Monday, June 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Depressions

Read it and weep:

New findings:
  • World industrial production continues to track closely the 1930s fall, with no clear signs of ‘green shoots’.
  • World stock markets have rebounded a bit since March, and world trade has stabilised, but these are still following paths far below the ones they followed in the Great Depression.
  • There are new charts for individual nations’ industrial output. The big-4 EU nations divide north-south; today’s German and British industrial output are closely tracking their rate of fall in the 1930s, while Italy and France are doing much worse.
  • The North Americans (US & Canada) continue to see their industrial output fall approximately in line with what happened in the 1929 crisis, with no clear signs of a turn around.
  • Japan’s industrial output in February was 25 percentage points lower than at the equivalent stage in the Great Depression. There was however a sharp rebound in March.

To summarise: the world is currently undergoing an economic shock every bit as big as the Great Depression shock of 1929-30. Looking just at the US leads one to overlook how alarming the current situation is even in comparison with 1929-30. (Emphasis added.)
The good news, of course, is that the policy response is very different. The question now is whether that policy response will work. For the answer, stay tuned for our next column.

I'm not as sanguine as they appear to be about current policy being better than policy in 1929 - 1930.  For one thing, the sheer volume of spending that the Obama Administration has embarked upon is staggering, dwarfing anything dreamed of under FDR.  Moreover, if the Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade bill passes, its inclusion of tariffs will have a similar effect to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which helped set off a trade war deepening the Great Depression.

If you aren't taking steps to prepare for significant economic disruptions, what are you waiting for?

Deficits You Can Believe In

Projected Debt Under Obama

Read my lips: No new taxes

Just kidding!

I guess this campaign promise has already reached its expiration date.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod said the president won't rule out a health care reform bill that includes a middle-class tax hike.



Letter to my Senators Opposing "Cap and Trade"

I sent this today.  "Cap and Trade" will be a disaster for the United States if it becomes law.

Please OPPOSE the "Cap and Trade" bill currently being backed by the Obama Administration, and which recently passed the House.  If this bill becomes law, it will be a disaster for the United States.

Aside from being laden with pork and based on dubious science, the Cap and Trade bill includes a tariff on imports from countries which do not meet American pollution standards.  That includes major trading partners like China.  Just as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff worsened the Great Depression by inciting a trade war, Cap and Trade will damage global commerce already reeling from the effects of the current recession.

Further, even if American industry is saddled with additional carbon controls by Cap and Trade, foreign countries will not be, making us even more non-competitve with devloping nations like China and India.  That means even more Americans will lose their jobs, and the costs of imported goods will rise.

The American People oppose this odious bill.  Please listen to them, because if it's enacted and it causes further unemployment, American voters WILL remember it when it comes time to cast their ballots.

Thank you.

"Cap and Trade" passed the House last Friday but it still has to get passed in the Senate before it can go to Obama and be signed into law.  We still have a chance at stopping this abomination but only if the Senate hears from the American people.

You can find the contact information for your Senators at

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cabela's Traditional Hawken

One of the black powder rifles which I've been interested in for many years has been the Lyman Trade Rifle, which is made in Italy by Investarms.  This is a half-stock, percussion muzzleloader similar to other sidelocks which were very popular before modern inlines took over most of the muzzleloading market.  Unfortunately, while Lyman offers left handed Great Plains Rifles and Deer Stalker rifles, they do not offer the Trade Rifle in southpaw format.

A few years ago I noticed that Cabela's sells a rifle that they call a "Traditional Hawken."  It actually bear little resemblance to original 19th Century Hawken rifles, but I noticed that it bears a striking resemblance to the Lyman Trade Rifle.  It turns out that it, too is made by Investarms.  In fact, the Cabela's Traditional Hawken is basically the same as a Trade Rifle, with the addition of double-set triggers, a cap box on the stock, and different sights.  Best of all, it's available in left hand configuration.  Early last week I decided to take advantage of the 5% cashback I get with Cabela's for ordering after clicking through my Discover Card account page, and a Father's special that Cabela's was running on shipping.  The Big Brown Truck dropped off my new rifle last Thursday.  A couple of pictures of my rifle are here.

