I Should Be Working On A Serious Post…

On election tech and the California elections first, then Iraq second, then American Exceptionalism third.

But I can’t resist posting this:


(picture from Superbike Planet)

Nicky Hayden, the 2006 World Champion of Motorcycling. For those of you who don’t ride, you’ll note three things – he’s leaned over far enough that his knee is on the pavement, he’s tucked completely in so that he doesn’t slow the bike down at all. And he’s going sideways – drifting the motorcycle out of the corner. Ride fast, take chances, win the championship.

Congratulations, Nicky!! And to “Doctor” Rossi who crashed out after a bad start and has conducted himself with as much sportsmanship and class as he shows skill on the bike. Next Year!!

How Can People Say The Left Doesn’t Love America?

On one of my nonpolitical email lists, someone posted the following message:

If you really had to move away from the U.S. what country would afford you the most peace of mind/freedom from fascism?
New Zealand?
Canada has just adopted the U.S. No Fly list and has gone conservative, governmentally that is

To which these replies came in (quoted in their entirety):

“If I won the lottery today, I’d move to Iceland tomorrow.”

“here here”

“I’d go to Italy (they have better food than New Zealand).”

…and then I replied:

I’m so f@@king tired of people who have no sense of history or reality waving the “fascism” flag and promising to leave…

[snip], I’ll happily front $500 toward your plane ticket and help you on your way. Just stay out of the country for two years, and it’ll be yours with no other obligation. Anyone else want to come in on this with me?

You could go to the UK where complaining about an immigrant teacher’s accent gets you time in a holding station, or where you’re on government -sponsored TV everywhere you drive (and they track the license plates)…

You could go to France where criticizing an (arguably false) piece of TV news gets you hauled into court for defamation, and fined.

Or just skip to the head of the line and go to Venezuela, where protesting against the government gets you shot.

Or Iran, where you can have all the rights you want, as long as you’re straight, subservient, and don’t try and use the Internet or meet to complain about the government. Or especially meet on the Internet – like we are here – to complain about the government.

Don’t let the door hit you, etc…

Let me make it really, really clear. Why should anyone trust you with the keys to the country when you don’t love it enough to stay and fight to make it better?

And why should anyone pay attention to the notions of someone who thinks – seriously – that we’re looking down the barrel of a fascist state here in the United States?

“Losing Is Not An Option”

Omar, at Iraq The Model, issues a cri de coeur to the west about the war.

We need the decision-makers to rise above the rhetoric of who’s right and who’s wrong and focus on protecting the world from falling prey to the vicious enemies of civilization.

He’s right, of course. For too many of us the war is a tool to be wielded for political advantage – to frighten the electorate and shift votes right, or to decry and shift votes left.

The reality is that there is something real, and bad, over the horizon. We should neither deny its existence nor build it into something it is not.

And what I want from my leaders – and what Omar needs from them – is something other than fairy stories designed to frighten us or lull us to sleep.

I’ve met Omar, and shared meals with him. It’s personal to me.

If we’re not careful, it’ll be personal for all of us soon.

Europe Dying? Maybe not.

The Examiner has an editorial up suggesting that Europe may be a lost cause, as the freedom-loving flee the EU bureaucracy and looming Islamization, leaving behind the basis for an Islamic Europe – Eurabia, as some have put it.

I’m not so sure.

I think Europe is headed for some dark days, but I think that we’ll see a National Front/LePen politics emerge and that both the EUrocrats and Muslim population will get pushed back very hard by a far-right, nationalist politics.

That may not be as bad as Eurabia, from America’s point of view. But it won’t be good.

As a note about attitudes changing, note Thursday’s comments by the French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy:

“I have significantly evolved on the matter of the separation fence” said Douste-Blazy on French Jewish television TFJ on Thursday. “Although the wall was a moral and ethical problem for me, when I realised terror attacks were reduced by 80 percent in the areas where the wall was erected, I understood I didn’t have the right to think that way.”

Concern about a “Paris Intifada” does evolve one’s thinking, doesn’t it?

Blackfive’s “Blogs of War” Review

Mine is up at the Examiner.

