Showing posts from March, 2011


The Unsolved Problem of Labor

Both national and local newspapers have made a great show of commemorating the Triangle Waist Company fire , a horrifying event in which women working in a sweatshop burned alive or fell to their deaths. The Triangle fire was not the only example of sweatshop abuses, but it was the most horrifying, and even a 100 years later it is being used by labor advocates to make a point. But that point may not be what they think it is. A century later there are still sweatshops not very far from the former building that housed the Triangle Waist Company, which has been absorbed by the spreading blot of the NYU campus. The women who work in these sweatshops are not Jewish and Italian, but Chinese. They make from 1 to 3 dollars an hour -- and 90 percent of them are members of unions . Many of the NYU students who go in and out of the Brown building, where hundreds of women died, wear trendy clothing made in sweatshops. The clothing is not cheap, it is cheaply made. Those students who wanted a

The Known Unknowns of Libya

The Libyan war may be dumbest war we have ever stumbled into. It is a war where the Secretary of Defense has admitted we have no national interest, a war where we don't know on whose behalf we're fighting or why we're even there. A war that the White House did not bother to run by either congress or the American people, except after the fact. A war that appears to be fought at the behest England, France, their oil companies, and a motley collection of Libyan rebels ranging from former regime thugs to Al Qaeda. A week after launching it, the administration still can't get its own story straight as to why we're fighting it at all. According to Obama, he went in because he refused to wait for images of mass graves. Other things he refused to wait for were basic intelligence, stated objectives and congressional approval. It took us ten years to decide to remove Saddam, it didn't even take Obama ten days. Was there any indication that there would be the implied g

Sitting in the Dark

Forget the World's Fair, we now have a new way to celebrate human accomplishment. Instead of going to see a vision of the future, we turn off the lights and sit in the dark for an hour. Earth Hour shows how far we have come from celebrating human accomplishment to celebrating the lack of accomplishment. For all its pretentious activism, environmentalism is a movement that promotes inaction. Don't build, don't create and don't do-- are its commandments. Turn off the lights and feel good about how much you aren't doing right now. Slacker morality at its best. While we take the electric light for granted-- to be able to read and write after dark by a clear light is a technological achievement that has transformed our civilization. Animals are governed by day and night cycles. Artificial light made it possible for us to work independently of the day and night cycle. There is no way to measure the increase in knowledge gained. And there is no better measure of the unt

Saving 1 Billion People from Themselves

The West is almost as in love with improving the world, as the Muslim world is with conquering it. These two contradictory impulses, the missionary and the warrior, intersect in the Clash of Civilizations. The Muslim world has two approaches to the West, underhanded deceit and outright terror. The former are considered moderates and the latter extremists. The West has two approaches to the Muslim world, regime change and love bombing. With regime change we bomb their cities to save them from their rulers and with love bombing we shamelessly flatter and appease them in our own cities. Westerners worry a great deal over who runs the Muslim world. Muslims do not care very much who runs Western countries. They prefer weak liberal leaders to strong ones, but they do not overall think there is a difference between them. Even the emplacement of a Hussein in the White House has not improved America's ratings in the Muslim world. That is because Muslims are religiously and culturally anta

The Massacre of Meaning

When terrorists planted bomb in a bag near a bus station killing a Scottish Bible translator studying ancient Hebrew, and wounding dozens more including six Americans -- Reuters decided it was time to explain to its audience what that peculiar Hebraic term, "Terrorist Attack" meant. "Police described the explosion as a “terrorist attack” — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike," Reuters elucidated. Reuter's term for a terrorist attack turns out to be "Palestinian strike" , which suggests a labor rally by terrorists demanding more virgins in paradise and more euphemistic media coverage. If such were their demands, then they got their wish. Terms like "terrorist" have been replaced by "militant". Militant does not tell us anything more than terrorist does. On the contrary it tells us much less. Terrorists carry out violent attacks, but militants can refer to anyone from zealous environmentalists to homicidal killers. The Ameri

Friday Afternoon Roundup - The State of Dysfunction

Obama's Libyan adventure has thrown a confusing wrench into the gears of the liberal reelection machine. Up until then it had been a fairly straightforward campaign, with the media touting an imaginary economic recovery, blaming a Republican congress for obstructionism, flirting with a government shutdown and organizing a labor pushback against economic reforms. Maybe taking some credit for Cairo. Simple enough. But Libya complicates things. The Nutroots already weren't too happy about Iraq and Afghanistan, or Gitmo or the return of military trials. The left's anti-war energy had already completely dissipated. But they could always close their eyes and blame Bush. But there's no blaming Bush for Libya. For the war without congressional approval or a complete lack of planning, no exit strategy and unclear objectives. This is your War(TM) on Obama(TM). Still wars boost the White House occupant's numbers... at least temporarily. Except Obama hasn't really util

The Second Time as Farce

 It was Hegel who said that history repeats itself because nations and governments fail to learn from it, but it was Karl Marx who added that history repeats itself a second time as farce. Which makes it all too appropriate that Obama is repeating the Bush era as farce. For years American liberals accused George W. Bush of being dumb and unserious-- only to elect a man who actually is dumb and unserious. Who announces a war in between his NCAA picks and a trip to Rio. Who has spent more time playing golf, than directing the war effort. Who spends more time in front of the mirror and the camera, than on policy. They accused Bush of running an imperial presidency-- and that is exactly what they got the second time around. A war without even the thinnest facade of congressional involvement. Without Dick Cheney being anywhere in sight. They accused Bush of having a Nazi collaborating grandfather, and their own grass roots efforts to elect an Un-Bush were funded by a philanthropic Nazi

A Little Energy is a Dangerous Thing

The word has come down from on high, and the word is "No More Nukes". By 'on high', I mean the editorial page of the Washington Post, and by 'word' I mean the unconsidered acknowledgment of a popular impulse. Nuclear power is as dead as offshore oil drilling was after the BP gulf leak. As dead as politicians want to make it. But you can't kill an idea, just pass it on to someone else. While the Washington Post wrings its black and white hands, China explores Thorium reactors . Thorium may not be the solution, but giving up certainly isn't. That's why China is doing a much better job of "winning the future" than we are. Their leaders actually set real world goals and explore every possible way of getting there. Meanwhile our leaders have become more dogmatic than those of a Chinese dictatorship, less open to new ideas, and always eager to pound the table for their dogmatically unworkable ideas. If there had been a Sputnik moment, it sho