The rifle I ordered is in .50 caliber with a percussion lock.  It came with an Investarms user manual and a Cabela's guide to shooting BP guns.  The stock is made from some nicely figured European walnut.  Wood to metal fit is good and the blueing on the 29 inch barrel is well done.  The rifling twist is 1 turn in 48 inches (often expressed as 1:48).  This twist was typical of original Hawkens and is suitable for shooting either a patched round ball or conical bullets, so it's often referred to as a compromise twist.

The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation, and has a wide, curved-V notch, very similar to an express sight.  The front sight is a fine bead.  I'd prefer the square notch and blade setup found on the Lymans, and may change the sights.  A fiber optic front bead would be much easier to see against anything other than a paper target.

The rifle has a patent breech, in which the nipple screws into a bolster which is integral with the breechplug.  There is a flash channel through the bolster leading to the base of the powder charge. For ease of cleaning the barrel can be removed from the stock after driving out a retaining wedge.  This then allows you to put the breech end of the barrel into a bucket of hot soapy water and pump the cleaning solution through the barrel as you run a wet patch up and down the bore.  This gets the black powder fouling out quickly, and if the water's hot it will warm the barrel so that it dries quickly.

Today the weather finally cleared from about a week of rain, and I had some time to take the Hawken to the range.  Overall, I'm quite pleased.  Lock time is fast and I had no misfires.  The barrel is new and the lands are still sharp, so some of my patches are getting cut.  Once the bore breaks in after a hundred rounds or so, this should go away and groups should improve. As it is now, if I do my part it'll group into about three inches offhand at 50 yards.

The load I was shooting today consisted of a swaged .490 round ball, pillow ticking patches, Track of the Wolf's Mink Oil patch lube, 80 grains of FFg Goex black powder, sparked by an RWS cap.  I'm hoping that it will shoot the .480 balls I used in my longrifle well, which will help my logistics aside from being easier to load.  I'm also planning to try conical bullets like Maxi Balls or Lyman Great Plains bullets at some point.

Once I get the piece dialed in at 75 yards, it should be a good deer rifle.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Safari 4

I've been using Safari 4 since Monday and so far, it's been quite good.  Compared with Firefox it's much faster at loading pages, and seems to render most of them just fine.  I have run into a couple pages which didn't work.  E.g., when I tried to click through my Discover Card account page to Cabela's website, Safari hung on a redirect page, so I wound up using Firefox for that particular transaction.

Previously, the biggest thing keeping me in Firefox on my MacBook Pro was Adblock Plus.  It's much nicer browsing the web when you're not assaulted with obnoxious ads in Flash.  Faster, too.  Since installing Safari 4, I also installed the SafariBlock input manager, which uses the same block list as Adblock Plus.  SafariBlock appears to work as well as Adblock Plus.

One Firefox extension for which I'd like to see an equivalent Safari input manager would be Linkification.  In Safari if you pull up a page in which someone's typed a URL but failed to make it clickable, you can right click on it and then select to open it.  Linkification automates the process more, by recognizing such text URLs and making them clickable.

Overall however, so far so good with Safari 4.

Primer Availability

Reloading supplier Sinclair International posted this last month, but it explains the ongoing shortage of primers for reloaders.

