Filed under: Politics | Tags: Restoring the Old Russia, Russian President, Vladimir Putin
CBC’s “The Passionate Eye” presents The Putin System – a point-of-view documentary that presents an ominous view of what Putin is willing to do to ensure Russia regains its position on the world stage. (2012)
The Putin System chronicles the remarkable life of Putin, a tough, young leader who is not afraid to make harsh decisions and holds a secret purpose-to restore the old Russia of his dreams.
The Putin System is directed by Jean-Michel Carré in association with Jill Emery for the French production company Les Films Grain De Sable.
Filed under: Capitalism, History, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: The Holodomor 1932-33, The Soviet Story, Who Was Worse?
A question that occasionally comes up in conversation: “How come the villains are always Nazis? We hear constantly about the Nazi concentration camps, but never about the Gulag. Stéphane Courtois’ The Black Book of Communism and Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror alone should make it clear that Russia is not exactly going to respond cordially to ‘reset buttons’ or pleas for conversation, even when we have more ‘flexibility.’ Or perhaps Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, Anne Applebaum’s Gulag: A History, Or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’ s The Gulag Archipelago. Why do we choose not to know, when the information is right there? How can our administration be “astonished” when the Russians choose not to risk losing their Black Sea port and access to the Mediterranean? This is the country that planned and carried out the Holodomor — The Great Terror, on the Ukraine.
This is long, an hour and a half film from 2008, that probably most people never saw. If you can’t spare that much time now, make time to watch it later.
Filed under: Capitalism, Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Politics, The United States | Tags: Claremont Review of Books, Hidden Freight Behind Words, The Misuse of Language
In the current Claremont Review of Books, Wilfred M. McClay, Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, reviews Fred Siegel’s Revolt Against the Masses. This excerpt is his introduction to his subject, but I found it fascinating in itself. I’m familiar, of course, with the term “the narrative,” but there is so much obfuscation going on with our language that I was just inclined to put it aside. Mistake. Very worth pondering this development, aided by focus-group testing of words for their persuasive value. Minds must be subverted.
We have this term now in circulation: “the narrative.” It is one of those somewhat pretentious academic terms that has wormed its way into common speech, like “gender” or “significant other,” bringing hidden freight along with it. Everywhere you look, you find it being used, and by all kinds of people. Elite journalists, who are likely to be products of university life rather than years of shoe-leather reporting, are perhaps the most likely to employ it, as a way of indicating their intellectual sophistication. But conservative populists like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are just as likely to use it too. Why is that so? What does this development mean?
I think the answer is clear. The ever more common use of “narrative” signifies the widespread and growing skepticism about any and all of the general accounts of events that have been, and are being, provided to us. We are living in an era of pervasive genteel disbelief—nothing so robust as relativism, but instead something more like a sustained “whatever”—and the word “narrative” provides a way of talking neutrally about such accounts while distancing ourselves from a consideration of their truth. Narratives are understood to be “constructed,” and it is assumed that their construction involves conscious or unconscious elements of selectivity—acts of suppression, inflation, and substitution, all meant to fashion the sequencing and coloration of events into an instrument that conveys what the narrator wants us to see and believe. These days, even your garage mechanic is likely to speak of the White House narrative, the mainstream-media narrative, and indicate an awareness that political leaders try to influence the interpretation of events at a given time, or seek to “change the narrative” when things are not turning out so well for them and there is a strongly felt need to change the subject. The language of “narrative” has become a common way of talking about such things.
One can regret the corrosive side effects of such skepticism, but there are good reasons for it. Halfway through the first quarter of the 21st century, we find ourselves saddled with accounts of our nation’s past, and of the trajectory of American history, that are demonstrably suspect, and disabling in their effects. There is a view of America as an exceptionally guilty nation, the product of a poisonous mixture of territorial rapacity emboldened by racism, violence, and chauvinistic religious conviction, an exploiter of natural resources and despoiler of natural beauty and order such as the planet has never seen. Coexisting with that dire view is a similarly exaggerated Whiggish progressivism, in which all of history is seen as a struggle toward the greater and greater liberation of the individual, and the greater and greater integration of all governance in larger and larger units, administered by cadres of experts actuated by the public interest and by a highly developed sense of justice. The arc of history bends toward the latter view, although its progress is impeded by the malign effects of the former one.
