Karl Rove offers Democrats advice on how to win the likely "knife fight" for the nomination at the Democratic party convention. It's interesting reading from a master political strategist.
Karl Rove offers Democrats advice on how to win the likely "knife fight" for the nomination at the Democratic party convention. It's interesting reading from a master political strategist.
Delays in announcing election results in Zimbabwe are causing concern on the part of observers and opponents to Robert Mugabe's regime:
HARARE (Reuters) - Regional observers endorsed Zimbabwe's elections as credible and fair on Sunday but long delays in issuing results stoked concerns that President Robert Mugabe was trying to cling to power by rigging the result.The election is the most important since independence, with Zimbabwe's economic collapse and a two-pronged opposition attack facing Mugabe with his most formidable challenge.
. . . . Mugabe, in power for 28 years, is being challenged by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and ruling ZANU-PF party defector Simba Makoni, who both accuse the former guerrilla leader of wrecking a once prosperous economy and reducing the population to misery.
Although the odds seem stacked against Mugabe, 84, analysts believe his iron grip on the country and backing from the armed forces will enable him to declare victory. The MDC accused him of widespread vote-rigging.
When a schoolteacher jumps to take the wheel after the driver passes out, let's applaud the teacher's quick action, but let's also ask why most school buses have no seat belts. Listen to this account of the incident and consider all the ways seat belts could have helped minimize serious injuries:
SPRINGVILLE, Ala. — The driver of a bus carrying 44 children on a field trip passed out at the wheel, and a teacher's quick actions kept the vehicle from careening into oncoming traffic, students said.
Math teacher Amy King grabbed the steering wheel and tried to straighten the swerving coach, witnesses told The Birmingham News.
The crash Friday sent 20 people to the hospital, including the driver and King.
King was thrown through the windshield and airlifted to UAB Hospital, where she was listed in serious condition, officials said.
"She jumped over and pulled the wheel," said Alix Romano, a Bryan Elementary School fifth-grader who sat near the front of the bus.
The bus, owned by Adventure Bus Charter & Tours Inc. of Sumiton, was headed north to Chattanooga's Tennessee Aquarium. It was the lead bus in a caravan with two other charter buses hired by the Morris school and cars driven by chaperones.
The bus sideswiped 200 feet of guardrail before it came to rest upside down in a drainage ditch about 30 miles northeast of Birmingham.
Wreckers had to lift the bus off one child, Springville Fire Chief Richard Harvey said. The wreck is being investigated by Alabama State Troopers.
First, kids were thrown from side to side as the bus swerved before the final crash. In the crash, the bus turned over completely. The bus then had to be lifted off a child who had presumably flown out a window or door. Most of these horrors could have been prevented or minimized if every child had been buckled in with the same kind of seat belt that is mandatory on all passenger cars.
By the way, this was a charter bus, so there is a possibility that it had seat belts. Based on early reports, it sounds as if most of the children suffered injuries but will survive. If there were seat belts on this charter bus, they undoubtedly helped in the rollover crash. If there were no seat belts in use, it is rather amazing that there were not more fatalities in this crash.
To understand why seat belts are critical, check out this surveillance video of a minor school bus crash and watch what happens to kids' bodies during the crash.
Having reviewed the arguments for and against seat belts on school buses, I am underwhelmed by the arguments offered against seat belts, most of which have been long since rejected as fallacious when applied to passenger vehicles. I am convinced that most of the so-called expert opinions offered against seat belt use on buses originate with school districts and governmental agencies that don't want to pay for seat belts, and some in the school bus industry itself. There seems to be a concerted effort to gloss over the truth, but every now and then it slips out. Here's an account of a tour bus crash involving elderly passengers just a few days ago that admits and explains the obvious:
The more seriously injured patients in the bus crash were flown to Sioux Falls for treatment. Avera McKennan hospital is treating ten of them.
Their injuries range from rib and spine fractures, to a head injury and a patient with a collapsed lung.
Dr. Don Wingert says if the elderly passengers would have been wearing seat belts, there could have been a lot fewer injuries.
