Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Monday, February 26, 2007

The proper reaction to attacks

So often we see so-called anti-war activists use the deaths of our military men and women as excuses to quit the fight.

It is probably too much to expect that people not in the fighting would react the same way that buddies of the fallen react, but we could at least not take the opposite approach.

Here is an occasion when fighting men reacted to the enemy's attack on their platoon leader by redoubling their own attack:

Several of the younger Marines, weeping like children, ran to his side. Some of the older Marines briefly considered a mercy shooting. But Lummus kept urging them forward: “Dammit, keep moving!,” he uttered. “You can't stop now!”

According to the official report. “Their tears turned to rage. They swept an incredible 300 yards over impossible ground... There was no question that the dirty, tired men, cursing and crying and fighting, had done it for Jack Lummus.”

It's worth reading the whole thing.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Elementary, you ink-stained wretch

Do newspaper reporters and editors have to flunk an elementary arithmetic test as a condition precedent to entering their particular lines of work?

Notice how this article in the Kitsap Sun approaches their favorite cause, i.e., higher taxes:

Libraries Seeking More Bang for Their Book Buck
On May 15, voters will be asked to increase the property tax rate by 18 cents, to maintain Kitsap Regional libraries.

By Andrew Binion
February 24, 2007


Facing increasing demand for services and decreasing dollars, the board that oversees the library system serving most of Kitsap County voted Thursday to ask taxpayers for more money.

Notice that the headline claims the Kitsap Regional Library seeks "more bang for their book buck," but this phrase is not being used in the ordinary sense. The library isn't seeking to become more efficient, and thereby get "more bang for its buck." Instead, the library is simply seeking more bucks from the taxpayers.

Notice also that the lead paragraph claims the library is "facing...decreasing dollars."

Now, read what the ninth paragraph in this article has to say about the library's revenue:

During the years from 2001 to 2006, total revenues rose by about 3.1 percent a year while expenditures increased by 8.77 percent a year. To cover increasing costs, the district has used reserve dollars.

The significance of 2001 is that it was the last year in which the library could increase its property tax levy by roughly 8 to 9 percent a year. In 2001, the voters approved Initiative 747, which lowered the limit on annual increases in regular levies. Since 2001, the average annual increase in the library's tax revenue has been about 3.5 percent. (The "total revenue" increase of about 3.1 percent resulted from a reduction in non-tax revenue. When the library spent its reserve funds, it no longer received the interest income. Other sources of non-tax income have not increased, so there has been a slight decline in this part of total revenue.)

So, the library's tax revenues have been increasing since 2001, but not as much as they had before Initiative 747 was approved by the voters. And, although non-tax revenue has not grown since then, total revenues have increased by an annual average of 3.1 percent.

But wait, didn't the lead paragraph claim that the library was faced with "decreasing dollars"?

How can this be? They have been getting more dollars, but the reporter claims they have been getting fewer dollars.

The answer seems to be one of two things. Either the Kitsap Sun is attempting to mislead, or neither the reporter nor the editors can do elementary arithmetic -- even as elementary as recognizing that an increase is not a decrease.

Soon, the editorial opinion piece urging voters to approve the increase will appear in the Kitsap Sun. Will it, too, misstate the situation by claiming that the library has suffered a decline in its total revenue?

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jackasses plan to strand the troops

The height of cynicism? More like the depths, but John at Power Line otherwise describes the Democrats' betrayal quite well:

So the Democrats will do their best to make the United States' effort in Iraq fail, but without taking responsibility for that action, and then try to benefit politically from the country's defeat. Nice.

Damned jackasses.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Humor and Wisdom about Climate Change (Or is it "Global Warming"?)

Mark Steyn, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, takes a critical look at global warming/climate change/whatever policies, and leavens it with humor:

Most of us aren't reading the science, or even a precis of the science. We're just reading a constant din from the press that "the science is settled," and therefore we no longer need to think about it: The thinking has been done for us. Last week's U.N. IPCC "report," for example, is not the report, but a political summary thereof. As David Warren wrote in the Ottawa Citizen:

"Note that the IPCC report's conclusions were issued first, and the supporting research is now promised for several months from now. What does that tell you?"

