I never had a chance to work with the Isreali military back when I was wearing Uncle Sam’s colors. This makes me wish I had.
Will Scotland vote to break up the United Kingdom? It’s looking a bit more likely. Excerpt:
Scottish independence increasingly looks like an iceberg that could sink Prime Minister David Cameron’s government and the opposition Labour Party. And like the passengers on the Titanic, they never saw it coming.
Yesterday’s YouGov Plc poll putting the Yes vote on 51 percent sparked a fresh effort from supporters of the union to urge Scots to come back from the brink. About 100 Labour lawmakers will travel to Scotland this week to campaign for a No vote, while Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne offered more powers over taxes and spending to the Scottish Parliament — if voters opt to stay part of the U.K.
This is something that’s been simmering since the days of William Wallace, of course, and will have some pretty serious implications for the United Kingdom and the European Community (Will Scotland go on the Euro or keep their own currency? Will there be a Scottish pound?)
There is a similar separatist movement closer to us here in the States, too; maybe Scotland and Quebec could compare notes.
Scotland and Quebec do share some commonalities; a distinct culture (although English-speaking Scotland lacks the major difference of Francophone Quebec) and a contentious history with the containing country. There are probably as many Quebecois who remember General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the Plains of Abraham as there are Scots remember William Wallace and Falkirk.
The Quebecois separatists have been quiet of late. Scotland – well, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Some random tidbits this fine Monday morning:
Obama on Golfing After Foley Murder: ‘I Should Have Anticipated the Optics.’ No shit, Sherlock.
Speaking of the President: Ducking Lame Duck Status. Quite a few Presidents have achieved significant things in their second terms. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both did so, and with Congresses of opposing parties.
How Junk Science Spreads in Academic Journals. Thumbnail: Lots of people believe weird shit. Back in the 1990s when I was writing Misplaced Compassion, I ran into a woman on an animal-rights Usenet (remember Usenet? Man, does that make me feel old) forum who professed her belief that there was a city of superhuman aliens beneath a dormant volcano in (where else?) California. What’s more, she was adamant that those “Inner Earth Beings” would one day emerge and stop us eating our fellow vertebrates.
Seriously, some people really shouldn’t be walking around unsupervised.
On that note, we return you to your Monday, already in progress.
Our own Colorado is, of late, a peripatetic swing state, maintaining a rather schizophrenic purple status for the last few election cycles. Now, to challenge Senator Udall in this November’s election, we have Republican Cory Gardner, who is calling himself a new kind of Republican. Excerpt:
Senate candidate Cory Gardner has released a pair of campaign ads reaching out to Colorado’s all-important centrist voters, who have soured on some GOP positions, and cast himself as a “new kind of Republican” who supports over-the-counter birth control pills and renewable energy.
The TV spots released this week come in a close race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in a swing state that has become increasingly reluctant to elect conservatives as coastal transplants have pushed the politics to the left.
Democrats have won every top-of-the-ticket statewide race in Colorado since 2004, and Udall and his allies have followed the established playbook by attacking Gardner as being against reproductive rights and the environment.
But Gardner, a U.S. House representative, has hit back with his new ads.
In the first, which launched Monday, Gardner walks past wind turbines and asks, “So what’s a Republican, like me, doing at a wind farm?” He notes that he co-authored legislation, backed by a former Democratic governor, to create a state agency to support new Colorado renewable energy businesses. The ad’s female narrator calls Gardner “a new kind of Republican.”
You’ll forgive me, True Believers, for a little – no, a lot – of skepticism.
It seems that every time a Republican in a close race refers to himself as a “new kind of Republican,” or a “compassionate conservative,” what he really seems to be saying is “I’m tacking to the left to try to garner the moderate vote.”
Caveat: The term “RINO” – Republican in Name Only – has been overused to the point of meaninglessness. It has become too often used by anyone on the political Right to mean “any Republican who disagrees with me on any given issue.”
Isn’t the GOP supposed to be the party of smaller government? Free markets? Fiscal responsibility?
