this) knows that any air combat invariably sinks close to the ground, as the fighters maneuver and try to restore their air speed. So, imagine an American P-51 Mustang attacking a German Fokke-Wulf FW-190 from above and behind (a common mode of attack), close to the ground. The Mustang pilot lines up the German in his sights and opens fire. He scores some hits. But where do you think the bullets that missed the German aircraft go? That’s right, down to the ground. Now, what if you are a civilian on the ground and you did not see the Fokke-Wulf, but you did see the Mustang shooting, the tracers from its machine guns streaming to the ground? It would obviously seem to you like the Mustang was strafing something on the ground, even though the Mustang was in fact shooting at the German aircraft. Indeed, the air combat did take place during the day, when Americans bombed the railroad junction. But there were no ground targets to strafe, so there were no strafing attacks by the the American escort fighters.
The bottom line, this book should be required reading for anybody who wants to at least attempt to understand history. For President Obama it would certainly be better to read this book rather than the crap Hugo Chavez gave him.
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Over the last weekend Captain Philips of Maersk Alabama was freed from pirate captivity. I was very worried that the ransom demanded by the pirates would be paid, but that did not happen. Instead, 3 of the pirates were killed and the 4th was taken into custody. Many of my fellow Conservatives, including some in the comments of this LGF post, insist that Obama Administration does not deserve any credit for the successful conclusion of the Captain Philips’ drama. They insist that the only credit should go to US Navy SEAL team who executed the rescue operation. Mark Levine on his radio show pointed out that all Obama did was that he authorized the US Navy to secure the release of Captain Philips by all means necessary, including deadly force, and that is why he did not deserve any credit.
Well, let’s give credit where credit is due. To be sure, the credit for the most part goes to the US Navy and SEAL snipers who actually did what needed to be done. But here is why I think Obama also deserves some credit: he authorized the US Navy to secure the release of Captain Philips by all means necessary, including deadly force, and then got out of the way. That was exactly what he should have done. If it was Bush, we would all be screaming how well he handled the situation. Obama deserves the same. He let the pros take care of things and did not cause the pirates to be paid off. If the Captain was killed, we would all blame Obama, and rightly so. He also deserves to be praised for success.
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