The review is interesting as well. The Claremont Review of Books, a quarterly, is one of my favorite publications. A great bargain. You can subscribe at the link, but there’s lots of good stuff there.
Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Developing Nations, Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Environment, Junk Science, National Security | Tags: Anti-Chemical Activists, Genetically Modified Food, Organic Food Fables
Food prices are up, and manufacturers are trying hard to keep you from noticing. Cereal boxes remain the same height, but they are thinner. Baker’s chocolate, formerly in 8 oz. boxes, now comes in boxes that are about ¼” smaller in every direction, contains half as much chocolate “NEW! 4 oz. Easy Break Bar, Same great chocolate. ” Still the same great price, for half as much. Sugar packages have lost a pound of content. I don’t like seeing food prices climb, but I object even more to manufacturers’ attempts to fool me.
If we insist, as a nation, on putting most of our corn crop into our gas tanks — the result is food price inflation. Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation. Core inflation is running around 2%, but the USDA said food prices would be up 3% to 4% last year. Corn ethanol does nothing for the climate, and it contains less energy than gasoline. You’re just paying farmers to grow fuel instead of food. A rise in the price of corn affects the price of other farm commodities such as meat, poultry, dairy and soy products. Congress ended the direct ethanol subsidies in 2011, but the renewables standard remains, and it is the biggest factor. Food prices hit the poor the hardest, and the ethanol mandate is essentially a tax on the poor.
“Organic” foods have been heavily promoted. They cost about 30% more than non-organic foods, but the label “organic” means only that growers used “natural” fertilizers and “natural” pesticides, but pesticide residue does not cross the conservative safety thresholds set by regulators. Natural fertilizer refers to animal manure —pathogen-laden animal excreta. “Organic” is supposed to be better for the natural environment, but it isn’t so, it just uses more land. The term “organic” refers to the practices and procedures a farmer intends to use. It does not indicate superior nutrition, flavor, or healthful qualities. It’s not better for you, just more expensive.
And for sheer silliness, consider the locavores. Now that with modern transportation we can have summer foods in the winter, plentiful vegetables when it’s snowing out, and strawberries all year around, the purists insist on locally grown food, with the suggestion that it is much fresher. But there’s not much local in the winter, and it may be flown in faster anyway.
Environmentalists are the loons who care more about the environment than about people. Fringe anti-biotechnology activists are hell-bent on banning anything containing a chemical. Chemicals are bad. A current interest is genetically modified food. Modify people’s genes as much as you want, select the desired sex and attributes of your potential baby, but don’t modify plants to be more resistant to disease, or insert a gene for Vitamin A to prevent blindness, as in “golden rice,”— an incalculable benefit to parts of the world dependent on rice, yet lacking the essential vitamin in their food supply. Better to have blind kids than mess with their food. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) are not GMO skeptics, as they like to portray themselves, but fringe anti-chemical activists operating on the “precautionary principle” or the theory that if something is ‘suspected’ of potentially causing harm, you have to prove that it will not.
We are growing more food on less land, the green revolution, that will help to feed a hungry world. Food for the Poor is asking for help to feed starving Guatemalan children. Egypt is having trouble feeding their own people. We have over 17 years of successful GMO cultivation, millions of acres, hundreds of millions of servings and not one instance of adverse health or environmental effects. It is a remarkable achievement, and there are far more achievements in the pipeline.
Biotechnology offers an unparalleled safety record and demonstrated commercial success. Remarkably, however, biotechnology might not reach its full potential. In part, that’s because outspoken opponents of GM crops in the U.S. have spearheaded a “labeling” movement that would distinguish modified food from other food on grocery store shelves. Never mind that 60%-70% of processed food on the market contains genetically modified ingredients. In much of Europe, farmers are barred from growing genetically modified crops. Even in Africa, anti-biotechnology sentiment has blocked its application. In Zambia, for example, the government refused donations of GM corn in 2002, even as its people starved.
Opponents of GM crops have been extremely effective at spreading misinformation. GM crops don’t, as one discredited study claimed recently, cause cancer or other diseases. GM cotton isn’t responsible for suicides among Indian farmers—a 2008 study by an alliance of 64 governments and nongovernmental organizations debunked that myth completely. And GM crops don’t harm bees or monarch butterflies.