Dr. Wingert says, “Everybody that was on the downside, got the people on the opposite side of the bus falling down on them. Certainly for what we saw, if seat belts were a regular part of buses, I think our injuries would be half or even much less than that.”
The arguments that are offered against seat belts just don't fly. The main argument is that school buses are compartmentalized with high seat backs and padding, minimizing how far a kid can fly in a crash. That argument has some merit for front and backward crashes (although a passenger restraint would make for a much softer impact than slamming against a seat back in the next row). The compartmentalization argument makes no sense, however, when it comes to side impact crashes and rollovers. If compartmentalization is so complete, how did a child fly out of a window in this latest accident and end up underneath the school bus?
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., launches a biography tour next week, which looks to tell the American people about his days as a POW in Vietnam, at least based on his new TV ad (watch HERE) introduced today in New Mexico.
In response, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean issued a statement, saying, “John McCain can try to reintroduce himself to the country, but he can’t change the fact that he cast aside his principles to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush the last seven years. While we honor McCain’s military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.”
The Republican Party has seized upon the term "blatant opportunist" to suggest that Dean is implying McCain is an opportunist for including his POW information in his TV ad.
RNC Deputy Chairman Frank Donatelli said, “Howard Dean owes John McCain an immediate apology and both Sens. Clinton and Obama should unequivocally denounce this disgraceful attack."
That's all noise. What's more interesting are the Dean quotes from 2004 that may come back to haunt him this year.
"The real issue is this," Dean said in March 2004, when endorsing formal rival Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., "Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America, a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?"
McCain, by the way, has been awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News
Zimbabwe has become a textbook example of how to destroy an economy through heavy-handed governmental intervention in the free market, including forced redistribution of wealth (farms were taken from white farmers to give to blacks) and foolish stopgap measures such as price controls (which not only failed to stop raging inflation but, predictably, created shortages and black markets). Most of Zimbabwe's current troubles can be laid at the feet of one man: Robert Mugabe.
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabweans lined up for hours Saturday to vote in elections that present President Robert Mugabe with his toughest political challenge in 28 years in power.
Voting was generally reported as peaceful but were some complaints of irregularities and minor violence.
The opposition accuses Mugabe of plotting to steal the election. Mugabe told reporters he would accept whatever results emerged and rejected the charges that he had already orchestrated his own victory.
"We don't rig elections," he said.
The economic collapse of Zimbabwe, once the region's breadbasket, has dominated the campaign. The opposition accuses Mugabe of misrule and dictatorship. Mugabe, appealing to national pride, blames the West — and charges his opponents as being stooges for former colonial ruler Britain.
In southern Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold, 78-year-old Moffat Simon Mabhena was among many who lined up to vote hours before the scheduled 7 a.m. poll opening.
"The message is very clear: We want to see change in this country," Mabhena said. "I have been here since 2:30 a.m. and it's because I want to see Robert Mugabe out."
Last July, the government of Zimbabwe was imposing price controls in an effort to stop galloping inflation. It was a predicatble failure. As I wrote at the time:
Things are going just swimmingly in Zimbabwe, where the very government responsible for runaway inflation is attempting to override the laws of supply and demand by mandating that all prices be slashed.
Yeah, that'll work. Let's check in and see how it's going so far, shall we?
Plain-clothes police sought to enforce Zimbabwe's new price controls by raiding shops yesterday as President Robert Mugabe's regime waged a desperate struggle against soaring inflation.
They roughed up shop owners and staff and arrested 20 businessmen. Shoppers swarmed over supermarket shelves in the capital, Harare, intent on grabbing "bargains".
Ministers claim that the inflation rate of 4,500 per cent - the highest in the world - is solely caused by greedy shopkeepers raising their prices for no good reason. Propaganda tries to portray businessmen as the true authors of the economic collapse - deflecting blame from Mr Mugabe.
But economists say that the prime cause of inflation is the government's huge budget deficit, which it deals with by printing more money. This immense borrowing requirement is, in turn, the result of the wider economic failure caused mainly by the seizure of white-owned farms.
Instead of dealing with the deficit, the regime has imposed draconian price controls. Last week, the authorities ordered shops to cut basic food prices by 50 per cent after retail prices had risen by 300 per cent in only seven days.