We have had a lot of concerned customers calling to ask about primer availability. Actually, our lines have been flooded with calls regarding the availability of primers as well as the availability of other components. The easiest and quickest way to check on availability is through our new website, whether you plan on phoning an order in, ordering off the web, or using some other means. The following is our view on the current primer situation. Basically, there has been a two-pronged drain on primer supplies for the reloading market.
The first driving force has been the huge demand for loaded ammunition through 2008 and continuing into 2009.
I mentioned that there were two factors impacting primer availability; the first factor is creating the second one. Since ammo demand has consumed more of the primer supply than normal, the quantity of primers on the shelf has declined at the box stores, the reloading companies (like Sinclair), and the smaller gun shops. With the fast communication via the internet, the word spreads quickly and the result has been consumers stockpiling and hoarding primers. Individuals are buying and keeping more primers in their own personal inventories and this has prevented some reloaders from having any primers at all. We normally see people buying 1,000 or maybe 5,000 primers at a time, now we are seeing customers buying 25,000 at a time.
The manufacturers are trying to react as best as they can, but their primary driving force is to keep a steady supply of primers going to the ammunition plants because they generate more revenue through this output than they do through the reloading market. A guy from CCI called the other day to order some items from us for his own reloading, and he reported that CCI has been running 24/7 and is still falling behind. They are adding two machines to their line to increase production (I don’t know what percentage gain this will give them). Federal told us a couple of weeks ago to not be surprised if we don’t see many primers from them until the end of 2009.
Eventually everyone will have enough stockpiled, manufacturers should catch up with ammo runs, and the supply on the shelves will hopefully return. This happened in throughout 1994, just not to this scale.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Market Ticker: Ten Things You Must Do

I've been reading Karl Denninger's Market Ticker blog since last year to get a better-than-MSM perspective on the economy.  Denninger has a pretty good track record, and puts his entire record out there for everyone to see, which enhances his credibility.  Today he posted Ten Things You Must Do.  It is a must-read, IMHO.

Bottom line:  Prepare for things to get much worse before they get better.

New MacBook Pros

Today at WWDC, Apple introduced the latest MacBook Pros.  It appears that Apple has gone to the same non-user-replaceable battery design with the 13" and 15" MBPs that was introduced with the 17" unibody MBP.

I am very disappointed that the 13" and 15" MBPs will have the non-user replaceable batteries. Let me rephrase that: I'm pissed about it and may prevent me from ever buying another Apple laptop.

I've owned two Mac laptops since Dec. 2004, a G4 iBook and a 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro.  The iBook battery was recalled but I was able to replace it myself.  So far, I'm on my THIRD battery in the MBP; the first two lasted about a year each before battery life went to hell and Apple replaced them.  Both replacements were overnighted to me and since the battery simply pops out when you release a catch, it's easily user-serviced.

With the new design, if the new batteries need to be replaced and are covered by Apple, I'll still have to take the machine into one of the local Apple stores, which is a major waste of my time for something I should be able to fix myself.  This is a shitty design feature.

The next laptop I buy may wind up being a Thinkpad running Linux, or even Windows 7.  OS X and the apps that run on it are great but I am proficient with the other OSes, and the Thinkpad will be more serviceable.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Analysis of Obama's Speech in Cairo

On June 4, 2009, President Barack Hussein Obama gave his speech in Cairo to the Muslim world, seeking rapprochement.   In one sense it’s a typical Obama speech – it sounds like he’s on the campaign trail.  Upon a closer look, it’s puerile, disingenuous, and dangerous.

The transcript of Obama’s speech today to the world’s Muslims follows, with my observations interlineated in italics.  The source for the raw transcript is here:


I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world - tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Yes, most notably Islam was spread by the sword, dating from 622.  Mohammed and his followers spread their religion throughout Arabia and the Middle East by force of arms.  In 711, the Umayyads invaded the Iberian peninsula and had it subdued by 718.  Their reach extended into France, with their advance stopped at the Battle of Tours in 732, with Muslim control of some French territory lasting until 975.

Muslim control over Spain and Portugal lasted until 1492.  Islam’s last great threat to conquer Europe was stopped in 1683, when the Ottoman Turk advance were broken at the gates of Vienna.


Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

Just continuing the historical record.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

Islam divides the world into the Ummah, AKA the worldwide Islamic community, and everyone else.  Another term for Ummah is Dar al-Islam, or house of Islam, in contrast to the Dar al-Harb, or “House of War.”  That’s the Muslim term for lands not under Islamic rule, which should tell you something about how they view us.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

President, please.

