The Kristallnacht

…that isn’t happening:

The Daily Beast’s John Avlon insists that Vanderboegh’s rallying cry, combined with some threats and broken windows, make “the parallels, intentional or not, to the Nazis’ heinous 1938 Kristallnacht . . . hard to ignore.”

Actually, it’s really, really easy to ignore the parallels. During Kristallnacht, Nazi goons destroyed not just 7,000 store windows but hundreds of synagogues and thousands of homes. Tens of thousands of Jews were hauled off to concentration camps by the Nazis, who had been in total power for half a decade.

This combination of state power and murderous, genocidal intent is nowhere on display in America today, not in the Obama administration (contrary to what some overheated right-wingers claim) and certainly not among out-of-power conservatives and “tea partiers.” It’s amazing anyone needs to point this out, but a few fringe libertarians’ throwing bricks to beat back an expansion of government is not the same thing as the tightening fist of the National Socialist Third Reich. Indeed, it’s an anti-American slander to suggest anything like it is going on here, and it cheapens the moral horror of the Holocaust.

Don’t tell that to the Democrats and their media transmission belt, who largely turned a blind eye to partisan vandalism and extremist rhetoric against Republicans for eight years but now express horror at what they claim to hear from the right.

Their libelous audacity and hypocrisy is breathtaking.


…and change:

The U.S. standard of living, says superstar Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon in a new paper, is about to experience its slowest growth “over any two-decade interval recorded since the inauguration of George Washington.” That’s right, get ready for twenty years of major-league economic suckage. It is an event that would change America’s material expectations, self-identity and political landscape. Change in the worst way.

…America faced a similar turning point a generation ago. During the Jimmy Carter years, the Malthusian, Limits to Growth crowd argued that natural-resource constraints meant Americans would have to lower their economic expectations and accept economic stagnation — or worse. Carter more or less accepted an end to American Exceptionalism, but the 1980 presidential election showed few of his countrymen did. They chose growth economics and the economy grew.

Now they face another choice. Preserve wealth, redistribute wealth or create wealth. Hopefully, President Barack Obama will choose door #3. Investing more in basic research (not just healthcare) would be a start, as would slashing the corporate tax rate. A new consumption tax would be better for growth, but only if it replaced the current wage and investment income taxes. Real entitlement reform would help avoid the Reinhart-Rogoff scenario. The choices made during the next few years could the difference between America in Decline or the American (21st) Century.

Unfortunately, we have to wait at least two and a half more years to get rid of Jimmy Carter II.

Who Lost Chechnya?

Putin should be asking himself, “Why do they hate us?”

In the Caucasus itself, the brutal policies of Putin and his local henchmen have managed to totally alienate most of those that had not already been killed or driven into exile, and have given a huge boost to the jihadists at the expense of the centuries-old moderate Sufi Islam of the region. His failure has come at a staggering cost. The region’s economy has essentially collapsed, with unemployment rates of up to 80 percent, complete dependency on Moscow subsidies for bare economic survival, and “total corruption” as the rule, according to the Kremlin itself.

More significant still for the long-term, a decade of Putin has achieved something that seventy years of Soviet Communist rule were unable to do: generate a nearly universal animus for Russia and the Russians among the locals. The result has been an ongoing mass exodus of ethnic Russians from the region bringing their share of the population from more than a quarter in the 1980s to less than 10 percent today. Indeed, places like Chechnia, Ingushetia, and Dagestan seem to be on their way to becoming Russian-free, except for the few in mixed marriages. Given this reality on the ground, it is difficult to imagine Moscow holding onto these territories except through an unsustainable military occupation.

And more subway bombings. He’s uncorked the Jihadi bottle.

More Thoughts On “Progressives” And Eugenics

Jonah Goldberg has some follow-up thoughts from his earlier post:

Which brings us to the first emailer, who sees eugenics as “social Darwinism” on speed. I think this a very common way of thinking about social Darwinism and eugenics, and I think it is entirely wrong. The salient point about social Darwinism, as laid out by Herbert Spencer, its chief author and the man who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” is that it was an argument for radical libertarianism. Spencer was a passionate foe of statism. He was precisely the “‘Laisser Faire’ individualist” Webb had in mind. This is why it is so infuriating when liberal historians and intellectuals blame Spencer for eugenics, Hitler, etc. Spencer would have been horrified at all that. Why it should continually be news to some liberals is beyond me: but the Nazis were not laissez faire.

The missing piece of the puzzle is what the historian Eric Goldman and others have called “reform Darwinism.” This was the view that Darwinism legitimized state interference on eugenic grounds. Holmes’s expressed desire to use the law to “build a race” was quintessential reform Darwinism. Buck v. Bell was reform Darwinism. Holmes’s ridicule of Spencer in Lochner was perfectly consistent with Holmes’s statism and his reform Darwinism. The problem we have today is that any concept of reform Darwinism has dropped out of the discussion. All people remember is the term “social Darwinism,” which is supposed to describe both Hitlerism (hyper statist) and radical laissez faire (the opposite of hyper statism). Social Darwinism may be bad on any number of fronts (bad politics, bad science, bad philosophy, bad morals, etc.) but it isn’t statist.

Leftists who attempt to distance themselves from Hitler like to emphasize the (trivial) differences between Hitlerism and Stalinism, while ignoring the much more important commonality — both were murderous totalitarianisms, and (as Jonah notes) hyperstatisms. The difference was pretty much transparent to the user. And the notion that Nazism was “right wing” doesn’t sit very well with the notion that libertarianism is. Something has to give in this mindless left/right taxonomy.