Isn’t the GOP supposed to be in favor of removing
Federal Imperial barriers to domestic oil and gas development?
Gardner is, unfortunately, playing right into Senator Mark Udall’s hands with this strategery. He is tacking towards positions that Udall can claim higher ground on; no matter how much Gardner comes out in favor of wind farms, Udall was already there, the firstest with the mostest on this issue.
But Gardner is making his position weaker, not stronger. To take out an incumbent in a tight race, you have to offer an obvious alternative – not a pale shadow, not a little bit of “more of the same, only slightly less.” Gardner should be running on fiscal responsibility, on energy independence, on a strong national defense, on the issues that the GOP is known for – and, in the not-particularly-humble opinion of yr. obdt., if he is going to tack, tack not to the left but to the libertarian, a position that will get him farther than presenting as a Democrat-Lite.
An interesting piece from PJMedia’s Richard Fernandez: Ring of Fire. Excerpt:
Peter Beinart’s widely quoted article in the Atlantic, “Actually, Obama Does Have a Strategy in the Middle East,” has the tagline “the president is neither a dove nor a hawk. He’s a fierce minimalist.” Nowhere in the article does Beinart explain the meaning of this cryptic catchphrase, except as an allusion to the president’s exquisite judgment. It seems an article of faith that Obama will neither bathe the world in blood like his predecessor nor remain passive, as conservative critics accuse him of doing. He will avoid excess and get it just right, like the Three Bears; neither too hot nor too cold. A fierce minimalist.
Unfortunately Beinart avoids defining what is just enough. Where is the Pole Star in this murk? No answer is attempted except that Obama will point it out and not because Beinart can explain where it is. He ends on a note of touching faith: “Barack Obama didn’t become president by tilting at windmills.”
No, Obama became president because people like Beinart believed he would take them to a different place than where they now stand, with each hour bringing a new humiliation and crisis. Roger Simon wrote on Twitter: “Not a single #liberal friend of mine wants to discuss politics now. They’re humiliated by Obama.”
Can we salvage the mess that is the Middle East today? It’s easy enough to say that ISIS may have arisen because of our interventions in Iraq and Syria, and it may even be true; perhaps ruthless thug-dictators are the only ones capable of holding Islamist shitbags at bay in Mesopotamia, and however bad a guy Saddam Hussein was (and this is speaking as someone who saw Kuwait City in February of 1991) he was mostly content to be a bad guy in his own country. Ditto for his Ba’athist scumbag partner Assad in Syrian.
But the fact it, ISIS has arisen, and all too many of them have British and U.S. passports. They want to kill Westerners in general and Americans in particular, and they make no bones about their plans to do it right here, on our own soil. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin continues kicking up his heels in Ukraine.
We may be very close to the kind of global conflagration we haven’t seen the like of since 1945. Will President Obama continue to dither while the world burns?
Mr. Fernandez concludes:
What happened? Somehow yesterday’s gentle campfires are now raging conflagrations. It would seem that of the two presidents, Franklin Roosevelt may have had the better understanding of fire. The president may think he’s in control. But maybe he’s not. The important thing is for the president’s supporters to stop kidding themselves. They’ve wasted enough time already without getting lost in catchphrases like “fierce minimalist.”
Fierce minimalist. If there ever was a contradiction, that’s one; and as anyone familiar with Aristotle’s Laws of Thought knows, contradictions don’t exist.
In spite of having lived and worked in Japan for a while, my command of spoken Japanese is pretty much limited to “Good morning,” “Thank you,” and “One beer, please.” So I don’t really know whether this game show event is the contest – or the prize.
Is it still Hump Day when it’s a short week? Well, close enough.
Here’s an interesting science-ey tidbit: On The Other Hand. Excerpt:
With almost complete certainty, I can predict that you, dear reader, are right-handed. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on it. I’d make the same bet if you were reading this in India or Iowa, Kansas or Kathmandu. And a hundred years from now, I’d make the same bet again.