. . . . Shelves in supermarkets across Harare are swiftly emptying and police in full riot gear linger outside.
The new controls force supermarkets to sell food at below its cost from wholesalers. Unless the regime relents, there will be food shortages, empty shelves and, eventually, the closure of all shops.
"We won't be restocking. If need be, we might have to close shop rather than stick to government prices," said the manager of one store.
Doesn't anybody understand basic economics in Zimbabwe?
In October, after having imposed the price controls, Zimbabwe ran out of bread:
Zimbabwe's bakeries have shut and supermarkets have warned there will be no bread for the foreseeable future as the government admitted that wheat production had collapsed following the seizure of white-owned farms.
The agricultural ministry announcement that the wheat harvest is only about a third of what is required, and that imports are held up by lack of hard currency, came as a deadline passed today for the last white farmers to leave their land or face prosecution for trespass.
The maize harvest is expected to be equally dire and price controls to contain hyperinflation have emptied the stores of most other foodstuffs. The World Food Programme says at least 3 million people - one in four of the population - will need food aid in the coming months. It describes hunger in some parts of the country, which used to be a food exporter, as "acutely serious".
Around the world, too many on the left still believe that unequal distribution of wealth is the primary explanation for intractable problems of hunger and poverty. They support policies such as heavily taxing the rich and redistributing some of that wealth to the poor. They do not realize that poverty is a symptom of deeper troubles, not the cause. A nation's poverty is a usually a symptom of bad governmental and economic policies, including laws that interfere with the free market and destroy incentives to produce. Corruption, violence, and lack of basic human freedom don't help either.
“This is what Robert Mugabe has done to us, turned us into a nation of peddlers and beggars,” she said flatly, allowing her thoughts to then wander off into the future. “If he remains, we will just die.”
Zimbabwe started out as a prosperous breakbasket. Now, thanks to its forcible redistribution of wealth, it has turned itself into an economic basket case. A nation that once helped feed the world has no bread to feed its own people.
There is no surer way to make everyone poor than to take from the rich and give to the poor.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News
Some Very Surprising Facts
What is Racism?
The West now faces a new set of crises around racism. Here I will mainly deal with the Obama-related conundrums. Like all crises, this Zeitgeist is loaded with opportunity. The key problem is defining what race and racism are.
Out Of Africa
Most geneticists insist that race in humans does not exist. They are completely serious, they have been saying it for decades, and no one listens. Their opinions are based on facts, whereas our opinions are based on vague ideas. Geneticists reject the word race because genetically, there is not much “there” there. Within humans there are no known sub-species. All humans can mate with each other (or with Eliot Spitzer), and have children. Humans share the same global geographic range, can adapt to similar habitats, have the same nutritional requirements, and have huge genetic overlap with each other (roughly 99%). With effort, one can find some broad vague clustering of genetic traits which correspond to the continents Europe, East Asia, Africa, America and Australasia. However, the genetic similarities between people are huge compared to the small and highly variable differences.
The Cro-Magnon have disappered, leaving only us, one human sub-species that’s called Homo sapiens sapiens. (Nasrallah might be a Neanderthal.) The best evidence is that all Homo sapiens sapiens originated in Africa, and were black.
As black Homo sapiens sapiens migrated and spread throughout the world, their skin color changed a bit, possibly so they could produce Vitamin D where sunlight levels were low. Genetic color variants like this are common in nature. Many black bears are brown, and some are cinnamon-colored.
A small number of genetic variations made some people lighter skinned. Scientists have discovered a single genetic difference in whites that is responsible for about a third of the European whitening effect. A different small set of genetic differences lightened skin to make people look Asian. These were not albinos, the first light-colored variants were normal humans, they just looked lighter. (In my fantasies, they all looked like Haley Berry). Two sets of genetic variations produced lighter skin types, Europeans and Asians. (Another mutation may have produced Michael Jackson, but scientists are still investigating.)
