Saturday, November 20, 2004
The constant drumbeat of failure from the left will never stop because they don't have a realistic view of what can be accomplished. They are expecting this ravaged disfunctional country to turn into Mayberry, or the O.C. when they should be hoping to get a Compton, Washington D.C. or a Detroit. Measured against these standards there is no chance of success. The Neo-cons have done an awful job of setting expectations. The article I linked to above is a very realistic look at what we can accomplish. And what would be an reasonable success metric.
Nor will the killing end with January's elections. "If your goal is the cessation of violence, the situation is hopeless," said George Friedman, chairman of Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a private intelligence firm. "But that's not a reasonable goal for a country like Iraq." What can be achieved, Friedman argued, is containing the violence and enabling a functioning, legitimate government to emerge, as has taken place in such terrorist-plagued places as Spain's Basque country or Northern Ireland. Like -- ironically -- the Israelis, Iraqis may not see an end to car bombs and suicide bombs in this generation. But the coming months may buy them peace enough to breathe, and to vote.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Post-Vietnam, the military raised the performance bar--for acquired skill sets, new-recruit intelligence and not least, self-discipline. The thing one noticed most when watching the embedded reporters' interviews last year on the way into Iraq was the self-composed confidence reflected throughout the ranks. And this in young men just out of high school or college.
It was no accident. Consider drugs. In 1980, the percentage of illicit drug use in the whole military was nearly 28%. Two years later, mandatory and random testing--under threat of dismissal--sent the number straight down, to nearly 3% in 1998.
Today recruits take the Armed Forces Qualification Test. It measures arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, word skills and paragraph comprehension. The current benchmark is the performance levels of recruits who served in Operation Desert Storm in 1990. The military requires that recruits meet what it calls "rigorous moral character standards."
This article explains why Charles Rangle and Michael more are full of it. We have a professional Army. A skilled Army. My friend in the reserves says they don't even recruit in poor neighborhoods anymore because its a waste of time.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
To Quote Prometheus 6. "...which is exactly why George Bush wouldn't join the World Court" as he links to the insanity comming out of the UN.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Monday, November 15, 2004
He still performed important, even vital roles. In 2002, he prioritized a personal diplomacy offensive spearheaded by his closest friend and loyal right hand man, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to defuse dangerously escalating tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.It good to see that someone in the press has remembered that Colin stopped a nuclear war in 2002. There is no greater testament to his years of service.
It was one of the great, unsung diplomatic success stories of the first Bush term. South Asian diplomats and Pentagon and State Department insiders were seriously alarmed about the possibility that a full-scale war could break out between the two giant nations that between them comprise one fifth of the human race. Powell and Armitage played key roles in averting the threat.
I am sure his greatest disappointment of his last four years, has been that the UN refuses to work towards its stated goal. Whether it was not following up on resolution 1441, or deciding for inaction in the Sudan.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
But not for the reasons you think. Has anyone ever seen a study about the decline in crime being a function of the lack of profitability in being a criminal? I was thinking about this earlier today. I make a good salary as a web developer. Even with taxes taking about 1/2 of it. I can't imagine making more money as a criminal without working much much harder.
In 1976, if you broke into someone's house and stole a VCR, you stole a $1000 item that you could probably sell for $500, or at least $250. Today, if you stole a VCR you would be lucky to sell it at all. Why buy a stolen vcr when you can buy a new one for $50? I recently bought a DVD player as a gift for $30. In a world where anything of value that an average person wants can be earned from two days of minimum wage labor, there is no need to buy stolen goods. The market for common stolen goods has dried up until there is no market demand for common stolen goods. In addition to the lower prices for high demand luxury goods, we have also had a huge expansion in the availability of credit for lower class Americans. So there is no need to deal with criminals to get the products they desire. I suspect even muggings are less profitable since people carry less cash due to Bank Cards and credit cards.
If I decided to become a full time mugger, I would probably work outside of cash machines, since that is where people have the most cash. Let's assume that $100 is the amount of cash most people leave a cash machine with, since all machines have quick cash $100. To make a median salary of $40,000 a year, a mugger would have to mug 400 people a year. Working 5 days a week, 50 days a year, you have to mug 8 people a week. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a real job to me. The only advantage to being a criminal is that you don't have to pay taxes on your criminal income. But you have that really bad disadvantage of going to jail, and no health coverage. Also, since your income is illegal, you are not able to qualify for mortgages or other financial advantages that come with having a legit job.
Old school crime that high school dropouts could make money on is no longer profitable. It seems that more criminals are moving into less socially destructive crimes, like retailing for illegal DVDs and counterfeit consumer goods. More highly educated criminals have moved into spamming, identity theft, and other forms of fraud.
Anyway something to think about, maybe the conservatives are wrong that increased law enforcement has decreased crime, and liberals are wrong that legalized abortion has decreased crime. Maybe crime no longer pays and that is why there are fewer criminals.