Anyone who cares about alleviating hunger and protecting the environment should work quickly to remove the bias against GM crops. A good first step is for educated, scientifically literate people to avoid being taken in by the myths about genetically modified food. These innovations have too much potential to empower individuals and feed the world to be thwarted by falsehoods and fear-mongering.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Humor, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: Andrew Klavan on the Culture, Extremism, Nothing Changes
This video from Andrew Klavan on the Culture is a couple of years old, which just goes to show you that nothing much changes. Nancy Pelosi is not Speaker any more, but nothing else is all that different.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, or something like that.
Filed under: Environment, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, News | Tags: Endangered Species, From Mongolia, Przewalski's Horses
This handsome little fellow is not a nod to our political opponents, but a Przewalski’s foal, born at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in England, helping to preserve a species that was once extinct in the wild. Due to hunting and competition with livestock for water and pasture, Przewalski’s horses became extinct in Mongolia, their last refuge in the wild, in the 1970′s. This male foal was born last October and was the first born at Port Lympne in a almost a decade. Through a cooperative captive breeding program, the species has been bred in captivity and protected. After successful reintroductions to the wild , Przewalski’s Horses were listed as Critically Endangered, and revised in 2011 to just Endangered. The birth of a new foal is another vital step in continuing to protect this rare species. Here he is with mom.
Zoos have come a long way just in my lifetime. Visit zoo borns often to see the good work they do, and the cute offspring of species you never heard of.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Environment, Freedom, Health Care, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Disgraceful Decisions, Environmental Extremism, Humans Don't Count
King Cove, Alaska is a remote town in the Aleutians of around a thousand people. It’s a fishing village that has a tiny airport which is often locked in by gale-force winds and fog. The town has a clinic, but no doctor and no hospital. For trauma cases, childbirth and complications of all sorts, they must get to the all-weather World War II airport in Cold Bay, 22 miles away, for transportation for the 600 miles to Anchorage, doctors and hospitals.
King Cove requested of the Interior Department a 22 mile-long, one-lane gravel road to Cold Bay which would allow for all-weather access to lifesaving medical care. Etta Kuzakin, a 36-year-old King Cove resident who serves as Agdaagux tribal president, needed an emergency Caesarean section in March after going into early labor with her now 9-month-old daughter. Giving birth in King Cove could have killed her and her baby. Medevac flights into King Cove were grounded by ugly weather. Ms. Kuzakin waited in labor for ten hours until a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew her out in the afternoon.
“If there had been a road, it would be two hours out,” she said. “I sat there in labor not knowing if I was going to die or my kid was going to die. Pretty traumatic.” Fishing is also hard work, and injuries are common. According to local Aleutian elders, 19 people have died since 1980 because bad weather during emergency evacuations prevented them from getting out.
Sally Jewell, U.S. Interior Secretary, met with Aleutian citizens in the gymnasium in King Cove, to hear their request for a simple one-lane gravel lifeline to a dependable airport. Ms. Jewell, former head of REI, told her King Cove audience that “I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals.“ She rejected the road, saying that “it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge.”
The assorted kinds of waterfowl with which I am familiar are a moveable species. If a truck is coming down a road, they are capable of moving off or across a one-lane road. These are not flightless species. Bears can manage to cross roads as well as other species to be found in the Aleutians. What could this woman who calls herself an “environmentalist” have possibly been thinking?” A waterfowl’s potential annoyance at having to move from a road trumps human life every time? Well, that’s environmentalism for you every time. Self-righteous in their passion for wildlife; callous and cruel to humanity. Obama can really pick them. Disgusting.
Filed under: Economy, Environment, Freedom, History | Tags: Idaho's Clearwater River, Loggers and River Men, The Last Log Drive
Northern Idaho had a splendid stand of white pine. Logging on the upper Clearwater river began in North Central Idaho in 1928 and continued until 1971. That last great Log Drive, was an historic ninety-mile river trek from the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Clearwater down to the Potlatch mill, the world’s largest white pine sawmill, at the confluence of the Clearwater and the Snake River at Lewiston, Idaho.
The 1971 Log Drive was described as the last major white-water sawlog river drive in the United States. In 1971, the completion of the Dworshak Dam meant the end of log drives and inundated the stretch of the North Fork of the Clearwater. Most drives started about May 10th and lasted about 21 days. In the spring, loggers prepared for the snow melt and rising waters. The Wanigan was assembled— a floating cookhouse with two bunkhouses that would follow the drive down the river. Food, tools, safety equipment and work-boats were prepared. It was a cold, harsh and dangerous environment for the river men. Their job was to recover any logs hung up on the banks, sand bars or islands and send them on their way again.