The Goal Remains The Same

Laurie Leshin attempted to tamp down the mindless hysteria over the new space policy yesterday:

The new plan represents “a change in approach and philosophy, but not a change in goal,” said Laurie Leshin, NASA deputy administrator for exploration, in a speech yesterday at a Marshall Institute event on space exploration policy in Washington. “The goal remains the same: to see human explorers out in the solar system.” The new focus on “sustainable and affordable” human space exploration isn’t that new, she said, noting that it was emphasized back in 2004 by the Aldridge Commission that evaluated the Vision for Space Exploration (a committee she served on when she was a professor at Arizona State University.) “We’ve come back to needing to have new and enabling approaches in order to make this a sustainable program for the future.”

To emphasize the need for technology development—one of the cornerstones of the new plan—to enable sustainable human space exploration, she put up a chart showing the mass needed to carry out the latest version of NASA’s Design Reference Mission for human Mars exploration. “If today, with today’s technology, decided we wanted to go to Mars, our mission would have a mass about 12 times of the space station,” she said. “It’s just impossible.” Various technologies, from reducing cryogenic boiloff to in situ resource utilization, can get it down to a more manageable level, she said. “It’s not that these technologies are nice to have, they’re absolutely required if we’re going to have a sustainable path out into the solar system.”

I wish that people would understand what a hopeless dead end Constellation was. Regardless of the new policy direction, its rotting carcass had to be cleared from the road. I assume that we’ll be seeing a lot more details and specifics in the coming weeks and months (probably at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in a couple weeks).

[Update a few minutes later]

One of the things that encourages me about the implementation of the new policy is that Dr. Leshin, the new head of the Exploration Directorate, was on the Aldridge Commission, and understands better than most the need for affordability and sustainability recommended by that body. I suspect she’ll do a lot better job than Mike Griffin’s NASA of implementing all, or at least most of the Aldridge recommendations.

There’s Got To Be A Catch

…and there is:

…as a result of the Obama decision, the Interior Department will spend several years conducting geologic and environmental studies along the rest of the southern and central Atlantic Seaboard. If a tract is deemed suitable for development, it is listed for sale in a competitive bidding system. The next lease sales — if any are authorized by the Interior Department — would not be held before 2012.

Emphasis mine. And the entire west coast remains off limits. Which is too bad, because the Santa Barbara platforms could be producing oil within a year. For the refineries that the California government refuses to allow to be built. At least until we change it out this fall.

This looks more like lip service to pretend to compromise, than a serious energy production proposal.

Too Trusting

Spammers are starting to move into the social network sites:

Most social networks have internal messaging systems for communication between members. Petre’s group examined that of Facebook, which boasts 5 percent of the world’s population as its users. While Facebook has an antispam engine, the group found that it was better at filtering out phishing e-mails than preventing spam messages from getting through.

The group started by creating fake profiles to trick users into friending them. They created three profiles, one containing almost no information about the user, one with some information, and one with detailed information. They used those profiles to join popular groups and began sending out friend requests.

Within 24 hours, 85 users had accepted a request from the first profile, 108 from the second, and 111 from the third. Petre says that acceptances began to accelerate, since more than 50 percent of the time, users would accept the request if they shared a “mutual friend” with the fake profile. In some cases, he says, users would send a message asking for more information about how they knew this supposed new friend. The researchers didn’t respond to these requests, but in many cases, Petre says, users accepted the request anyway.

The researchers then posted a link without any explanation to the fake profiles’ walls, using a URL shortener to obscure where the link went. Almost 25 percent of the profiles’ “friends” visited the link, Petre says.

I am pretty picky about who I friend on Facebook. I will generally only accept people that I’ve met in meatspace, or at least had previous interactions with on line. Simply having mutual friends is not sufficient. I might friend someone who I don’t know if they provide a message explaining why they want to be my friend, but never if it’s simply a generic friend request. This just seems like basic common sense to me.

Liberty Over Big Government

Michael Barone writes about the Tea Parties and the great ongoing debate about the purpose of America:

The Progressives had their way for much of the 20th century. But it became apparent that centralized experts weren’t disinterested, but always sought to expand their power. And it became clear that central planners can never have the kind of information that is transmitted instantly, as Friedrich von Hayek observed, by price signals in free markets.

It turned out that centralized experts are not as wise and ordinary Americans are not as helpless as the Progressives thought. By passing the stimulus package and the health care bills the Democrats produced expansion of government. But voters seem to prefer expansion of liberty.

The Progressives’ scorn for the Founders has not been shared by the people. First-rate books about the Founders have been best-sellers. And efforts to dismiss the Founders as slaveholders, misogynists or homophobes have been outweighed by the resonance of their words and deeds.

The Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that “all men are created equal” with “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has proved to be happily elastic. It still sings to us today, thanks to the struggles and sacrifices of many Americans who gave blacks and women the equality denied to them in 1776.

In contrast, the early Progressives’ talk of an “industrial age” and an outmoded Constitution sounds like the language of an age now long past. Their faith in centralized planning seems naive in a time when one unpredicted innovation after another has changed lives for the better.

The “progressives” are retrogressive. A set of “elites” (who are elite only in terms of their power, not their intellect or competence) running the lives of the rest of society is the oldest idea in human history. It was opposition to such a notion on which the Constitution was based.

And central planning works no better with space policy than with any other.

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