What “progress” has Muslim rule brought in the last century?  Take a look at Saudi Arabia, ruled by fundamentalist Wahhabist Islam.  Ruled by Shariah law, which incorporates such progressive traits as treating women like chattel property and allows prepubescent girls can be married off by their fathers.

Tolerance?  Yes, Islam refers to Jews and Christians as “People of the Book,” but ones who perverted G-d’s word.  Yes, it allows peaceful coexistence under Muslim rule, if they do so as dhimmis – in effect second class subjects – and pay the jizya tax. 


I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." That is what I will try to do - to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

A Chicago politician speaking the truth.  Right.

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam - at places like Al-Azhar University - that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

If Obama is student of history, he gets an “F.”

Once again, Obama conflates the Islamic concept of tolerance with the American one.  In America, noone needs to pay a special tax or be a second class citizen because of his faith.  Further, dhimmitude has historically been extended only to Jews, Christians, sometimes Hindus and Sikhs.  Members of other faiths, e.g., Zoroastrians, Animists, and Baha’is have suffered greatly at Muslim hands.

Obama should also look at the Arab world’s historical record of enslaving black Africans, which continues to this day.


I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers - Thomas Jefferson - kept in his personal library.

Yes, let’s take a look at the early United States’ relations with Muslim North Africans.  In fact, the words Obama disingenuously quoted out of context in his speech are from the Treaty of Tripoli, precursor to US Naval action, in which the US first tried to buy off the Barbary Pirates.  Just as earlier Danegeld paid by Dark Age princes failed to forestall future Viking predation, this early American attempt at appeasing Muslim agression failed to protect American citizens, necessitating a military solution. 

Today, we remember this episode of early American history in the Marines’ Hymn, “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli….”   Only after we sent the US Navy and Marines to North Africa to clean house did the Barbary Pirates stop attacking our ships and enslaving Americans.


So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

Islam’s record speaks for itself, if we are willing to listen.  Ignoring it is pollyannish at best.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words - within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores - that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.

Interesting how it was verboten to use his middle name during the presidential campaign but now it’s OK.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

Yes, there’s a real epidemic of that happening in America.

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations - to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Islam is adhered to by only about 0.6% of Americans.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

Too bad a significant portion of Islam is at war with us.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

That's why we're partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths - more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism - it is an important part of promoting peace.

We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.

Oh great.  We spending more money we do not have.  Typical liberal: spending other peoples’ money for some pie in the sky goal.

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."

Thomas Jefferson also realized that diplomacy fails when both parties aren’t willing to talk.

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future - and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

One of the basic axioms of strategy is that you don’t let your enemy know of your plans.  Telegraphing our determination to vacate the field by a date certain tells them how long they need to bide their time, and strike after we’ve left.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

Once again Obama falls into the trap of thinking that our enemies think the same way we do.  Never, never, never, should you let your enemy know that you view some strategem is out of bounds.  You should always keep him guessing.  Because of the grandstanding by Obama and his fellow Democrats, our foes now have insight into our interrogation techniques and the limits which we’ll restrict ourselves to.

Worse, since our enemies have no such moral qualms against torture or executing captives, they now view us as weak.

So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The United States should always be respectful of other nations’ sovereignty.  That respect should end when nations engage in hostilities against us, or actively support such hostilities.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

As recently as last week, the Obama administration stopped the sale of AH-64 Apache gunships to Israel, while allowing a sale of them to Egypt.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

And the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the 1930s and ‘40s actively encouraged anti-Jewish riots in British-ruled Palestine, and was a guest of Adolf Hitler.  Mein Kampf remains a good seller in many Muslim countries.  For decades, Palestinian children have been spoon fed anti-Jewish propaganda.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

Question: Before the 20th Century, when was the last time that the Israel claimed by Palestinians was ruled by the indigenous people?

Answer: 63 BCE, when the Romans conquered the Jewish Hasmoneans.  After that, the area was ruled by a succession of Romans, Byzantines, various Arab caliphates, then Christian Crusaders, followed by the Turks until 1917 with the establishment of the British Mandate.