In the early years of the drive, flumes were built from the woods to the bank of the river. Tree lengths were skidded down to the river then bucked by sawyers into saw logs about 16½ feet long. Peavey crews accompanied the logs, keeping them moving, breaking up jams and sometimes having to dynamite jams to get them moving again.
This picture gives you an impression of the mass, and the potential for jams. The men wore heavy caulked boots with thick leather soles and steel caulks for traction on the logs.A slip could not only send you into icy water, but the logs were dangerous. Work boats were originally bateaux with oars, then outboards and they eventually developed jet boats with powerful engines that could help to pull logs out of jams.
After a day of cold, hard dangerous work, three hot meals a day were important and the number one priority on the drive was a good cook. The company furnished the best cook and the best food they could get. Hearty meals meant a lot, and the work developed good appetites.
Here a wanigan hits a patch of white water — this wanigan will have a bunkhouse on each end, with double steel framed bunks, with warm wool blankets and an Arctic heater that burned presto logs for warmth at night, and in the middle the cookhouse with a smaller stove than most kitchens, and a cook who also had to pilot the raft.
Here’s a good shot of the peavey men at work. They still make peaveys, and there are still lumber mills and lumber mills have mill ponds, but the big log drives are gone forever.
Here is a longer photo-essay with more pictures, if you are interested in the days when real men did hard things, in God’s country.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Politics, The United States | Tags: Focus Group Tested Words, Telling the Truth, The Poverty Line
President Obama, speaking yesterday in Connecticut said:
Nobody who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.
Nice warm sentiment. Who could disagree? But this is the triumph of nice words, as is customary from this president, over reality.
A person who works full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, earns more than the official poverty line. We can’t win “the war on poverty” until we start talking about it truthfully. See here. It’s a game played to get votes, not to actually improve anyone’s life.
Improving lives is not a game, and is done with a growing, thriving economy that provides jobs for those who want to work, and take pride in the work they do.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, History | Tags: Changing Times and Needs, Long Lost Occupations, Things People Used to Do
He made the night a little brighter
Wherever he would go
The old lamplighter
Of long, long ago
Here’s a gallery of pictures of extinct occupations. Jobs that have been bypassed by time and technology. Times change and we mostly change with them. Some occupations remain in the hands of craftsmen who cater to those with an affection for historic times. Buggies and buggy whips are still made. Somebody makes stone boats. Peaveys and ice tongs are made. Historic reenactments are popular, and they need be equipped. I saw a stone boat in action a while back at a meeting of a draft horse preservation group. People have all sorts of interests, and groups spring up to share them. You can find them if you really look., and it can be worth your time.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Freedom, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, The United States
Elizabeth Scalia, the Anchoress, came up with the best single sentence observation of the day:
“The man’s sense of himself has been over-indulged to a reckless point.”
Her article is excellent, and here. Elliott Abrams article on the interview President Obama gave to Jeffrey Goldberg which shows a chief executive who has learned nothing about the world in his five years in office. Must reading.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Taxes, The United States | Tags: No President is Above the Law, The Meaning of the Constitution, What is a Law?
Cynthia Burwell, Director of the White House Office of Management And Budget testified before the Senate Budget Committee on the problematic problem of President Obama’s just submitted budget. Currently, federal discretionary spending is capped by the Ryan-Murray comprehensive spending bill that President Obama signed just 10 weeks ago. So ranking Republican Jeff Sessions asked Ms. Burwell whether the president’s budget increases spending above the Ryan-Murray level passed by Congress and signed by the president into law.
Cynthia Burwell, presidential appointee, refused to give a straight answer to a simple yes or no question. She implicitly acknowledged that the president’s budget does indeed pay no attention whatsoever to the agreement that Republican and Democrats agreed to less than three months ago. She kept claiming that it is “paid for.” That simply means that in addition to ignoring the spending caps, the president’s budget raises taxes to pay for it. Sleazy work from a sleazy administration that is choosing to ignore the limitations the Constitution places on his actions. Out of control and unrestrained by reality.
I am a great admirer of the fearless Senator Jeff Sessions.