While it is an obvious thing to do to honor our dead soldiers, the joy of a book like this – and of the milblogs it gives a snapshot of – is to introduce you to very real words of our living ones. They are a very real manifestation of Whitman:

“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear. “…

Fewer and fewer Americans know soldiers as the tradition of military service slips into history. Buy the book, meet some, and listen to them.

And when you buy the book, take a moment to send an email or letter to both the White House and the Secretary of Defense, asking why it is that midlevel Pentagon bureaucrats are choking off the ability of our troops to blog and of our bloggers (see this from Michael Yon) to cover the troops:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Mr. Yon;

I do not recognize your website as a media organization that we will use as a source to credential journalists covering MNF-I operations.

LTC Barry Johnson
Director, CPIC

Somethings speak for themselves. The war doesn’t, and we need the voices of Blackfive and his band of bloggers, and of Michael Yon, and of all the men and women serving to try and comprehend what’s going on over there.

Mining For Facts

Mr. Byron Calame
Public Editor
New York Times

Dear Mr. Calame:

Reading my Times RSS feed today, I noticed an editorial about mining: “Weakening the Fight for Mine Safety.

I read it with interest, and no small astonishment.

From reading the article, you’d assume that miners today faced conditions unprecedented in modern times, and that hazard and death were increasing rapidly under the Bush Administration.

I have many differences with the Administration – many of them detailed on my blog at www.windsofchange.net – but here I’m just puzzled.

Because when I looked into it, I discovered that death and injury rates during the Bush Administration were lower than those during the Clinton Administration.

I blogged about it here.


I went and updated my information – this was from March, 2006 – and got this result:

The average number of deaths from Jan 1993 – Dec 2000 was 89.37.

The average number of deaths from Jan 2001 – Oct 2006 was 62.33.

This took me a total of ten minutes, using publicly accessible records. I’d expect your institution to do better.

I believe in regulation – the air I breathe here in Los Angeles is tolerable because of it. But I also believe in honesty, and in looking at facts before I draw conclusions.

Over to you…

Marc Danziger

Poster Girl

Blackfive links to a Youtube video of Australian singer Beccy Cole.

Play it.

All by herself, she’s kind of the anti-Dixie Chick.

Watching that was kind of a break in writing about Iraq; the piece should be done tonight and is called “So – What Now, Hawks?” Standing up in support of the troops is a good thing, but it’s not in and of itself, policy.

Not running from your positions and beliefs and continuing to own responsibility for them isn’t policy either. But it’s a test of how much these beliefs and positions matter to you.

The L.A. Times’ “Mission Statement”

Amplifying the Examiner piece (…thanks for the link, Glenn!), I’ll add some more comments on journalism as I dodge writing the hard post on Iraq that I really need to do this week.

The Los Angeles Times is going through some changes. I still haven’t resubscribed – for now I enjoy the extra half hour I get in the mornings to talk to my wife and son. But I do read parts of it online, and I do have an abiding interest in seeing it become successful, because I have an abiding interest in seeing my city be more successful, and good media – blogs, newspapers, television and radio stations – are one of the keys to making it so.

In light of this, the Times is changing its look, it’s editorial pages, and all kinds of other things. And they’ve published a manifesto of sorts. It’s a “Mission Statement” for their editorial pages.

And, to be honest, it’s a useless piece of fluff.

Let’s go through some of it. the opening sentence is a good place to start:

The Los Angeles Times is a citizen of the city of Los Angeles, the state of California, the American nation and the world.

No, you’re not. You keep using that word – citizenship – and I’m not sure you know what it means. You’re a citizen of the United States, with a supreme obligation to the polity assembled around it; you’re members of the Los Angeles and California communities, with obligations within those communities (and between them, and between them and the greater obligation to the national polity). You’re a human being, which means you share some ethical and emotional obligations with all other human beings – but you certainly can’t claim citizenship with them, because there is no worldwide polity for you both to be a citizen of.

On the editorial page, the newspaper sets aside its objective news-gathering role to join its readers in a dialogue about important issues of the day – to exhort, explain, deplore, mourn, applaud or champion, as the case may be.