So if skin color differs across our species, do other things differ, like intelligence, the ability to dance the limbo, or the occasional tendency to say “ooga booga”? Probably not, and data is still being collected. Recently the world’s most famous living geneticist, James D. Watson, said blacks are dumber than whites, and he had to quit his job. Was this fair? Well, scientists should get to say things that are true, no matter who they offend.
However, scientific research suggests that skin color has little or nothing to do with any particular individual’s intelligence potential. If an indigenous tribal child from Uganda was raised by white New York stockbroker parents, her mind would become pretty indistinguishable from her stockbroker parents. She would probably also sell short, over-promote dog stocks, and act like Broadway is the center of the universe.
But it’s not so easy to dismiss Watson’s comments outright. American youth who hang out at the mall, skip school, idolize rap, engage in petty theft, use drugs, and eulogize “gangsta” are not being very bright, no matter what color their skin is.
So if there is no such thing as race, then how can we have racism? This is where the sociologists and social psychologists take over, and they can pretty easily prove that humans can and do dislike other humans because of their “race”. I call it “Virtual Race” because it really exists, but only in our minds.
Vertebrates all tend to group things, and humans, with big brains and nuanced language, group a lot of things. Humans just made up the concept of race because some people look different from others. A black person and a white person can identify each other’s race about half a mile away (providing they’re not wearing burkas). In this sense, racism can be considered an error of cognition, where a particularly salient characteristic, skin color, gets associated with a bunch of other characteristics that are not in fact genetically related.
With Blacks and Whites, both sides then get in on the act. We not only stereotype each other, but we stereotype ourselves, and actually start behaving according to the stereotypes. We become racists about ourselves. Blacks and Whites separate ourselves from each other, and reinforce our own cultures from within, sharing values and behaviors. This makes each side more distant from the other “race”. At a party a while ago, a Caribbean woman stepped up to me and said, “Let me show you how to dance,” we both laughed, but I was glad for the help.
This means that when demographers examine how human characteristics correlate with each other, they see patterns of living that tend to group around characteristics of different “races” religions, and ethnicity. Blacks have higher school drop-out rates than whites. Whites have higher incomes. Blacks are more likely to populate inner cities, whites are more likely to populate suburbs. Mainly it seems, Blacks and Whites do these things to themselves, but is not correct to say that racist thinking is illogical. It is based partly on fact, whether we like it or not. As Condi Rice just said to the Washington Times, it’s what we do with those facts that will make things worse or better.
Consider the case of “marrying-out” among Canadian Jews. For millennia, Jews have been threatened from outside their culture, and it was safer to marry inside their faith. This also perpetuated “Jewishness” (that’s a euphemism for wearing too much jewelry and eating gefilte fish for no sensible reason). However, in places like Canada, Jews no longer feel very threatened, so many are “marrying out”. Shiksa’s (Christian women) are not so bad after all.
Lately, Jews are less stereotyped by Christians, and they also stereotype Christians less. They also stereotype themselves less. The strict virtual boundaries between Christians and Jews have begun to soften significantly, because neither side wants to enforce the boundaries. The deep concern is left to a few old-time anti-Semites and some worried-looking conservative rabbis.
Also, Asians in Canada eventually ignore most of the virtual racism baloney and go ahead to succeed very well amongst Whites. After three generations, they marry whomever they want, move to the suburbs, and start taking their kids to hockey practice. For them, the virtual boundaries are not worth enforcing.
Between Blacks and Whites, we still want to enforce the virtual boundaries between ourselves, and the reason seems obvious to me. We are distinctly different, we look different, and in the narrow human mind, that makes a big difference in how we handle the issue. The barrier seems too high. Interestingly, with Haley Barry or Obama, it does not seem so high. In other words, amazingly, the size of the perceived barrier is related to actually how black or how white we are.
With Obama’s parents, it is striking how black his father was and how white his mother was. Have a look yourself, and tell me that it’s not striking. Why is it striking? Because humans tend to group things according to how salient the differences are.
Brazilians, who are of every conceivable color and appearance, don’t seem to have much trouble figuring out who to marry. They just guess.