Indeed. However, when you do read the actual science, you quickly appreciate that it's not by any means "settled" -- that there all kinds of variables. To quote the Finnish-Dutch big shots:

"There is general agreement that variations in the global (or hemispheric) tropospheric temperature are, at least partly, related to those in solar activity (e.g., Bond et al., 2001; Solanki and Krikova, 2003; Usoskin et al., 2005; Kilcik, 2005)."

Therefore: "Variations of the mean tropospheric temperature must include stratosphere-troposphere interaction." However: "A detailed mechanism effectively transferring stratospheric heating into the troposphere is yet not clear."

Whoa, whoa, come back. There's no point skipping ahead: The illustrated excerpt on page D27 from Roger Ebert's Anthology of Great Lesbian Movie Scenes was swiped by the delivery boy.

Accompanying this humorous look at the actual science and the raving proponents of doing something to avoid what they are sure will be catastrophe, Steyn makes the point that all of us, ravers or not, need to keep in mind. If the change is relatively small, and if the human contribution to that change is also relatively small (compared to the natural effect of things we neither control nor add to, like the sun's varying levels of energy emission), then we should avoid wrecking our economies and instead prepare to adapt. We will need the resources of thriving economies to adapt to the change.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It Was Wiser to Suspect Saddam Hussein

In his review of a book by Frank Rich, Christopher Hitchens includes a concise statement of Saddam Hussein's support of international terrorism -- and notes that when a majority of the American populace appeared to suspect Hussein of having some part in the September 11th attacks, they were wiser than many in the anti-war crowd (Emphasis added.):

Theater of War
A review of The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina, by Frank Rich

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted January 9, 2007
[This article appeared in the Winter 2006 issue of the Claremont Review of Books.]


For another instance of Rich's pseudo-forensic style, you might try the following:

"I don't think we ever said—at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein," Bush said in the spring of 2006. That is technically true, but it is really just truthiness: Bush struck 9/11 like a gong in every fear-instilling speech about Iraq he could.

Now, "truthiness" is a laugh-word invented by Steven Colbert who (along with his friend Jon Stewart and the other heroes of Comedy Central) is the beau ideal of what Rich considers to be the ironic. In this book and in his regular column, he gives "truthiness" a workout whenever he can. He clearly wishes he had coined it himself, and he has kept it going for perhaps a touch longer—may I hint?—than even Colbert might wish. Let us examine it in the present case. The administration did not, in point of fact and as Rich concedes, ever make the case that Saddam Hussein had sponsored the assault of 9/11. It did, however, strongly imply that he might have an interest in, or enthusiasm for, this kind of activity. And many Americans when polled were found to suspect him of an even more direct connection. Well, Saddam Hussein had sheltered the Iraqi-American fugitive who mixed the chemicals for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. He had allowed the internationally-wanted criminal Abu Nidal to use Baghdad as his headquarters. He had boasted of paying a bounty to the suicide-murderers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The man who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship, a certain Abu Abbas, who was responsible for rolling Leon Klinghoffer in his wheelchair off the vessel's deck and into the Mediterranean, had to be released when apprehended because he was traveling on an Iraqi passport. A diplomatic passport. The Baghdad state-run press had exulted at the revenge taken on America on 9/11. This does not exhaust the "truthiness" of the suggestion that Saddam Hussein might have to be taken seriously as a sponsor of nihilistic violence. Could one even suggest that those who thought so might be intuitively and even objectively wiser than those who thought it crass to mention Saddam Hussein and "terrorism" in the same breath? Not without being jeered at by Rich, who either does not know any of the above facts or who chooses not to include any of them in his proudly truth-centered narrative.

Even now, many of the passionate anti-Bush crowd occasionally repeat the lie -- claiming that Bush misled the people and caused them to believe that Saddam Hussein had a role in "9/11." But, it is obvious to anyone whose mind is not clouded by paranoia and hatred that suspecting Hussein of having had a connection to those attacks was anything but unwise. It was also rational to conclude that he presented a threat to us in the future -- which is, of course, the actual reason stated by the President in justifying the removal of Saddam Hussein.