 Israel was never a “Palestinian” land.  Yet, when the United Nations drafted a plan to partition the Mandate into two separate states, one for Jews and one for the Arabs, the latter rejected it violently.  Instead, the new State of Israel was invaded by the armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Iraq.  Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco also sent troops to crush the nascent Jewish state.

In the wake of the 1948 war, rather than creating a state for Palestinians displaced from Israel, Egypt annexed the Gaza Strip and ruled it under martial law for two decades.  Likewise, Transjordan annexed the West Bank.

Yet, somehow, the plight of the Palestinians is the fault of the Jews.

In reality, the people now called Palestinians are a collection of Arabs held in thrall by fellow Arabs who exploit them for political purposes.


For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers - for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them - and all of us - to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

A good first step for be for the Palestinians and other Arabs to drop the call for the extinction of Israel.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.

This is about as likely as me being able to buy a bacon cheeseburger and a beer in downtown Riyadh.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

The last I checked, Israelis don’t go randomly launching rockets into Arab neighborhoods, blow up Palestinian buses, behead gentiles, or hijack airplanes and fly them Kamikaze-style into skyscrapers.

To paraphrase Gold Meir, we will see peace in the Middle East when Arab mothers love their own children more than they hate Israeli children.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

Yes, Arab despots must do this.  I’m sure they’ll get right on that.  Meanwhile, the Palestinians should be teaching their children to be productive people instead of destructive terrorists.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

We call those Israelis “Quislings.”

Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

Let’s all sit around the campfire and sing Kumbayah!  Who’s bringing the marshmallows?

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically- elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

The nuclear genie is out of the bottle.  It will NEVER be put back in.  To think otherwise is to deny human nature.

Moreover, we don’t want a world where responsible nations lack nuclear weapons.  Without the possibility of nuclear annihilation, the Cold War surely would have turned hot.

Unfortunately, not all countries can be trusted with nukes.  Some nations are ruled by the certifiably insane.  Iran and North Korea come to mind.


The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

Because the rulers of the Arab and Muslim world has such a great tradition of caring what their people think. For example, look at those paragons of freedom like Obama's host Egypt, or Libya, Syria, and Saudi Arabia!

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

Doesn’t steal from the people?  Like not transferring a trillion dollars from the American taxpayer to automakers and bankers???!?!?

Transparent, like ramming through a thousand page bill that not one person read through in its entirety?



There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments - provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

Once again, bullshit.  Islam’s view of tolerance is at odds with the American view.  See my previous comments.

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld - whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.

Muslim Americans are in no danger of losing their ability to fulfill the Five Pillars of Islam.

Try being a Jew in Saudi Arabia.  Oh that’s right!  You can’t!

Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

If a Muslim woman wants to wear a burka go right ahead.  Just don’t demand to be issued a state ID, e.g., a driver’s license, without smiling for the camera.

Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's Interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action - whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights.

I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

I’m sure this went over well with Obama’s intended audience.

Now let me be clear: issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity - men and women - to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations - including my own - this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities - those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

Just what has Islam done for us lately?


This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

How about we ensure that American students get the best education possible?  American taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize the education of non-Americans.  Just as Americans shouldn’t expect for other countries to pay for education of American students abroad.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

More money we DO NOT HAVE.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek - a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

I know there are many - Muslim and non-Muslim - who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort - that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country - you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

We call those people who recognize the gulf between the Western world and the Arab world “realists.”  The first step in bridging the gap is for the Arabs to stop blowing up other peoples' stuff.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort - a sustained effort - to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples - a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you.

Obama ignores and distorts both the past and the current state of affairs.  At best, he’ll be seen as a blowhard.  At worst, he’ll be seen as weak, inviting future attacks.  Only history will tell but my guess is that his speech to the Muslims will be viewed alongside Chamberlain’s trip to Munich in 1938.
This damn head cold is hanging on.  I did make it into the office today but wound up bailing out early at 15:00.  I did manage to get one of the SMC DOCSIS 3.0 commercial gateways provisioned and hooked up this morning to start evaluating.  It's currently connected in lieu of the SMC8014 which I've had at my desk since last year.