Racism is Normal
It's not a good thing, but it occurs in every person from time to time. Every group of people on earth who have been studied are prone to racism. The biggest problem is the failure to understand that racism is normal and it’s a continuum. It’s not an all or nothing thing. We all move back and forth across that continuum as time and events occur. There is no such thing as zero racism, that’s only a theoretical value. We are all a bit racist, more or less. So are my dogs, as I said, it’s common in vertebrates. One of my dogs has a thing about mini-schnauzers. She got attacked by one once, and now she hates them all. If a person says they’re not racist, you can stop listening and go do something else.
Strangely, Americans think they consist of two main races, when geneticists and other scientists can clearly see that there is huge genetic mingling. The crazy ‘rule’ is that if you have one drop of ‘black blood’, then you’re considered Black. (Remember, all Whites are descended from Blacks.)
George Washington Carver, the Peanut Thing, And Creativity
Every year in black history month people solemnly drag out George Washington Carver and praise him for inventing peanut butter. Don’t get me wrong, black scientists and inventors have done amazing things, but it is really strange to ignore all the other things Blacks have done for America and the world.
In addition to genetic mingling, Blacks have produced profound cultural mingling. Blacks are not an afterthought to American culture, to a large extent they ARE American culture. Name me one truly American cultural thing that was not invented by blacks. Not so easy, eh?
Ragtime, The Blues, Jazz, Scat, Swing, Gospel, Motown, R&B, Rock and Roll, HipHop, Ska, Rap, all Black inventions. Michael Jackson almost single-handedly invented the music video as we now know it. And Blacks are not done inventing music and entertainment, we can expect more in the coming centuries. For them it’s not so much a business as it is a Weltanchauung, a philosophy of life. So after we have listed all the music that American Blacks invented, is there anything that we can attribute to White Americans? Hmm, let’s see, there must be something... um, how about Neo-Celtic?
Fashion and design spawns another long list of Black innovations, including Zoot-Suits, wing-tips, dashikis, dreadlocks, Afros, corn-rows, pimped-out-cars, etcetera etcetera. As you can see in the photo, Capri pants may not have been invented BY Blacks, but they seem to have been invented FOR Blacks.
My central idea is that American Blacks and Whites are immensely creative. American culture and innovation comes from taking all the races and sub-cultures in the country and rubbing them together vigorously. Then things start to heat up.
Don’t Go There. Why not?
Some shocking revelations:
--Blacks have darker skins than Whites. Calling them African-Americans won’t do anything except confuse the Egyptians.
–Again, Whites and Asians are minor genetic variations from the original basic Black.
–Every group of people on earth who have been studied are prone to racism.
–Someday most humans will be light brown.
–North Africans have lighter skins than other Africans because they intermarried with whites. Some of those were white slaves they captured in Europe. Yes, that’s right, Blacks took White slaves.
–Disaffected American freed slaves started the African country Liberia. They made a mess of it, and Liberians are much worse off than American Blacks.
–If you’re Black or White, and you have no romantic interest in people of the other race, then in a very technical sense, that might be racist. But let’s not be stupid about this. Trying to be politically correct about love is a mistake. You can’t make yourself love someone, and you shouldn’t even try. If you have no romantic interest in someone, don’t date them, don’t marry them, and don’t bother worrying about it.
–Also, don’t have sex with someone of another skin tone because you’re drunk and the exotic look makes you horny. Love is based on love.
–If you’re White, and you claim you’re not racist, but you won’t live in a black neighborhood, then just admit you’re racist. Hypocrisy is an enormous waste of time and energy.
–Almost everywhere in the world, when men select a mate, they tend to prefer lighter skinned women. It’s not clear why. I don’t know how that plays out in Norway. What if your wife is transparent?
–When you’re looking for the bad guy who did it, and you announce it on TV, if he’s black, say so. You can even describe how black (or white) he is.
–No one is entitled to use victimhood to get things they don’t deserve.
--When you go to the beach with a few black and white friends, don’t pick up some bottles of SPF 30 suntan lotion for everyone. You will look like a dork.
–Racism will probably continue indefinitely in some form.
–Laughing about race and ethnicity is good for you. It breaks down virtual boundaries.
–It’s better to celebrate differences than hide from them.