Sounds good to me. There’s a discussion to have about the objective news-gathering part, but we’ll put it aside for now.

The editorial page strives to reflect the dynamism of Southern California. The region’s iconic status as global entertainment capital, its entrepreneurial spirit and its extraordinary cultural diversity are among its distinguishing strengths, and we believe that all Angelenos should have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

You need to get out of West LA and Silverlake more. Los Angeles is also still one of the aerospace capitals of the world, one of the real estate development capitals of the world, one of the garment industry capitals of the world, and one of the automotive capitals of the world. I’m sure there are four or five more industries that are equally central to the LA economy and deserve pride of place on your pages. You won’t get to hang with stars as much, but you might learn more about how the city actually works and how the people here live.

We demand accountability from the people’s representatives in government, promote the rule of law and support policies that encourage commerce and growth and that raise living standards in the region.

We’ll get back to this.

Freedom is our core value. We feel a special obligation to defend civil liberties and human rights. Because newspapers and other news media, uniquely among businesses, enjoy and rely on a provision of the Bill of Rights that protects freedom of the press, we assume an obligation to defend the rights of all citizens.

Including the right to self-defense? Sorry, that was kind of juvenile on my part…

We reject overreaching moves by public authorities to control the culture or private mores. Citizens’ right to privacy, to decide for themselves how best to lead their lives, is fundamental. It is in keeping with our Western roots to champion individual autonomy and the freedom of conscience.

Back to this one as well.

The United States has developed into one nation whose citizens are engaged in a common enterprise and are entitled to live under the same basic framework of laws and enjoy their equal protection. And much as the bonds linking Americans have grown stronger over time, so too have the bonds among nations in the global economy. We believe that lowering barriers to trade and communication will lead to greater freedom and prosperity for all.

Yes, as long as that prosperity is measured by a Pakistani brickmaker’s standards. The leveling of worldwide incomes is good news – except to the folks who are getting leveled down. It’s also inevitable. So to cheerlead for trade like this without some understanding of the real impacts – here in Los Angeles, which used to, for example, be a center of furniture manufacturing – seems naive.

At home and abroad, we believe that free markets are the best engines of prosperity. We are deeply skeptical of government attempts to subvert markets to engineer economic outcomes, though we also believe that a private economy requires a robust public infrastructure and a social safety net to prevent some members of society from falling prey to unconscionable levels of poverty and privation that corrode our democracy.

An abiding commitment to preserve the nation’s natural treasures is also is in keeping with our Western roots. Californians understand that there is a need for society and government to protect wilderness, balancing the interests of growth and conservation, and to regulate human activity to preserve the quality of our air and water for generations to come. The market may be the best arbiter of economic activity, but in pursuit of environmental and public health goals, state regulation must often encroach on private behavior.

The government engineers economic outcomes all the time, in tax policy, in fiscal policy, in accounting, banking, and other forms of regulation (in addition to the environmental regulations they cite). You may support minimizing regulation – although that’s not what we see here or have seen in the Times in the past – but to suggest that the markets and regulations are somehow separable – seems naive.

Engagement with the rest of the world is a requirement of good citizenship. The United States should be an unabashed promoter of freedom and democracy in the world, ready to work with others to help ease the burdens of less fortunate nations. We believe that the United States should have, and sometimes must use, the strongest military in the world. It is also important to shine a spotlight on global development challenges that don’t necessarily dominate daily news headlines, and that is part of our mission.

And a muffled …and we need a foreign policy… Yes, we need to be and remain engaged with the rest of the world, not only out of obligation to our fellow humans, but because the reality of today’s shrinking world simply leaves us no choice.

The issue with talk like this, of course, is that it’s easy and meaningless. I’m for economic freedom. Limited, of course, by the need to prevent poverty. I’m for a dynamic economy. Limited, of course by the need to preserve the environment.

The rubber meets the road when you have to talk about where those limits are and how we – together – determine them.

I expect more from the Times. A lot more, if they want to start getting my monthly check again.

Meanwhile I’ll just keep talking with my son and my wife.