I can be so sure of myself not because I am some prodigious prognosticator, but because about 90 percent of humans are right-handed. That phenotypic ratio—nine right-handed people for every lefty—is relatively stable, not just across cultures and geographic regions, but perhaps across the span of human evolution. The archaeological record suggests that hominins were predominantly right-handed as far back as 2 million years ago, and a 2010 study of the wear patterns on 32,000-year-old Neanderthal teeth found that this extinct cousin of Homo sapiens was likely about 88 percent right-handed.
Apparently since the right-to-left ratio holds up in antipodal locations like Australia, the Coriolis Effect is not responsible for the great skew in human handedness. Go figure.
How about you, True Believers? Yr. obdt. is among the aforementioned 90%, but loyal sidekick and hunting partner Rat is a southpaw, and I suspect he occasionally finds his right-handed 700 Remington awkward to handle in a hurry.
But there are occasional silver linings to everything. Some years back I found a nicely sporterized 1903 Springfield sitting on a gun show table, priced at the rather unbelievable $250, and finding no takers. It even had a rather old but perfectly clear Weaver 3X scope mounted.
“The damn thing has that left-handed stock on it,” the seller told me, “so nobody looks twice at it.” Sure enough, it had a nice blonde walnut stock with a cheekpiece – on what for me, was the wrong side of the stock.
I offered the seller $150. He accepted. I took the rifle home, took it apart, took a big cabinet rasp and scraped every hint of that cheekpiece off. After sanding the stock smooth and refinishing it with a nice linseed oil finish, I took the gun to the range and discovered it was a great shooter, easily putting five shots into an inch and a half with Federal 180-grain factory loads, with the old Weaver still in place.
Eventually I took the rifle back to a show along with the targets I’d shot with it and sold it for $375.
Opportunities are where you find them.
The Obama Administration is fond of claiming that the economy is recovering, but for the third year in a row, over 45 million people are on food stamps. Excerpt:
According to the Department of Agriculture’s most recently released data, the number of individuals enrolled in the food stamp program (known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) has remained above 45 million every single month for three years straight.
In May 2011, 45,410,683 individuals received food stamps. As of May 2014 (the most recent date for which data are available), 46,225,054 people were on food stamps. At no point between the two dates did the number of food stamp enrollments ever fall below the 45 million mark.
Food stamp enrollments have soared due to President Barack Obama’s categorical eligibility provisions, aggressive enrollment marketing, a bleak economy, and intense lobbying by large corporations who bag millions of taxpayer dollars as food stamp enrollments climb. Indeed, a report by the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) found that JP Morgan bagged well over half a billion dollars ($560,492,596) since 2004 processing the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards of 18 of the 24 states it holds contracts with.
Only last Friday we discussed where the food stamp program should be going, and how it should be administered. But on top of that discussion, there is one line above that is troublesome: “Food stamp enrollments have soared due to President Barack Obama’s categorical eligibility provisions, aggressive enrollment marketing…”
Why the holy living hell is the Imperial Federal government conducting “aggressive enrollment marketing” for food stamps? Who (aside from JP Morgan) is profiting from this explosion in transfer payments? Is it not enough that transfer payments have exploded right along with Imperial debt in the last six years – must we spend more taxpayer dollars to advertise these payments?
Is this the way to economic growth? No, it is not; not only no but hell no. This is the way to fiscal ruin.
Not really a blue Monday, but some traditions are too good to ignore. And speaking of totty, thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links! Make sure to check out the extensive Rule Five linkfest.
No links or news today – off here in a few minutes to enjoy a (for once) work-free Labor Day. But it’s worth noting that here we are on the first of September already, in the ninth month of a year that seems like it has only just begun. Where the hell does the time go? Upon a time it seemed the summer lasted forever, or as close as made no difference.
Within the next few weeks the aspen will be turning in the high country. Elk will start to bugle, the sage country mulies will be shedding antler velvet, and gangs of yearling grouse will be fattening on berries and grasshoppers, making them toothsome and ripe for the frying pan.
The year may be going by too quickly, but there is one consolation – some of the best eating of the year is coming up.