The SMC D3 gateway is physically larger than the 8014 and has four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports in place of the the Fast Ethernet ports of the older, D2 model.  The web GUI is the same custom one that SMC loads for us on the 8014, with the addition of 1000BaseT in the LAN switch config screen.  Some work was being done on our lab infrastructure today so I haven't been able to do serious performance comparisons yet.

I also reinstalled Virtualbox on Rohan, and installed Windows 7 RC into a VM.  With only a gig of RAM allocated to it it's a little pokey.  Changing to the Classic theme helped but it looks like 2 GB will be a realistic minimum to run W7.

After I got home I saw the UPS had dropped off the 2 GB stick of Crucial RAM I ordered through last week.  It's for Rohan, my MacBook Pro.  MBP's of Rohan's vintage accept a maximum of 3 GB of system RAM, I'd been running it with 2 GB.  (Current Apple laptops take up to 4 GB of RAM.)  With the goal of maximizing the machine's useful life I decided to max out the RAM.  I'm hoping it'll improve performance when running a virtual machine.

The next thing I may do to upgrade Rohan is a bigger hard disk.  It has the original 120 GB hard disk, which is on the small side.  With a larger disk I wouldn't mind allocating 20 or 30 GB to a Windows partition, for which I'm now lacking space.  Unfortunately, the pre-unibody MacBook Pros are not designed for easy hard disk replacements.  I'll basically have to take the thing apart, which based on the experience I had when upgrading the disk in my G4 iBook, will be a PITA.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Barack Obama, Fabian Socialist


Barack Obama is a Fabian socialist. I should know; I was raised by one. My Grandfather worked as a union machinist for Ingersoll Rand (nyse: IR - news - people ) during the day. In the evenings he tended bar and read books. After his funeral, I went back home and started working my way through his library, starting with T.W. Arnold's The Folklore of Capitalism. This was my introduction to the Fabian socialists.

Fabians believed in gradual nationalization of the economy through manipulation of the democratic process. Breaking away from the violent revolutionary socialists of their day, they thought that the only real way to effect "fundamental change" and "social justice" was through a mass movement of the working classes presided over by intellectual and cultural elites. Before TV it was stage plays, written by George Bernard Shaw and thousands of inferior "realist" playwrights dedicated to social change. John Cusack's character in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" captures the movement rather well.

We've been seeing this accellerate over the past several months.  Go read the whole thing.

Quote of the Day

"The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." 

--Norman Thomas, six-time Socialist candidate for President of the United States, 1948.

Rigging the Elections

First, the Obama Justice Department dropped the investigation of the widely-witnessed voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party that occurred last November in Philadelphia.

Now, the Obama Justice Department has stopped Georgia from verifiying that people are US citizens before being allowed to register to vote.

It seems that Obama and Holder is the newly depoliticized (cough) DOJ are doing what they can to transform us from a democratic republic to a banana republic.  ACORN will now be free to register anyone who can fog a mirror.

The people have four boxes available to them for preserving their liberty:

  1. Soap box.  Severely restricted, see McCain-Feingold.
  2. Ballot box.  Not anymore, apparently.
  3. Jury box.  Unfortunately, jury nullification is almost unheard of nowadays.
  4. Cartridge box.

We really don't want to get to number four.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Grumble, Cough, Hack, Spit


Saturday evening I started developing a sore throat and thought it was probably due to the huge amount of tree pollen that's been blowing around. Yesterday I woke up with a cough and all day I had a nasty taste in my mouth, which was only ameliorated with some 18 year old Elijah Craig Bourbon, neat.

This morning I woke up with no voice, so I called in sick. Aside from the persistent drip, coughing, and hacking, I feel mostly OK. Hopefully I'll be able to go into work tomorrow. Last Friday I received a couple of DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem gateways for evaluation and I'd like to get working on that.


So much for it being allergies. About an hour after I posted this it started getting worse. I definitely have something.