Victor Davis Hanson: War and History, Ancient and Modern

June 14, 2010

Michael Totten, a journalist I highly recommend who specializes in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, conducts a wide-ranging interview of historian Victor Davis Hanson. It’s long, but read the whole thing; you’ll learn quite a bit.

One item that jumped out at me came at the end, when VDH discusses an exchange he had with a European admiral just prior to Obama’s election. It’s revelatory on several levels of European attitudes toward and dependency on the United States, and their fear of us becoming like them:

I had an interesting conversation two years ago just before Obama’s election with some military people in Versailles. They were at a garden party, and everybody was for Obama. But an admiral said to me, “We are Obama. You can’t be Obama.”

Everybody looked at him. And I said, “What do you mean?”

He said, “There’s only room for one Obama.”

I said, “So we’re supposed to do what? Take out Iran while you trash us?”

And he said, “Right out of my mouth. I couldn’t have said it better. Bush understood our relationship. We have to make accommodations with our public, which is lunatic. You don’t really believe there’s going to be an EU strike force, do you? Nobody here believes that. If you become neutral, what are we supposed to do?

That’s what he said. I was surprised at his candor. And it’s worrisome. On the one hand I like it because they’re getting just what they asked for, but on the other hand, it’s tragic. And it’s dangerous. We shouldn’t be doing this.

Emphasis added.

Advertisements

How the minimum wage costs jobs

June 14, 2010

In this video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, another of Dan Mitchell‘s former interns, Orphe Divounguy, gives us a lesson in how rising minimum wages, while seemingly good for the worker, actually kill job opportunities:

He makes several good points:

  • For workers with no real skills, for example, teenagers just entering the job market, a high minimum wage makes them not worth what the employer is required to pay them.
  • Minimum wages disproportionately hurt minorities, who often come from poor environments. Even if they’re willing to work to learn skill and prove themselves, the high minimum wage locks them out of the market.
  • A minimum wage makes some sense as a floor if it’s beneath the prevailing market wage, but a minimum wage higher than that inevitably leads to higher unemployment as the cost of labor gets beyond what an employer can afford.
  • Businesses aren’t charities. If a worker costs more than the revenue he generates, the employer won’t hire him.

I can’t imagine we’ll ever see a rollback or elimination of the minimum wage, however. Then again, these are not normal times and, with so many people unemployed, perhaps enough people can be convinced.


The Maine oil-booms: CYA in action?

June 14, 2010

A few days ago, we covered the stunning revelation that the Coast Guard admiral in charge of dealing with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill seemed never to have heard of the miles of containment boom sitting unused in Maine. ABC’s Jake Tapper broke that story and followed up with the Coast Guard, who told him the boom hadn’t met quality standards.

Eh… Not so fast. Tapper, again:

Over the weekend, Capt. Ron LaBrec from Coast Guard Public Affairs told me that according to a BP quality control inspector the PackGen boom did not pass an initial quality control test.

“Boom is subjected to great wear and tear when placed in the water and must be frequently tended,” LaBrec told me. “In order to retain its effectiveness boom must be of high quality. Once Packgen’s boom passes inspection, the company can be considered as a source for supplying boom.”

LaBrec noted that in the meantime, “suitable boom is being identified and obtained quickly” with 459,000 feet of boom stored in the region in addition to the 2.24 million feet deployed.

So what was wrong with the PackGen boom?

“There were concerns with material and end connectors,” LaBrec said. “BP has inspectors who visit facilities and regularly test boom. In addition to testing boom from new suppliers, boom from existing manufacturers is also tested/inspected. The Coast Guard also inspects boom that we purchase from suppliers. It is important because poorly designed boom may not work as intended.”

[Packgen President] Lapoint said the boom “not only meets” standards, “it exceeds it.”

“The only issue was the end connectors,” Lapoint said. So, he said, “we changed it to the universal connector, so there shouldn’t be any problems at all.”

Packgen further claims their boom exceeds standards by a factor of two, while Tapper quotes the relevant ASTM standards.

So, I ask again: What’s the hold up? Are the Coast Guard and BP using some standard other than ASTM (which would be odd)? If the switch to a universal connector was the only problem, why aren’t these booms on the way to the Gulf? Are there any other problems not mentioned?

Or are Washington and BP blowing smoke to cover for an initial and inexcusable lackadaisical response to the biggest environmental catastrophe in US history?

I don’t suspect we’ve heard the last of the Maine boom, by any means.

(via Jimmiebjr on Twitter)


Ask questions of a congressman? How dare you!

June 14, 2010

Maybe the strain of voting for the worst legislation since Smoot-Hawley is getting to poor “Representative” Bob Etheridge of North Carolina’s second district. Could it be guilt and fear of the voters’ wrath that causes him to physically assault student journalists who had the insolence to ask him questions? Tito, roll tape:

Big Government explains:

Last week, Democrat Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC2) attended a fundraiser headlined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He was asked by some students on the street whether he supported the “Obama Agenda.” He didn’t take it well.

Expect more of this. The hard, progressive left captured the Democrat majority in Congress and forced them to enact a fantasy grab-bag of legislation that is increasingly unpopular with the American public. We’re on the cusp of a deeper recession, millions of unemployed Americans have no prospect for work, taxes are about to spike higher and we’ve maxed out the national credit card. The Democrats were given a chance to run government and they’ve only succeeded in running it into the ground.

So, yeah, Democrats who are up for reelection this November are a bit testy.

(…)

Let’s recap what we saw on this video. A sitting Congressman–a presumed living extension of James Madison and other founding fathers–was asked on a public street whether he supported the President’s agenda. His response was to hit away a video camera and assault a student. The age of Pericles this ain’t.

No, it isn’t. Looks like Congressman Etheridge needs a time out.  You can help him get one by contributing to his opponent.

LINKS: Further thoughts from Roger Kimball.

UPDATE: Etheridge apologizes:

“I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”

Fine, but the residents of his district should still fire him.

LINK: More at Pajamas Media.